These muffins have been made for decades when I come back to my family home at Kina Peninsula, on the coast west of Nelson. Always for morning tea at 10am, it just seems to work with a cup of coffee, chatting and watching the tide rise or fall.

Our property is just two acres but it’s absolutely bountiful in every season thanks to the clever planting of fruit trees by my parents over a period of 25 years or more. As well as this, Dad’s vegetable garden is a triumph all year round and a treasure trove for me to plunder and cook with every time I’m here.

This time, I’ve arrived in mid December and it’s all bursting with expectant summer goodness.

Red currants gleam like jewels, the winter rhubarb needs harvesting and the strawberries are still producing.

As I arrived, the first plum tree’s crop ripened up and although we have to fight the birds for them, there are still enough to go round.

Citrus is the hero of today’s muffins though.  There are a few trees heavy with orange and yellow fruit, hanging like Christmas decorations amongst the dark green foliage. My favourite for eating fresh are the sweet grapefruit. The lemons to me are essential for life and the rich tangelos and mandarins are perfect garden snacks.

This is a very basic, pretty healthy recipe that I adapt however I like. Sometimes I make them gluten free, sugar free, dairy free. Here I’ve kept it standard and just added the fruit I have to hand. The chocolate is pure indulgence and so good!


2 cups of wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
¾ teaspoon of aluminium free baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
Pinch of sea salt
¼ - ½ cup of raw sugar (optional)
1 cup of coarse coconut
2 cups of assorted fruit, chopped:
1 -2 apples – diced
2 apricots - chopped
2 tangelos – sliced finely, skin and all
Zest of one lemon
½ cup of dark/raw chocolate buttons
1 cup of milk
1 egg
2 tablespoons of coconut oil (can use butter or omit altogether)
½ teaspoon of pure vanilla


Turn oven to 220C.
Grease a 12 hole, medium muffin tin with coconut oil.
Cut up the fruit. Whisk together milk, egg, cinnamon, vanilla. Add to fruit.
Place all the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix to combine.
Pour in the milk fruit mix and stir gently until just combined.
Spoon into the muffin tins.
Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until golden and springy.
Remove from tins and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm with a freshly brewed coffee, in our case this morning - or cold, with a cuppa or a cool drink.

RECIPE - Nicola's Vegie-Juice-Pulp Cake

Looking at the bright green, dry solids left after my vegie juice today got me thinking. Not liking to waste a thing, I put together a cake that used up the leftovers in a very delicious way as it turned out. It's not a super health cake, just a type of variation on a traditional carrot cake. The walnuts are just pressed onto the raw batter before baking so take on a nice toasted taste. Icing is optional.
The finished cake was a bit of an alarming shade of green but don't be put off by that.

Walnuts collected this winter

2 cups of vegetable juice pulp (instead of throwing it away)
Mine today was:
Silverbeet, beetroot tops, parsley, mint, 1 carrot, broccoli leaves
1 orange or a couple of tangelos, finely sliced, skin and all
150ml light oil or coconut oil
2  organic, free range eggs
2/3 cup fine dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 cup wholemeal flour
1 cup of coarse coconut
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon of aluminium-free baking soda
Pinch sea salt
Handful of coarsely chopped walnuts

Icing (Optional)

Juice of one lemon
Zest of one lemon
3 tablespoons of organic coconut oil or butter
¾ - 1 cup icing sugar
(Could also use some cream cheese)

Pre-heat oven to 170C.
Grease a  20cm spring form tin with coconut oil or butter, line with baking paper.
Beat oil, eggs and sugar until pale and thick.
Add vegetable pulp and orange, mix well.
Add dry ingredients and mix gently until combined. Add ¼ - ½ cup of water if the mix is to dry. Should be a wet-ish batter.
Put mixture into the prepared tin.
Scatter walnuts on top, press gently into the mixture.
Bake at 170C for ¾ - 1 hour, until it springs back to the touch.
Cool on a wire rack completely before icing. The icing may go liquid in the heat because of the coconut oil so keep in the fridge in that case.
Fresh from the oven - Green glory!
Simple market salad
Another trip to the buzzing Bondi Farmers Market on a Saturday morning in Sydney, Australia.
Smiling faces of my favourite growers, Hapi and Cathy who come in laden with the best variety of vegetables and herbs ever, including some interesting ones to try such as sorrel, nettles, purslane, chickory, dandelion and more. Hapi and Cathy are always happy to help with ideas for cooking and encourage us all to try something new.
Home I go with a basket heavy with organic goodness, most of it green, a dozen farm eggs nestle at the bottom too. This is the ideal time to put together a true market lunch using what is local, seasonal and fresh. The "template" that I use is based on building up from the greens and leaves, adding in perhaps some more raw or cooked vegetables, then adding some proteins of choice. The end result is always delicious and because it's using the produce of the day, always hits the spot for satisfying, good food.

Today's Market Lunch
Sorrel leaves - a lovely fresh, lemony, tangy taste
Chickory - bitter and beautiful!
Avocado - buttery and wonderful
Fried boudin noir (black pudding) - salty & tasty
A soft poached egg - organic and free range
Shaved pecorino or Parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper
Squeeze of lemon juice
Organic extra virgin olive oil
A few dobs of my friend Noni's homemade kumquat chutney with pine nuts and almonds.

I just put all the ingredients together in a bowl except for the egg, boudin noir and chutney - these I added on the top when I put it onto my plate.
Super easy, super delicious.

Serves 1 - Adjust for as many as you're cooking for.