Friday, July 29, 2011

Gluten Free Banana Muffins

I've been looking into gluten-free recipes for the past few days since my mom has a client who cannot eat gluten or dairy, and I jump on every chance I get to create recipes for any special diets. It probably sounds strange, but whenever someone tells me that they know someone who is vegan, can't eat diary, gluten, nuts, soy, you get the point...I get really excited. I love it because I have a new cooking challenge! I've done some thinking about this, and I've decided that probably one of the main reasons why I love cooking, especially healthy cooking, is because it allows me to help people enjoy food when they could otherwise feel so restricted. I love to show people that cooking and eating for allergies, or even just healthy lifestyles, is more exciting than it is dreadful.

So after a few test rounds with gluten-free baking (it's a little finicky), I stumbled upon this amazing creation using ingredients that I already had on hand (which is probably not saying much since I keep some pretty funky stuff on hand). I tried a different gluten-free muffin recipe the other day and it was horrible, although that's probably just because is substituted almond meal for almond flour. It sounds innocent enough, but trust me, the end result is heavy, hard, and dry. This one is exactly the opposite. These muffins are super light and fluffy and moist, have a great banana flavor with a subtle hint of nuttiness from creamy almond butter. I have to say, the only downside was that my muffins stuck to the paper liners, but that can be easily fixed with some cooking spray. Really, you would never know that these muffins were gluten free if I just handed you one without saying a word.

Gluten-Free Banana Almond Muffins
Ingredients:
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg + 1 egg white
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons creamy almond butter
1/2 cup unsweetened ("natural") applesauce
1/2 cup mashed bananas (1 really big one, probably 2 smaller ones)
1/4-1/3 cup chopped almonds, for topping

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F, line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. I would suggest spraying the liners with cooking spray (I didn't do this and my muffins stuck to the liners when ate them...).
2. In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients (flours, salt, baking powder, cinnamon).
3. In another bowl, mix the wet ingredients (egg through bananas).
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
5. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, then sprinkle with chopped almonds. 
6. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until they bounce back when touched lightly and a cake tester (or toothpick) comes out clean. 

Notes:
-You could probably substitute regular flour for the gluten-free flours, but I have not tested this, so don't go blaming me if it doesn't work!
-Try substituting pumpkin puree for either the applesauce or the mashed banana. The muffins may turn out a little less sweet, but still good I imagine.
-You can substitute creamy, natural peanut butter for the almond butter and top with chopped peanuts for banana-peanut butter muffins. I wouldn't use "unnatural" peanut butter, since it usually has lots of additives like sugar, hydrogenated oils, and preservatives that make it not a great choice for baking.
-Also, you won't taste a hint of chickpea flavor in this muffin...at all...so don't worry about that chickpea flour, it just adds to the lightness and fluffiness of the muffins.





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