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Fifteen Minutes of Fame Series: Clean Label

Just as cheese puffs and cereals with fluorescent colors aren’t found in nature, neither are some of our go-to baking ingredients (Case in point: Does food coloring grow on trees? How about margarine?)

Consumers, and by extension, bakers, are continuing to embrace the clean label food movement, opting for a short list of ingredients with few to no artificial ones. While there’s no hard and fast definition of “clean label,” the gist is that if you can’t even pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t eat it.

So what’s an innovative baker to do? The clean label world is a wide one indeed, so for the purposes of this blog, we’re going to home in on muffins. The muffins that peer out at us from behind bakery cases may look tantalizing, but they’re often loaded with calories, sodium and a host of unpronounceable ingredients.

Make clean muffins at home by sticking with a few simple ingredients — eggs, rolled oats and a healthy flour (or go flourless!) — and then personalizing to your taste. Experiment with mashed bananas or other fresh fruit; nuts such as walnuts or pecans; veggies such as shredded carrots or zucchini, or pureed pumpkin or sweet potato; and healthy spices, such as Ceylon cinnamon, or flavorings. Muffins are perfect for experimentation, so try your hand at different combinations, and don’t beat yourself up if your ingredient list gets a little long. Just try to avoid overly processed ingredients.

Serve your muffin concoctions for breakfast, brunch or a late afternoon or evening snack. Whatever the time or occasion, you’ll feel good about your (clean) choice.