Fit for the New Year: Vegan, Gluten Free Banana Nut Muffins

Having just returned from our annual Christmas Pilgrimage to North Carolina -- an eight-day road trip adventure all the way from Philadelphia to Clemson, SC and back again, with our game-for-anything pup in the back seat -- our pantry wasn't exactly stocked when we walked in the door on New Year's Eve.  What to make for brunch the next day? Having just spent a week trying to stick to a vegan diet in the midst of my avid meat-and-dairy-loving family, I wanted to bring something to share that would be accessible to everyone.  After a little browsing, I found this vegan, gluten-free recipe for Banana Nut Muffins from the Minimalist Baker that aligned closely enough with the limited resources in our depleted pantry.  Though not gluten-free myself, I decided to make these without it to keep them diet friendly for all. Evidently it worked out beautifully -- all twelve of these were gone in fifteen minutes flat.  Moist and hearty, with the added decadence of dark chocolate chips and toasted walnuts on top, these made for a perfect New Year's Day treat that would be healthy and filling enough for any day of the week.  With my own substitutions, here's what I used....

1 Tbsp ground flaxseed (throw some whole flaxseed in a high speed blender, voila: ground flaxseed)
2 1/2 tbsp water
2 ripe bananas (original calls for 3, but we only had 2)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda 
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (we keep a few vanilla beans soaking in a bottle of vodka for this purpose)
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 c brown sugar (I halved the amount of sugar in the original recipe, because I tend to prefer things less sweet)
2 1/2 Tbsp maple syrup
3/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 c coconut milk (we hadn't made almond milk, so I opened up a can of coconut milk I had on hand. This worked out beautifully)
1/2 c dark chocolate chips, 70% or greater and dairy free (because who doesn't love melted chocolate in things?!)

For the flour: original calls for a mix of almond meal/flour, a gluten-free flour blend, and rolled oats.  Not having any of the gluten free blend on hand, I mixed my own to add up to the same quantity. Here's what I used --

1 1/4 c almond flour
3/4 c almond meal (coarser than flour)
1/2 c coconut flour 
1 1/4 c rolled oats

I also pressed some walnuts into the top of 8 of the muffins before baking, so they came out nice and toasted by the end.


Preheat oven to 375
Line a standard muffin tin with muffin cups, makes 12 muffins

1. Prepare a "flax egg" by mixing the ground flaxseed and water together and giving it 5 minutes to gel.
2. Mash up your bananas to a liquid but slightly chunky consistency, then mix with the flax egg, baking powder, and baking soda.
3. Add vanilla, oil, salt, sugar, and syrup and whisk to combine. Then whisk in coconut milk. (Set aside leftover coconut milk to use later, or blend it up right away with some frozen fruit for a smoothie to tie you over until these come out of the oven...)
4. Add all flour ingredients and oats, stirring with a wooden spoon until just combined, and then fold in chocolate chips at the end. 
5. Divide evenly into your muffin cups, and then press in walnut topping (or add hemp seed, or shredded coconut, or chia seeds -- whatever suits your fancy).

Bake for 28-32 minutes or until golden brown.  Enjoy :)


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