The sky is clean, smells crisp; the westerly winds blow into the face just the way I would have liked. Yes, I stay in the capital of India, and yes, we do get these pristine mornings, sometime. But when we do, I waste no time in getting my feisty handsome foursome out in the sun, feeling the green under his limbs. This is undoubtedly the best time in the year to be in Gurgaon. And no weekend should go without a nice picnic, out in the sun.
Now picnics could be organised in a lot of ways than one. A casual beer and wine with barbecue on the side ought to be my favourite. Followed closely by a cook-earlier-serve-later-kinds. And the potluck, ah that takes the cake! So, the series starting now should keep you covered for each picnic event that you plan with your family and friends. In fact, I would also squeeze in a fantastic romantic brunch for 2, out on the terrace, with sun brimming in. It would be a hassle free, completely cook ahead, yet hot kind of romantic brunch, that could be served with a light champagne cocktail.
But to kickstart the series, here is my go to healthy snack for kids and adults alike. This is perfect to be taken on a long drive out of home. Its filling, yet full of good things which makes sure you are on the track for the new year resolution you so solemnly took. Alternately, if you have leftovers, you can simply pack it in the tiffin boxes for your kids to take to school, during the week. It is my very tried and tested recipe for some chocolaty apple and oat muffins. This much of ingredients make 12 big muffins.
2 apples, peeled and sliced
1 cup of oats
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup curd, homemade works well
½ cup honey
2 tbsp. of your favourite jam, I used homemade strawberryjam that I made last year. Read about it by clicking here!
½ cup hot water
¼ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup sugar
2 tbsp vinegar
Upto 2/3 cups of whole-wheat flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
Chocolate chips or nuts, which are optional, but highly recommended.
Trust me when I say that it can’t get any easier than this. We basically just blend everything together and bake. That is, it!!!!
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees c and get that going. Line your muffin pans with paper cups and keep it ready. I at times like to spray the cups with some vegetable oil so that nothing sticks to the paper.
Now the fun begins. Get the best blender you can lay your hands on and start blending the apples, oats, jam, egg, curd and oil to a nice homogeneous paste. I used my robust Hamilton beach smoothie maker, trust me it never fails me. If you don’t have a fancy blender, then just do the blending in a mixer grinder, starting always with the oats. Make a fine powder and then add all the wet ingredients to make a paste.
While that is mixing, mix in a measuring jug ¼ cup pure unsweetened cocoa powder with hot water, stir vigorously and keep it aside to bloom. This step really helps in building a darker stronger chocolate flavour. Add the sugar to the hot mix as well, it would help dissolve the grains.
Now in a nice big bowl, whisk 1/3 cup of whole-wheat flour with baking powder, soda and salt and keep it ready. If you are adding chocolate chips or nuts, then coat the additions in flour at this stage, and keep it ready.
Just to break up the method, you have 3 separate elements of the muffins ready. You have a blended mix of oats and apples, a jug full of chocolate goodness and dry flour coated nuts and chips. Now comes the assembly.
Let the chocolate mix cool a little before adding in the vinegar and vanilla. Pour it in the blender along with the apples and oats, and blend again. Once its thoroughly mixed, pour it on the dry mix and combine well. The batter should be in a spoon dropping consistency, adjust with the extra 1/3 cup of whole-wheat flour, if the need be.
At this time, just lick the batter to taste for the sweetness. If you use tart apples, you may need to adjust sugar accordingly. But for me, the Kashmiri apples pack a lot of natural sweetness, and the half cup of honey takes care of the rest.
Now pour onto the ready muffin tin and bake for 15 -20 minutes, till a toothpick inserted in the centre, comes out clean. Let cool and enjoy a scrumptious snack which is easy to carry, and yet satisfyingly moist and fluffy for a healthy bite!