Grandma Hershberger muffins

Healthy eating held a high priority for Grandma Hershberger.
She read all the literature she could about the benefits of natural foods. She secretly added odds and ends of “weird, off the wall” items into our food that she considered good for us. My husband watched in amused disbelief the day his mother showed us how she took the seeds and the fiber from the middle of the cantaloupe and whipped up a shake with molasses and wheat germ. At her urging we took a polite taste. We let her finish up the other 99 percent of the creamy, orange fluid.
She smacked her lips, emptied the glass and turned it upside down to catch the last little bit of foam as it slid onto her spoon. My husband regaled co-workers and friends with the story of his mother’s cantaloupe seed shake.
I did not grow up in a home where we made fun of our elders. I did not make fun of her. When she offered me a one of her whole wheat muffins with extra lecithin or bran in it, I took one look at it and asked for the butter and honey or her homemade jam. It tasted better than the cardboard bread she bought at the health food store. I think they pulled out every bucket and tin of healthy ingredient they could find to make that bread. It had more nutrition per bite than a bowl of Total.
It also had no taste. I tried to add taste, I heated the cardboard bread in the toaster and scraped clean the tiny dish of butter she kept in the refrigerator. It tasted like hot cardboard spread with butter.
Healthy eating I understood. I didn’t buy calorie rich/ nutrition poor junk food. I made cookies, cakes, pies and muffins from scratch. I figured it was cheaper and healthier to drink water than soda. So did Grandma Hershberger, but when she got well water with little oddments at the bottom that she called healthy minerals, I went out and bought bottled water to drink at her place.
I listened and nodded politely to her monologues on healthy foods – and made my own whole wheat bread with taste – until it weighed me down in all the wrong places. I made heaps of cookies – for the kids and surreptitiously ate more than my share – until my excuses grew up and moved away to start their own families.
One day my husband pronounced fruit juice a wonderful dressing for salad and insisted we all try it. He began including the skins of the oranges and lemons he used to make fruit drinks in the blender.
A few years later I discovered that bran flakes, without sugar, tasted pretty good.
Last month, my sister visited, checked out my supply of foods and insisted that I needed to add the healthy goodness of a couple tablespoons of flax seed meal to my cereal. She left me with couple pounds of the stuff.
I bought granola without much sugar that tasted an awful lot like dry oatmeal flakes. One bowl per person settled the fact that no one liked it. I poured the rest into a bowl to eat with my flax seed meal. My stomach refused to cooperate. As I started to dump the dry cereal back into the box I noticed a recipe for muffins on the back.
My stomach likes muffins.
With a few added bran flakes to round out the measurements, I had enough unwanted cereal for the recipe. I added whole wheat flour, nuts, a couple ripe bananas, an egg, milk, honey and a leavening agent. I substituted about half a cup of flax seed meal for part of the whole wheat flour and spooned the mixture into muffin tins.
Hot from the oven with butter and honey, I scarfed down three or four muffins and enjoyed them immensely. It was an hour before the astounding truth hit me – I had made, eaten and enjoyed “Grandma Hershberger Muffins” for breakfast.
My husband, who likes being married to this Grandma Hershberger, tried a couple and assured me they tasted fantastic – especially served with his own specialty: orange and lemon fruit drink.
(Joan Hershberger is a reporter at the News-Times.)