Walnut and apple breakfast muffins (gluten-free, vegan, processed sugar-free and de-licious)
It is hard to believe I will be done with my graduate studies in nutrition in less than two months. I've forgotten what it's like to have a free weekend without having to worry about nutritional biochemistry homework, applied clinical nutrition case studies, and other such exciting courses which have become a fixture of my life (actually, I must admit, my inner geek reveled in the work - I love it!).
Probably out of compassion for us stressed out graduate students, my school has also required us to take four cooking lab courses to teach us various ways of applying the nutrition theory we were learning in our kitchens. We literally had a healthy burger module, where "homework" involved an afternoon of making salmon and lentil burgers and other such yummies. Before you get too jealous however, you should also know that cooking chicken hearts was also a part of the curriculum - eek!
While I learned a lot from each of these projects, my favorite cooking module was (naturally) the healthy baking one. I spent an entire weekend in the kitchen producing trays full of deliciously healthy treats as an "assignment" for the class. I think my favorite recipe to come out of that module were these delicious gluten-free and vegan muffins, which are sweetened only with fruit and pure maple syrup. They are comforting (especially fresh out of the oven, on chilly fall mornings), not too sweet, and are a guilt-free way to satisfy a nagging sweet craving. The walnuts, which are processed and used as a flour, create a unique and crumbly texture which I found delightful.
My teacher for the course and the genius who developed this recipe is the fabulous Myra Kornfeld, and I strongly suggest you check out her book, The Healthy Hedonist - I have yet to try a dish created by her that I didn't LOVE).
Recipe: By Myra Kornfeld, The Healthy Hedonist
Makes 12 regular sized muffins
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
- 2 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup apple juice (I used fresh apple cider, since its in season)
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup of ripe bananas (I have found this is usually about 2 bananas, give or take)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees celcius
- Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet or in a cast-iron skillet and bake for 5 minutes, until slightly browned
- Transfer the nuts into a food processor and grind into a flour (make sure not to over-process, or you will end up with walnut butter). A good way to avoid this is to add a bit of the rice flour in the processor to prevent it from becoming a paste.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together: rice flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a second bowl, whisk the juice, maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla until they are combined.
- Next, mix the wet and dry ingredients together until they are thoroughly combined
- Fold the mashed bananas into the batter
- Finally, fill 12 standard muffin tins with muffin liners, and distribute the batter evenly amongt them .
- Bake for 20-25 minutes
- Let cook for at least 15 minutes