Banana Blueberry Muffins

The other day I was thinking of making banana nut muffins…short one banana.  So I added blueberries to make enough fruit.  An instant classic!

I know, they look just like a banana muffin but they have a secret inside, juicy flavorful blueberries! The streusel topping looks gorgeous and adds an extra layer of flavor.  There are walnuts in them to so you get some really great nutrients from the fruit and nuts.  You can swap the white sugar for coconut palm sugar which is very low as far as raising blood sugar; important if you are pre-diabetic as I am.   I did add an extra tbsp. of milk because of the coconut palm sugar. They come out slightly darker if you use that special sugar.  banana blueberry muffin 002

I love how healthy these muffins are and the convenience of freezing most of them for use as daily snacks.  They defrost during the morning and are ready just when I need a pick me up. It’s great how being gluten free can be so yummy and easy when you plan ahead and bake your own snack treats. I freeze all muffins I won’t eat in two days time; a zip lock freezer bag works great.

Banana Blueberry Streusel Muffins

2 cups brown rice flour mix (see below)

2/3 cup granulated coconut palm sugar or granulated sugar

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

¾ tsp. xanthan gum

¼ tsp. salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

¾ cup mashed bananas

1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

2 large eggs

½ cup milk, 1 or 2 percent plus 1-2 tbsp more if using the palm sugar

½ cup canola oil

Topping: Mix the following in a bowl, make sure the butter is in tiny pebbles; use your fingertips to blend.

½ cup rolled oats

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tbsp. almond meal

1½ tbsp. butter

¼ tsp. cinnamon

——-

Directions: Heat your oven to 350 degrees, placing the rack in middle of oven.  Spray muffin pans with cooking spray.  One batch makes 14-16 muffins.  I got 16 when I made them.

Mix all dry ingredients in bowl of stand mixer or big bowl. Add fruits and walnuts; stir to coat them with dry mix.  Combine milk and oil.  Add liquids and eggs to big bowl; stir just until fully blended.  It is a very thick batter.  I like to let it stand ten minutes to allow the batter to thicken; makes a better and higher muffin.

Fill muffin pans 2/3 full.  I use a big serving spoon and fill it about half way to dump batter into each muffin space. Sprinkle the top with the topping. Press it in a bit so it won’t all flake off after baking. Bake 21-23 min until golden brown. Do not over bake or they will taste dry.  Let stand 6 or 7 minute and then remove from the pans and cool on a rack. I often use a fork to help pry them out; the streusel can get stuck on the edges to the muffin tin.  They freeze well for a few weeks, if they last that long.  Keeps in fridge (well wrapped) or an airtight cookie jar for 2-3 days.

Brown Rice Flour Mix base mix 

(This mix is the same as King Arthur’s gf blend)
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

Fruit & Veggie Bars: Refreshing

 

Hot, yeap it is July and it is HOT in Pennsylvania and most of the USA.  Sometimes a chilly treat is in order.  I found these fruit and veggie pops in my grocery store; made by Outside, part of Nestle.  Not a lot to them, mostly fruit and veggie puree or juice reconstituted from concentrate, some sugar, not much else.  Flavors are Strawberry rhubarb, Tangerine medley and Blueberry medley. They have from 34 to 40 calories and from 5-15 mg of sodium.  The ingredients vary so the amount of vitamins varies too from 4-20 percent of daily need for vitamin A, 15% of vitamin C and the tangerine has 10 % of your daily vitamin K.  There is a small amount of fiber; 2-3% of daily requirement. 9 g of sugar.  Not much else in there: no fat or cholesterol. The juice/puree includes: apple, pear, strawberry, rhubarb, blueberry, pear, tangerine, sweet potato, pumpkin, passion fruit, carrot, beet, lemon and raspberry.

fruit and veggie bars

I find them refreshing, light, and vastly better than a sugary fruit pop that often contains minimal fruit juice.  They are not too sweet but not sour either. Not really tasting like any vegetables.  The puree doesn’t taste thick or heavy; blends in perfectly.  Adds a slightly different flavor to the fruit. Guilt free in my book.  Twelve to a box for about $4 which is a great deal to my thinking.  They also have a version that is just fruit; no veggies.  Bet they are tasty too! fruit bars

Banana Chip Snafu

A few weeks ago I bought a bag of banana chips at Aldi’s, one of my favorite shopping places. I never got around to them until the other day, home recovering from a twenty four hour stomach bug.  The thing is, if you have celiac, you tend to take a bit longer to get over that which used to be 24 hours.  One’s tummy just doesn’t rebound like it used to.  More time, lighter fair and less stress are called for.  So banana chips seemed like a suitable snack.  I ate a lot of them.  And within an hour I was fairly ill with that familiar burning pain of being glutened.  It isn’t the same as a tummy ache.  Just to be clear, not the same area nor the same feeling.  Not fun.

banana chips

After several days for my digestive system to recover from the setback I am mostly better this week, finally back to exercising, and almost able to eat as before although it will be a few more days before I attempt anything too spicy!  Learned my lesson…the packaging didn’t say gluten free.  It didn’t list wheat or any type of gluten on the package.  Nor did it say processed on equipment that processed wheat.  But somehow it had been cross contaminated and that was a real shame for my health and my peace of mind.  I had been feeling so comfortable with Aldi’s foods.  Now I need to re think them and make more careful choices.  I won’t stop shopping there but no more banana chips and I suggest you avoid them if you have celiac disease. If you suffer from it as I do, you know how easily we can become ill from a tiny amount of gluten.  It is no exaggeration but hard reality. So be cautious when you are snacking and look for that gf label folks. There are lots of safe snacks available from fresh produce to homemade snacks and store bought processed items.  Just read the packages and be safe.

GF Product Review Roundup

 

Finally I got to try the much vaunted Canyon Bakehouse  7 Grain bread.  It looked kinda small when I pulled the loaf from the Wegman’s freezer case.  No matter, it is the taste that matters I thought as I yanked out a bag of Against the Grain sesame bagels.  There were already a few new crackers in my pantry that are being tested…and eaten. Comments below.Canyon bakehouse 7 G bread

Later that day I made a slice of the bread, toasted and half butter and half with homemade lemon marmalade.  It was small but tasty.  Maybe the best store bread I have had but not earth shatteringly good.  I was somehow expecting to feel just that OMG taste after reading reviews and comments on it. But, I wasn’t blown away.  I have made gf multigrain bread that tasted as good if not better.  So I now feel okay about my own baking; it doesn’t have to be a huge slice to be successful.  Nor is the flavor of my own bread lacking in comparison. I just prefer homemade.  No preservatives. And I get the pleasure of mixing up my dough and of smelling it bake.  Not saying this was bad bread, not at all.  Just that my homemade is comparable and I am not missing a lot by making my own.

againstthe grain bagelsSecond item; the bagel.  I had bought Utz gf bagels long ago and was not impressed, they were like an old stiff sponge and had minimal flavor.  This bagel; it is more open and has more flavor.  Very light in weight and lots of holes; sort of like airy French bread as a bagel.  I made homemade bagels last year and they were better in the chew department especially when really fresh.  Still, it was hugely appealing to have a toasted bagel with no effort.

skinny quinoa sticks

Third item; A huge bag of Skinny Quinoa Sticks given to me a while ago by a friend.  They are sweet onion flavor and made with ancient grains per the label.  Only 140 calories per serving and incredibly crunchy and rather addictive. Can’t eat just one, or ten.  Yumm!  I think she got them at Sam’s Club or Costco.  Big bag, still eating. Not stale and not tired of them.

hummus crackersFourth item: Hummus crackers by Mediterranean Snacks, roasted garlic flavor. Thin, crisp and mild.  Made with garbanzo beans and pretty edible if not outstanding.  I believe they were from Aldi’s. Their bland flavor will not compete with your dip or cheese.  They are somewhat delicate; break easily if used to dip; say in hummus. Great with guacamole

breton crackers

Fourth item: Breton gf crackers.  I tested the black bean and found it tasty, very delicate meaning it kept breaking in half just getting a cracker out of the box but somehow I kept wanting yet one more.  I have another box not opened yet but a friend says it is a super great cracker, can’t wait to crack that box…

rye bread and cassoulet 022

In conclusion, I liked all of the above but really loved the Skinny Quinoa sticks and I did enjoy both the convenience and the flavor of the bagels and breads.  I use these crackers with cheese, guac, hummus and all on their own. All worthwhile to purchase.  Still, I just made scratch “rye” bread this afternoon and am blown away by the flavor and crust.  Homemade is best in my book!

Soft GF Pretzel Success Story

Something I had missed desperately was soft pretzels.  Just not to be found gluten free, at least not in my geographic area.  Maybe some frozen ones out there but I haven’t come across them.  Plus you know me, I Love to bake and prefer homemade to a bought baked good. So when I saw a soft pretzel picture in an email from King Arthur Flour I knew I had to give them a try. pretzels 011

The dough was very easy to make, dump and mix.  pretzels 006I did only a half batch because there is just me to eat them and I didn’t want a huge bag of pretzels in my freezer.  Rolling them out was a bit tricky but very do-able.  I sprinkled the dough with more flour and soon my pretzels were ready for their baths!  Yes – you read that right.  Pretzels get a bath in a special combination; this one was boiling water with baking soda and sugar added.  You drop them in one at a time and they lay on the bottom of the pot for 2-3 seconds before slowly rising to the water’s surface. Once they reach the surface you can scoop them up.  I have a flat wide spoon covered with small holes which is just perfect for pretzel scooping.  They get firm and less fragile in that 5 second bath…just lay each on the baking sheet.  pretzels 007If you want them with salt, sprinkle it on. I happened to have some actual pretzel salt; fat white crystals. Just sprinkle and bake about 18 minutes.  pretzels 009If you want cinnamon sugar leave them naked and when they come out of the oven brush each pretzel with melted butter and then with cinnamon sugar.

The recipe can be found at http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/gluten-free-soft-pretzels-recipe#

pretzels 008

 

The flavor and texture are great especially eaten as soon as they are cooled enough to handle.  Read pretty hot for me! I adored the cinnamon sugar and enjoyed the salted ones. If you want them soft, bake them the minimum time; check a minute early and pull then if they are to your liking.  pretzels 012

They do freeze well and when you warm them up in the microwave the pretzels are fairly close to how they were fresh.

Just do it: make them this weekend; you know you have been dreaming of a gluten free soft pretzel for years now……