Blackberry cornmeal muffins

I’ve made one past attempt to mix cornmeal, all purpose and whole wheat flour to make a healthier cornmeal muffin. These were… lacklustre. A quarter of the batch went uneaten.

But these muffins; they smell delicious, taste delicious and I love love love the texture. They’re made with two grains (corn and spelt), and almond meal, giving them a sort of nutty quality. This was also my very first time using chia rather than egg in a baked good, and I was pleasantly surprised. They weren’t heavy, or overly moist, which I have found happens when I’ve swapped in banana as an egg replacement.

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Chia is one of those ‘superfoods’ you keep hearing about, but really it’s just like any other food trend: great in moderation. I do want to give a quick comparison of egg to chia, so here it is.

I’ll use 1tbsp of chia because combined with 3tbsps of water it is considered the equivalent to 1 egg in baking.

Nutrient Chia (1tbsp) Egg (1 lge)
Protein  3grams  6grams
Iron 6% of daily value  6%
Sodium 0  65mg (3% daily value)
Fibre 4grams, 16% of daily value 0
Fat  3.5grams, 0.7g Omega-6, 2g Omega-3, the rest is the regular saturated and monounsaturated type. 5grams
Calcium 8% of daily value  2%

In no particular order, these are the parts of nutrition labels I make sure to read in the grocery store. Obviously, the daily value recommendation found on most packaging is not necessarily right for your body, and you should consider your own physiology (possibly with a doctor, nutritionist etc) before you decide what is.

In this race, the egg comes out on top for protein, but not much else. If you’re worried about cholesterol, chia has none. So, if you can be sure you’re getting the protein you need elsewhere, chia is a fantastic alternative to eggs in baking. And apparently, it can be used to thicken jam. Cue summer plans.

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This recipe is once again from Amy Chaplin’s cookbook, At home in the whole foods kitchen, and I swear this isn’t my only cookbook, but it is my newest. That’s my excuse.

img_20170104_144232727My modifications:

  1. I used cornmeal, because I don’t have grits lying around waiting to be tossed into my food processor. And I didn’t make my own almond milk. I’ll die young probably.
  2. I don’t have aluminum free baking powder. Maybe when I replenish my stock, I will go this route.
  3. I didn’t sift a thing. Whole spelt flour refuses to be sifted.
  4. I used lemon zest, because my partner does not like orange flavoured baked goods. I stuck with the orange juice; lemon juice and orange juice are not the same thing.
  5. I used a frozen mix of berries, since berries are not in season here.
    Hot tip: I find that frozen berries mix into batter more easily anyways, since they don’t just turn into mush when folded into the batter. They also don’t dye your batter purple this way.img_20170104_144414497
  6. This recipe made 12 muffins for me, not 10 like Chaplin specifies.
  7. I futzed with her process, because I love efficiency.

The recipe:

Berry Cornmeal Muffins

Makes: 12 muffins

Ingredients

2 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup almond or soy milk
1/3 cup cornmeal, or grits ground in food processor
1 1/2 cups sprouted or whole spelt flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup almond meal
zest of 1 orange or lemon
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/3 cup melted extra virgin coconut oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 cups berries

Method

  1. Grease or line your muffin tin and preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. Whisk chia seeds and almond milk together in a small bowl and set it aside to thicken for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, assemble the dry and wet ingredients.
  3. In a medium-large bowl: Add cornmeal, then sift in spelt flour and baking powder (if you can!). Add almond meal and zest. Whisk to blend.
  4. In a medium bowl: melt coconut oil, add orange juice, maple syrup, and vanilla. Ten minutes should have passed. Throw in the chia mix and whisk.
  5. Make a well in your dry ingredient bowl, and mix in the wet mixture with a spatula, just until combined.
  6. Add in the berries, and mix briefly.
  7. Spoon batter into muffin cups, and bake 30 to 35 minutes. I judge done-ness by testing whether the muffin surface springs back when pressed with a finger.
  8. Remove from the oven, and allow the muffins to site for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.

We started eating them shortly thereafter, and within 24 hours they were gone. They’re best the day of, but will hold up for a day or two in the oven on a plate. I don’t like to cover muffins or bread with plastic wrap, since I find they get soggy and then mold.

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