Muffins & Making Money on Public Radio

PearWalnutMuffin2One of my passions is public radio, so every spring and fall for the WFYI FM 90.1 fund drives, I volunteer to be in-studio and help with on-air pledge breaks. It’s one of the most rewarding things I do….such a great feeling when we’re able to meet a challenge or goal.


Of course there’s a food angle, too. Since I absolutely LOVE to bake, I try to bake something and take it for everyone I’m working with that morning, especially Scott Hoke (he eats more than anyone). Sometimes I try completely new recipes and let everyone critique.


Yesterday I took Orange Oatmeal Walnut Muffins. Here’s Scott giving the thumbs up. (Thanks to Top Producer Tracy Mitchell for this photo!) Scott is the on-air personality for Morning Edition from 5 – 10 am. He was very disappointed I didn’t bring anything in this morning. He’ll get Frosted Pumpkin Bars tomorrow, though.

 Scott Hoke at WFYI



Scott says the streusel-like topping on these muffins is “too messy.” Falls off and gets on his board. It’s messy because I tried not to add any more fat to this recipe; a typical streusel contains fat along with the other ingredients, allowing everything to “stick” better.  WFYI President and CEO Lloyd Wright, who I was on-air with yesterday, had the perfect solution: A dollop of Orange Marmalade on top of every one! So I’ve added orange marmalade to this  recipe, although the muffins in the photo don’t have any.

Nutrient Benefits: Every muffin is packed with nutrients: omega-3’s from the walnuts, fiber from the whole wheat flour and oats, and Vitamin C from the orange juice.  Freeze a batch and warm a few in the microwave anytime. 


Orange Walnut Muffins


¾ cup whole wheat flour

¾ cup all-purpose flour

1 cup quick-cooking oats, uncooked

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest (from about 2 large oranges)

1 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts*

¾ cup orange juice

1/3 cup 1% milk

1 extra large egg

¼ cup canola oil



3 tablespoons quick-cooking oats, uncooked

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest (from about 1 large orange)

1/3 cup orange marmalade


Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare muffin pans with paper baking cups and coat paper cups with vegetable cooking spray. Mix topping ingredients in small bowl with a fork and set aside.


Whisk together flours, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and orange zest in large bowl. Stir in walnuts.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together orange juice, milk, egg and oil until well blended. Add to dry mixture and stir only until all ingredients are moistened; do not over mix.  Divide batter evenly between prepared muffin cups and sprinkle with topping and a dollop of marmalade.


Bake 10 to 14 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for two minutes and remove to wire rack. 


Makes 16 muffins.


*Toasted walnuts: Place chopped walnuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet or pan and toast in 350° oven for 8 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir several times while toasting.




Time for a Big Bowl

ChiliIt’s chili time!  Chili is the first thing I think of when fall rolls around.  It has all the right things from a nutrient standpoint: fiber, antioxidants and lots of disease-fighting and immune-boosting nutrients. But best of all, chili is filled with comfort and warmth. Chili isn’t chili in my book unless it’s hot and spicy and packed with far more beans than meat. My husband Jeff tells me it’s the best chili he’s ever had, but I’m not gloating because I know that everyone has different preferences when it comes to chili ingredients and heat level. Enjoy a big bowl tonight!  And let me know your favorite chili combinations.

 Hearty Three Bean Chili

 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 ½ cups chopped onions

1 to 2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 pound ground lean pork, ground beef round, ground beef sirloin or ground turkey

1 can (15 oz.) light kidney beans

1 can (15 oz.) pinto beans

1 can (15 oz.) red beans

2 cans (14.5 to 15 oz.) diced tomatoes

3 cans (15 oz.) tomato sauce

¼ cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoons black pepper

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons chili powder

½ to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

6 to 12 drops hot red pepper sauce


Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, and ground meat. Cook until beef or turkey is crumbled and cooked thoroughly. Carefully drain grease. Drain all canned beans and rinse to remove sodium. Add beans to onion-meat mixture along with all other ingredients. Stir well. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 30 to 45 minutes.


Makes about 16 cups (8 servings of 2-cups each)

One Big Pancake

PancakePanApple Pancake

While I definitely didn’t make time to write about it, I sure did spend a lot of time this summer cooking, grilling and baking. Highlights:

2 new Baked Bean Recipes – Chipotle Lime Baked Beans & Cocoa Spiked Baked Beans with Apple

5 new desserts, including Cherry Cobbler, Whole Grain Cinnamon Shortcakes & Strawberries, Key Lime Pie, Shortbread Cookies and Apple Nut Cake with Maple Topping

1 new Pasta Salad – Antipasto Pasta Salad

1 new Fish recipe – Grilled Marinated Salmon with Tropical Mango Salsa

1 new Breakfast recipe – Oven-Baked Pancake (3 versions)

1 Smoothie and 1 Trail/Snack Mix

Plus, I tweaked several old favorites until I got ‘em just right: Corn Lime Cilantro Sauce for Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Basil Pesto, Apple Egg Cheese Breakfast Casserole and Whole Grain Oatmeal Bars with Raisins & Dates.

 And in between whisking, whipping, stirring and tasting, I power-walked, weight trained and swam my way to staying in shape. Swimming is new and only because Jeff and I moved into a new place in late July. The pool is within walking distance, making early morning and late evening swims realistic and enjoyable.  

Let’s celebrate the arrival of fall with my newest – and third – version of this Oven Baked Pancake. First version was just plain – no fruit or nuts. Then came the plethora of summer blueberries. Finally, this fall version with apples and pecans.

 It’s 100% whole grain from the white whole wheat flour, oats and flax seed and filled with lots of heart-healthy and immune-boosting nutrients from those grains plus the apples and pecans.

Serve with 100% orange juice, slices of skillet sautéed Canadian bacon or ham and a fruit salad made from any fresh, frozen and/or canned in natural juice fruits.

This oven-baked pancake is easy, fast and best of all, tasty.


Apple Pecan Oven-Baked Pancake                                                


 1 cup white whole wheat flour (suggest King Arthur Brand)

1 ¾ cups old-fashioned oats

1/3 cup ground flax seed

1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon

½ teaspoon apple pie spice

3 large eggs

1 1/3 cups low-fat buttermilk

¼ cup canola oil

2 cups finely diced, peeled apples

2/3 cup finely chopped pecans


 Preheat oven to 425°F.

  1. Whisk all dry ingredients in large bowl.
  2. Whisk eggs, milk and oil together in a separate smaller bowl; stir into dry ingredients with spoon until just combined. Don’t over mix.
  3. Lightly stir in apples and pecans.
  4. Spread batter in 10×15-inch jelly roll pan coated with vegetable cooking spray.
  5. Bake 13 to 15 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, but not overly dry.
  6. Cut into 18 squares and serve immediately with Maple Syrup.

 Serves 4 to 6 (3 to 4 squares each).

Blueberry Version: omit apple pie spice and add 2 cups fresh blueberries and 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest.

Plain version: omit blueberries, apples and pecans.

Create your own version: add any fruit or nut!

Summer Eats and Treats: Balance. Blend.

Summer sun, fun, food….all balanced and blended for a happy – and healthy – life. Join me on my summertime journey filled with delicious, decadent seasonal foods and treats all balanced and blended exercise, activity and recipe tips.  I’m one of the most practical dietitians you’ll ever know. Nothing, absolutely nothing…no food, no drink…is off limits. It’s all about the balance and blending. Balance decadent choices with daily activity and exercise and blend, add or boost nutrient-rich ingredients in summertime recipes.

Take cobblers and crisps, for example. Absolutely love them. So when I make them, I boost nutrients by adding extra fruit and using whole wheat flour and oats instead of white flour for the cobbler or crisp topping.  I love grilled burgers, too, and use ground chuck instead of super extra lean ground beef because I balance that burger with whole wheat hamburger buns, lettuce, tomatoes and a big serving of grilled carrots, asparagus or eggplant.

And at least once or twice every summer I have to grill BBQ pork ribs with my terrific husband Jeff. I just make sure we blend those higher fat ribs with a hefty helping of grilled veggies and a mixed greens salad with fresh garden tomatoes. Well, no fresh tomatoes for him – he only eats cooked tomato/pasta sauces and salsa. A real dilemma for me since tomatoes are one of my top five favorite foods. But we both love our traditional soft-serve cones or gelato at the local ice cream stand. On those treat-days, I just walk extra minutes to balance it all.

This summer, in between all my cooking, eating and reading, I’ll be lifting weights and taking extra long walks in either my downtown Indianapolis neighborhood or along the beach in Jacksonville since I live in both cities.

Looking forward to a happy, healthy and great-tasting summer!