Big Batch Bran Muffins #BreadBakers

I’ve always had a soft spot for bran muffins. I don’t mean the standard bakery-fare, greasy but overbearingly dry and sweet concoctions available from our local coffee shop and grocery store – no, I grew up loving the homemade, modestly portioned muffins my mom and grandma made. If I was lucky, I’d bite into one with a heart of jam, or one laced with chopped dates, figs or even (gasp) fresh blueberries. Other times, I’d have muffins made with chunky applesauce and melted butter in place of oil – making each taste like eating apple crumble in a more portable format.

Any way you bite them, this recipe for endlessly customizable, moist and perfectly portioned bran muffins is a fantastic way to start your day. With this recipe primed and ready to go for a HUGE batch – 45 or so – there’s enough to divide, switch up the “extras” and bake for the office, or (if you’re like me) freezing unbaked for a la minute cravings.

Currently, my go-to flavour is apricot-cherry with a sprinkle of rock sugar on top. What’s yours?

Check out this month’s #BreadBakers entries below, all featuring stone fruit!

BreadBakers

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.

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Big Batch Bran Muffins
Makes 45
5 cups wheat bran
¼ cup ground flaxseed
5 cups buttermilk
2 ½ cups plain non-fat Greek yogurt
1 cup canola oil
¼ cup maple syrup
2 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp maple extract (optional)
1 tbsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ cup Truvia Brown Sugar Baking Blend (or 1 cup light brown sugar)
1 ¾ cups sugar
½ tbsp salt
3 cups flour
2 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 ½ tbsp baking soda
1 ½ cups chopped dried fruit (I used cherries and apricots)
1 cup granola (optional, I used Flax Plus® Pumpkin Flax Granola)
Rock (or raw) sugar, for topping (optional) 
  1. In a large bowl, combine bran, flaxseed, buttermilk, sour cream, oil, syrup, extracts and spices.
  2. Cover and let sit overnight in the fridge.
  3. Stir in the sugars and salt until well blended.
  4. Gently mix in the flours and baking soda, then fold in the dried fruit and granola (if using).
  5. Use immediately or portion into lined muffin cups (fill ¾ of the way full), top as desired and freeze up to 6 months. (You can also store the batter, covered, in the fridge up to 1 month).
  6. Heat oven to 375F.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes (fresh) or 35-40 minutes (frozen).
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 182.7
Total Fat: 5.8 g
Cholesterol: 1.6 mg
Sodium: 112.8 mg
Total Carbs: 31.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 4.3 g
Protein: 5.3 g
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Harcha with Scented Cinnamon Honey Butter

I hear you: what-cha?

Luckily, if you like English muffins, johnnycakes or toasted polenta, the name of this Moroccan, skillet-cooked flatbread doesn’t matter. What does matter is that it’s easy, kid-friendly, infinitely variable and most importantly, delicious. 

Harcha//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsTraditionally made with semolina, milk, cream or buttermilk, oil, and occasionally cornmeal, harcha can easily be a relatively Spartan carbohydrate staple for breakfast or with a meat or legume entree. However, adding a few extra touches – sugar, saffron, and vanilla – the crisp-crusted cakes are prime for a special breakfast or even dessert. This was the version I opted for when it came time to share the dish with my grade 1-6 classes, and while the just-textured-enough discs were more than delicious enough on their own, we upped the ante by dolloping an orange blossom water, cinnamon and honey butter on top. 
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One of the best things about these (to me, anyways) is that they’re yummy warm or room temperature, not to mention portable and 100% freezer friendly. Leave out the saffron, and they’re totally budget-friendly too! Whether you adorn them to the nines or grab them hot out of the pan, there’s no wrong way to taste Morocco at home.

Harcha
Makes ~12 
1 ½ cups fine semolina
⅓ cup fine cornmeal 
pinch saffron, ground or crushed (optional)
2 tbsp flour
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
⅓ cup canola oil
½ cup whole milk
1 tsp pure vanilla

  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the semolina, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  2. Add the canola oil and milk and mix until a dough forms. (It should be very moist, but still be able to pack into a ball – add additional milk if needed).
  3. Shape the dough into balls about the size of apricots, place on a sheet of waxed paper and let rest 10 minutes.
  4. Heat a flat griddle or frying pan over medium-low heat and spray with cooking spray.
  5. With damp hands, flatten each ball into a disc at least ¼” thick.
  6. Cook the discs for 5 to 10 minutes on each side, until they are lightly golden. Make sure to turn them over only once.
  7. Serve immediately (optimally with Scented Cinnamon Honey Butter).
  8. You can freeze these up to 6 months – thaw and reheat them in a 350°F oven for 5 minutes.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 161.5
Total Fat: 6.1 g
Cholesterol: 1.0 mg
Sodium: 5.4 mg
Total Carbs: 23.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.1 g
Protein: 3.4 g

Harcha

Scented Cinnamon Honey Butter
Makes just over 1/2 cup, 8 servings
½ cup salted butter, softened
3 tbsp honey (I used orange blossom honey)
1 tsp orange flower water (or vanilla)
½ tsp cinnamon

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 126.2
Total Fat: 11.5 g
Cholesterol: 31.0 mg
Sodium: 82.1 mg
Total Carbs: 6.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.1 g
Protein: 0.1 g

Wine and Cheese Chocolate Muffins #SundaySupper

Depending on the day, asking me how I feel about Italian customs may garner eye rolling, sighs, or enthusiastic babble from me. Living in a blended family where (until recently) half the household was die-hard Italian born and bred and any and every celebration denoted 20-odd Italian-Canadians (brothers, sisters, children and cousins) descending on the house for a raucous party, I never quite “got” their passion for loud, familial gatherings. I was raised in a plain-Jane, small but relatively close-knit family where aunts and uncles were almost exclusively out of province and even Christmases never totaled more than 10 people at the table, so the exponential expansion is still a little much for my introverted self to contend with.

That said, I do like Italian culture in the traditional sense – especially their penchant for homemade, from scratch ingredients and meals. I love making my own tomato sauce, bread, ricotta and pasta, especially over the summer when I have the time – and while we do grow our own grapes here, our homemade wine is more like rubbing alcohol than a fine sipper, so it stays out of the glass, out of the pot and (for the most part) down the drain. Instead, I take advantage of the world of wines available at our local liquor store, some of which (like the Italian variety I used in today’s recipe) were gifted to me by parents at my school.

In the spirit of this week’s #SundaySupper “Italian” theme, I went all-in to create a treat that encompassed some of my favourite Italian flavours and ingredients. My homemade ricotta combined with rich red wine, cocoa and just a hint of almond flavour to make a thick and moist cradle for a single Hershey’s Kiss. While sweet and rich, they’re definitely still “muffin” territory, and I would shy away from trying to gild these with frosting – if anything, a smear of almond butter would be the furthest I would go. The intense moisture and tenderness of the crumb (almost too soft to work with muffin liners) will make you forget they’re over half whole wheat and egg free!

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Wine and Cheese Chocolate Muffins

Enjoying our family around the dinner table is what #SundaySupper is all about, making this week’s Italian event a perfect pairing. From Antipasto to Zabaglione and everything in between, we’re gathering to enjoy a feast of (Roman) empirical proportions! Our host this week is Manuela of Manu’s Menu.

Here’s what we’re serving up this week:

Appetizers:

Mains:

Dessert:

Beverages:

Artichoke Torta plus More Recipes for Italian Fest from Sunday Supper Movement

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement

Wine and Cheese Chocolate Muffins
Adapted from Eggless Cooking
Makes 12
1 cup extra-smooth (or pureed regular) whole milk ricotta cheese
5 oz (by weight) whole milk (about 9 tbsp)
1/4 tsp almond extract
½ cup dry red wine (I used Doppio Passo Botter Primitivo Salento IGT)
¾ cup sugar
¼ tsp Cabernet Salt (or sea salt)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
¼ cup canola oil
⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 packet Aero hot chocolate mix (or your favourite hot chocolate mix)
¾ cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
12 Hershey’s Kisses (original or dark), unwrapped

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cheese, milk, extract, wine, sugar, salt, vanilla and oil.
  3. Whisk in the cocoa powder and hot chocolate mix until well combined.
  4. Add the flours and baking powder, mixing until just combined.
  5. Fill muffin cups ½ way full (about 1 ½ tbsp) and place a Kiss in the middle of each. Top with remaining batter.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, until the muffins spring back to the touch – the toothpick test won’t work for these!
  7. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before unmoulding onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 237.2
Total Fat: 9.9 g
Cholesterol: 12.7 mg
Sodium: 35.5 mg
Total Carbs: 32.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.3 g
Protein: 5.7 g

Chocolate Malt Ball Muffins

Malt and chocolate is a fairly polarizing combination. Some, like my mom and I, love the slight tang and “toasted grain” flavour with a good chocolate (milk or dark!). Others, like my sister and a couple of my friends, want nothing to do with that flavour pairing at all. Maltesers (or Whoppers) are still a favourite stocking stuffer of my mom’s (right up there with anything chocolate and orange), and the taste of one reminds me of both her and my grandpa, who would occasionally share in our treats! One thing I discovered in university was chocolate-malt beer, which, when paired with a scoop of caramel ice cream or gelato (weird, I know) was a perfect dessert and after dinner drink in one!

Of course, when I found myself with a few Valentine’s Day leftovers – namely an uber chocolatey cookie and a Malteser chocolate bar that I didn’t even know existed, I wanted to see if I could push the whole chocolate-malt combo to the max. I picked muffins as the vehicle for this mashup, mostly because they’re almost impossible to screw up and besides, how can you say “no” to a muffin? The mixture started with a basic chocolate muffin recipe, which turned into a spelt-flour “catch-all” treat using the last dribbles of milk, homemade condensed milk, morning-old coffee and molasses along with the crumbled cookie bits and the chocolate bar.  Moist, rich and just slightly malted, they appealed to everyone I offered them to, polarizing be darned!
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Chocolate Malt Ball Muffins



Chocolate Malt Ball Muffins
Makes 12

1 egg
2 tbsp fancy molasses (or barley malt syrup if you want extra maltiness!)
2 tbsp canola oil
1/3 cup 1% milk
1 tbsp sweetened condensed milk (you can even get chocolate condensed milk!!)
1 tsp vinegar
1/2 tsp liquid stevia extract
1/3 cup brewed coffee
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 jumbo Mrs. Fields® Triple Chocolate Cookie (or similar soft-style chocolate cookie), crumbled
1 (35g) Maltesers Teasers Bar, chopped 
  1. Heat the oven to 350F and grease a muffin tin.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the egg, molasses, both milks, vinegar, stevia and coffee until well combined.
  3. Add the cocoa and salt and whisk until smooth.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder and baking soda, whisking to combine (batter will be runny).
  5. Add the cookie and chocolate bar pieces, stirring in.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes. Immediately turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 114.4
Total Fat: 5.1 g
Cholesterol: 17.5 mg
Sodium: 30.5 mg
Total Carbs: 15.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.8 g
Protein: 2.9 g 

Four – Chocolate Sour Cream Quickbread #BreadBakers

You’re not likely to find me without some form of chocolate in my diet every day. Whether it’s a scoop of cocoa in my oats, a luxurious square from a high-quality, imported bittersweet tablet or even a cup of coffee brewed with a spoonful of cacao nibs in with the grounds (try it, it is DELICIOUS), the humble bean is firmly lodged in my brain’s “favourites folder”. Even better than simple bar chocolate (if that’s possible!) is the fudginess of a good brownie or dense chocolate cake – preferably with a hint of nuttiness or tang (such as from peanut butter or cream cheese) to break up the dark, bittersweet notes of high-cacao chocolate.

GF and Eggless Four-Chocolate Sour Cream Loaf Cake

That’s where this luxurious quickbread factors in. Not only does chocolate come in four forms (cocoa, cacao nibs, chocolate covered peanuts and chocolate chips), but it gets a fudgy, slightly tangy body from sour cream, extra nuttiness and everlasting moisture from chia seeds and a welcome peppering of crunch from chocolate-covered peanuts. It’s one heck of a package – and all in a gluten free eggless wrapping too! I even took some of this to a friend of mine for their birthday, and they devoured it without even contemplating it’s dietary status. For a real treat (a la the restaurant dessert menu), warm up a slice in an individual baking dish in the oven and top with a scoop of ice cream. Heaven!

BreadBakers#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme / ingredient. This month, we’re featuring breads with cocoa, cacao or carob in any form.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.

Check out all the chocolatey goodness we’re serving up!

    GF and Eggless Four-Chocolate Sour Cream Loaf Cake
    Also shared with Gluten Free Fridays


    Four – Chocolate Sour Cream Quickbread
    Makes 1 loaf, 12 slices
    3 tbsp ground chia seeds
    ½ cup warm coffee
    ½ cup softened, salted butter
    ½ cup sugar
    ¼ cup brown sugar
    1 tbsp vanilla
    ½ cup cocoa
    ¼ tsp salt
    1 cup quinoa flour
    ¾ cup sorghum flour
    ⅓ cup potato starch
    1 tbsp guar gum
    1 tsp baking soda
    ½ tbsp baking powder
    2 cups low-fat (not fat free) sour cream
    ½ cup miniature chocolate chips
    ⅓ cup chocolate covered peanuts or toasted nuts (Peanut M&M’s are GF)
    1 tbsp cacao nibs
    1 tsp raw sugar, for topping

    1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease a large loaf pan (I used a glass one that stated “9×5” but got 4 muffins from the batter as well).
    2. Combine the chia and coffee in a small dish, set aside.
    3. Cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy.
    4. Add the vanilla, cocoa, salt and chia mixture, beating well.
    5. Combine the flours, starch, guar gum, baking soda and baking powder.
    6. Add half the dry mixture to the bowl, beating well, then mix in all the sour cream.
    7. Beat in remaining dry ingredients.
    8. Fold in the chocolate chips, peanuts and cacao nibs.
    9. Pour into the prepared pan and sprinkle with raw sugar. Let stand 20 minutes.
    10. Bake 1 hour 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out with moist crumbs and the edges begin to pull away from the sides. Tent with foil if the top begins to overcook.
    11. Let cool completely in the pan.

    Amount Per Serving
    Calories: 346.4
    Total Fat: 18.7 g
    Cholesterol: 37.0 mg
    Sodium: 79.6 mg
    Total Carbs: 44.8 g
    Dietary Fiber: 5.6 g
    Protein: 5.6 g

    Chocolate Carrot & Squash Muffins #SundaySupper

    The Sunday Supper family is singing the praises of naturally sweet, earthy, comforting root vegetables this week – whether they’re being roasted, fried, pureed, shredded, spiralized or baked. Not only are root veggies inherently versatile (fitting in just fine in either sweet or savoury recipes), they’re generally cheap and long lasting – a huge plus for those of us with less than generous incomes and a myriad of other expenses to contend with! I personally love the world of roots because they last so long – feeding only myself, I can still buy a bag of potatoes, onions, carrots or beets and finish it before they go bad – not something I can say for leafy greens, bean sprouts or mushrooms!

    Carrot-Zucchini-Apple Muffins

    Obviously, being the baking fiend that I am, I used this week’s theme to play around in the sweet kitchen – eventually devising a muffin recipe that was both nutritionally dense and sweet enough to appeal to the kids in my grade 4-5 Home Ec class. The best part about making these muffins with a gang of kids is that they all get a chance to do something relatively “physical” along the way. After all, there are three things that need grating, eggs to beat, cocoa to sift, batter to scoop and sugar to sprinkle! Don’t be discouraged if the younger set are somewhat vocal in their opposition to the shredded produce, either – I had 14 vehement protesters convert to raving fans within a half hour (including our infamously veggie-phobic principal). What can I say, chocolate conquers all, and the fine shred on the fruit and veggies allows them to melt into invisible, ever so slightly sweet, everbearingly moist additions.

    Check out all our “rootin’ tootin'” recipes below:

    Appetizers

    Breakfast

    Main

    Sides

    Desserts

    Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on Twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

    Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

    Chocolate Carrot & Squash Muffins
    Makes ~16
    4 eggs, beaten
    ¼ cup canola oil
    ½ cup non-fat Greek yogurt (or homemade yoghurt)
    1 tbsp vanilla extract
    1 cup sugar
    ¾ cup brown sugar
    ½ cup cocoa powder, sifted
    2 cups white whole wheat flour
    2 tsp baking powder
    ½ tsp baking soda
    1 cup finely shredded yellow squash (or zucchini), peel left on
    1 ½ cups finely shredded carrots
    1 small sweet apple (I used Red Prince), finely shredded, peel left on
    ½ tsp coarse raw or sanding sugar per muffin for topping

    1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two muffin tins with cupcake liners, and set aside.
    2. In a bowl, combine the eggs, oil, yogurt and vanilla.
    3. Beat in the sugars and cocoa until smooth.
    4. Stir in the flour, baking powder and baking soda until just combined, then add the squash, carrots and apple and fold in until evenly distributed.
    5. Scoop the prepared batter into the muffin tins ¾ of the way up.
    6. Sprinkle with sanding sugar.
    7. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

    Amount Per Serving
    Calories: 213.6
    Total Fat: 5.3 g
    Cholesterol: 46.5 mg
    Sodium: 34.0 mg
    Total Carbs: 43.5 g
    Dietary Fiber: 3.4 g
    Protein: 5.1 g

    Double Caramel-Nut Banana Bread #TheRecipeRedux

    I love discovering new ingredients, especially for the baking pantry. I’d been doing a decent amount of research on gluten-nut-soy/bean-free flour options the past few months in order to write Home Ec recipes my whole class can eat (we’re a nut free school, and one class has 2 celiac students, 1 with a soy allergy and 1 allergic to chickpeas, kidney beans, navy beans and black beans) and recently came across an article on a totally new-to-me flour made from green bananas! Apparently this grain-free starch is quite common in the Islands and Africa, but new to North America and almost unheard of in my area – until last week that is, when a run of the mill trip to Bulk Barn found me staring at a bin full of the stuff! I couldn’t resist, and so without a clue in the world what I’d do with it, I snapped up a baggie and brought it home.  

    Caramel - Nut Banana Bread

    Luckily for me, home is where the blackening bananas are, and along with some dehydrated shredded zucchini from the summer, homemade nutty caramel sauce, almond milk and caramel sprinkles this whole grain batter baked into a hearty, decadent loaf that was moist and tender – without any added oil or butter! The small amount of banana flour was perfect for maintaining the moisture long-term, since like coconut and oat flours it locks it in and releases it into the surrounding crumb over time. The sprinkles on top are, of course, purely optional – but they do add the “dessert” element and will lure even the most skeptical, whole-grain haters into trying a piece. 

    Caramel - Nut Banana Bread

    This month’s #RecipeRedux is all about choosing a new-to-you ingredient to cook with in the new year. Whether it’s banana flour, nutritional yeast, fish sauce, matcha, teff or even ugli fruit, we’re showing off our culinary creativity this January!

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    Double Caramel-Nut Banana Bread
    Serves 12 generously
    4 large, over-ripe bananas
    2 cups shredded zucchini, dehydrated (~¾-1 cup dried volume)
    1 cup nutty salted caramel (½ cup salted  vegan caramel sauce + ¾ cup salted, toasted nuts)
    ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
    1 tbsp vanilla
    1 tsp banana extract
    3 tbsp ground chia seed
    1 ⅔ cups whole wheat flour
    ¼ cup banana flour (or tapioca starch if you can’t find it)
    ¼ cup quick oats
    ¼ tsp salt
    1 tsp cinnamon
    ¼ tsp nutmeg
    1 tsp baking soda
    2 tsp baking powder
    1 tbsp caramel sprinkles or crushed Werther’s, for topping (omit if dairy free)

    1. Heat oven to 325F and grease a large loaf pan.
    2. Peel bananas into a bowl and mash with zucchini, caramel sauce, almond milk, vanilla and banana extract.
    3. Stir in the chia seeds, flours, oats, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and baking powder.
    4. Scrape into the prepared pan and sprinkle with caramel sprinkles.
    5. Bake for 1 hour 45 minutes. The low, steady baking is key to keeping the moist, dense texture – don’t be tempted to pull it out early!
    6. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out and cool completely on a wire rack.

    Amount Per Serving
    Calories: 227.2
    Total Fat: 6.1 g
    Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
    Sodium: 153.5 mg
    Total Carbs: 44.2 g
    Dietary Fiber: 5.6 g
    Protein: 5.3 g

    Pumpkin – Flax Pancakes #TheRecipeRedux

    I think the worst part about November is that it’s one of those drab, blah “in between” months of the year. The colours and aromas of October’s Autumn (with our Thanksgiving and Halloween nestled in cozily) are long gone, along with the bulk of any locally harvested produce. However, we’re not quite into the full throes of the “Winter Holiday” season with the sweet flavours of butter, sugar, eggnog and mulled wine, vibrant lights, silver and gold baubles and red, white and green pinstripes. No snow is on the ground (whew!), but there’s no colour out there either, and the days lately have either been so cold, rainy, windy or all three that being outside is not a joy for anyone.

    Pumpkin-Flax Pancakes

    Well, I decided that my Home Ec class would do it’s part to “warm up” the environment a little bit – visually, temperature-wise and taste-wise. Roasted, pureed pumpkin added a burst of golden colour (not to mention immune-boosting vitamins) to the hearty, oat flour and flaxseed batter, which (thanks to the use of flax milk) is also dairy free. For extra “pumpkin pie-ness” I tossed in a dash of homemade pumpkin pie spice, and topped the stacks off with a compote made of late-harvest apples, maple syrup, cinnamon and ginger. While I thought the kids would go nuts for the “sweetness” factor of the compote, they surprised me by devouring almost all of their cakes plain – and asking for leftovers to eat cold after school! Just goes to show you that healthier food isn’t always “adult-only” fare – just let the kids “steal” it from you (and make a second batch while they’re outside burning the first one off).

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    Pumpkin – Flax Pancakes
    Serves 8
    1 cup flour

    1 cup oat flour
    1 tsp salt
    3 tbsp ground flax seed
    4 tsp baking powder
    1 cup pumpkin puree (homemade or canned)

    3 eggs, beaten

    ¼ cup canola oil
    3 tbsp raw sugar
    1 ¾ cups unsweetened flax or soy milk
    1. In a large bowl, stir together the flours, salt, flaxseed, pumpkin pie spice and baking powder.
    2. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, oil, sugar and milk.
    3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until blended.
    4. Spoon onto a well-greased, hot griddle and cook until done.
    5. Serve with maple syrup or chunky applesauce.
    Amount Per Serving
    Calories: 238.5
    Total Fat: 11.6 g
    Cholesterol: 69.8 mg
    Sodium: 117.1 mg
    Total Carbs: 27.6 g
    Dietary Fiber: 2.6 g
    Protein: 6.7 g

    Gluten Free Banana Muffins

    Whenever I set about making a gluten free baked treat, I rarely aim to mimic the nuances of traditional wheat-based fare – simply put, no combination of ingredients will perfectly imitate “standard” baking chemistry and flavour. That said, I love that the flours still safely used by celiac sufferers are packed with their own unique flavours, and are generally even better tasting in treats that can capitalize on the slightly earthy, nutty notes of the alternative grains and seeds. Whether the main ingredient is fruit, caramel, nuts or chocolate, the flexible nature of combined flours and starches truly has the potential to elevate the final dish without overloading it one way or another.

    In general, everyone I know is a fan of banana bread, and when it’s converted into streusel-dusted muffins the result is almost guaranteed to be a win regardless of dietary restrictions (or lack thereof). Particularly during the work and school week, muffins beat out loaves of quickbread hands down for portability and bake-sale friendliness – packed in a lunchbox for one or loaded into a shoebox for bulk transport, they are far less likely to self-destruct on route and stay moist and tender much longer.

    Now, any quickbread or muffin recipe is – as the name implies – supposed to be fast and easy to whip up. And when using “regular” flour and other ingredients, that’s generally the case. But as you can see with a quick Google (or WSSG search) of Gluten – Free recipes, celiac-safe baking tends to be a little more complex – with few exceptions, simply swapping in a single gluten-free flour for regular all purpose is a recipe for odd-tasting crumbs, bricks, sponges or all of the above. Yes, there are ready-made store bought blends available, and some are decent, but the control freak in me likes the customization factor homemade mixtures offer. Since I knew I’d only be making muffins with it, whipping up a big batch of GF “Quickbread” Flour ahead of time was worth it for me – not only did it ensure these muffins came out perfectly every time, but it made the process just as fast as pulling out a big bag of regular white stuff. Ironically, these muffins were such a hit with the “regular diner” crowd that I had to make a second (double) batch to give to my three GF friends in secret! By topping the batter with quinoa flakes and raw sugar, the baked muffins had a little touch of “bakery pizazz”, but it’s totally optional – next time, I might do a chunky granola crunch instead!
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    Gluten Free Banana Muffins


    Gluten Free Banana Muffins
    Makes 12 “regular” muffins or 20 “mini”
    3 large, over-ripe bananas
    ½ tsp salt
    ¼ tsp nutmeg
    ½ cup
    cane sugar
    2 tbsp
    Truvia Baking Blend (or ¼ cup more cane sugar)
    1 egg
    ⅓ cup canola oil
    1 tsp
    gluten free vanilla extract
    1 ½ cups
    GF “Quickbread” Flour
    ½ tsp guar gum
    1 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp baking soda
    quinoa flakes and coarse sugar, for topping (optional) 

    1. Preheat oven to 350 F and grease muffin tins.
    2. Mash the bananas, salt, nutmeg, sugar and Truvia together until smooth.
    3. Add the egg and oil, mixing well. Add vanilla.
    4. Add flour, guar gum, baking powder and baking soda
    5. Mix until just combined.
    6. Scoop into muffin pans and top with quinoa flakes and sugar, if using.
    7. Bake mini muffins for 10 to 15 minutes, and large muffins for 25 to 30 minutes. Muffins will spring back when lightly tapped. 

      Amount Per Serving
      Calories: 184.0
      Total Fat: 6.4 g
      Cholesterol: 15.5 mg
      Sodium: 7.4 mg
      Total Carbs: 32.1 g
      Dietary Fiber: 2.6 g
      Protein: 2.1 g 

      Métis Celebration Bannock

      It’s not often that I get to embrace my paternal history – in the kitchen or otherwise. My dad’s family is half Métis (a mixture of Native North American and usually French European ancestry), but during grandpa’s time Native background was something to hide, not celebrate. As such, the family’s status was never claimed and, while I’m sure we wouldn’t be shunned from gatherings like potlach or circles, we don’t have a true “tie” to the community. Instead, I embrace my heritage from the sidelines, learning what I can from books, television and the internet and sharing aspects that I find interesting with those around me.

      At Summer Camp this year, we had a themed week of “food from around the world “, and I took the opportunity to share this aspect of Canadian culture with the kids. Now, bannock is not a specifically Native bread, and is certainly not exclusive to Métis culture. However, it is one of the world’s “bush breads” and is definitely something that makes for great eating when camping, preferably warm with butter or maple syrup on top. This particular recipe – hailing from a Native American cookbook I bought years ago – is geared towards appreciating Summer bounty with the addition of fresh wild (or cultivated) blueberries, cornmeal and the last of the Spring’s dark, rich maple syrup. Unlike “traditional” bannock, which is either fried (a la beignets) or cooked on a stick over the fire, I baked a pan of this, adding a touch of smoked salt for the “campfire” aspect. While I would not ever call this a sweet bread, it is definitely a breakfasty type of food that is ideal for serving with eggs or peameal back bacon. If you do want more of a sweet flavour, though, 2-3 tbsp of (maple) sugar to the flour mixture will do the trick nicely!

      Blueberry Bannock Bread


      Métis Celebration Bannock
      Makes one 9×13″ pan, 16 squares
      3 cups flour
      2 ½ cups barley flour
      1/3 cup rolled oats
      ¼ cup fine cornmeal
      3 tbsp baking powder
      1 tsp smoked salt
      2 tbsp canola oil (I actually used a blend of canola and camelina oil – 1 tbsp of each)
      3 tbsp maple syrup (ideally Grade B) or buckwheat honey
      2 ¼ cups water
      1 cup blueberries

      1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a 9×13” pan with parchment or greased foil.
      2. Mix together flours, oats, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
      3. Stir in the oil, maple syrup and water until a thick dough forms. Stir in the blueberries.
      4. Knead in the bowl for about 1 minute, until the dough is not too sticky. It does not need to be perfectly smooth.
      5. Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan.
      6. Bake for 35-40 minutes. The bread should be slightly brown and springy to the touch.
      7. Turn out onto a cutting board or cooling rack and slice while still warm.

      Amount Per Serving
      Calories: 194.9
      Total Fat: 2.1 g
      Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
      Sodium: 10.6 mg
      Total Carbs: 38.7 g
      Dietary Fiber: 4.3 g
      Protein: 4.8 g