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feel good food that's good for you

parsnip and pear muffinsI’ve just realised that I haven’t posted anything to tempt the sweet of tooth lately. Not a morsel. By now I really should be posting something in honour of poor, executed St Valentine. A saint with only the most tenuous links to pleasure, romantic love, and chocolate. So tenuous as to be non-existent, an invention of Chaucer, and the English.

I digress. And possibly depress. But still, I should post something chocolately. And soon.

It won’t be grand. It won’t be clever. But it will fulfil my self-imposed brief, “do no (culinary) harm.” Kind of like my own Hippocratic Oath. But with calories. parsnipsSo what am I doing posting something whose title ingredient belongs in a roasting tray with carrots, onions and honey, or pureed into a thick winter soup? Well, because it is so good. Not perhaps chocolate good  – although we can debate that. Or I can arm-wrestle you. You would probably win on both counts, although my high spinach intake might give me an edge. 

But I wish to champion the humble parsnip. Parsnips, those misshapen anaemic looking carrot-alikes, get no real love, and I have no idea why. Chefs love them. They are cheap, versatile (have a look at any fancy UK restaurant menu and you will see what I mean), keep well, are good for you. Sure they were once seen as only fit for cattle feed – along with kale, shock, horror – but we have mostly come to our senses and use them as people food too. But not very much. And not very creatively.

What seems to really seal the no-deal deal is that they really do need at least a little cooking to enjoy them. So not one for the raw foodist. Even those who are happy to risk their teeth with rock-hard cauliflower, or nibble spongy strands of raw zucchini usually draw the line at raw parsnip. I can’t say I have ever taken a parsnip and thought, “I fancy a nibble at you.” But. But. A little weeny bit of cooking and, ah, they are lovely.

Prejudices about looks aside, the parsnip – when young and firm – is beautifully sweet, almost nutty, with a hint of earthy herbs and tangy citrus. When cooked – either roasted, boiled or steamed – the natural sugars develop and become almost fragrantly spicy. That’s what makes it so perfect for cakes. If you think about it, it is not very different to using carrots in baking, and no one thinks that is weird. Beetroot too seems to have leapt over the barrier and run across the finish line of baking acceptability. My Chocolate and Beetroot Cake is one of my most asked for recipes at work. All I am asking is to give this recipe a go. Or sub it into your carrot cake recipe.

I have given these parsnip, pear and rosemary muffins to numerous classes over the past couple of years and of anyone who expressed an opinion, 1) they really liked them, and 2) no one detected the parsnips. So you could give these to fussy kids and either 1) tell them nothing. Ever. Or 2) tell them about the parsnips AFTER you get the thumbs up. Slap on a buttercream icing and seal the deal for sure.parsnip and pear muffins

Usually I make these with half refined spelt and half wholemeal flour. But I have been lucky enough to be working with Sharpham Park spelt products as part of the month-long Spelt Challenge and used their Baker’s Blend for this recipe. It is probably really for bread but it worked great and had a super texture. I already use some of their products (I get them at Waitrose) but I didn’t realise how extensive is their range. Expect a few more savoury and sweet spelt goodness from me as I get creative with their very nutritious and high quality products, all organically grown and processed in Somerset. As a supporter of Bowel Cancer UK, Sharpham Park already have some superb and health-aware recipes on Great British Spelt

And so to the giveaway. Not spelt, but coffee. More specifically coffee from Gourmesso. Gourmesso are an alternative to the more expensive Nespresso capsules and are designed to be compatible with Nespresso machines.

As I don’t have a Nespresso machine I can’t review them. But after reading reviews online, and seeing the 4.5 and 5 stars, I accepted their offer of 2 boxes of coffee, including their 15 different varieties and some decaf. Most stuff I get offered to review or promote I decline. But with Gourmesso there were no strings attached, no conflict of interest for me (coffee is good for you) and good independent reviews. Plus it seems a good bit cheaper than Nespresso, and with free delivery. So I want to pass this goodie on to you. Who doesn’t want coffee? Especially FREE coffee that you can enjoy in your pyjamas and without waiting in a long queue. l_gourmesso

To win a box of Gourmesso coffee capsules all you need to do is tell me why you need coffee. 

Pop this in as a comment on the blog, OR send me your answer/comment on Twitter (@foodtoglow), with a link to this post (use Bitly to make the link smaller) and mention @Gourmesso. Tweet + blog comments get double entries!

This offer is available to anyone living in the UK, but it makes sense to have a Nespresso or Nespresso-type machine already. ;-). This offer will close February 10th at midnight. I will pick a winner at random, so no pressure to be super clever with your answer. But please do try and make me laugh. I will contact the winner by email.Good luck!

parsnip and pear muffinsParsnip, Pear and Rosemary Muffins

Last year: My Quest For Perfect Hummus

Two years ago: Savoury Beetroot and Cheese Loveheart Scones

Miss R’s track of the week: Vintage Trouble – Blues Hand Me Down (we’ve seen them live – fantastic show)

This is an easy and really delicious way of making a sweet treat healthy and packed full of fibre. I used 225 grams of Sharpham Park Organic Spelt Flour “Baker’s Blend,” but any combination of refined and wholemeal would be good too.

100ml (3 ½ oz) rapeseed/canola or other neutral-flavoured oil

100g dark muscovado/dark brown/molasses sugar*

2 eggs

2 heaped tbsp best quality lime marmalade OR 2 tsp lime juice (marmalade is amazing)

100g plain flour

125g wholemeal flour (see note in recipe header)

2 ½ tsp baking powder

200g parsnips, finely grated (use smaller ones for sweetest flavour)

1 small ripe pear, diced

1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves

75-100g dried pear, snipped into small pieces OR dried apple

1 tbsp poppy seeds

A few tablespoons of oats, to top (optional)

Line a 12-hole muffin tray with paper baking cups, or oil well. Depending on the size of your tin this will make 12-16 muffins, or a 23 cm/9 inch cake tin. Preheat the oven to 180C/160Cfan/350F.

Vigorously combine the oil, eggs and sugar until it is thick and leaves a trail when the spoon – or beaters – is lifted.

Sift over the flours and baking powder; fold in the remaining ingredients with the lightest of hands. Too much mixing will make the cakes tough. Fold the ingredients in just until the flour disappears and no more. I tend to use a silicone spatula or a large metal spoon rather than a wooden spoon as it is easier to lift and turn rather than mash the mix.

Divide the mixture evenly between the cups or into the cake tin. Top with the oats if you like. Bake the muffins for about 20-25 minutes (depends on your oven), or the cake for 45 minutes. Leave to cool for 15 minutes in the tin before removing and stripping off the baking paper and cooling on a baking rack.

Freezes well.

* I haven’t used liquid sweetener such as honey or date syrup, if you decide to perhaps leave out the fresh pear: it mainly contributes moisture rather than flavour in this recipe.

33 thoughts on “Parsnip, Pear and Rosemary Muffins + A Giveaway

  1. This recipe sounds delicious – 3 of my favourite flavours.
    And, now I need coffee to go with them….

    1. Thank you 🙂 You are my first entry. Hooray! Good luck

  2. Kellie, I’m sure these muffins would taste absolutely divine… it’s such an interesting combination of ingredients, but great flavours!

    1. Rosemary works surprisingly well – really well – with the muffins. I left it out one time by accident and I really missed it! It seems to complement the parsnip and pear. I know the lime marmalade sounds a bit odd, but it works too. I do know it all sounds a bit weird.

  3. Oh, these are some fabulous flavors. I like mixing rosemary in sweet dishes, too. Why I need coffee: Because a true lover of coffee doesn’t want it, she NEEDS it. That’s me in a coffee bean. 😉

    1. Oh good, I am no the only one then! Rosemary is a great herb. I use it year round, and in all manner of recipes. I do a swede and polenta cake with a rosemary syrup, and it is pretty good. And I’ve made baked chocolate donuts with a rosemary glaze too. What sweet things do you use rosemary in?

      1. I have used rosemary in banana bread (yes, really!), pumpkin muffins, shortbread cookies (MMMMMM!!!!!) and even ice-cream. Rosemary is my favorite herb and grows wild here in New Mexico. 🙂 Your creations sound delicious… are all of the recipes on your beautiful blog?

  4. narf77 says:

    I am actually happy that I am not eligible to enter this competition because coffee and my stomach don’t agree so this time, I don’t feel like I missed out :). These muffins look the biz ma’am. You could sub chicory essence here but that would defeat the coffee purpose now wouldn’t it? 😉

    1. Oh poor you. I can’t do caffeine, but just cos it affects my blood pressure. I can go from a respectable 110/70 to 130/100 in half an hour. Pretty scary, huh?

      1. narf77 says:

        Whoa! That’s some effect! I drink tea and don’t seem to have any problems at all but if I drink a half decent coffee I instantly have stomach pains :(. Same goes for wine as well…I guess someone up there is telling me something! 😉

  5. Those muffins look lovely! 🙂

  6. The muffins look amazing, what an interesting recipe, definitely got to try this out! My husband hates parsnips, I’ll have to see if I can get these past him…!

    1. This is foolproof, I think. Just don’t let him know you are treating him like a toddler 😉

      1. I never do 😉

      2. that a girl!

      3. Hee hee 🙂

  7. It makes total sense that parsnips would work in something sweet, but I had never thought of it myself! I do really enjoy them roasted, in stews, or to give an edge to a vegetable mash/puree. But this is a good one Kellie. And count me out of the coffee drawing too. I don’t drink coffee and we don’t own a Nespresso – my husband (as Americans do) enjoys his drip coffee! Maybe you do too?!

    1. Actually I am a stovetop Italian percolator kind of gal. We have two – one for hubby and Miss R’s caffeine and one for me, the saddo who cannot tolerate caffeine.

  8. I need a recipe that makes god use of parsnips as none of us are keen on them, too strong a flavour for us. Maybe muffins could be the answer, especially as Rosemary is a favourite herb!

    1. If you see Corin’s comment you will know it isn’t just me that endorses parsnips in sweet things. Because you are a super baker, if I were you, and wanting to give parsnips a go, I would pop them in my own carrot cake recipe and see what happens, Miss Laura. And buttercream for the babes x

  9. Corin says:

    This recipe sounds great. I’ve made muffins with parsnips before for people at work and no one could tell including the ones who don’t like veg! As for the coffee and why I need it….other than the massive headache that arrives around 10am if I don’t have it first thing in the morning, I would have to say because it makes my morning routine of getting ready for the day that much more enjoyable.

    1. Awesome endorsement of the humble but really quite fabulous parsnip.I’m glad I am not the only one to think this a really useful winter ingredient. Thanks Corin.

  10. Rosemary is so flavor especially when you let something just soak into the rosemary. Pears would make a delicious addition.

  11. Hmm, parsnip in muffins. I never would have thought, but it makes good sense! I’ll have to try it out sometime – I do know that it becomes nice and sweet when roasted, so I imagine that it would add a nice moisture and flavour to the muffins without being overwhelmingly parsnippy. As always, thanks for the great recipe!

  12. Deena Kakaya says:

    Mmm, sweet heat! I’ve used parsnips In a halwa before and I love the gentle sweetness and background heat that they offer. Great recipe once again Kellie xx

  13. Love the sound of these Kellie, they sound perfect for a lazy morning with a big pot of tea curled up on the sofa beside the fire 🙂
    I don’t really do coffee, nor do we have one of the gadgets!

  14. Monica says:

    Not sure if you noticed but I’ve been doing parsnip & pear smoothies a lot lately… I am inspired to try it with rosemary next time. 🙂

    1. I have! I love parsnip, pear and rosemary together. It really isn’t as weird as it seems.

  15. These sound scrumptious! Parsnip, pear, and rosemary? Sounds like a song.. 🙂 Just lovely…

  16. Linda says:

    These are the best muffins that I have made for a long time! I only had plain flour and only had dried blueberries which I used instead. I also skipped the rosemary to make them more suitable for my daughter. She loved them. They turned out quite sweet with the blueberries in so I think I could halve the sugar next time. Thanks

    1. Thanks so very much Linda. I am thrilled that you like them so much. And I LOVE it when people make my recipes their own. Tweak away!

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