gluten free muffins

Be Your Own Personal Chef: Part II




Welcome back to my second new series: Be your own personal chef. Over the past few months, we have been taking a page out of my personal chef book and sitting down on Sundays to plan out our week's menu and shopping list for Monday-Friday. We pull all the recipes we are going to use (if we use any) and make a grocery list so we only have to shop once a week. This saves a huge amount of time AND money. We have committed to doing a meatless day once a week as well. In this series, I will share with you our weekly menu plan and any (actual) recipes we use! The idea behind this series is to give you some inspiration on how to be your own personal chef and get fired up in the kitchen. Be sure to check out my other series: Nutritional Navigator for more ideas!


While I am working on my next installment of Nutritional Navigator, I decided I should post up what we have been cooking and eating this week. This weeks menu had a lot of light fresh ingredients to celebrate spring and the nice warm weather. We also have committed to doing a meatless meal once a week and this week we actually had two because our dinner guest Thursday night was a long time vegetarian. I really enjoyed how light and fresh everything was. Great flavor combinations. We used a lot of recipes for inspiration this week but added our own spin.


Our weekday menu:
Monday: Asparagus Stir-Fry with Tofu, rice 
Tuesday: Very vegetably Spring Soup with Chorizo
Wednesday:Lamb Skewers (inspired by this recipe). Sweet Potato salad with preserved lemons and green olives. Eggplant with pomegranate molasses. 
Thursday: Indian Vegetable Curry with Tamarind and Chilies (from Everyday Greens). Saffron Rice.
Friday: Roast kale, onion, sweet potato and jalapeno. Seared and roasted bone-in chicken breast.
Other items: Homemade maple almond butter with chia seeds. Whole Wheat Coconut Pineapple Muffins (adapted from my gluten free coconut pineapple muffin recipe which will be in my future cookbook) for the Baker.





As I mentioned, we got a food processor and I am obsessed with making nut butters. I have become addicted to nut butters again but I don't think that is a bad thing. This maple almond butter with chia seeds tastes like graham crackers. It is amazing.


Homemade maple almond butter with chia seeds


Ingredients:
  • 2 cups almonds
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • pinch of salt
Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss together almonds, maple syrup and chia seeds. Spread out on a sheet tray and roast for 5-7 minutes. Keep an eye on the nuts, don't let them burn.

In a food processor, add the nuts and turn on. Let process for 3 minutes. Then with a spatula wipe down the sides and continue processing. Continue this process until the nuts release their oils and turn into a beautiful silky smooth butter. This takes a bit of patience but no fancy tricks. Once the nuts are a smooth butter add in the salt and process for 1 more minute. Store in a jar with a tight fitting lid. 

That's what we are cooking and eating. How about you? Do you do a meatless day?



Want to learn how to be your own personal chef? Check out my Culinary Coaching Services. Love the idea but don't have the time and energy? Check out my Personal Chef Services.

Be Your Own Personal Chef: Part I

Welcome to my second new series: Be your own personal chef. Over the past few months, we have been taking a page out of my personal chef book and sitting down on Sundays to plan out our week's menu and shopping list for Monday-Friday. We pull all the recipes we are going to use (if we use any) and make a grocery list so we only have to shop once a week. This saves a huge amount of time AND money. We have committed to doing a meatless day once a week as well. In this series, I will share with you our weekly menu plan and any (actual) recipes we use! The idea behind this series is to give you some inspiration on how to be your own personal chef and get fired up in the kitchen. Be sure to check out my other series: Nutritional Navigator for more ideas!


My first installment of Nutritional Navigator guided you through a typical taper week. Thankfully, that means this week is a recovery week from my big race this past Sunday. After months of hard training, an unsuccessful first attempt at qualifying for the Olympic Trials and success at last, this weeks menu reflects some well deserved celebration and not training typical meals for me (stay tuned for an upcoming blog on my great bread experiment). We wrote this menu after my race and ironically enough, I was craving pretty normal healthy foods instead of anything wild and crazy. I have had some weird cravings in my life, but after Sunday I was just craving the comfort of the familiar with a few exceptions.


Our weekday menu:
Monday: Tequila-spiked slow cooked chicken
Tuesday: Dinner out at Bar Tartine
Wednesday: Shrimp tacos. Shrimp marinated in chili powder and lime. Roasted sweet potatoes, onions and garlic with ancho powder. Fresh cabbage slaw with jalapenos. Primavera tortillas
Thursday: Vegetarian pizza. Fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, hot peppers, mushrooms, onions and garlic (meatless meal).
Friday: Homemade lamb sausages. Lemon roasted potatoes. Braised chard.
Other items: Homemade chocolate hazelnut cashew butter ("nutella"). Homemade Banana "Nutella" Muffins. (Recipe below)


We just got a food processor and my absolute favorite thing to make is nut butter. I wanted an excuse to try out creative nut butter recipes and what better way than to make homemade nutella. I didn't have enough hazelnuts on hand to just do hazelnuts so I mixed it up by adding some cashews.


Homemade chocolate hazelnut cashew butter

  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup melted chocolate
Directions:
In a food processor, add the nuts and turn on. Let process for 3 minutes. Then with a spatula wipe down the sides and continue processing. Continue this process until the nuts release their oils and turn into a beautiful silky smooth butter. This takes a bit of patience but no fancy tricks. Once the nuts are a smooth butter add in the melted chocolate and process for 1 more minute. Store in a jar with a tight fitting lid.

Banana Nutella Muffins
  • 2 cups GF flour mix (see below)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup homemade "nutella"
  • extra banana slices for topping
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place paper liners into muffin tins (12). 
Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl or standing mixer. In the food processor, combine the ripe bananas with other wet ingredients, except nutella and process into a smooth paste. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add in nutella and stir until incorporated.

Pour batter evenly into muffin cups and top with banana slices. Bake for 26-28 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack and store in a tupperware container. Enjoy with more homemade "nutella".

GF flour mix:
  • 1 cup tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch)
  • 1cup potato starch
  • 1cup buckwheat flour
  • 1cup sorghum flour
  • 1 cup coconut flour
Combine all flours in a large container with a tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously to combine. Store in the freezer.

Note: These muffins were my first attempt at the recipe. They were good as is but the recipe still needs a bit of tweaking.

That's what we are cooking and eating. How about you? What was your favorite meal you made this week?



Want to learn how to be your own personal chef? Check out my Culinary Coaching Services. Love the idea but don't have the time and energy? Check out my Personal Chef Services.

Gluten Free Banana Ginger Muffins


Calling my name, GF Banana Ginger Muffins

There are many times in life since going gluten free that I will pass by a bakery window and gaze in upon stacks of beautiful fresh baked muffins and wish that I could have one too. As I have mentioned, I don't crave sweet that much but I do love an occasional muffin. Last year, when I was able to "take a break" from my no-gluten diet (doctor's recommendation for testing) I stumbled upon my all time favorite muffins at Macrina Bakery in Seattle. Vegan Banana Ginger Muffins. I went home after that, totally obsessed and created a version of my own and posted the recipe. But those were made with whole wheat and spelt and soon I had to reliquish their hold over my tastebuds and go gluten free again (thanks for the painful vacation doc!).



I will wait for these to cool, I will wait for these to cool.

After that, I baked muffins occasionally, picked up muffins at Flying Apron when I was in Seattle, and generally went without. And then, the other day I remembered these muffins. I think it was because I was planning a big group run around Discovery Park in Seattle for my visit home this weekend. Last year a bunch of speedsters got together and ran some loops and then went to Macrina. Oh those muffins. I instantly knew that it was up to me to create a gluten free version that would be as crave worthy as the Macrina ones.

I did it. Yes, me and my little creative brain did it.



I took my own original recipe and then worked through some possible flour combinations/ratios. With muffins, especially gluten free ones, texture is huge. And picking the right flour combination makes a huge difference. I settled on brown rice flour and garbanzo bean flour in a 2:1 ratio. Flying by the seat of my pants as it were, I also kicked up the ginger content two fold as I recalled that my previous batch a year ago was not as gingery as I liked.

I baked. I waited. I let them cool so completely that by the time I went to eat them I was bonking from lack of food. I think there was a bit of trepidation in there too. I was afraid to try them. The looked like a winner, but would the taste be triumphant? Would the texture leave me once again annoyed that gluten free will never translate the same? Would they dissolve into a wet, fallen mess overnight (like a lot of GF baked goods do)? Would they be hockey pucks?


In a word: No. I was awe struck by these muffins. Look at that texture! If I didn't tell you it was gluten free, you would not know. The taste, oh my! Smooth banana flavor with a perfect and very present ginger flavor. They played nicely together, letting each other have a share of the glory and spotlight. Neither dominated, they comingled, they made music together and my taste buds were singing! My favorite part was that the banana and ginger were present but the muffin was still predominately savory, not overly sweet- just enough. Again a very fine balance, I think.

I was so excited I couldn't wait to share them with the Baker.

He made me wait though. I fed him way too much bibimbap and homemade coconut milk ice cream for dinner. I waited patiently for my second opinion. I finally got it post early morning run with our regular crew in the Headlands. I open the container (which I left on the counter), prepared myself for some caved in or other gluten free horror to unfold but they were still perfect, together, moist.  The Baker took one out and  took a bite, I prepared myself for a polite, "they're good" and to go back to the drawing board.


"Wow" He said. "These are good. These are really really good. Where did you get the recipe?" Happy dance in my head, something along the lines of a end zone dance, complete with strutting and waving of arms!

"From my head" I answered. "Completely original recipe". I liked being able to say that. I feel it is important to my perspective to keep perspective on the whether things are "good for a gluten free item" (because we all know there are plenty of really bad options out there) or "universally good", meaning gluten free/egg free or not these are damn good. I am glad my second opinion heralded them as the second. I made my muffins in small muffin tins so we shared a second muffin, though I am sure we easily could have each had two and not be making a bad dietary choice (since in addition to all the other awesome things about this recipe, there is only 1/4 cup of butter and that is the only fat). These are not "you can eat those because you run 100 miles" muffins, these are part of a healthy and delicious lifestyle muffins. I don't think it is a bad thing when you can have your decadent cake and have it be nutritious too. It is just an added benefit to these muffins that you don't even have to think about it.

They are good. Damn good. I will be making them again and again and again. I have a feeling that down the line, someone will be looking at one of these babies through the window of my own bakery.

Gluten Free Banana Ginger Muffin

Ingredients:
5 small very ripe bananas (if not super ripe, add 1/4 cup almond milk)
¼ cup butter , room temperature
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 ⅓ cup brown rice flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
⅔ cup garbanzo bean flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
2 ½ tsp. ginger zest, divided
4 tsp. crystallized ginger, minced, divided
1 ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
pinch fresh nutmeg

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 and line with parchment cups/grease 2 muffin pans (12 muffins). In a food processor, mix together the bananas and butter. Mix in the two types of brown sugar and blend together. Add in vanilla, 2 tsp of minced crystallized ginger, 1 1/2 tsp fresh ginger (zest).

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients including the remaining ginger until incorporated. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir to combine.

Scoop about 1/4 cup of muffin mix into the muffin pans, making 9-12 muffins. Sprinkle the muffins with dark brown sugar and bake until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted and the tops are golden brown, about 20-25 minutes