Here’s another guest post from gluten-free guru Sarah Bernache, and this time she’s sharing one of her favorite gluten-free muffin recipes – enjoy!
Most of the people I’ve met who need to adhere to a gluten-free diet find it fairly easy to come up with alternative meal ideas. Omelettes, salads, homemade soups, salmon and brown rice — there’s an abundance of easy, healthy options ripe for the choosing. Snacks are a somewhat different story.
Because I’ve been living gluten-free for so many years, I often forget what it’s like for someone first starting out. I’m always trying new recipes, but my snack options look pretty boring in comparison, especially for a self-professed foodie: hummus and vegetables or seed crackers, air-popped popcorn, fruit, a bite of cheese, plain yogurt with nuts and a whisper of maple syrup. So when my mother, who is gradually making the shift to a dairy-free, gluten-free diet to heal her inflammation, came to me looking for snack ideas, I was at a bit of a loss. “I feel like all I’m doing is eating fruit and vegetables,” she said. What’s the problem with that? I smiled. But that’s the thing: there are so many convenient, gluten-filled snacks out there! What to replace them with? It was time to think outside the box.
Lauren recently wrote about the importance of planning your snacks to successfully manage hunger; a gluten-free diet, in practice, looks very similar. With a few go-to snacks in your back pocket, you can make adhering to the diet a lot easier and less stressful. And fortunately for my mother, they don’t all involve items from your produce department – at least not in a way she would immediately recognize.
Here’s where coconut flour comes in. We’re constantly bombarded by different flour options: buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa, almond, hazelnut, chickpea. It’s challenging to know which ones to buy and which to discard. Really, my advice to you and to any beginner is to experiment with different flours and see which ones are to your taste. Coconut flour is fibrous, low in carbohydrates, naturally sweet, and very rich. It’s also a great source of medium-chain saturated fat, which is metabolized in the liver and converted into energy. Allegedly, this type of fat also boosts immunity and metabolism, a win-win.
One thing to note about working with this superfood is that it requires a lot of eggs. Unlike other gluten-free flours, you can’t substitute coconut flour anywhere you like successfully. This doesn’t mean that you can’t combine it with other flours, but just know that coconut flour is a little quirkier than the others. On the plus side, it’s ground coconut, and as such can be tossed raw into a smoothie or in a bowl of oatmeal for added benefit.
This recipe is easy, simple and delicious. I’ll warn you that the muffins are dense. Nothing you do is likely to change this; it’s one of coconut’s endearing properties. Unlike other gluten-free baked foods, these are really moist, stick together easily and have a fairly decent crumb on them. I actually like to have one of these muffins mid-afternoon because they’re filling enough to hold me over until my late-night dinner, but not so heavy that they weigh me down during my workout.
Banana Walnut Coconut Muffins
Notes: I like my baked goods only lightly sweetened, so 2 T works for me. If you would like a slightly sweeter muffin, I would add the full ¼ cup. Keep in mind, though, that these muffins are intended as a snack and not dessert and may not be as sweet as you are accustomed to.
3 very ripe bananas (about 1.5 cups)
1 cup coconut flour
4 (free-range) large eggs
6 T melted butter or cold-pressed coconut oil
2 T – 1/4 cup (unpasteurized) honey (see notes)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 t – 1 T ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 T real vanilla extract
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped finely (optional)
1. Mash your bananas and heat them in the microwave or in a pan over the stove. This helps to infuse the muffins with extra banana-ness. Preheat oven to 350F and grease the muffin tin. Alternately, you can make banana bread in a traditional loaf pan.
2. Combine the bananas with the eggs, butter/oil, honey, and vanilla. (You can whip the eggs beforehand, but I’ve yet to see a noticeable improvement in my experience.)
3. Gather the dry ingredients (flour, sea salt, cinnamon, baking powder) in a separate bowl and whisk well to combine.
4. Combine wet and dry ingredients and mix well to combine. Watch — that pesky coconut flour does not mix well, so be sure to fully mix it.
5. Add chopped walnuts (or dark chocolate chunks), if desired.
6. Fill 8 muffin tins or loaf pan with the mixture and bake for 20-25 minutes (40-45 for loaf) until the tops are nicely browned and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Leave in the tin or pan to cool completely.
7. Best refrigerated and consumed within 5-7 days.
Sarah Berneche holds a B.A.H. and M.A. in English Literature & Creative Writing from the University of Windsor and a post-graduate certificate in Creative Book Publishing from Humber College. She works in corporate advertising and is currently pursuing her R.H.N. designation through CSNN’s distance education program to further her knowledge of food & nutrition. In her free time, she volunteers as a fruit gleaner and event organizer for Not Far From the Tree and as a contributing blogger & editor for LEAF.