Baking Break: Banana, Oat, and Chia Seed Muffins

by Gena on October 25, 2011

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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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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie @ SerenityintheStorm October 25, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Looks great, both as a snack for school and as a fun baking break from the mountains of schoolwork piled up around me! Thanks for the inspiration to step away from my desk!

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Jess October 25, 2011 at 5:46 pm

I never ever comment on spelling and the like on other blogs because god knows I make some amusing typos, but I have to admit that the use of “male syrup” as a sweetener made me smile and giggle out loud. Sorry, I’m, like, 25 going on 12 sometimes .

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Gena October 25, 2011 at 5:57 pm

I fixed it but shouldn’t have. Best typo ever.

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Hannah October 25, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Haha I totally wish I witnessed that typo! That’s a good one, Gena.

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Hannah October 25, 2011 at 5:48 pm

I *love* dense, chewy, hearty, not-too-sweet muffins. They’re the best kind for splitting and topping with nut butters ;) Procrastibaking has always been my modus operandi too; well done to you for giving yourself a deserved break!

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Amanda October 25, 2011 at 5:48 pm

I also prefer denser, heartier muffins, and since I’m all out of whole wheat pastry flour, I will happily follow your whole wheat flour suggestion. :)

I really like the simple, wholesome ingredient list and imagine these taste even more delicious with a little earth balance or jam spread on top.

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Nada (One Arab Vegan) October 25, 2011 at 5:51 pm

This is one of those annoying instances where I have just about everything on that recipe list aside from an actual muffin tray. I’ve been meaning to make some sort of baked good to supplement my library lunches and this looks like just the thing – I adore banana and cinnamon!

I have the day off class tomorrow so will definitely be taking a baking break to make these – thanks for the recipe :)

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Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga October 25, 2011 at 6:49 pm

I love it when you have baking and/or dessert recipes. Thanks for sharing these, Gena!

I bet your house smelled amazing while these were baking. And yes, bananas and cinnamon are heavenly tasting and smelling.

Three cheers for denser, chewier, less airy muffins, too. I love anything that’s nice and dense and thick. Like a dense brownie would be :) I think it’s the bananas that help with that. Sometimes when I make banana bread or muffins they get that density..and I love it.

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Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles October 25, 2011 at 7:52 pm

No more convincing needed here! This is on my list of school snacks to make, and I like my snacks dense as opposed to cake-like and reminiscent of dessert. I definitely haven’t been getting my chia in, so these are certainly called for!

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FoodFeud October 25, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Banana and oat anything is a great combination, not least because I always have both on hand. SO ready to make these.

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Skye October 25, 2011 at 11:49 pm

These sound delicious and I have exactly 3 bananas in the kitchen! I think I’ll be making them tomorrow! :)

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Skye October 26, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Gena- I just mixed these up and put them in the oven- can’t wait! Just FYI- I filled all 12 muffin cups and it looks like there is still enough batter for another 6 or so muffins. (Maybe I did something weird?) This is a pleasant surprise- more muffins for the same amount of work, yay!- just wanted to point it out :)

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Ela October 26, 2011 at 12:33 am

Ah, I wish I’d seen that typo–sounds like the best one I’d have seen in a long while (“garish” for “garnish” (not on your blog) was pretty choice, too).

I’ve been enjoying the combination of banana, chia and gf oats myself in the little bars I make (which sound somewhat like over-healthified versions of these, note to self!) I seem to have been having some difficulty with bananas lately, though (ironic, after those years I practically lived on them). My ND says they have a protein in them that’s hard for some people to digest–sounds surprising, but accords with my current experience. I’ve been having fun seeing what similar-textured foods can be used instead of bananas!
love
Ela

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Alexia @ NamasteYoga October 26, 2011 at 5:51 am

i love banana oat combos, and chia seeds gives it the perfect kick! those muffins look so cute! they are the perfect snack size!

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Heather October 26, 2011 at 6:18 am

These little muffins look so delicious! I totally agree with you – I also prefer a denser muffin. Hope organic chemistry is treating you well, Gena!

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tweal October 26, 2011 at 6:24 am

I love a good breakfast muffin, and these sound awesome. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

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Andrea October 26, 2011 at 8:24 am

I’m not much of a baker in the sense that I can whip up some ingredients and make a delicious tasting treat…I have a hard time trying to figure out what I can use as replacements…I have almond flour, coconut flour, buckwheat flour, amaranth flour, arrowroot starch/flour and quinoa flour. I’d like to bake with these but don’t know where to start…pretty sad, huh. My question then is, what can I use in place of the wheat flour? Thank you for your help :-)

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Gena October 26, 2011 at 9:26 am

Andrea,

I’m really not the expert on GF baking. But I’m sure that buckwheat flour would work here.

G :)

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Jessie October 26, 2011 at 9:01 am

These look AMAZING. I will be running immediately into my kitchen after work today to make them.

Quick question for you about agave – I’ve been seeing a lot of posts lately about how it’s all processed and bad for you, etc… but I really like to use it, so I was wondering if you might have a brand that you suggest? I don’t want to give up on the stuff just yet!

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Jess @ Jess Go Bananas October 26, 2011 at 11:28 am

I am definitely part of the health-minded folk! I love that word and may use it more often in describing some of my baked goodies, because when people bite into something that they expect to much cakier but is in fact heartier, they make me feel like a bad baker!

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Tinkerbelle (@Lillyheart999) October 27, 2011 at 6:01 am

yum!!! i made some monster cakes recently, would love to know what you think :)
http://laughteriscatching.com/2011/08/27/to-your-posts-let-the-bake-off-begin/

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Jacqueline October 27, 2011 at 9:35 am

These are amazing! I used GF flour bc I was cursed with celiacs and they still turned out great.

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sophie October 27, 2011 at 12:12 pm

you wrote that these can be made gluten-free. how do i do that? great looking recipe !

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sterhymeswithtree November 9, 2011 at 12:16 pm

I would use a gluten free flour mix (your favorite home blend or a store bought one) instead of the WW flour, and substitute quinoa flakes for the oats.

A gf flour blend I would suggest is:
3/4 cup plus 1T millet flour, buckwheat flour, quinoa flour, almond flour, or cornmeal (or a mix of any of these)
3/4 minus 1 T cup sorghum flour or superfine brown rice flour
1/2 cup starch of your choosing: tapioca starch, corn starch, potato starch or white rice flour (do NOT use potato flour)
2/3 teaspoon xanthan gum (optional, do not use if allergic to corn)

A note to Gena: even though oats are debatable as to whether they’re suitable for celiacs and other gluten sensitive folks, many of us can’t tolerate even the ones that are labeled gluten free! Quinoa flakes make an excellent substitute for them & are still healthy, which I love. And you can tie it all together by using quinoa flour in the muffin itself!

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sterhymeswithtree November 9, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Oh! There’s a really unhelpful typo in my reply! Let’s try the blend again:

3/4 cup plus 1T millet flour, buckwheat flour, quinoa flour, almond flour, or cornmeal (or a mix of any of these)
3/4 cup minus 1 T sorghum flour or superfine brown rice flour
1/2 cup starch of your choosing: tapioca starch, corn starch, potato starch or white rice flour (do NOT use potato flour)
2/3 teaspoon xanthan gum (optional, do not use if allergic to corn)

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Sara October 27, 2011 at 10:43 pm

Woohoo! I’ll be making these this weekend- thanks! I think my kids will love ‘em, too. :)

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Robin October 29, 2011 at 3:28 pm

These look awesome! What can I sub for the coconut oil, though? (I don’t have any dietary restrictions.)

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Nada (One Arab Vegan) October 29, 2011 at 7:20 pm

I made these the other day and they are delicious! I’ve basically been living off of them. Just a quick question about the chia seeds – I know they’re considered a raw superfood, do they still retain some benefits when used in a baked good like this?

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Denise October 31, 2011 at 1:32 am

I made this yesterday and it was absolutely great. I baked it in a loaf pan instead of muffin cups. A friend tried it and said it was the best banana bread he ever had. I agree. It tastes so delicious and feels so healthy to eat it.

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Gina November 12, 2011 at 4:09 pm

I just made these and they are awesome!

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Dora November 25, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Just made them and they taste wonderful! Made a couple of changes to the recipe as I didn’t want to run out to get additional ingredients – used whole wheat pastry flour. Instead of 3 ripe bananas, I used 1 as that was all I had left. Substituted the remaining 2 bananas that were called for with 1/2 cup prunes and 1 kiwifruit. Talk about loads of fibre! Instead of almond milk I used chocolate almond milk as that was what i had in the fridge. I used 1 1/2 cups chocolate almond milk in all instead of the 1 1/4 cup required as I found the batter a tad too thick. Forgot to add the vanilla though. Ground golden flax seeds into flax meal and mixed it with 4 tablespoons hot water. The resulting batter was scooped into a 12 muffin tin (did not use 1/4 cup of batter per muffin – I filled each well completely). Baked them for 35 minutes total. End result – hearty muffins, not too sweet, and with a moist crumb! Thanks Gena!

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Jeanne January 14, 2014 at 4:24 pm

Any idea how many grams of fiber these are? I’m trying to find ways to incorporate more fiber into my husband’s diet and it’s really difficult to find 38 grams per day because he’s such a picky guy. One of those….”Ew, that’s healthy so it must be icky” types.

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Gena January 17, 2014 at 7:44 am

Jeanne, I’m so sorry, I don’t know. I bet you could use an online program to tally it up?

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Sara February 10, 2014 at 3:58 pm

Jeanne – ha! My husband is the same way – though he loves these kinds of muffins.

I used an online calculator – and each of these muffins has 4 grams of fiber if you make 18 muffins (mine always make 18 rather than 12 – I fill them almost full). I used honey instead of syrup (running low on syrup) and with that substitution, they are 122 calories each.

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Bruce W March 3, 2014 at 11:35 pm

This is my third time making these and they are pretty amazing. I have made them as large, small, and mini-muffins and everytime they have been well received. I have replaced 1 banana with vanilla soy yogurt to good effect, but they don’t need this modification as they are moist and flavorful.

Thanks for something healthy, flavorful, and aesthetic. They really do look as good as they taste. :)

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Gena March 4, 2014 at 11:00 am

So glad you like them, Bruce!

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Carolyn March 19, 2014 at 11:01 am

Gena – I wanted to let you know how much I’ve been loving this recipe! I’ve made it in a loaf pan (~60 min cook time), and it’s equally wonderful. I just shared my own twist on your recipe on my blog recently actually, where I attempted to make it more summer-y with orange and pineapple. Not surprisingly, it was a huge hit! Thanks for an awesome recipe.

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