It’s beginning to feel like spring in Texas, but I am holding on to winter–or, at least, winter baking–with all my might.
Today was the kind of gray, drizzly, SF bay area (home)-style weather that I love, so after church, Kevin headed off to his office to grade papers while Nick and I stayed home to savor our indoor day by baking and being silly, activities at which we both excel.
I had toyed with the idea of giving up sugar for Lent, but after giving the notion a two-day test run last weekend, I was ready to tear down the remaining wallpaper in an upstairs closet with my bare hands. Hence I modified the plan to (1) cut back on sugar (especially no leftover Valentine’s candy :)) and opt for less refined sweeteners, such as honey, maple syrup, and coconut palm sugar over refined sugar (without being fanatical); and (2) eat even more whole foods in general, everyday, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, etc.
So rather than a chocolate chip cookies and apple cake this afternoon, I experimented, and came up with two (ahem, pretty awesome) recipes: Quinoa Blueberry Muffins (no eggs, dairy, refined sugar or gluten) and some dried fruit, nut and seeds bars (I’ll share the bar recipe tomorrow).
I am crazy about quinoa, and it is a fantastic, stir-in to muffins, both for its nutrition (high protein, in particular) and subtle, nutty flavor. It also adds a slightly nubby texture to the finished muffin. The recipe is loosely inspired by the Martha Stewart Everyday Food Quinoa Muffins ; I’ve altered my version in major ways.
(1) The flour: I’ve replaced the all-purpose flour with chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour. Have you tried it? I am pretty new to using it, but I am pretty excited about the recipes I’ve tried so far (I’ve been playing around with it in various baking recipes). It is simply dried chickpeas that have been ground into a fine velvety flour. It is high protein and has a really low glycemic index–serious athlete fuel! No one, I promise, will ever guess that it is in these muffins. You can find it in natural foods stores (Bob’s Red Mill makes it–labeled garbanzo bean flour) or in Indian grocery stores (labeled besan). It is cheap, too!
(2) The sweetener: I used coconut palm sugar because it is minimally refined, has a robust brown sugar-type flavor, and has a slightly lower glycemic index than refined sugar.
(3) The eggs and dairy: I made these without either so I could share with two friends in particular (one vegan, one who is allergic to eggs). Chickpea flour can be used as a vegan egg replacer, so it does not need weird binders (or gums). I also added flaxseed meal for healthy fats and a tender texture.
You can use dried fruit here, but I had some blueberries in the freezer (our town has a summer blueberry festival–I need to use up some of my hoard!), so in they went. I like to see the fruit, so I reserve a few berries and push them into the top of the batter.
These would be great with no fruit, too. I am thinking chocolate chips, too (ok, I’ll wait until Lent is over).
Happy baking (and eating), everyone!
- ½ cup quinoa, rinsed in a mesh sieve
- ¾ cup chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour
- ¼ cup flaxseed meal
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¾ cup nondairy milk (use dairy if not vegan :))
- ⅓ cup coconut palm sugar or packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil, melted oil or other neutral cooking oil
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- Bring quinoa and 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer; cover, and cook 15-20 minutes until water has been absorbed and quinoa is tender. Cool slightly and fluff with a fork.
- Preheat oven to 350F. LIne, grease or spray all of the cups of a standard size muffin tin.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour, flaxseed meal, baking powder, and salt,
- In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, coconut sugar, and vanilla. Add milk mixture to flour mixture, and stir just until combined. Stir in quinoa, and coconut oil until combined, then gently stir the blueberries (I like toreserve a few and press into the top, but it is up to you!).
- Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 17-22 minutes until toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool muffins in pan, 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container up to 5 days.