5 Reasons to Use Your Muffin Tin
By Matthew Kadey, MSc., RD
The muffin tin might be the most versatile piece of cooking gear you have in the kitchen. Here’s why you should start giving your muffin tin a stiff workout.
1. Built-in Portion Control
The growing size of meal portions in the past couple decades coincides with the steady rise in obesity in America. A recent study from Cornell University compared recipes in seven editions of The Joy of Cooking published from 1936 to 2006. Researchers found the average calories per serving increased for 17 of the 18 recipes analyzed due to a shift to larger serving sizes and higher-calorie ingredients. One way to fight escalating portions is to prepare your meals in the muffin tin. Be it mini-sized meatloaf or chocolate cake, the muffin tin creates built-in portion control helping you stay on good terms with the scale.
2. Save Energy
Using a muffin tray can slash cooking time by up to half. Not only will this get food to the table quicker, but it will also result in an energy savings. What’s more, by reducing the time you use the oven, you can reduce heat coming from your kitchen. For example, if you divide the batter for a pumpkin loaf among muffin trays, cooking time decreases by 30 to 50 percent.
3. Better Lunches
Smaller food items cooked using the muffin tin can make preparing lunches easier for adults and children. You can bake up a batch of mini-salmon cakes on Sunday and you can have a week’s worth of calorie-controlled portions. For style points, a Japanese bento box is a perfect lunch container for your muffin tray creations.
4. Improved Taste
Cooking items in smaller portions decreases the risk of food drying out. So using your muffin tin could improve taste by keeping food moist longer than food baked in loaf pans.
From mini-pizzas to a low-fat panna cotta, and even muffins, there is no shortage of recipes that can be adapted for use in the muffin tin. Try your favorites and see if smaller is better. Here’s one to get you started:
Salmon Lentil Cakes
- 2/3 cup dry red lentils
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 6 oz. can sockeye or pink salmon
- 1 tbsp horseradish
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tbsp fresh dill
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- In a saucepan, bring lentils and 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until lentils have become tender and water has mostly been absorbed, about 10 minutes.
- As lentils cook, heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a skillet and cook shallots for 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and cumin seeds and cook 1 minute more.
- Mash lentils with a fork or potato masher and combine with shallot mixture: salmon, horseradish, eggs, dill, bread crumbs, salt and pepper.
- Divide mixture among 10 lightly greased or paper lined muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes, or until set and slightly golden on top. Let cool before unmolding.
See the Nutrition Information for one of 10 salmon cakes.