I love playing with vegan and gluten free food. It’s a challenge. How can we make a muffin taste, look, feel as good as a ‘normal’ muffin without the things that can muddle our bodies. So many people are giving gluten a miss, it seems like a good idea as many people struggle with it. I love bread so I made a tasty loaf the other day using predominately ground sunflower seeds, it worked a treat. I feel a shift, things are changing in the foundations of how we eat. The next generational food norms will be very different indeed. Gluten free and vegan will be as normal as fish and chips or black forest gateau.
I cook in a place called Trigonos, an idyllic retreat centre and organic veg farm. It’s a blessing. There I encounter all sorts of dietary requirements, every group that I cook for has a long list of specific dietary needs. The most regular are vegan and gluten free (we are a pure veggie place), but there are so many people out there waking up to food intolerances and how they can hamper our wellbeing. We are all unique and beautifully different, what works for me, might not work for you. But eating less gluten and animal-based saturated fat can only be a good thing for our health. That is a widely held, universal, food understanding. So these muffins are nice….. They can be enjoyed by almost anyone and there is no sacrifice in the taste or treat departments.
Nobody who eats these muffins would think they are vegan or gluten free. They are really quite healthy but very delicious. Any berry can be used here, depending on the season. We managed to get some blueberries and I admit, they are one of my favourites. The berries sort of explode in the muffins, creating lovely fruit pockets of happiness. There is plenty of richness from the coconut oil and a little bit of bite from the polenta flour (very fine polenta that is, not the course grain stuff we use normally).
GLUTEN FREE BEHAVIOUR
We tend to make our own gluten free flour mixes, we still haven’t got round to making the definitive Beach House Bread Mix. But its coming. I always like to have buckwheat flour around, one of my favourite grains/ seeds. In moderation, it makes for a light addition to baking with a good hearty flavour. Banana helps with the binding here, but you can use stewed apple instead. This is also very nice and works well when using blackberries in this recipe. We’ll be doing his later this year for sure. The brambles are already winding their wicked way all over the back of the garden and in Autumn, it will be an oasis for big, juicy blackberries.
Making flax eggs is so easy. Grab some flax/ linseeds and grinder them in a coffee grinder, blender, something like that. You are looking for a fine powder, but a few whole seeds is absolutely fine. You can also buy ground flax seeds or flax meal. This can then be added to all baking shenanigans in order to add a very nutritious binding agent. In the absence of eggs, I find them the best. They even have a vaguely egg-like texture, very gelatinous and gloopy. For 1 tbs of ground flax, I add 1 1/2 – 2 tbs water, stir and leave for a short time. You’ll see the change very quickly. Ground flax is also an amazing way of adding nutrition to your morning cereal, yoghurt or smoothie. Ground flax also helps to make a substantial and chewy loaf of bread or pizza crust. Fibre is so, so important to a healthy diet. It cleans you out in more ways that one!!!!
See here for more about flax eggs and other vegan baking substitutes.
I love using hemp seeds although they are a little rare. You could try sunflower seeds here, but the hemp seeds (hulled ones anyway) are so creamy and light. They seem to blend into the muffin adding richness. Sunflower seeds will be more of an obvious presence. Tasty non-the-less. Hemp is a wonderful plant and is becoming more and more popular for its uses in making fabric and even paper.
What with promoting our new book PEACE & PARSNIPS (out tomorrow I may add) and cooking, cooking, cooking…..there seems little time to squeeze in blogging, let alone glorious beach walks. Which is a shame. We will hopefully get some more of our recipes up on the B.H.K very soon. It is almost impossible to keep up. I love writing about food, but I must say, I love cooking much, much more. I’m an out of balance food blogger. Forgive me!!!! I just bought a new computer to replace my ancient little Filipino net book gadget, hopefully this will make me vastly more efficient. You never know!
These muffins are light and fruity…..healthy and delicious….give them a whirl!! All of your guilt-free dessert dreams are coming true….right here:
The Bits – Makes 6 muffins
50g buckwheat flour
50g rice flour
25g polenta flour (not coarse polenta, it should be fine like flour)
(or try 125g of a pre-mixed gluten free flour)
30g hulled hemp seeds
2 tbs coconut oil (softened)
½ teas bicarb soda
½ teas apple cider vinegar
¼ teas sea salt
1 teas vanilla extract
1 banana (mashed)
4-6 tbs rice syrup (depending on how sweet your tooth is; I’m a 3 and Jane’s an 8 – on this scale)
30-50ml soya milk
1 flax egg (1 tbs ground flax seeds mixed with 1 1/2 tbs water and left for 15 minutes)
100g blueberries (or berry of your choice)
Set the soya milk aside and then mix together the dry and wet ingredients separately. Then mix both together until just combined, adding the soya milk as need. The batter should be sticky, but not wet. Gently stir in the blueberries without popping any if poss (no drama if you do, they will have cool purple streaks).
Spoon the batter into oiled and lined muffin trays. Use muffins cases if you like, I prefer cutting out squares of baking parchment, oiling them and using them. They look far cooler. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick test comes out clean and not sticky. Remember, a little moisture in a muffin is a good thing of course, over baking them would be a shame. Use your muffin-sense here.
Leave to cool in the tray for 20 minutes before enjoying liberally with mugs of your favourite chai.
Foodie Fact – Flax Seeds
Flax seeds contain soluble fibre, a gel forming substance called ‘mucilage’. This means that they are brilliant for slowing down the release of sugars into our bodies, helping us absorb more nutrients from our foods and resulting in us being fuller for longer. 2 tbs of flax seeds contains 4 grams of dietary fibre.
Flax seeds are also the very best source of lignans, which provide the body with anti-oxidant and fibre-like benefits. In fact, flax seeds are actually higher in anti-oxidants (polyphenols) than blueberries! Not bad for a little grass seed.
Flax seeds are also ridiculously high in Omega 3 fatty acids, probably the highest to be found in nature. Omega 3’s help to keep our hearts healthy.