While visiting the in-laws in Florida over the weekend, I was overjoyed to be back in my natural southern habitat, complete with 100% humidity, lush surroundings and warm, thick air.
Not only was the weather spectacular, but the local supermarket was teeming with so many fresh, organic produce options that I had all but forgotten about during the arctic tundra winter I'd been living through in New York.
I figured while in Florida, do as the Floridians do and feast on some citrus... ('cause all Floridians do that, right?)
I can't think of a happier-looking fruit than a lemon and if the bright color doesn't sunny-up your disposition, maybe a few of these lemony facts will get your juices flowing....
- Citrus fruits are PACKED to the rind with important nutrients our bodies need to thrive: vitamin C is the one we all know and love, but there's also: potassium, folate, calcium, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, thiamin, niacin, and the fibers pectin and lignan.
- Over 170 different phytochemicals have been identified in citrus fruits. These important naturally-occurring compounds are known to have antioxidant properties, making them both immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory. (inflammation=sickness FYI)
- Eating more citrus fruit serves as possible protection against heart disease, stroke, arthritis, asthma, Alzheimer's disease, cognitive decline, multiple sclerosis, age-related eye disease and diabetes.
- Many of these beneficial vitamins and nutrients are found in the peel and white pulp we tend to avoid in citrus. Be sure, in addition to juicing your lemons and citrus, that you're zesting those bright colored rinds! The zest makes an excellent addition to salad dressings, otherwise plain vegetables and, of course, baked goods. [source]
And that's where my area of joyous expertise comes in....
There I am, soaking up some sunny vitamin D while simultaneously extracting anti-cancer properties from a lemon rind. Modern day multitasking.
Staying true to my intention of baking more health-conscious treats, I decided to try a twist on your standard coffee shop's sugar-laden Lemon Poppy Seed muffin... And so was birthed:
VEGAN LEMON COCONUT MUFFINS:
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup apple sauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 TBSP lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 TBSP poppy seeds
Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.
Combine your dry ingredients in one bowl. Combine your wet ingredients in another larger bowl. Add dry to wet, and stir but DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT go by my photo below and use a whisk. A wooden spoon works best. The trick is to keep the batter just combined- mixing too much makes for a liquidy batter and the beauty in these babies is the lumpy, hearty texture. Remember: lumps are your friend in this case.
Once your batter is just combined, pour into greased or lined muffins tins and
Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
The recipe listed above makes about 4 regular sized muffins, so you can double, or even triple it up if you're really in the muffin mood.
Sweetened with real maple syrup, unsweetened apple sauce, and forgoing the poppy seeds for unsweetened coconut shreds, these hearty muffins served as such a filling and satisfying snack, I enjoyed them pretty much all weekend long...
I loved them so much that by the end of the 3 days, I had made 4 batches. In the last batch, I decided to experiment with another Florida-in-March delicacy: organic strawberries.
I diced some up, added them to the regular batter, popped them in the oven and voila: two fruits in one bite!
With your leftover lemons, might I suggest making some delicious/nutritious lemon and mint-infused water? It's like lemonade, only without the sugar.
Simply juice your leftover lemons, add a little zest and some mint leaves to a pitcher, muddle with a wooden spoon to release the mint essence, fill the pitcher to the top with water and let sit in the fridge overnight...
If you're back in New York or some other northern climate like I am now, it might be a little while before you can enjoy this hydrating, alkalizing refreshment by a pool but keep on juicing (and zesting) those lemons, dream of the sun and I promise the warm weather will be here before you know it!
When it finally does arrives, your glowing skin and beaming insides will be thanking you :)