February is American Heart Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. A healthy diet and lifestyle are the best weapons you have to lower the risk of heart disease. In honor of this initiative, let’s all show some love — to our hearts.

Anyone for heart-healthy whole grains? Multigrain English muffins, namely, from Martha’s Whole Living.

The recipe, modified to our liking, it’s become my standard English muffin recipe. Whole wheat flour, rolled oats, wheat germ and (extra) flaxseed combine to provide protein, fiber, vitamins and healthy fats that give you energy for hours. Pairing the whole wheat flour with all-purpose white gives the muffins a rich nuttiness, as well as structure and balance.

Feel the l-o-v-e.

Usually the modifications end at more flaxseed — for a healthy crunch, but this time I also replaced the buttermilk with whey, from homemade paneer a day earlier. I got the idea from Prerna of Indian Simmer who says she puts leftover whey to work in dough for roti, naan and even pizza dough.

The acidity in buttermilk (or whey, if you have and choose to use it) provides the muffins’ characteristic tangy taste and soft, velvety consistency, both of which enhance the light, fluffy crumb. (We’ve since used whey in pancakes with marvelous results.)

At breakfast, lunch, elevensies or anytime, these little muffins, toasted to golden brown, are delightful. Slather with peanut or other nut butter and top with thin apple slices for a virtuous mid-morning or afternoon snack. The other morning I ate one with a gently fried egg atop sautéed spinach and purposely broke the yolk to make a sauce, which I highly recommend as well.

Treat your heart, and do it a favor at the same time, with a healthy dose of whole grains.

Multigrain English Muffins [makes 15-18]

Printable recipe

1/2 c warm water (110 to 115° F)

1 T mild-flavored honey

2 t active dry yeast (from one 1/4-oz envelope)

1 t unsalted butter

2 c all-purpose flour, plus more for surface

3/4 c whole wheat flour

1/4 c rolled oats (or try rolled rye)

1/4 c wheat germ

1 1/2 t coarse salt

1 T whole flaxseeds

1 1/2 t caraway seeds, optional

1/2 c low-fat buttermilk (or you can use leftover whey from making cheese; substitute 1:1)

Vegetable or olive oil cooking spray

1/4 c coarse cornmeal

Combine warm water, honey, yeast and butter in a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Let stand 5 minutes, until foamy.

In a large bowl, combine flours, oats, wheat germ, salt, flaxseed and, if using, caraway seeds. Add yeast mixture and buttermilk; mix with your hands until flours are almost fully incorporated. Turn out mixture onto a clean surface, and knead until smooth, about 3 minutes. [The mixing and kneading can be done entirely with a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment.]

Lightly coat a large mixing bowl with cooking spray, and place the dough in the bowl. Turn several times to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment and dust with cornmeal. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead about 1 1/2 minutes by hand, and then roll to 1/2″ thickness. Using a 3″ round cutter, cut out rounds and place them onto the prepared baking sheet. Re-roll the scraps and cut out remaining circles. Cover the dough rounds loosely with plastic, and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until puffy, about 20 minutes.

Heat a large griddle or 12″ skillet over low heat. Working in batches, place rounds on the griddle or in the skillet, 1 1/2″ apart. Cook until golden brown and dry, about 6 to 7 minutes per side. Let cool 30 minutes before eating.

When ready to eat, split the muffins with a fork. Toast and serve with butter or preserves, if desired. Muffins can be stored in a plastic container or zipper-top bag for 2 days; or refrigerated (up to 1 week) or frozen (up to 2 weeks).

Adapted from Martha Stewart Whole Living

Find more information about American Heart Month, and steps to take better care of your heart, here

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