Yesterday over at No Meat Athlete, Matt Frazier posted a great article laying out how to eat better and stick to simple, no-nonsense food rules that will have a significant impact on your diet and nutritional health. While a no-brainer for some – the basis for these guidelines is to cook your own food and eat as many unrefined and unprocessed foods as possible. Why? Simply put, so you know what is going into your body and in doing so, can ensure you’re eating nutritious, well-balanced meals that incorporate a variety of foods to maximize vitamin and nutrient intake. This means fruit and vegetables play a dominant role, as do whole grains. Eat a salad every day (note to self) and make sure not to eat too many of the same foods all the time (that three month taco diet was apparently a bad idea).
An easy starting point to begin working towards a healthier way of eating is replacing refined grains for their whole grain counterparts: brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, etc. The less processed the better – more fiber, more nutrients, and less of the fillers, sugars and bad carbohydrates that can often leave us feeling sluggish and bloated.
Recently, I’ve been playing around with ‘milling’ my own whole grain flours, which I’ve learned is a lot easier and less time consuming than you might think. In the last few weeks I’ve been experimenting with different gluten-free flour mixes that I have to say, taste incredibly good. In the store, these blends can be quite expensive, but most likely you can find large quantities of brown rice, soy, buckwheat, chick peas, and lentils for a fraction of the cost (especially if you can purchase in bulk). In addition to the price break, grinding your own flour ensures that germ of whatever grain you are using, remains intact – which is where nutrients such as vitamin E, folate, magnesium, and essential fatty acids are stored.
In the past, I have tried to make flour in the food processor to poor results – little did I know, a decent blender is all that is needed. Nothing fancy – we have a basic Phillips thing that works great. The process for milling your own flour is dead simple – add grains to blender (1/2 to 1 cup at a time depending on your blender), process on high until a fine powder forms (you know its done when the flour begins to whirl around in the blender like a tornado), and then sift through a fine sieve. If you won’t be using everything that you have made right away, try to store the remaining flour in the refrigerator as it can go rancid more quickly than white flour.
So, what to do with all this flour I’ve been making? Muffins. I’ve been on a muffin bender. Also, because I’m a real jerk, I’ve only been making banana muffins. Someone else in my apartment REALLY loathes bananas, despite having never consumed one, so I’ve had to eat these all myself. Hard knock life.
Small Batch Banana Muffins!
- 120 g flour (I like an equal mix of brown rice, buckwheat, and rye or spelt)
- 1 medium sized banana – ½ mashed, ½ diced
- 2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
- 2 Tbsp plant-based milk
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Cinnamon, nutmeg, or whatever spices you fancy
- Pre-heat oven to 350/170 degrees.
- Mash half the banana in a small bowl and stir in plant-milk and applesauce.
- Add salt, baking soda, and baking powder and loosely combine.
- Mix in flour until just incorporated.
- Add in diced banana, taking care not to over mix the batter.
- Divide batter between two ramekins or muffin tins – top with nuts, seeds, or oats if desired.
- Bake for 15- 20 minutes until center is firm and muffins are golden brown.
- The recipe above can be altered to use carrots or zucchini instead of banana - ginger and raisins are great in these combinations.
- I’ve found that I don’t need to add any sugar or fat to the batter to good results, but for something slightly richer, try adding a tablespoon of vegetable oil/margarine/coconut oil and a tablespoon of agave or maple syrup.
- Because these don’t have any sugar, I ‘ve successfully used this recipe as a base for savory muffins with spinach, garlic and a little cornmeal.