I love muffins, any and all types, and the chewier the better. Muffins get a bad rap because of the huge, high fat, nutritional disasters at your local bakery and café. That bran muffin, at that coffee place that’s everywhere has 420 kilocalories and 19 grams of fat. You may order it with your nonfat latte assuming that it’s a healthy breakfast when in fact it’s a nightmare for your waistline, not to mention you wallet.

Quinoa (keen-wah) is a grain that has been used for thousands of years by the Incas. Quinoa is nutrient rich, especially high in amino acids, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus. It is also extremely versatile and is a great alternative to oatmeal and bran.

What better way to use this nutty, healthful grain than in a muffin that can become a quick breakfast or snack to help keep you on track!

Gather your ingredients: quinoa (of course), whole wheat flour, brown sugar (or turbinado sugar), water, ground flax seed, cinnamon, nutmeg, applesauce, salt, baking powder, nondairy milk, and dried apple.

In a pot, place one cup of dry quinoa and two cups of water. Bring it to a boil, then lower to a simmer. It will take about 11-14 minutes for the quinoa to be done, it will be tender and translucent with a germ ring around it. This is the standard preparation for quinoa by the way. Stir occasionally.

While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Chop the dried apple into bite-sized pieces.

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of whole wheat flour, half a cup of turbinado (raw) sugar (or three quarters of a cup of brown sugar), 1 and half teaspoons of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and half a teaspoon of nutmeg

Now you need a binder for the mix. Instead of a chicken egg, I made a ‘flaxegg.’ Take two and a half tablespoons of ground flax seed and drizzle in three tablespoons of water. While drizzling, whisk together with a fork.

Keep stirring until well combined. It will be very gooey.

Take the applesauce, flax egg, nondairy milk and vanilla extract and combine well in a bowl.

The quinoa should be done by now and add it and the apples into the dry mixture. Stir well so that the dry mixture coats the quinoa grains.

Stir in the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, until just combined.

Place in prepared muffin tins, grease the pans or line with paper cups (beware that the muffin will stick to the paper cup so you’ll need to spray them anyway). Alternately, line them with foil cups. Bake at 350* F or 177* C until toothpick comes out clean, about 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes in the tins, then transfer to a wire cooling rack until completely cooled. This will make 12-15 muffins depending on how much you fill the tins.

Nutrition (makes 15): 159 kcal, 1.7 g fat, 0.1 g saturated fat, 0.3 g polyunsaturated fat, 0.1 g monounsaturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 176.5 mg sodium, 31 g carbohydrates, 3.1 g fiber, 3.3 g sugar, 4 g protein (41% DV riboflavin!)

Variations:
*I made these for kids, so I wanted them to be as “kid-friendly” as possible, which is why the spice counts are so conservative. Feel free to “kick it up” with more spices; ground ginger would be lovely!
*Substitute other dried fruit for the apples, like raisins, cherries, cranberries or blueberries.
*Substitute 3/4 cup brown sugar for turbinado sugar.
*Substitute 1 T. whole flax seed and grind in coffee grinder, food processor or blender, then proceed with 3 T. of water for flaxegg.
*Non-vegans: Use a regular egg or the equivalent egg substitute. Add about 10 minutes to cook time.

Printable Recipe: Apple Quinoa Muffins.

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