Cooks Exchange

Start students’ days with fresh muffins, bread

With students back in school, the hectic routines have begun, including hustling the kids off to school and giving them some semblance of a healthy breakfast.

Readers know we have a picky eater who tries my cooking skills or meal planning skills daily. When I grocery shop, I try to outsmart her by purchasing foods that she likes. Sometimes I win; more often I lose.

One week she will go through bunches of grapes, only to let them ruin the next week. The same goes for cereal, eggs, yogurt and the like.

Sometimes she and I do the grocery shopping. I ask her what she wants for breakfast and for a school snack. Saturday, we shopped and stocked up on tubes of yogurt, cheese sticks and bananas. She picked the bunch of bananas because it had a favorite character sticker on them.

“They are a little green but look at the sticker,” she said.

“Are you going to eat them?” I said, knowing that the last banana purchase ruined before I got a chance to make muffins or bread.

“I am sure,” was the reply.

Guess what? I have green bananas that have dark spots on them, just waiting for me to bake bread or muffins.

Lilly will eat muffins or bread because she thinks they are a dessert. My daughter and I try to watch Lilly’s sugar intake, so I use applesauce for sweetening and honey, too. Yes, I know honey is sweet, but it does have beneficial health properties.

I keep grab-and-go breakfast items on hand, too, for those days when my daughter oversleeps, or Lilly just can’t seem to get ready.

Parents and grandparents, if you have a morning slowpoke or children who really don’t like breakfast, I have some suggestions that are low in sugar and are on-the-go ready.

In addition to fresh fruit, I try to bake one or two times a week, so I have a fresh supply of muffins or fruit breads. Now that fall is approaching, apples and pumpkins will be in good supply.

Apple-allspice muffins count as a fat and a starch on the diabetic exchange and only 108 calories per muffin. A favorite of mine are tropical muffins that contain ripe bananas, orange juice and coconut. I do not use all the coconut called for in this recipe because I do not like coconut. I do add some ground pecans to make up for the coconut.

I must grind the pecans, so my picky eater doesn’t know they are there. Again, these are a starch and a fat exchange and 113 calories per muffin. Each batch makes a dozen regular muffins.

Lllly likes cinnamon and most fall spice flavors, which is a plus. Neither she nor my daughter eats zucchini, but they certainly do when it is mashed or blended smooth in zucchini bread.

Ahhh, the tricks we play for good nutrition.

Another Toucan’s favorite, please

“Toucan’s had a great Friday lunch special,” said Clarence Vaughn. “As I remember, it was a bowl of white rice, steamed vegetable slices, topped with fried crawfish and cheese. Hopefully, someone can elaborate with more specifics?”

How about it, readers? Do any of you remember this dish at the old Toucan’s in Gulfport? If so, please send it to me.


1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons reduced-calorie margarine, divided

3/4 cup brown sugar or brown sugar substitute, divided

1 egg

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup skim milk

1 cup peeled, finely chopped apple

Vegetable cooking spray

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

Cream 1/4 cup margarine in medium bowl; gradually add 1/2 cup brown sugar or substitute, beating a medium speed of any electric mixer until mixture is light and fluffy. Add egg and mix well.

Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice and salt. Add to creamed mixture alternately with skim milk, stirring just until moistened. Stir in finely chopped apple.

Spoon batter into muffin pans, coated with cooking spray, filling two-thirds full.

Combine remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar or substitute, 1/4 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon allspice in a small bowl. Cut in remaining 2 tablespoons margarine with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal; sprinkle evenly over tops of muffins. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

— From “All New Cookbook for Diabetics and Their Families”


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar or sugar substitute

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsweetened grated coconut

3 medium-size ripe bananas, mashed

1/3 cup reduced-calorie margarine, melted

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon grated orange rind

1/3 cup unsweetened orange juice

Vegetable cooking spray

Sift together flour, sugar or sugar substitute, baking powder, soda and salt in large bowl; stir in coconut, and make a well in center of mixture.

Combine bananas, margarine, egg, orange rind and juice; add to dry ingredients stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.

Spoon batter into muffin pans coated with cooking spray, filling two-thirds full. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

Note: I use 1/2 cup coconut and 1/4 ground pecans instead of 3/4 cup coconut.

— From “All New Cookbook for Diabetics and Their Families”


3 eggs

1 cup oil

2 cups sugar or 1 cup honey and 1 cup sugar or sugar substitute

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups zucchini, peeled and mashed smooth

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon soda

3 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup nuts (I use pecans)

Beat eggs, add oil, sugar, vanilla and zucchini, which has been run through the meat grinder or blender. Beat well. Add dry ingredients which have been sifted together. Add 1/4 of dry ingredients at a time, beating well after each addition.

Bake in two greased and floured bread pans at 325 degrees for 1 hour.

Note: These loaves can be frozen and kept for several weeks if well wrapped.

— From a late 1970s Episcopal church cookbook from Beaumont, Texas

Andrea Yeager can be reached at and Cooks Exchange, 205 DeBuys Road, Gulfport, MS 39507.