Sherm’s Megamuffins and avoiding malnutrition in busy times

Sunday, July 29th, 2012


A recent series of events involving food poisoning and being incredibly busy – laid on the groundwork of me being cheap and disliking cooking – led to me eating not much more than peanut butter on toast and a couple bowls of oatmeal, with various powders thrown in it, every day. (Having not eaten grains for the past decade, this was quite a change for me.)

I let it go on for weeks, for the sake of experiment :). I liked how much better my stomach felt not having to process large amounts of raw vegetables (+). I liked feeling more mentally alert in the morning – and I’ve accepted that carbs are good for my brain. But I recently began to worry about malnutrition, a likely consequence of this poor diet. 

Not getting proper nutrition can happen easily when you’re either not focused on it on a daily basis or not prepared. Having experienced the negative side of hyper-focus on nutrition, I wanted to move away from obsession and toward preparation.

So I hearkened back to Sherm’s Megamuffins, a staple in many a CRONies diet. These muffins seemed like the perfect blend of healthy foods in a preparation relatively gentle on the stomach, which could be made in advance and frozen.

I made these last night and will be munching on them throughout the week. Whether I come out better or worse remains to be seen but it’s certainly worth the experiment.

Recipe below. My ingredient swaps are noted but anything below the ingredient list comes not from me but from this original post.


–Everything halved. Subs noted in *

Large dry ingredients 
2 boxes (454 g/1 lb) Ener-G rice bran 
1 C dark rye flour 
2 2/3 cup psyllium husk *1c metamucil
1 cup wheat bran 
3 T calcium-carbonate based “baking powder” 
6 x 20 g scoops Jarrow whey protein powder
2/3 cup brewer’s yeast *unsweetened cocoa powder
100 g raw almonds *not used
89 g almond meal *not used

Blender ingredients 
5 T Pumpkin Pie Spice (Unsweetened) *cinammon
1 T PURE sucralose *stevia powder + splenda
10 g NAC (N-acetylcysteine) powder 
45 mg (elemental) zinc (supplement) *not used
3 whole fresh eggs (flax-fed omega-3 preferred) 

3 cups skim milk *forgot!!!
300 g endive *Napa cabbage
340 g guava *papaya
240 g canned unsalted pumpkin *carrot
200 g whole orange *didn’t use

Large Pot or Bowl Wet ingredients 
24 egg whites (3 x 250 mL cartons) 
3 T olive oil or HOSO *MCT oil
3 T Reconstituted Z-Trim *didn’t use
800 Calories’ dried fruit (Eg, “Just Blueberries” and cranberries) *didn’t use
Sprinkle On Top 
3/8 T K metabisulfite *didn’t use but want to get

Bake at 325-degrees F. 


1. Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside. 

2. Put pumpkin pie spice, sucralose, NAC, Reconstituted Z-Trim, and whole eggs in blender. Cram as much of the endive, cut-up oranges and guava, and pumpkin into the thing as you can at a time and blend until very smooth. Sequentially dump into the separate large pot or bowl (NOT the one containing the dry ingredients!). 

3. Throw the remaining Large Pot or Bowl Wet ingredients (egg whites, olive oil or HOSO, and dried fruit) into the wet-ingredient Large Pot or Bowl. Mix thoroughly. 

4. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly until you have a uniform mixture. This is hard work for about 5 minutes. Make sure there are no dry spots left. 

5. Preheat oven 325-degrees F. 

6. Quickly distribute the now-rising dough evenly into two 10” x 14” baking pans. For maximal efficiency and minimal hassle, use baker’s parchment. 

7. Sprinkle metabisulfite onto the surface of the muffins. 

8. “Tent” the muffins: use enough tin foil to cover the sides of the pans, cutting a rectangular hole in the center of the foil to expose all but ~1-2” of the top surface. This minimizes excess browning while allowing for the cooking of the centers. 

9. Cook in preheated oven for 50 minutes. If they don’t both fit on one level, swap them top-to-bottom in the oven after 30 minutes since it is always hotter at the top and you want both batches to get the same amount of heat. 

12. Remove from oven, invert carefully out of the pan. 

13. Using a tape measure, cut into an appropriate number of slices. The analysis assumes 20 muffins, so each pan is cut in half one way and 5 (2.75”) the other. 

14. Pack in zip-loc freezer bags to retain moisture. Keep refrigerated or frozen. I put them straight into the freezer. IMO, they’re best when frozen and then thawed, rather than fresh. 

* You can substitute other dried fruit for the cranberries, of course. I use a mixture of the readily-available oiled, sugared dried cranberries with ‘Just Blueberries’ and “Just Cranberries,” which are available at Whole Foods and elsewhere & as the name implies are dried berries — period. This REALLY brings the Cal down, and because these things are at full volume, you would likely have a really hard time if you used these exclusively for 800 Calories. I typically use 21 g (75 Cal) of cranberries, 56 g (100 Cal) with the remainder the regular ones. 

* Spices are a matter of personal preference. 

* Other non-caloric sweeteners could be used in place of sucralose, but sucralose APPEARS to be the most well-documentedly safe noncaloric sweetener. NB that this is PURE sucralose, not ‘Splenda’ (which is ‘cut’ with maltodextrin). Sucralose is available from crbaisc < warren.taylor at earthlink dot net >, although he is currently cutting it with cellulose: you’ll have to adjust the volume of sucralose you use accordingly, but at least it adds no empty Calories. 

* I use eggs from flax-fed hens, to lower AA, cholesterol, and SaFA relative to what the analysis says. Alas, this DOES mean some extra DHA — my only dietary source. 

* I use commercial liquid egg whites rather than hand-separated egg whites — MUCH less hassle. 

* I use Ener-G brand sodium-free baking powder, which has the advantage of being loaded with Ca (this contributes over 500 mg of Ca per serving) without adding Na. K-based products are a good second best. If you have to use a sodium-based baking powder, that’s OK, but DO try to find aluminum-free baking powder at the very least. 

* Psyllium husk is not entered in DWIDP or the USDA database. I have seen WILDLY variant nutrition info on the web, some of which is patently wrong. Sherm offered an educated guess as to the truth a couple of years back; I finally got authoritative info via the WUSTL nutritionist, who got the following from a nutrition database from the University of Minnesota, and it matches that guess pretty darned closely: 

357.24 g of psyllium seed husks = 179 calories, 1.79 g fat, 288.65 g. carbohydrate, 10.36 g. protein, 125 mg sodium, 257.22 g dietary fiber, 204.3 g soluble fiber. 

Note that there is considerable brand-to-brand variation in the weight of a given volume of husk, due to how finely it’s ground, so double-check this before scooping into the mixing bowl. 

* I use baking parchment, after a tip from John Roberts, which REALLY reduces the hassle of extracting the muffins and cleaning up afterward, & avoids any evil gunk you might get off of the sides of the pan. Environmentally rather a poor option, alas Sad — although it can be re-used for many batches. 

* The rice bran is probably the most important ingredient for nutrition, although its phytic acid does mean that the mineral bioavailability is reduced. Buy it in sealed containers if possible, to avoid peroxidation of the fats and loss of the tocotrienols. I buy Ener-G rice bran at a local health food store. You can easily get it by mail from their web site or 1-800-331-5222. Look under “flours” to find the rice bran product and buy the 8 oz (227g) size which costs less than $2! 

* For the protein powder, use plain, unflavored, unsweetened stuff, and (to get the best nutritional bennies) use a concentrate rather than an isolate. I use Jarrow’s American Whey (Unflavored/Natural), mostly because it meets the above criteria and I get it on the cheap; other reputable brands will do as well. NB that the scoop that comes with this brand is 23 g, whereas I use a 20 g scoop. 

* NAC (N-acetylcysteine) powder is available from Carlson, which can be purchased from the Vitamin Shoppe and elsewhere. NAC is also a major inhibitor of food AGE formation and also do a bit against acrylamide; the Muffins & Brownies are by far the biggest risk for this in my diet, so having a convenient chemical interdictor is a bonus. K metabisulfite is available in home wine-making hobby stores, where they commonly just know it as “sufites.” 

* HOSO: High-oleic sunflower oil. Similar fatty acid profile to olive oil, but with a taste more compatible with a muffin. True, pure, unrefined HOS is quite tasty but I haven’t been able to find it for years: some regular grocery stores carry refined HOSO, and Omega Nutrition makes an unrefined, blended oil mixed w/sesame and coconut oil, making the taste & fatty acid profile a little poorer than the real thing. Spectrum Naturals carries a ‘naturally refined’ HOSO as well. According to the company, they do the extraction with expeller pressing, the bleaching using a clay and diatomaceous earth filtratioin system, and then a vaccuum-chamber steam deodorization — ie, no chemical processes at any step. I’d still rather have the phytosterols and (likely) other missing goodies, but it seems that this is less likely to produce evil & more likely to leave fat-soluble antioxidants intact. Now if only they’d produce it in dark glass … 

* Z-Trim: a fat substitute. See: < >. Gives the mouth feel with negligible Calories. I use it in vegetarian “gravy,” stews, and mixed spiced steamed vegetables. 

Recipe Nutrient Analysis: Note that this is for a slightly older iteration; the new one, as noted, is higher protein, and the micronutrients will have shifted somewhat, too. 

Calories/Serving: 337.92 
PCF Ratio: 25-44-32 

Nutrient Single Serving Total Recipe 
Calories (kcal) 337.92 6758.43 
Energy (kJ) 1408.42 28168.37 
Protein (g) 23.77 475.34 
Calories from Protein 83.03 1660.52 
% Calories from Protein 24.57 24.57 
Carbohydrates (g) 42.30 845.98 
Calories from Carbohydrates 147.76 2955.30 
% Calories from Carbohydrates 43.73 43.73
Fat (g) 13.63 272.60 
Calories from Fat 107.13 2142.62 
% Calories from Fat 31.70 31.70 
Saturated Fat (g)* 2.33 46.59 
Monounsaturated Fat (g)* 6.70 133.91 
Polyunsaturated Fat (g)* 3.47 69.45 
Omega-3 (g)* 0.15 3.02 
Omega-6 (g)* 3.27 65.31 
Cholesterol (mg) 31.58 631.62 
Phytosterols (mg)* 19.21 384.15 
Starch (g)* 0.07 1.38 
Sugars (g)* 5.66 113.30 
Total Dietary Fiber (g)* 15.83 316.68 
Vitamin A (IU)* 3266.07 65321.35 
Thiamin (mg)* 1.62 32.34 
Riboflavin (mg)* 0.70 14.05 
Niacin (mg)* 11.42 228.34 
Pantothenic Acid (mg)* 3.17 63.49 
Vitamin B-6 (mg)* 1.26 25.25 
Total Folate (mcg)* 60.40 1207.98 
Vitamin B-12 (mcg)* 0.61 12.10 
Vitamin C (mg)* 50.07 1001.33 
Vitamin D (IU)* 17.52 350.40 
Vitamin E (IU)* 7.32 146.44 
Tocopherol, Alpha (mg)* 2.84 56.70 
Tocopherol, Beta (mg)* 0.04 0.81 
Tocopherol, Gamma (mg)* 0.08 1.68 
Tocopherol, Delta (mg)* 0.02 0.47 
Biotin (mcg)* 7.22 144.45 
Calcium (mg)* 316.03 6320.65 
Chromium (mcg)* 10.17 203.30 
Copper (mg)* 0.74 14.86 
Iron (mg)* 7.33 146.68 
Magnesium (mg)* 271.51 5430.24 
Manganese (mg)* 4.74 94.84 
Phosphorus (mg)* 665.48 13309.62 
Potassium (mg) 939.94 18798.80 
Selenium (mcg)* 23.13 462.58 
Sodium (mg) 117.79 2355.86 
Zinc (mg)* 3.40 68.03 
Cystine (g)* 0.42 8.43 
Histidine (g)* 0.43 8.68 
Isoleucine (g)* 1.16 23.22 
Leucine (g)* 1.87 37.33 
Lysine (g)* 1.47 29.42 
Methionine (g)* 0.47 9.34 
Phenylalanine (g)* 0.97 19.42 
Threonine (g)* 1.16 23.27 
Tyrosine (g)* 0.73 14.69 
Tryptophan (g)* 0.33 6.65 
Valine (g)* 1.30 25.93 
FA 16:0 Palmitic (g)* 1.63 32.67 
FA 18:0 Stearic (g)* 0.27 5.45 
FA 18:1 Oleic undifferentiated (g)* 6.64 132.77 


One comment on “Sherm’s Megamuffins and avoiding malnutrition in busy times

  1. erigentry says:

    Today’s experiment:(More = eyeballed a bit more)More carrotMore napa cabbageMore MCT oilMore psyllium huskMore unsweetened cocoa powderUsed 1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1/2 cup of waterAdded ~ 4 packed cups of spinachAdded 2T sugar-free vanilla coffee creamerSubbed 4 whole eggs for 12 egg whitesCooking in 2 10×18 pansDrizzled sugar-free maple syrup on one panResults:Too wet. Even divided into two pans, it took longer to cook: about 20 min for un-mapled pan, and 35 min more for mapled pan. The result was too sticky and moist. I’d like it to be more structured and perhaps egg whites are the best way to do this in a healthful way. I’ll put them back in next time and see how it goes.

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