Lemon & Lavender Blueberry Muffins {grain-free, sugar-free}

Having had this baking blog for six years now, there are still times I feel conflicted. My love for baking cookies, rolling dough and icing cupcakes comes from somewhere within me that's completely opposite of how I eat on a daily basis.

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For me, it's about edible art. It's about creating something with your hands. It's about creating something for others. And on top of it all, it's about finding a healthy balance in your own life.

Because the world should be sweet... but not too sweet that it rots your teeth. 

Almost two years ago, my sister told me about the Whole30 program. She picked me up one night and we went shopping. As she was on day five, she explained to me how you cut out sugar, bread, dairy, alcohol... and she was feeling so good. This was also at a time I was hooked on candy - eating it instead of real food - and I was overly stressed at the law firm I was at. That, and my IBS was causing serious stomach problems. My gut knew I needed to buy It Starts With Food and take 30 days to only put real food in my body. So, the next day I bought the book and I started my 30 days. This turned out to be not only 30 days...but it became my lifestyle and continues to be today.

Which means I've cut the sugar. If you do the strict 30 days, this means no sugar or any sweetener - even the natural kinds like honey or coconut sugar! They all stimulate that reward center in your brain that gets you hooked on the sweet stuff.  

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As you begin your 30 days without sugar, you begin to realize how naturally sweet foods are, without anything added. Strawberries are heavenly and pineapple tastes like candy. And dates are a game changer. 

After my 30 days, it became a Whole30 lifestyle, in a way. Eating more fruits and vegetables instead of candy has become a habit I no longer think twice about.

And now, when I do bake (you shouldn't make baked goods with whole30 ingredients during the strict 30 days), I make grain-free and sugar-free muffins, breads and snack bars. The wholesome flavor is just as much nourishing as it is delicious.

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And no matter if you've experienced the Whole30 program or not, we could all cut down on the added sugar in our daily diet. I mean, the average person eats 15 teaspoons of sugar a day, when The American Heart Association and World Health Organization recommend at most, 6 teaspoons! 

Sugar is soooo sneaky - it hides in your milk (even non-dairy!), breads and muffins. But, if you make these items yourself without the added sugar, you begin to appreciate the flavor that vanilla extract and cinnamon bring to the end result.

It's not about tricking your taste buds into thinking you're eating something bad for you - it's about realizing that real, healthy food simply just tastes really really good.  

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Okay, so that was my long-winded explanation that brings me here. With these almond flour muffins filled with fresh lemon, lavender & blueberries! Not only does the combination sound heavenly, but it tastes heavenly... aaaand it's healthy! No sugar needed.   

Lemon & Lavender Blueberry Muffins

(Makes 12 muffins) 

  • 2 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (or almond milk)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons dried lavender, muddled or finely chopped 
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, whisk the almond flour, coconut flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon until combined. 
  2. Then, using a wooden spoon, mix in the vanilla, coconut oil, coconut milk and eggs until well combined. Then, stir in the dried lavender, lemon juice and zest and combine well. You can add more almond flour if the batter seems too thin, but it should be moist!
  3. Add in the blueberries and mix until incorporated throughout the batter. 
  4. Spray a muffin pan liberally with nonstick spray and using an ice cream scoop, scoop the batter into the tins. You can also use muffin liners. Top each muffin with a few extra blueberries and a sprinkle of cinnamon,
  5. Bake at a 350 degree oven for about 22-25 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through baking and checking on the muffins around 20 minutes. Take out when the tops are golden. 
  6. Let cool for a few minutes. Run your knife around the edge of each muffin to loosen them from the pan before taking them out. Take out and let cool completely on a wire rack. Store up to 4 days in an airtight contained at room temperature, or place in the refrigerator.
  7. I like to enjoy these muffins warm with a thick spread of chunky almond butter. Try it out! 

 

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Life is too short not to indulge in your favorite cookie or treat. But, it's also so precious that we need to indulge in nourishing treats even more.  

Raspberry Banana Muffins {grain-free, sugar-free}

As my muffin kick is in full swing, I'm sharing a current favorite. 

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For this banana bread recipe, I use either blueberries or raspberries - and either fresh or frozen. Whatever I have on hand.

Since these can be made in one bowl, poured into muffin tins and baked for 15 minutes, it's quick for me to make them at night and enjoy the next day. Chad will have them for breakfast, and I like to have one with my dinner - a dessert of sorts. These are great any time of the day!

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Raspberry Banana Muffins {grain-free, sugar-free}

(makes about 12 muffins)

  • 3 bananas, ripe
  • 1/2 cashew butter (or almond butter)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen (plus 12 raspberries for topping)

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. In a bowl with a whisk or a food processor, blend the bananas until well blended. Add in the cashew butter and blend until smooth. Add eggs and blend until smooth. 
  3. Add in the baking soda, salt, cinnamon and vanilla and mix until well combined. Add in the almond flour and mix to combine. Stir in the raspberries.
  4. Spray 12 muffin tins with non-stick spray or use muffin liners.
  5. Using an ice cream scoop, fill each muffin tin with batter. Top with one raspberry. 
  6. Bake 13-15 minutes until golden brown and the muffin is cooked. 
  7. Let cool for 5 minutes. Using a knife, run it around the edge of each muffin to loosen from the sides. Take out of the tins and let cool completely on a wire rack. Store in a container at room temperature. 

 

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Healthy baking can be the best baking. :) 

Wild Blueberry Muffins {grain-free & sugar-free}

Today I'm sharing a variation of my almond butter muffins that I made earlier this week!

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The great thing about a base recipe is that you can add to it and mix in ingredients to change the flavor profile. If you're creative in the kitchen, food is always delicious, not boring!

Here, I still used the bananas and almond butter base and added blueberries instead of raisins.

I look at these healthy muffins in a positive way - filled with whole foods, nothing bad. A muffin you can feel good about eating.

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Wild Blueberry Muffins

(Makes 1 dozen regular muffins)

  • 2 large ripe bananas (or 3 small)
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional 
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened, frozen wild blueberries, plus a few more for topping (fresh also work)

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray muffin tins with non-stick spray. 

  2. In the bowl of a large food processor, blend the bananas until creamy. Add in the almond butter and cream together. Note: You can also do this in a mixer, just make sure you mash the bananas prior to mixing with almond butter. 

  3. Add the eggs, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and vanilla, if using. Mix until combined. 

  4. Pour into a large bowl and stir in the blueberries.

  5. Using as ice cream scoop, scoop the batter into the sprayed muffin tins.  You may want to use liners, to prevent any sticking. Then, sprinkle a few blueberries on top of each muffin. 

  6. Place in the oven and bake for about 13-15 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Check after 13 minutes and keeping checking until golden brown and centers seem done. You may notice that the middles sink in a little if there are a lot of blueberries in that particular muffin, but that is okay! They will be very moist!  

  7. Let cool for about 10 minutes in the muffin tins, then carefully take out and let cool completely on a wire rack. I use a knife and go around the edges of the muffins so they release from the tins easier. If the bottoms seem to stick, wait a little longer for them to cool. 

  8. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for one week. Or at room temperature, if eaten within a few days.  You can also freeze any extras. 

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I find myself enjoying one of these later in the day... it is my version of dessert after dinner. Just pop one in the microwave so it's nice and warm! 

Almond Butter Raisin Muffins {grain-free & sugar-free}

I vividly remember the first successful almond muffins I made. It was the winter of my third year of law school. I studded the batter with blueberries and raspberries, then lined my muffin tins with little squares of parchment paper. 

I took pictures on the floor of my tiny apartment, stealing a few bites between shots. I was ecstatic that I could make fluffy muffins with no flour (not even that gluten-free flour blend). 

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Now, three year later, I'm seeing more and more almond flours, coconut flours, chickpea flours... they are everywhere and I couldn't be more excited! Grain-free flours allow people to get creative in the kitchen; using whole, real ingredients in new ways.    

This muffin recipe I'm sharing today is pretty much magic. You simply blend bananas with almond butter - and it transforms into muffins in about 13 minutes, no less! I like to add cinnamon and raisins to give these little guys a sweet kick since I don't add sugars or sweeteners. But, feel free to omit it and just add a touch of vanilla extract instead. 

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These are easy, portable and oh-so-nutritious. 

Almond Butter Raisin Muffins

(Makes 1 dozen regular muffins)

  • 2 large ripe bananas (or 3 small)
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional  
  • 1/2 cup seedless raisins, optional 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray muffin tins with non-stick spray. 
  2. In the bowl of a large food processor, blend the bananas until creamy. Add in the almond butter and cream together. Note: You can also do this in a mixer, just make sure you mash the bananas prior to mixing with almond butter. 
  3. Add the eggs, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon and mix until combined. 
  4. Pour into a large bowl and stir in the raisins, if using. 
  5. Using as ice cream scoop, scoop the batter into the sprayed muffin tins. 
  6. Place in the oven and bake for about 12-13 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. 
  7. Let cool for about 5-10 minutes in the muffin tins, then take out and let cool completely on a wire rack. I use a knife and go around the edges of the muffins so they release from the tins easier. 
  8. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for one week. Or at room temperature, if eaten within a few days.  You can also freeze any extras. 
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When you don't want to slice a loaf of homemade bread or you need something portable to take to work. That's when muffins save the day.

Split one of these open and spread with almond butter and sliced strawberries.  

Chai Tea Muffins

Well, it's dreary and cold and we are on the brink of winter.  My body just feels it coming!...

It's about this time of year that I begin to crave chai and all those spices... 

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But, it's not just for your cup of tea.

Smash it up and mix it into these muffins! 

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Chai Tea Muffins

(makes about 1 dozen)

  • 1 Tablespoon loose leaf chai tea, crushed
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil  
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/3 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons walnuts or pecans, chopped (for topping)

Directions: 

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the coconut oil with the chai tea for a few minutes, to infuse the flavor.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugars with the egg, until combined. Stir in the pumpkin puree.  Then, add in the chai and coconut oil mixture and stir until combined.  Stir in the flour and remaining ingredients, except the walnuts. 

3.  With an ice cream scoop, scoop batter into muffin tins and sprinkle with the chopped walnuts or pecans and a sprinkle of brown sugar. 

4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, rotating muffin tins halfway through baking. 

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These freeze perfectly for up to a month, so you can heat up and enjoy as you wish.  

Pumpkin Bread with Dark Chocolate

Ahhh, so St. Louis has been in a down pour for three days straight...

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It's strange, but at times I enjoy dreary weather. Time slows down a bit and being indoors feels warm and inviting.  

And the kitchen is at its peak.

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This week, it's pumpkin bread time. 

When I think of pumpkin bread, I think of my mom.  Her moist pumpkin bread always ends up sliced on our kitchen counter during the holidays... or any time of the year, for that matter.  My mom can whip up her bread, flawless and perfectly baked - every time. Proof that moms are just that good.

Although everyone has their own go-to pumpkin bread recipe, we (or me at least!) are still constantly searching for new versions or twists on old classics. Well, that's where this bread comes in. I was inspired by the use of maple syrup and spices in Danielle Walker's pumpkin muffins, and used them in this bread.

As always, bakers inspire bakers.

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No matter if I bake a new recipe or make my mom's traditional one... the methods and steps evoke memories spent in the kitchen. And at the end of the day, that's what baking is all about. 

Pumpkin Bread with Dark Chocolate 

  • 2 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour (for grain-free bread, use 2 cups almond flour + 3 tbsp coconut flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon & sugar mixture (to sprinkle on top of batter)

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray an 8-inch loaf pan (or two small loaf pans) with nonstick spray.
  2. In a bowl, whisk the flour(s) with the baking soda, spices and salt. 
  3. In another bowl, whisk the pumpkin, maple syrup, brown sugar, eggs, coconut oil and vanilla extract. Fold into the flour mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until combined. Then, fold in the chopped chocolate, reserving some for the topping. 
  4. Pour the batter into a bread pan and smooth out the top.  Sprinkle the remaining chocolate on top.  Then, sprinkle the top with a mixture of cinnamon & sugar. Bake for about 25 minutes, rotating halfway through baking, until top is golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Take out of oven and let cool in the bread pan. Once cool, invert the bread on a wire rack and then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a week.
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Go ahead. Get yourself in the holiday mood and into the kitchen already!

Almond Flour Bread {grain-free & dairy-free}

Happy weekend!

Time for a bread.

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But not just any bread.  

This may be (no, it is) the best grain-free bread I've had.  It's a variation of the thyme & rosemary almond flour bread I shared on my blog earlier this summer.

I make this bread a few times a month.  And my sister and her three-year-old daughter make this just about every week for her husband.  If a three-year-old can help make it... by golly, we all can!

All you need is a bowl and a small loaf pan. 

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Omit the honey and it's Whole 30 approved.  If you live a Whole 30 lifestyle, you will understand that finding a grain-free bread like this is like hitting a jackpot. 

Here, I top the batter with sliced fresh strawberries before baking.  You know, for that pretty, summer touch.

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Just another high five to the breads beyond wheat!  

Almond Flour Bread {grain-free & dairy-free}

(Adapted from Elizabethrider.com)

  • 2 cups almond flour/meal
  • 3 tablespoons coconut flour 
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed 
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda 
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt 
  • 5 eggs (4 eggs, if they are very large)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 tablespoon honey (if not using, then increase olive oil to 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. 
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, coconut flour, flaxseed, baking soda and salt. 
  3. Add in the eggs, oil, honey and apple cider vinegar and mix until well combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the edges.  The dough will be like a thick batter, that’s normal. Pour dough into a greased 8 or 9 inch loaf pan.  
  4. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 30 minutes and then run your knife around the edges and invert it on a cutting board.  Once it’s cool, slice it or store the bread in the refrigerator for up to a week. 
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I like to slice the bread and top with fresh strawberries and mint. Maybe a sprinkle of sea salt and drizzle of olive oil...

Real food is real pretty. :)

Almond Flour Bread with Thyme & Rosemary {grain-free, sugar-free, dairy-free}

Happy weekend!  

Today I am sharing a bread that I love baking on Saturdays.  

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Weekends are a time I always find myself in the kitchen at some point.  Even if just for an hour… I usually bake something I didn’t have time to bake during the week. 

This bread is one of those weekend breads.  

And there are no grains here!  So no tummy troubles for those who have a hard time digesting gluten.  You see, it’s time we think outside the box.  Bread doesn’t have to be made with wheat anymore.

And this is whole 30 approved, so double points in my book.

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Welcome to a whole new era of bread baking.  And it’s deeeeelish. 

Almond Flour Bread with Thyme and Rosemar

(Adapted from ElizabethRider.com)

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 3 tablespoons coconut flour
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 tsp. fresh thyme. chopped
  • 1-2 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped

Directions: 

- Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

- In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, coconut flour, flaxseed, baking soda and salt. 

- Add in the eggs, oil and apple cider vinegar and mix until well combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the edges and add the chopped herbs and mix until it is combined. The dough will be like a thick batter, that’s normal. Pour dough into a greased 8 or 9 inch bread pan.  

- Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 30 minutes and then run your knife around the edges and invert it on a cutting board.  Once it’s cool, slice it or store the bread in the refrigerator for up to a week. 

- Ways to eat: I like making it savory & sweet by topping a slice with fresh strawberries, a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of fresh rosemary and a pinch of sea salt. Or smash avocado on a slice for a filling snack or to amp up a light meal. 

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I also love to make this a plain almond flour bread.  You simply omit the herbs and you have yourself a great bread to toast and top with fresh jam or sliced bananas and cinnamon. 

This grain-free bread is hard to beat. 

carrot cake bread

My boyfriend’s favorite cake is carrot cake. As well as mine. But to be honest, we rarely eat cake. Maybe once in a blue moon at a birthday party. Well…that is if we are lucky enough that the hosts are carrot cake lovers too!  

So I thought, why not make him a bread that is based off carrot cake? One that is healthy so he can enjoy it during the week. 

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This bread is loaded with good stuff - coconut oil, apples, zucchini and carrots.  You can also add chocolate chips for a sweeter touch.   

Carrot Cake Bread 
Adapted from PreventionRD.com
2⅔ cups whole wheat pastry flour (or gluten-free all-purpose flour)
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp all-spice
⅛ tsp nutmeg
3 eggs
½ cup sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
⅓ cup coconut oil 
⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2½ cups zucchini, grated (about 2)
¾ cup carrot, grated (about 2 carrots)
¾ cup apple, cored and grated (about 1 large)
½ cup pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
Directions:
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Mist 4 mini loaf pans or one large loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, all-spice, and nutmeg; set aside. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Whisk in the sugars, oil, applesauce, and vanilla. 
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix to combine. Fold in the zucchini, carrot, apple, and pecans. Evenly distribute the batter between each of the loaf pans or into one large pan.  Sprinkle with oats.
- Bake for about 50-60 minutes (45 minutes if using mini loaf pans) or until tops of loaves are slightly browned and an inserted toothpick comes out cleanly.   Let cool slightly and invert the bread out of the pans and cool completely.  I like to store the bread in the refrigerator. 

vegan apple chunk muffins

A few Saturdays ago, I picked apples at Eckert’s Farm, an orchard about 30 minutes from St. Louis. 

Once you pick an apple right off a tree and bite into it…

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You may never grab those shiny & oddly huge apples at the store again. 

I came home that day with a  bag of red delicious and golden delicious apples. I had enough to give a bag away, as well as enjoy an apple a day for the past two weeks.  And yet I still have a few left this week. 

So here is a healthy way I use an apple or two. 

Apple Muffins.

This recipe is inspired by a healthy apple bread I came across this fall. It was vegan without butter, oil or eggs.  So, I decided to create my own vegan apple muffin and I also made it gluten-free.

flax seed + oat flour + banana + apple + applesauce + walnuts 

And you know what?  

This is so moist and it is soooo good. No one would guess it is gluten-free and vegan.  I’m kind of addicted.  

And I can’t stop making them.

Most apple bread recipes call for peeled apples, but the peel is where all the nutrients are!  

So chop the apple up, peel and all. 

Vegan Apple Chunk Muffins 

  • 2 ripe large bananas
  • 1 large apple, cored and chopped (with peel on)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • ¾ cup gluten-free flour (or whole-wheat pastry flour or just more oat flour) 
  • ¼ cup ground flax seed meal
  • ½ cup natural applesauce
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt 
  • 1 ½ tsp. cinnamon 
  • toppings: gluten free oats, sugar, chopped toasted walnuts or pecans

Directions: 

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. chop up a whole apple and set aside.

- Mash bananas in a bowl. Add in the rest of ingredients and stir until combined. 

- Pour in muffin tins that are sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with chopped walnuts, oats, and a sprinkle of sugar.

- Bake for about 15 minutes or until the centers look done. Rotate the pan halfway through baking. Let cool 5 minutes in the pan and then invert on a wire rack to cool completely.   

- Variation: Sometimes I add 1 cup raisins to the dough. 

BAKING TIP: I like to use oat flour because it is naturally gluten-free and oats are great for you.  Oat flour is just ground oats.  So, if you can’t find oat flour at the store, just grind up oats in a food processor until they become a fine flour.  

healthy zucchini oat muffins

Shredding a few of these today…

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If the shredding-zucchini-step is what keeps you from making zucchini bread, I hear ya. (me too).  Sometimes it can make a “quick bread” feel long… even if it is just a few more minutes of prep. 

But, this recipe makes the extra step totally worth it!

This is another one of my favorite muffins and I’ve been making them a lot lately.

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These are healthy, flavorful and unique.  The lemon zest adds a zing of freshness that other zucchini breads lack.

And it’s the lemon that causes me to make them again and again.

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Healthy Zucchini Oat Muffins {gluten-free}

makes 12-14 muffins

  • 2 cups gluten-free all purpose flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1 cup oat flour 
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. salt 
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled (or oil of choice)
  • fresh zest of one lemon (about 1-2 tsp lemon zest)
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 cups shredded zucchini (3 small one or 1 large zucchini, peeled)
  • ½ cup pecans, toasted and chopped
  • topping: oats, chopped pecans, sugar

Directions: 

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Roughly peel zucchini and shred it in a food processor or using a box grater. 

- In a large bowl, combine flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and baking soda. Whisk together. In another bowl combine the applesauce, eggs, oil, lemon zest, and vanilla and whisk until combined. Whisk in sugar and then stir in the zucchini. 

- Add the dry ingredients slowly to the wet ingredients, stirring to combine. Fold in the pecans, if using. 

- Using an ice cream scoop, scoop the batter into 12 muffin tins sprayed with cooking spray. I fill mine up almost to the top so they are nice and puffy when they are done.  Bakery-style. 

- Top the batter with gluten-free oats, extra chopped pecans, and sprinkle sugar.  

- Bake for about 15 - 18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool a few minutes and invert the tin on a wire rack so the muffins come out of the tin.   Turn the muffins back over and let cool. 

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my rule in baking and life: stay fresh & do your thing. 

fresh blueberry-oatmeal muffins {gluten-free}

Today it’s all about the classic blueberry muffin.

But done my way… with a healthy twist.

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You see, I’ve been on a muffin kick the past few months.

Instead of baking a bread in a loaf pan and cutting it into slices, use a muffin tin. Muffins are already pre-portioned for you; easy to pack on-the-go; and easy to eat.

Plus, muffins bake in half the time.  

So, when its 8:30 p.m. on a weeknight and I just feel like baking… I can mix these up in a bowl and have them done in 30 minutes.  

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I’m excited to share this blueberry muffin recipe because it’s my favorite. 

These are healthy muffins too, so you can feel good about eating them on a daily basis.  I use gluten-free flour and oats to make mine gluten-free.  But, whole-wheat pastry flour works too.  

Soaking the oats in milk makes the muffins very moist.  It’s the secret step that will make these insanely good.  Don’t skip it!

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And use fresh blueberries if you can.  It’s definitely worth it! 

Fresh Blueberry-Oatmeal Muffins {gluten-free}

makes 12 regular muffins

  • 1 ½ gluten-free quick oats 
  • 1 cup skim milk or almond milk 
  • ½ cup brown sugar 
  • 2 tbsp honey 
  • ½ cup natural applesauce 
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil 
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract 
  • ½ cup gluten-free all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda 
  • ½ tsp salt 
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries (more for sprinkling on top of batter before baking)

Directions: 

- Place oats in a food processor and pulse a few times.  Soak in the milk for about 30 minutes. 

- In a medium bowl combine brown sugar, honey, applesauce, vanilla, egg whites, oil and mix well.

- In a third bowl whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda until combined.

- Combine oats and milk with the sugar/applesauce mixture and mix well. Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Fold in the blueberries.

- Spoon batter into sprayed muffin tins.  I use a cookie scoop to make uniform muffins. Top with fresh blueberries and sprinkle some sugar. Bake for about 20-24 minutes.  Let cool a few minutes and then invert on a wire rack to cool completely. 

TIP:  I store the muffins in a container in the refrigerator so they will stay fresh all week.

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Never forget about the blueberry muffin. 

cheddar biscuits

The perfect weekend baking project.

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Especially this weekend, when it was dreary and cold outside on Saturday morning.  It’s the type of weather that makes me in the mood to be in the kitchen baking.

But nothing too complicated. 

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So today it was homemade cheddar biscuits.

These are good on all their own.  

But, this weekend I made these for my boyfriend Chad, for his biscuits & gravy. Click here to check out his post! 

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So go ahead now.  Buy a good block mild cheddar and whip these up.

Cheddar Biscuits

Makes about 6 biscuits. Based off recipe from The Food Network. 

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour  
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons Crisco
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 6 ounces grated mild yellow cheddar  (about 1 - 1 ½ cups)
  • ¾ cup whole milk

Directions:

- Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees. 

- Make the biscuits: Pulse the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add the shortening and pulse until combined. Add the butter; pulse 4 or 5 times, or until the butter is in pea-size pieces. Add the cheese and pulse 2 or 3 times. Pour in the milk and pulse just until the mixture is moistened and it starts to form a sticky dough. Turn out onto a clean surface and gently knead until the dough comes together. Do not overwork the dough or the biscuits will be tough.

- Drop the dough onto the baking sheet or cast iron.  I use a cookie scoop to make them all the same size. Space the biscuits 2 inches apart, and bake until golden, 15 - 20 minutes.

- Serve warm

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Just something about making things from scratch. 

brooklyn banana bread

A few summers ago, I visited my sister Sarah in New York City. 

She had just moved out to Brooklyn from East Village with her husband and newborn. Much of our afternoons were spent in her apartment with the new baby…so we would bake.

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We made this chocolate chip banana bread one afternoon. It was inspired by her New York friend’s “Brooklyn Banana Bread” from her blog Made By Michelle.

Being in Brooklyn, baking this bread just seemed fitting.

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This recipe has remained my favorite chocolate chip banana bread.

It is lighter than most banana breads, but it is so moist and good that one would suspect it's also good for you too.  So give it a try this week!

Brooklyn Banana Bread

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • ½ cup nonfat plain greek yogurt
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or 2 cups gluten-free all purpose flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped dark or bittersweet chocolate (more for top of batter)

Directions:

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

-  In a large mixing bowl, beat the sugar, applesauce, and yogurt until they are well blended.  Add the bananas and egg whites. Beat well so that all ingredients are mixed and the bananas are smoothed out.

- Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate mixing bowl.  Add about a ¼ cup of flour mixture at a time to the banana mixture; mix after each flour addition until all of the flour is mixed into the banana mix.

- Toss in chocolate chips and mix together.

- Bread loaf: Coat a 9×5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray and pour in banana mixture. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

- Muffins: Pour batter into muffin tins and bake about 15 minutes or until they are golden and appear done

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My Baking Tip:  To make the bread look like it is loaded with chocolate, sprinkle extra chocolate shavings on top of the batter after you pour it into the baking pans. 

You can use chocolate chips, but I like the look of good quality chopped chocolate.

Fresh Strawberry Muffins {gluten-free}

Summer is here!

And naturally it's filled with fruit.

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Fresh strawberries are sadly hitting the end of the picking season here in the Midwest.  But, you can still find some at the local markets.

Have a few cups of strawberries?  Make a bread!

I love making strawberry muffins in the summer. These are inspired from a recipe on my sister’s friend Michelle’s blog at madebymichellec.com. 

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Serve these this summer at brunch with friends, for breakfast, or as a late afternoon snack.

And if you have any extras, just keep them in the freezer. Then you can enjoy a fresh strawberry muffin any time you want this summer.

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These are a sweet and healthy treat. I make mine gluten-free with rice flour.

Fresh Strawberry Muffins

  • 2 cups brown rice flour (or 1 ¾ cup whole-wheat pastry flour for a non-gluten free version)
  • 3/4  cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon  baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2  cup fat-free plain yogurt
  • ¼ cup butter,  melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-¼ cups coarsely chopped fresh strawberries

Directions:

-  In a small bowl, combine the chopped strawberries and set aside

- In another small bowl, whisk the first four ingredients. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, yogurt, butter and vanilla. Stir into the  dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in strawberries and their juices until just combined.

- Fill muffin cups coated with cooking spray or lined with  paper  liners two-thirds full.

- Bake at 375° for 15-18 minutes or until a  toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes  before removing from pan to a wire rack. Serve warm.

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Hope you all stay sweet and healthy this summer.  :)

Banana Bread with Macadamia Nuts & Bittersweet Chocolate

If banana bread were a person… this would be their cool, hip friend.

You know, the one who doesn’t follow the crowd.

But whatever they are doing just works. 

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This spin on banana bread is out of a cookbook I recently bought called Straight From Earth. Filled with vegan recipes that use fresh & whole foods.

When I came across this banana bread in the book, and had to try it out.

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As a banana bread should be, this one is loaded with ingredients that are very good for you.

I love the orange zest and macadamia nuts. Unexpected additions that turn this ordinary muffin into a sweet & nutritious treat.

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I like to bake these in muffin tins for easy single servings.

banana bread with macadamia nuts & bittersweet chocolate

recipe from the cookbook "Straight From The Earth"

  • 3 tbsp. ground flaxseed
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp. very hot water
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 ½ cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3-4 medium)
  • 1 large orange, zested
  • 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup macadamia nuts, chopped
  • ½ cup finely chopped good-quality bittersweet chocolate (above 60%)

Directions:

- Preheat oven 325 degrees

- In a large mixing bowl, combine flaxseed with hot water. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes until it thickens. this is the egg replacement.

- Add the sugar and oil to the flaxseed mix and whisk vigorously to combine. Whisk in the bananas and orange zest.

- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring until just combined. fold in the nuts and chocolate, and transfer the batter to desired pan, sprayed with cooking spray (12 regular muffin tins or 2 medium 8" loaf pans).

- Top the batter with sliced bananas, if desired.

- Bake until bread is golden brown and firm on top, about 40-45 minutes. 50 minutes if you are using a larger pan, and 40 or less if using muffin tins.

- Cool the bread in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then turn out to finish cooling. Store at room temperature wrapped in plastic wrap for 3 -4  days. Or, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Will keep 3 months in the freezer.

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Load these with the best bittersweet chocolate out there.

Definitely worth it.