Gingerbread Peach Muffins

peachy gingerbread muffins (gluten free, vegan)

I’ve never really been able to say with any amount of conviction that I have a favorite fruit. My preferences seem to go something like this: In the fall, I really love crisp apples and fresh plums. During the spring, I get excited for the beginning of fresh strawberry season. When fresh citrus is being grown down in Florida during the winter, I love juicy oranges and grapefruit. Throughout the summer, I can’t get enough blueberries, raspberries and cherries. And later in the summer, my kitchen counter is overloaded with fresh peaches and nectarines.

Fruit can be an amazing and perplexing thing. I’ve marveled at how much better an apple can taste when in season — crisp and sweet, versus mealy and flavorless in the off-season. Blueberries can be plump and flavorful during their peak, while most of the year they are small and sour. And then there are peaches. You rarely notice them year-round, as they tend to be an overpriced luxury that is not quite worth the expense. They never have that distinct, sweet and juicy peach flavor….until late summer, when they certainly do.

I’ve been obsessing a bit over peaches and nectarines lately. With prices low and abundance high, I can’t help but stock up on amounts that are probably excessive given that there are only two people (and one dog who does not like peaches — one of the few fruits he eschews!) living in our house. Nevertheless, I somehow seem to manage our haul by enjoying peaches and nectarines in every capacity — on oatmeal, in smoothies, as a snack, and in baked goods.

gingerbread peach muffins (gluten free, vegan)

I’m not sure what gave me the idea to combine the sweetness of peaches with the spiciness of gingerbread. Perhaps because I know that ginger and peaches tend to work well together, I thought, why not add some more spices into the equation? I also find that, while delicious, peaches also tend to have a more mild flavor that can balance nicely with something spicier on the palate.

With these muffins, I find that the peach keeps these muffins moist and flavorful, while balancing the spiciness of the gingerbread base. They make a great breakfast muffin or even dessert option and can be kept at room temperature, covered, for a few days. I imagine they would also freeze fairly well, and then can be re-heated to eat. I tested this recipe on Gennaro and my parents and these muffins were met with all-positive reviews. My mom actually claimed that these were “one of the best muffins I’ve ever had!” though I would take this endorsement for what it’s worth — my mom says the same thing about pretty much everything she really likes. At any rate, I hope you enjoy these as much as my family and I did!

Final note: while I did use oil in this recipe — even though I have drastically cut back on oil in my cooking and baking — the entire recipe calls for only two tablespoons. This adds up to about 1/2 teaspoon oil per muffin, or about 20 added fat calories per muffin from oil — making these a relatively low-fat option.

Gingerbread-Peach Muffins:

Yield: 12 Muffins

Ingredients:

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups oat flour, loosely packed*
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup raw coconut crystals (or coconut palm sugar)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Wet Ingredients:
1 cup unsweetened dairy-free milk*
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing muffin tins

Plus: 1 heaping cup diced fresh peaches (about 1 large peach)

*Note: I used Arrowhead Mills Oat Flour. However, this brand is not certified gluten-free. If you’re highly sensitive, have Celiac disease, or are worried about cross-contamination with gluten, please look for certified gluten-free oat flour, such as this one from Bob’s Red Mill

**I tagged these as soy-free and nut-free, but obviously the use of soy or nut milk will negate either of these tags. That said, I used unsweetened soy milk, though almost any dairy-free milk could work, including coconut, almond or hemp milk. Play around and see which you like best. 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Either gently grease 12 muffin tins with olive oil, using your hands or a paper towel,  or line each muffin tin with baking cups.

2. Whisk together dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

3. Add wet ingredients to a separate bowl and whisk. Slowly add to dry ingredients and whisk together until combined.

4. Fold in peaches until well-distributed.

5. Pour about 1/3 cup of batter into each pre-greased/lined muffin tin. Place on the middle rack of your pre-heated oven. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until muffins are browned on top and bounce back when pressed.

6. Let cool for about 10-15 mintues before gently removing each muffin. I like to use a butter knife to go around the edges and make sure nothing is sticking to the sides, then I’ll gently loosen the bottom and  lift the muffin from the top. Let cool on a wire rack until ready to eat.

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Blueberry Muffins

I explained this in my pumpkin bar post, but it’s worth repeating: I made so many muffins before perfecting this recipe, it was ridiculous. Ludicrous. Unhealthy. Overkill. I made so many versions of muffins, it was weeks before I came up with a version that was worth posting. But then, with all that work, why stop at just something that was “worth posting”? So I kept going, until I finally, FINALLY had a recipe that I was actually proud of — something I would feel confident serving my non-vegan, non-gluten-free, sugar-loving friends without worrying about hearing “these are good……for being (fill in the blank)” I do not like hearing that I have a worthy recipe, if only for the gluten-free, vegan crowd.

The only problem with this recipe is that I missed my blueberry season window by a couple of weeks. Now, fresh blueberries are back to being exorbitantly priced and scarce. I suppose frozen blueberries would suffice, though I spent so long tinkering with the recipe, I would hate to think of any substitutions threatening the overall balance. But I’ll let you guys be the judge on that one. I also imagine chopped apples would be nice here, but that idea might merit a whole new post of its own…

Yield: 12 muffins

Blueberry Muffins:

1 cup brown rice flour

1 cup Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free flour

½ teaspoon xanthan gum

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup coconut crystals or coconut palm sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon Ener-G egg replacer (dry)

1 cup unsweetened soy milk

½ cup hot water

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup coconut oil (liquefied)

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup fresh blueberries

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350. Fill 12 muffin tins with liners.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, xanthan gum, salt, coconut sugar, cinnamon, dry egg replacer, baking powder and baking soda.

2. Add milk, hot water, vanilla and coconut oil to dry ingredients and mix to incorporate. Fold in applesauce. Fold in blueberries, being careful not to crush.

3. Drop batter by 1/4 cup into each muffin tin, adding more if necessary until each tin is evenly filled. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack before serving.

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Sweet Potato Muffins

When I think of sweet potato in desserts, I usually think cloying and sweet and heavy. I think pumpkin pie spices, or maybe marshmallow if we’re going the casserole route. Maybe it’s this association that has had me hesitant to bake with sweet potato until now (I’ve never been the biggest fan of pumpkin pie, let alone sweet potato pie). My change-of-heart can be attributed to a few things: 1) I learned that the lining of many canned goods contains BPA, which is a no-no if you’re at all concerned about carcinogens. To me, sweet potato is simply much easier to cook from scratch (and available more often) than is pumpkin, my usual canned go-to. 2) I might as well give pumpkin a break as it is, since it’s appeared in quite a few of my recipes as of late. 3) I saw a recipe — and unfortunately, I can’t remember where or for what — that called for sweet potato with orange zest, and I thought “yes. I like that idea.” And so I tried it. I’m glad I did.

I know I promised my red lentil kibbeh recipe, but I’m not happy with the individual photos I took of it, so it’s gonna have to wait until I can make it again. In the meantime, please enjoy these easy, healthy, moist and yummy muffins. My new barometer for a good health muffin is whether you realize it’s healthy when eating it. I had two (and a half) today and (unfortunately, perhaps instinctively) began calculating the caloric damage. Remembering that these are all whole grain, contain flax, and are sweetened with stevia helped to put my mind at ease, at least a little. Still, I had to remind myself of all the benefits. They’re not apparent upon conspumption — which is a good thing, no?

Yield: 12 muffins

Sweet Potato Muffins:

While the perfectionist in me cringed at the sight of jagged muffins tops, don’t let their exterior fool you — these are moist and spongey on the inside. The sweet potato helps them to retain their moisture well after they’ve been ziplocked away and refrigerated. I mashed my sweet potato with a little texture — mostly smooth, but enough so that every once-in-awhile you bite into an actual piece of it. It creates a pretty speckled effect with the dried cranberry as well.

2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Brown Rice Flour

¼ cup flax seed meal

¼ teaspoon xanthan gum

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 cups unsweetened soy milk

2 tablespoons canola oil (plus more for greasing tins, if needed)

1 teaspoon Nunaturals vanilla liquid stevia (or two teaspoons pure vanilla extract plus 1 teaspoon NuNaturals stevia)

1 ½ cups mashed cooked sweet potato (I boiled mine until fork tender, then drained)

1/2 cup fruit-sweetened dried cranberry

Zest of 1 organic orange, washed (use a good, microplane zester for best results)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Whisk together flour, flax, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk in soy milk, stevia and oil until incorporated into the dry ingredients. Add orange zest, cranberry and sweet potato and fold into batter until evenly distributed.

3. Using an ice cream scoop or a 1/4 cup measure, drop batter into greased or lined muffin tins. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in tins for about 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Apple “Cheddar” Muffins

I just discovered Daiya vegan cheese. It might have been the best thing to ever happen to me. Or the most dangerous. It started as just a “special treat” — something I sprinkled on top of dishes as a finishing touch. Then I knew I was really developing a problem when I made a gorgeous, green stir fry with tofu, broccoli and asparagus last weekened. The only problem was that I added a little too much sauce. Simple solution: I just added the rice I was going to serve alongside the stir fry into the dish to soak up the sauce. But that’s when my mind started to do crazy things, and I thought maybe a bit of cheese would be good in this…So I added some. Cheese in stir-fry? I know, I might have a Daiya problem.

I also used Daiya to make a focaccia pizza, then to make a wonderful, baked vegan soy-free mac and cheese. Look out for that recipe on here soon. And then I used Daiya cheddar cheese for these muffins. They are subtle and savory and best when eaten warm out of the oven. Still, they’re quite good as a snack, and I imagine that some scallions would add a really nice kick here and a nice flavor.

And no, Daiya didn’t pay me or ask me to write anything for them. No free cheese (I wishhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…but that would lead to some real trouble). I just really, really like this cheese. It’s everything you thought vegan, dairy-free, casein-free, soy-free cheese could never be. It’s good.

Yield: 12 muffins

Vegan Apple Cheddar Muffins:

1 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill garbanzo/fava bean flour

1/2 cup potato starch

1/4 cup arrowroot

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cup unsweetened soy milk (or other dairy-free milk)

1/4 cup grapeseed oil

1 tablespoon agave nectar

1 cup grated green apple

1 1/2 cups Daiya vegan cheddar cheese

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flours and arrowroot, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add in milk, agave and grapeseed oil and whisk until smooth. Fold in apples and cheddar.

3. Drop batter by heaping 1/4 cup into pre-greased muffin tins (or muffins tins lined with baking cups). Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until tops are golden brown. Let sit in baking tins for a few minutes before removing.

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Carob Muffins

Since starting this blog, I’ve tried to make an effort to provide something for everyone. I think I’ve said this before, but I don’t think food allergies/sensitivities come in a vacuum. I’ve tried to make a point to provide some soy-free recipes here, some nut-free recipes, some grain-free, corn-free….you get the point. I like to diversify my flours, in case some people can’t tolerate a certain type. Believe me, I know as much as anyone that food intolerances can go beyond the typical and verge on the obscure. I’m allergic to pineapple, for example. Everytime I see a good recipe calling for pineapple, my heart sinks a bit.

But one area where I think I could improve on in the diversification department would be sugar substitutes. I know I’ve used Truvia on here occassionally, but for the most part I’ve been an agave monogomist — rarely straying from this recently controversial sweetener. While I’ll leave the agave bashing (or myth debunking) to the experts, I will say that too much of a good (or bad) thing is probably never good. And too much of one sweetener can’t be good, either.

So, I’ve been doing some experimenting. In my recent transfer to a (more) vegan diet, I’ve sort of eliminated the possibility of raw honey — or honey — as a sweetener. Even if vegans seem to differ on whether honey is acceptable, I’d rather not alienate anyone on a strict vegan diet. It’s also perhaps a bit higher on the glycemic index than I’d prefer, as is maple syrup. Xylitol scares me. I have a dog that eats anything and everything he can get his hands on, and while I make things with chocolate, from what I’ve heard, xylitol can be a lot worse. That leaves a few options, but the most popular, natural alternative would probably be stevia. While I mentioned that I’ve been using Truvia for a few recipes here and there, 1) I found out that bee pollen is used in the processing of erythtritol, which is used in Truvia, which makes it technically not vegan, 2) there is currently no bulk Truvia baking product, which can make things tricky sometimes, and 3) like I said, I like to diversify. So, back to stevia. It’s pretty popular these days. I’ve even received a few requests for some recipes using liquid stevia. But the truth is, my tastebuds, in general, have been rather intolerant of the stuff, so I’ve usually given up on it after a few baking attempts. But after my mom sent me a recent (I’m not sure entirely unbiased or accurate — but still pretty powerful) article about some of the “dangers” of agave nectar, I thought it couldn’t hurt to revisit liquid stevia.

A few of my favorite bloggers provided some inspiration here. These apple pumpkin crumble bars from the blog Diet, Dessert and Dogs look absolutely amazing (just be sure to look for certified gluten-free oats in the recipe — and to make sure you can tolerate oats in the first place!), as do these egg-free, grain-free brownies from Kelly over at The Spunky Coconut.

For my inaugural post utilizing liquid stevia, I went with carob muffins. These not-too-sweet muffins are simple, one-bowl operation. Like I said, they are not too sweet, so you may add in a few extra drops of stevia or a few tablespoons of your favorite liquid sweetener here. Or, alternately, you might try really ripe mashed bananas in place of the applesauce. I was going for a not-so-high-sugar fruit as bananas here, but if you want to use bananas I’ve tried carob muffins with banana before and think it’s the perfect combination.

Yield: 9 muffins

Stevia-Sweetned Carob Muffins:

1/2 cup sorghum flour

1/2 cup potato starch

1/4 cup flax seed meal

1/4 cup unsweetened carob powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup applesauce or mashed, ripe banana

2/3 cup almond milk or other dairy-free milk

1/4 cup grapeseed oil

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon + 3 drops liquid stevia, or more to taste

chopped, raw pecans for sprinkling

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together sorghum flour, potato starch, flax, carob, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

3. In a smaller mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix together until incorporated.

4. Drop batter by heaping 1/4 cups into a pre-greased muffin tin. Sprinkle tops with a few pecan pieces. Bake in preheated oven for about 25 minutes, or until tops bounce back when pressed down upon. Let cool in tin for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Lemony Blueberry Corn Muffins

Here’s a simple, one-bowl recipe for corn muffins. These muffins are sweetened with Truvia for those looking for a break from agave nectar. They make a great breakfast muffin — with the bright note of lemon zest for added flavor. I used corn flour in this recipe instead of cornmeal, since it has a finer grain for a better overall texture.

Yield: 10-12 muffins

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins:

1 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill corn flour (not cornmeal)

1/4 cup flax seed meal

1/4 cup arrowroot

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

12 packets Truvia

1 cup lite coconut milk (shaken)

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

zest of one lemon

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen and unthawed blueberries

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Whisk together dry ingredients. Add milk, oil, vanilla, lemon zest and applesauce and whisk until incorporated. Fold in blueberries.

3. Fill pre-greased muffin tin cups about 3/4 full with batter. Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes. Let rest in muffin tin for 10 minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack.

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Gluten Free Bran and Flax Pumpkin Muffins

Muffins have been getting a bad rap in recent years. One need only flip through a few fitness magazines to find some sort of article about the diet-sabotaging potential of just a single muffin. In New York, where calorie counts at fast food restaurants are now mandated by law, muffins rank among the most calorie ladden desserts. I was surpised to learn that a blueberry muffin at Dunkin Donuts had almost twice the calories of a cream-filled, gooey glazed doughnut. I knew muffins could be sneaky when it came to calories, but I didn’t know it had gotten that bad!

As someone who nearly survived on muffins for breakfast throughout college (breakfast wasn’t covered by my meal plan, nor was it served in my dorm), I object to the tarnishing of one of my favorite morning treats. Sure, some muffins out there may be the size of a small melon these days. And sure, many places selling these muffins throw in ingredients that most of us can’t even pronounce — not to mention several other ingredients most of us (food allergy sufferers, that is) can’t eat. But that shouldn’t mean that muffins lose all credibility when it comes to a sensible morning option. This recipe for gluten free, vegan and agave-sweetened muffins is ladden with fiber-boosting whole grains and flax to help fill you up in the morning. Yes, there’s fat in it — but only good fat (in the form of flax) and otherwise very little oil. Pumpkin is high in antioxidants, several key nutrients and zinc. And finally, cinnamon is said to regulate blood sugar and may even boost cognitive function and memory. Round them out with some soy milk or a shake for protein (have to do my due “protein-advocacy” diligence after years of — ahem — gentle coaxing by my mom to eat more of it) and these muffins will redeem your faith (if you had any to begin with) that muffins can have a place in a healthy diet.

Yield: 12-14 muffins

Bran and Flax Pumpkin Muffins:

1 cup sorghum flour

1/2 cup rice bran

1/2 cup potato starch

1/2 cup flax seed meal

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/4 cup grapeseed oil

3/4 cup agave nectar

3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or soy or rice)

1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup hot water

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Whisk dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together agave and grapeseed oil. Add to dry ingredients. Add almond milk, pumpkin, vanilla and hot water to the mixture and whisk until incorporated (feel free to add nuts or raisins here as well). Fill muffin tins (greased, if not using baking cups) with batter until batter almost reaches the top of each cup.

2. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until muffins are golden brown. Let rest in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool.

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