My beloved children both went back to school earlier this month and I’m only just gradually getting back into some semblance of a work routine, not to mention regaining my sanity! I’ve got much to blog about but spare time has been hard to come by at the moment. I’m hoping my home day tomorrow will see me cooking, snapping and typing.
As far as dieting goes, I’ve done pretty well with keeping gluten and refined sugar off the menu, and concentrating on eating lean proteins (fish, chicken etc.) over red meat. Of course, I more than happily break the rules for special occasions (Hubby’s birthday dinner at Petite Mort last month for one, and a nice catch-up lunch at Mosmans with a friend today) and if anything I enjoy such indulgences even more. Overall, I feel healthier for not eating certain things and I suppose that’s the main thing :)
Fortunately, eating gluten and sugar free isn’t nearly as limiting as going on a raw food diet. I’ve really enjoyed being able to bake again and recently dabbled with some gluten free recipes. There’s a huge range of gluten free flours available these days so I’ve had to experiment to find the right blend of flours for specific recipes. So far I’ve found that some bean flours are a bit gritty so work best in cookies and biscuits, whereas buckwheat flour is relatively smooth but has a distinctive flavour so I use stronger flavours and spices with it.
For these chocolate and orange muffins, I used a blend of coconut flour and a flour mix by Bob’s Red Mill (Gluten Free Biscuit & Baking Mix). Most blends of gluten free flour do involve bean flour or tapioca flour but this mix isn’t bad at all. However, I do like adding coconut flour to muffins and cakes to add a bit of bulk (something to get your teeth into, if you will). The only problem with coconut flour is that it’s quite dry and absorbs moisture like nobody’s business. To combat that, I used cream cheese to keep the muffins moist.
Gluten free baked goods do often need a little extra something to make them palatable for every member of the family so I finished these muffins with half a Lindt ball in the centre for a molten choc effect and drizzled them with orange syrup for added moisture. You can omit these extras if you’re aiming for a healthier muffin, but hey, you gotta live a little!
- 125g cream cheese (light is fine)
- 120g agave syrup (honey can be used, or same quantity of sugar)
- 1 egg
- 100g coconut flour
- 100g gluten free baking mix or preferred flour (wheat is fine if you're not gluten intolerant)
- ½ baking powder
- ¼ baking soda
- 2 tbsp raw cacao or cocoa powder
- juice of ½ small/medium orange
- zest of above orange to taste, reserving some strips of zest for decoration
- milk as needed (soy, dairy, around ¼ cup)
- Syrup: juice of ½ orange, ¼ cup sugar, ½ cup water
- 3 x dark (or milk) chocolate Lindt balls (halved) if desired (recommended, or use blocks of chocolate you may have)
- Pre-heat oven to 180C (160C fan-forced) and grease a 6-muffin muffin tin.
- Cream together agave and cream cheese in a food processor or in Thermomix with Speed 3 for a few seconds.
- Add egg and blend further to combine (Speed 3 for a few seconds).
- Add coconut flour, flour mix, baking powder, baking soda and raw cacao and blend to combine (Speed 2 for 10 seconds).
- Add orange juice and zest, mixing again (Speed 3 for a few seconds).
- Add enough milk (Speed 3 for a few seconds) to produce a mixture that is wet enough to be poured out but not runny.
- Scoop mixture out and fill evenly into muffin tin. Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, add sugar and water into a small saucepan and bring to a boil, then allow to simmer for 5 minutes on low heat. Take off heat and add orange juice. Set aside.
- At 10 minutes, remove muffin tin and place Lindt ball halves into the middle of each muffin and return to oven for another 6 minutes or until knife test pulls out clean.
- When muffins are done, spoon some orange syrup over each muffin and allow to cool on rack.