banana oat chia muffins

Banana, oat, and chia seed muffins: could any baking recipe sound healthier from the get go?

There are baking recipes designed purely to tickle the senses: my brown sugar plum muffins fall into that category, I think. And then there are the baking recipes that seek to deliver something that’s tasty, sweet, and fragrant enough to remind you of your grandmother’s apron, or the smell of your childhood home during the holidays, but which serve a healthy purpose (my zucchini date muffins are a little more like that—hey, at least they have green veg in them!—and my buckwheat quinoa pancakes certainly are, too). These muffins, like most of my baked goods, fit into the latter camp. They’re baked goods, yes, but I really intended for them to offer up as much nutrition as they do good taste.

For that reason, the texture of these little breakfast bites isn’t quite as airy (cake-like, as I like to say) as some other muffins: they are dense, they are chewy, and they are dotted with chia seeds. These qualities might deter more mainstream eaters, so this may not be the recipe you bring to a potluck, choir rehearsal, dinner party, brunch, or office kitchenette. But it’s definitely the recipe you’ll want to share with likeminded healthy eaters, or simply with anyone who’s got an open-minded definition of what “muffin” means.

And if you happen to like a heartier muffin, this recipe is definitely for you. I purposefully used whole wheat flour, rather than whole wheat pastry flour; I know the latter is much beloved because it creates light textures, but I actually like the density of regular old whole wheat flour, especially in bran or oat muffins. You can use WW pastry flour if you like it, or, if you’re a GF eater, go ahead and sub a GF mix.

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Banana, Oat, and Chia Seed Muffins (vegan, can be made gluten free, soy free)

Serves 12

2 tbsp flax seed meal
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1.5 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 heaping tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp dried ginger
3 ripe bananas
1 1/4 cups almond milk
1/3 cup coconut oil or coconut butter
1 cup demerara sugar or 2/3 cup agave or maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp chia seeds

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Mix the flax meal with about 3-4 tablespoons of hot water. Set it aside.

3) Combine the oats, WW flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

4) In a blender or food processor, blend the bananas, almond milk, coconut oil or butter, sugar or agave or syrup, and vanilla till smooth. Pour into the dry ingredients, along with the flax mixture. Stir till everything is just incorporated. Stir in chia seeds, being careful not to overmix.

5) Add about 1/4 cup (or just over) to each muffin well in a 12-muffin baking dish. Sprinkle the tops with extra rolled oats, and bake for about 25 minutes (or until muffins are browning and a toothpick comes out clean). Enjoy with fresh autumn apples, pears, some of my pumpkin pie pudding, or any other autumnal treat!

They also make fantastic grab-n-go snacks for long days on campus, fellow students. Or long days at the office, working folk!

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All of the whole grains, plus the chia seeds, render these muffins high in fiber, healthy fat, and protein, so they’re a great way to start your day. The coconut oil/butter as a fat source is nutritionally superior to Earth Balance, and some evidence suggests that the lauric acid in coconut fat—a medium-chain fatty acid—has potent health properties.

Also, banana and cinnamon taste like a small piece of heaven together. Do you need more convincing?

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I love nothing more than to invest quick and comforting breakfast foods with special health properties. I hope you will, too.

See you back here tomorrow!

xo

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