Recipe Face-Off!

Recipe Face-Off: Corn Muffins

Corn Muffin Face-Off

Even back when sugar-crusted, store-bought muffins were something I ate regularly (when I cared about neither my waistline or a balanced meal), I would never go for the corn muffin. Chocolate chip? Yes. Blueberry? Definitely. But for some irrational reason the corn muffin always looked so nasty to me, so I never tried it. It wasn’t until recently when my boyfriend said he loved corn muffins that I came around. At first I was like what, why? And then I realized if I like cornbread there’s no reason why I wouldn’t like them in muffin form. It’s so weird how we just fear things we’ve never tried before.

I still have never bought a corn muffin, but I have been making good use of my Bob’s Red Mill Organic Medium Grind Cornmeal and making them myself. I like the medium grind for the slightly crunchy texture it gives my cornbread and corn muffins. I had been using Ina Garten’s corn muffin recipe (you know how I love Ina) until recently, when I came across Running to the Kitchen’s Strawberry Corn Muffins. Gina’s muffins don’t have wheat, table sugar, or dairy. I was really curious about them, so it was face-off time. I left out the strawberries to make the two recipes comparable. (Note: I called Gina’s muffins “paleo”, but they’re technically not paleo. “Wheat/sugar/dairy-free” just didn’t sound as catchy.)

Ina Garten’s Corn Muffins

Regular Corn Muffin

I don’t know if Ina has a giant muffin tin or what, but I got way more than 12 muffins out of this recipe! Other than that, these are wonderful. Sweet, crumbly, really high in calories…basically, everything a corn muffin should be.

Running to the Kitchen’s Corn Muffins

Paleo Corn Muffin

The last time I baked something wheat, sugar, and dairy-free, the result was tasty but barely resembled the original baked good it was based on. So I was really pleasantly surprised when I pulled these out of the oven and they looked a lot like the corn muffin we know and love, with crumbs and all. I was concerned about whether or not the coconut oil and almond meal would give the muffins a weird taste but, nope. They tasted like corn muffins but earthier with just a touch of sweetness.

Final Verdict

Running to the Kitchen’s corn muffins win, I can’t believe it! This is our first Recipe Face-Off where “the real thing” didn’t win. Running to the Kitchen’s muffins are much lower in calories and way cleaner with almond meal, almond milk, honey, coconut oil instead of wheat, dairy, and table sugar. The texture wasn’t compromised by the alternative ingredients either. But most importantly, I actually preferred the taste. I loved the earthiness of it and that it was much less sweet. These are actually muffins I can eat for breakfast! Sorry, Ina. I love you but I’m switching recipes.

Recipe Face-Off!

Recipe Face-Off: Banana Bread

Banana Bread Face-off

Even though I have my own set of food ideas and philosophies, I actually spend a surprising amount of time listening to or reading stuff written by those who have totally different views. I don’t want to be a vegan, live the paleo lifestyle, or completely swear off sugar. Yet every camp of thought raises excellent points and gives me plenty to think about. It’s nice to see what we have in common, like pretty much everyone thinks we need more veggies and less processed food. But hearing views opposite to your own really helps you question and doubt your own belief system, which is a great thing, because no one should ever blindly and militantly believe anything without really examining different sides to the story.

That’s the philosopher in me. The food lover in me is like, whatever. Let’s make some banana bread.

I heard about Civilized Caveman Cooking when blogger, George, was interviewed on the Fat Burning Man podcast. Both interviewer and interviewee were gushing over how delicious George’s paleo banana bread recipe is. This piqued my interest, so it was Recipe Face-Off time. Civilized Caveman Cooking’s Paleo Banana Bread vs In The Small Kitchen‘s Banana Bread (my Amazon affiliate link). Sans chocolate chips to make it a fair experiment. I’m scientific like that. I halved the recipes and adapted them for a muffin tin, ’cause lord knows I don’t need two loaves of banana bread in the house.

Civilized Caveman Cooking’s Paleo Banana Bread

Paleo banana bread

This was super quick and simple to make, and I love how clean the ingredients list is! I used bananas, eggs, almond butter, coconut oil, almond flour, and just a little cinnamon, baking soda/powder, vanilla and sea salt. Dassit. The taste was great–a subtle, natural sweetness. The bread was really moist though. It’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s just different from what we’re used to. As you can see from the first photo, it was already much flatter than the regular banana bread. For the second photo, I pressed down with light pressure and it just sunk down completely. Sad.

Regular banana bread

In The Small Kitchen’s Banana Bread

Can ya tell I love In The Small Kitchen? The cookbook and the blog that started it all, Big Girls, Small Kitchen, are such great go-to resources for us quarter-life aged folk. This is a pretty foolproof banana bread recipe. Tasty, perfect texture, and without adding the chocolate chips it’s surprisingly not too sweet at all.

Final Verdict

Oh, snap. This is the first time I’m going to declare a tie! So far, the original recipes have won in these face-offs (see here and here). I’m brutally honest about what tastes better, and as you can probably tell, I have a “if-you’re-going-to-eat-it-at-all-just-eat-the-real-thing” stance when it comes to treats. This time I decided it was a true tie–both taste as great as the other. I might not love the texture of the paleo version as much as the regular banana bread, but the ingredient list is so incredibly clean, it is totally worth having a moister bread.

Still can’t say it was better, though. Still keeping it real here on Eating Clean in the Dirty City. ;)

Have you guys tried baking “paleo” treats? How was your experience?

Recipe Face-Off!

Recipe Face-Off: Walnut Brownies


Time for Eating Clean in the Dirty City’s second Recipe Face-Off! I first heard about black bean brownies when Rocco DiSpirito went on the show The Doctors to promote his book. I haven’t heard the best things about either him or his book, so I already knew it would unfair competition to use his recipe for this post.

But here’s someone I do trust: Joy the Baker. I decided to compare her Triple Chocolate Black Bean Brownies to my go-to classic brownie recipe from Big Girls Small Kitchen.

Big Girls Small Kitchen’s Brownies

Walnut BrowniesI love these. They are what brownies should be. Not too sweet, moist with a crackly top, and that teaspoon of espresso powder makes the flavor amazing.

Joy the Baker’s Triple Chocolate Black Bean Brownies

Triple Chocolate Black Bean BrowniesI under-cooked these a little so they look a little more moist in the photo than they should (although, no complaints from me!). I was a little surprised at how good these brownies were, though I really shouldn’t doubt Joy. If you didn’t know there were beans in them, you probably wouldn’t even notice that these aren’t regular brownies. I did taste the black beans, but I thought they gave the brownies a nice kick that complemented the chocolate.

Final Verdict

As good as the black bean brownies are, I still have to pick Big Girls Small Kitchen’s brownies as the winner. They are the perfect, classic brownie for me. But Joy’s black bean brownies weren’t far behind, taste-wise. If the recipe were a little healthier (there really weren’t too many beans involved) and tasted just as good, I could call it the winner. But given the minimal extra protein and fiber compared to the regular brownies, taste still trumps.

Have you ever made black bean brownies? How did you like them?

Recipe Face-Off!

Recipe Face-Off: Cookie Dough Dip

I’m starting a new blog series called Recipe Face-Off! The idea for this series came from the fact that I always shy away from “health-ified” recipes, especially when it comes to desserts. I don’t mind replacing dairy milk with almond milk once in a while if that’s all I have on hand, but almond flour? Vegan versions of comfort food? I’ve always thought that if you’re going to do it at all, just do the real thing.

But I realized I also believe in experimentation and the whole “don’t knock it till you try it” attitude. I’ve had my fair share of strange looks when I say I like certain unpopular foods (chicken feet for dim sum, anyone)? So it’s only fair to give these modified “healthy” recipes a try instead of immediately assuming the original is better.

Two very popular recipes on food blogs were How Sweet It Is’ Cookie Dough Dip and Chocolate-Covered Katie’s healthy version of Cookie Dough Dip. I was intrigued by both but scared to make them for a long time. For someone who is a self-proclaimed cookie addict, having a big bowl of cookie dough dip in the house is BAD NEWS. But I did it for you, Eating Clean readers. I did it for you.

How Sweet It Is’ Cookie Dough Dip

The main ingredient in this is cream cheese. So if you like cream cheese, you’ll like this. I loved the texture of this, but all-in-all it wasn’t as orgasmic as I thought it would be. And it is intensely heavy. If you weren’t paying attention and ate half the bowl, that’s almost 900 calories right there. Not even including what you’re dipping. Yikes!

Chocolate-Covered Katie’s Healthy Cookie Dough Dip

If you’re a super-healthy person who never eats real dessert, you’ll like this. Maybe. But for someone who is used to conventional desserts, I didn’t love it. It was edible, for sure, but not satisfying. The main ingredient here is chickpeas. I LOVE chickpeas. I love them pan-fried, oven-roasted, or whipped up into hummus. But I think their flavor is too strong to be passed off as cookie dough dip. It just kind of felt like, why are there chocolate chips in my hummus? But crazy respect to Katie for finding this a satisfying dessert. This is why she has perfect skin and a super svelte figure, while the rest of us don’t. Hah!

Final Verdict

I liked How Sweet It Is’ cream cheese version better because it tastes more like a dessert. But if you’re into “healthy” desserts, do give Katie’s a try. It is a good recipe, just not for me. But in all honesty, I thought neither tasted like cookie dough. This cookie addict is just going to have to wait for the next time she bakes a batch and licks the bowl!