I love bread. No, I mean, I REALLY love bread. Any kind – white, whole grain, soft, crusty, chewy, melt in your mouth, to me all bread is amazing. It is my comfort food. As an Italian girl, I’m pretty sure my first bites must have been of either pasta or bread. I grew up eating these foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And snacks. What good Italian mama doesn’t shower her children with love and affection by slathering heaping tablespoons of Nutella on soft white bread? My mama sure did and to this day bread is my favourite food in the entire world.
Sadly, however, bread is not my friend. While I am not gluten-intolerant I do have a sensitivity to wheat. I can eat small amounts on occasion but if I overindulge in pizza, pasta, croissants, baguettes or any other of my “this is what I would want if I was stranded on a desert island” foods then I pay the price. Usually it means inflammation, which in my body translates to low energy, general lethargy, a little digestive discomfort and, worst of all – heavy legs. It took me almost 2 years to figure out why I used to suffer from a chronic feeling of having lead in my legs. No matter what I did with my training, I felt like my legs did not want to move. So, several years ago I finally decided it was time to cut the wheat out of my diet and – TADA! – legs suddenly felt lighter and fresher than they had in a very long time. It didn’t happen overnight but within about a week not only did my legs feel like flying, I also felt (and looked) more rested and finally I had the energy I expected of myself, to be able to live and train the way I wanted to.
I understand when people tell me they don’t want to give up bread, that was me. But I have to say that I’ve become more addicted to feeling great than to the temporary pleasure of that crusty white bread. Sometimes I do crave the wonderful, comforting texture of a “bread-like” product but I’m not interested in eating a dry or bland substitute for the sake of avoiding wheat. Remember, I love food. What I do look for is a recipe or product that is yummy and satisfying.
This muffin recipe I am about to share is exactly that. Its texture is a little dense (which I love) but also very moist and super flavourful. You’ve all heard by now that muffins are often, essentially, a big hunk of cake. Even so called “healthy” bran muffins can have more sugar than a can of Coke, send your blood sugar soaring and send you down the path of inflammation, belly fat, hypoglycemia and cravings.
Not so with this recipe. Its ingredients are all natural and gluten-free. The inclusion of cinnamon, apples (including their skins), walnuts, organic tofu and the soy/hemp flour all have the effect of stabilizing your blood sugar. Those last few ingredients boost the protein content, so by balancing your blood glucose they will also help you reduce sugar cravings. They are sweetened with just a small amount of maple syrup which, by the way, is a rich source of manganese and zinc (both of which provide free radical protection and boost immune response). Everyone who tries these muffins loves them. They keep for several days and also freeze well if you prefer. Try them next time you want that “bread” – I’ll even ok them for breakfast!
This recipe for “The Power Muffin” originates from Deborah Ackers, a naturopath I’ve never met but who passed the recipe on to a woman who ran a cooking class at the home of a friend of mine. Ever since that day, the tantalizing aroma of the cinnamon in these muffins is a regular occurrence in my household.
The Power Muffin
- 1 cup Certified Wheat-Free rolled oats (Bob’s Red Mill is a great brand)
- 2/3 cup brown rice flour
- 1/3 cup hemp or organic soy flour
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp aluminum-free baking soda
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 block of organic tofu
- 2 large apples, leave the skin on and cut into large chunks
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with muffin liners.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix the oats, flours, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and walnuts.
- In a food processor blend tofu, apples, oil and maple syrup until relatively smooth. (A bit chunky is ok)
- Pour the dry ingredients into the processor and pulse 4-5 times until blended. Empty the mixture into a mixing bowl and mix a few times with a spatula.
- Fill the muffin tins about 2/3rds full
- Bake 20-25 minutes
One final note: while you can purchase certified wheat-free oats, a person with celiac disease may or may not be able to tolerate them. Please consult your nutritionist or naturopath if you have celiac and are not certain if oats are suitable for your diet.