You know something? Getting a whole family of five to cut down on gluten is not an easy feat. None of us have gluten tolerance issues, but it’s been my mission for a while now to have everyone cut down on it. For me, it’s fairly easy as I have to eat a certain way for my health. But the kids and my husband have always been reliant on gluten-filled foods to fuel them through their day. And I find myself at a loss sometimes of what to make for them that doesn’t contain gluten. School lunches are often sandwiches because let’s face it, that’s the easiest thing to make. At breakfast, they clamour for toast or cereal. Snacks? I offer fruit, they want crackers. I do my best to moderate these things, and overall I think I do a pretty good job. But there are definitely times when I rely on breads and crackers and cereal to feed my kids. They are whole grain version, naturally, but I still would like to see them all eating less of those gluten-y items.
A large part of the problem in getting my family to cut down on gluten is that the kids’ schools are all nut free. For my own dietary restrictions, I rely heavily on nut flours, and the kids are often more than happy to eat many of my creations. But I can’t send these things into school with them. So when I decided I wanted to make them some healthy but delicious gluten free muffins for school snacks, I knew I had to rethink my approach. Yes, I know I could have gone and bought some gluten free flour blend, but that really isn’t my MO. I like to experiment and create these things on my own. I fail miserably sometimes, but that makes every success that much sweeter.
I wanted these to be really nutritious, and I decided that the base would be flax seed meal. Unfortunately, I discovered that I was low on this ingredient and had only about 1 cup left in the house. I needed another nut-free flour to fill in the gaps, but what to use? I considered coconut flour, but that always uses so many eggs and I didn’t have enough. Soy flour is something I am trying to avoid, what with all the bad press about soy products. Then I remembered the oat flour I’d purchased a while ago. I haven’t yet used it in any of my low carb recipes, since it is not particularly low carb. But since these muffins were purely for my kids, and were going to have bananas and chocolate chips in them anyway, they weren’t meant to be low carb. So I decided to give the oat flour a chance.
The Results: It’s always a bit of a gamble when working with a new gluten free ingredient. I can never be sure how it will behave and how many eggs or wet ingredients to add. But I nailed it on the first try this time and the kids loved them. Loved them so much, in fact, that one of my kid requested them for dessert that very same day. I kept the sugar to a minimum because I knew that the banana and the chocolate chips would add a fair amount of sweetness. Next time, I might forego the sugar altogether and just sweeten with stevia. Regardless, these were a wonderful, healthy treat and completely nut free so I could send them in school lunches. I will be making these again soon!
Banana Flax Chocolate Chip Muffins
1 cup flax meal
1 cup oat flour (GF)
1/4 cup vanilla whey protein powder
1/4 cup sugar or equivalent sweetener of choice
1/4 cup Stevia in the Raw or equivalent sweetener of choice
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
2 large, ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup chocolate chips (GF)
Preheat oven to 325F and line a 12-muffin tin with paper liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together flax meal, oat flour, protein powder, sweeteners, baking powder, baking soda, salt and xanthan gum.
Add bananas, eggs, melted butter and milk and stir vigorously until well-combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Bake 20 to 24 minutes, or until tops are set and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan.