I know; who says things like, “It’s the berries” any more?
Okay, well, I admit that I do. I also say “take umbrage” (and said it even before I knew the Harry Potter connection), “just chillaxin’” and, sometimes, “the cat’s pyjamas” (but only when I feel like teasing The Girls).
But honestly, this recent revision in my diet that now permits the occasional appearance of fruits like raspberries, black berries or blueberries is, indeed–well, the berries.
After my recent success with a stevia-sweetened upside down apple pancake, I decided to go one step further and aim for muffins. Unlike the pancake, these babies are portable as a snack, or even breakfast (not that a holistic nutritionist such as I, who always spends enough time preparing and eating proper meals , ever has to eat on the run–say, in my car, for instance, as I drive to a dentist appointment because I’m so totally overscheduled and behind on work that I was up until 12:47 that very morning marking student assignments and then slept through the alarm and hit “snooze” twice before rushing out of bed and waking the HH while shrieking, “I’m going to be late for the DENTIST!” as I dashed into the shower, dressed at record speed and headed out like Bugs Bunny’s tasmanian devil on the hunt for prey, pausing just long enough at the kitchen counter to grab a muffin–no, no, goodness me, I never have to resort anything like that!).
After I received my healthy baking kit this week, I got to thinking about baking muffins that I’d be allowed to eat. These lemon-blueberry lovelies are light yet dense, providing a moist, airy crumb that’s just right as a backdrop for organic blueberries that have been scattered hither and thither (I also say things like “hither and thither, apparently). I used dried blueberries (sweetened only with apple juice) and so felt they’d be acceptable as a treat on this phase of the ACD. If you prefer, use fresh or frozen berries (but don’t thaw the latter before stirring into the batter).
I may have mentioned before that I regularly bake muffins or quick breads so the HH has something healthy at work alongside his coffee each morning (hmmm. . . . I wonder if the organic, whole foods ingredients in my goodies cancel out the hydrogenated fats and chemicals in the coffee whitener at the office? Naw, didn’t think so). Now, he long ago became accustomed to whole spelt flour and natural sweeteners instead of wheat and sugar, but how would he react to GF flours and stevia? Only one way to find out. I went to work. By the time the HH returned home from his day at the office, the house was infused with the heady aroma of lemon zest.
“HH, honey, how about a taste of a delicious, yummy, moist lemon-blueberry muffin?” I asked innocuously. He stopped to look at me.
“It’s one of those weird candida things, isn’t it?”
[Freeze frame on Ricki’s face. The Dilemma: does she lie and only later tell him what’s in the muffin, after he eats it? Or does she tell him the truth, and risk his refusal to even try?]
“Candida things aren’t weird,” I said, and left it at that.
“Okay, I’ll take a taste. . . .” I stared intently. He nibbled on the muffin’s domed top. This was followed by another nibble, then a fuIl bite, which was followed by a second, and a third. . . before I knew it, the muffin was gone!
“Hmm. Lemony. And the blueberries taste pretty sweet. ” He began to rummage around for another. Sweet Success!
Even if you haven’t worked with stevia before, I bet you will enjoy these as a light, not-too-sweet breakfast treat or snack. Seriously, they’re far out. A gas. Just swell. And the berries.
And Happy Hannukah (or, if you prefer, Chanukah) to everyone who celebrates!
Blueberry Lemon Muffins
These are a substantial, moist and light muffin for breakfast or snacks. Don’t worry about what seems like a lot of lemon flavor from the extract and zest here; whole grain flours can be overpowering, and you’ll need to compensate with more flavoring if you want to detect lemon in the final product.
1/4 cup (60 ml) tahini (sesame paste), or use cashew butter if you’re not a sesame fan
1/4 cup (60 ml) sunflower or other light-tasting oil, preferably organic
1/2 cup (120 ml) unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp (10 ml) finely ground chia seeds
1 cup (240 ml) unsweetened soy or almond milk
25-35 drops stevia, to your taste (the muffins will taste a bit less sweet once baked), or 1/4 cup (60 ml) agave nectar*
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
1 tsp (5 ml) pure lemon extract or 2 tsp (10 ml) lemon flavoring (flavoring is less intense)
finely grated zest of 2 medium or large lemons
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup (120 ml) dried blueberries (or use fresh/frozen, unthawed)
1/2 cup (120 ml) amaranth flour**
1/2 cup (120 ml) brown rice flour
2 Tbsp (30 ml) coconut flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) garbanzo-fava flour or chickpea flour
1 Tbsp (15 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) baking soda
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners, or grease with coconut oil.
In a large bowl, whisk together the tahini and oil until smooth. Add the applesauce and stir well to combine, then whisk in the chia seeds. Add the milk, stevia, vanilla, lemon flavoring, lemon zest and vinegar, and stir until well combined. Gently stir in the blueberries to coat them.
In a medium bowl, sift together the amaranth flour, brown rice flour, coconut flour, garbanzo-fava flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pour the dry ingredients over the wet and stir just until combined.
Using a large scoop or a 1/3 cup (80 ml) measuring cup, scoop generously and fill muffins tins very full. Bake in preheated oven 30-35 minutes, rotating pan around halfway through, until very well browned on top and a center muffin tests done. Allow to cool 5 minutes before removing from pan to cool completely. Makes 12-14 large muffins or 12 large muffins and about 6 minis. May be frozen.
* You can replace the stevia with 1/4-1/3 cup (60-80 ml) agave nectar if you like, but reduce the milk by 2-3 Tbsp (30-45 ml) if you do.
** Amaranth has a distinctive, nutty flavor that some may find too assertive for these muffins. For a milder flavor, substitute millet or more rice flour for the amaranth.
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