Sunday, February 23, 2014

Apple and zucchini muffins - the buckwheat version (vegan, GF, refined sugar free)

I imagine I'm not the only blogger with a recipe or post that, well, niggles. It may be that you have never mastered a particular recipe, or that you mastered one version but want to make an adaptation that goes a step further. It may be that you made a great meal but dislike the photos you took, and haven't found the time to re-make and photograph the dish. Perhaps you haven't found the time to write things up at all, or you lost your scribbled piece of paper with the ingredients you used, or you can't remember if you baked things for 20 minutes or 40. Please tell me I'm not the only one who can relate to these scenarios?

Today, I hope to lay one of my niggles to rest: whole grain apple and zucchini muffins.

Back in 2011, I made and shared apple and zucchini muffins made with white flour and white and brown sugars. I really liked them, and I still do. I highly recommend the recipe. The thing is, though, that the photographs are pretty appalling. Moreover, I ended the 2011 post with a reference to making a wholemeal version. It's been nearly 3 years since that post and, until today, I have failed to deliver.

I have made several other zucchini-containing muffins, slices and cakes, and the absence of a new apple-zucchini muffin recipe is not for want of trying. I have made several adaptations that failed to come up to blog standards. When I tried using wholemeal flour and honey or agave, the switch to a liquid sweetener meant the muffins didn't set in the middle. When I tried using stevia, the flavours were all wrong. When I tried using oat flour, the muffins didn't hold together.

I thought this recent attempt was going to fail too. I'd planned a buckwheat and oat version, only to be thwarted by the discovery of a moth in my oat jar. This would be frustrating at the best of times, but we have had a terrible time with moths and related bugs this summer. I have done two rounds of cleaning the pantry from top to bottom and putting things into plastic containers. Of late, we've even been freezing cereals and flours before transferring them to their containers. Discovering a moth when we thought we were clear of them was horrifying! I am hoping it was a last survivor...

I wasn't about to head out to buy more oats, so I made a last minute recipe revision to use more buckwheat flour and some quinoa flakes instead of oats. To my amazement, it worked. These are definitely at the healthy end of the muffin spectrum, and they're not the sort of product that has a healthy ingredient list but somehow tastes like the less healthy equivalent. Commercial muffins these are not! They have a denser texture than muffins made with traditional flour, and a slight nuttiness from the buckwheat. However, they stand up as a satisfying, semi-sweet, nicely textured breakfast or snack - especially if you spread them with nut butter. As a bonus? Not only are they vegan, they are gluten free and refined sugar free.

I think I've finally delivered on that 2011 promise.

Buckwheat apple and zucchini muffins
A health-aware muffin that still tastes good, especially if spread with nut butter.
Vegan, gluten free and refined sugar free.
Makes 12 muffins.

Author: Bite-sized thoughts.

1 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup quinoa flakes, or oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp guar gum
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup + 3 tbsp rice malt syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp chia seeds soaked in 3 tbsp water (soak for 15 minutes or longer)
1 tbsp oil
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/3 cup milk of choice (I used unsweetened almond)
1 medium apple, grated
1 medium zucchini, grated

Preheat your oven to 180'C (375'F) and prepare a 12-pan muffin tray.

Combine the buckwheat flour, quinoa flakes (or oats), cinnamon, guar gum and baking powder in a large bowl. 

Add the rice malt syrup, vanilla, chia seeds in water, oil, apple sauce and non-dairy milk to the dry mix, and stir well to combine. Add the grated apple and zucchini and stir to fully incorporate.

Spoon the muffin mix into your prepared muffin tray, and then bake for 30 - 35 minutes until the muffin tops are crisp and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the pan before removing, and allow to cool completely before transferring to an airtight container.

Serve with nut butter if desired.

Submitted to Ricki's Wellness Weekend.

What recipe niggles do you have?


  1. Oh Kari, I can relate too every single one of those scenarios!! Hehe, I like your description..niggles ;). I'm so sorry to hear about the moth invasion! I went through a similar situation with fire ants several years ago, and I was def not amused. These muffins look awesome! Seriously, you're soo creative with your baking!! Where does your inspiration come from?

    1. Fire ants sound even worse! At least moths don't sting or bite us - but they are definitely frustrating :S

      Sometimes I wish I had more inspiration for practical things and fewer thoughts about ingredient combinations, but thanks for your kind comment!

  2. I can related to those scenarios so well! I currently have a couple recipes like that and that's just from the last week! Ah well, all part of being a blogger right?

    These look awesome, especially like how you used quinoa flakes! Glad you laid this one to rest finally :)

    1. There we go, the oat failure has a positive - the quinoa flakes came purely from that! And yes, I think blogging comes with some inherent challenges - all worth it though :-0

  3. These look great! Well done on mastering the zucchini muffin.

  4. I think these look great. I tend to favour the hearty, healthy type of muffin to the super sweet version as it means I can justify eating them for breakfast and they set me up nicely for the day.
    and I am so terrible with scribbling recipe notes on scraps of paper and then losing them, only to later find them in the recycling bin!

    1. Thanks so much Emma - and I too like muffins that fit nicely into breakfast. So portable and easy!

      Your recycling bin scenario made me smile; hopefully you manage to spot the notes before they make it out as rubbish!

  5. So sharing your pantry pain! We had some insect invade our pantry - thankfully mostly ok due to tupperware containers - i worked out it came from our quinoa!!!! but strangely enough it also loved bi-carb soda! I think that stuff was meant to deter bugs?!?!?? lol
    Hope it really was the last surviving one! Such a pain!

    1. After the first clear out (when they were in rice and quinoa), the second lot were in my teas and spices! I better check the bicarb soda after this latest find...ugh!

  6. ARGH!!! I hate them!! But I love your muffins. How frustrating are they. We have them at work like constantly. Always find their maggots laying around. Blerhj!.

    1. At work sounds awful - perhaps better than home but less under your control and still annoying!

  7. Wow you had enough challenges with these without those pesky moths - I remember a friend of mine fishing out bay leaf bits from flour in an attempt to keep them out but I have taken to using the fridge more. And I have many niggles. In fact I have two recipes queued up in my blog backlog that are revisiting older recipes that I feel didn't get a decent airing or write up in the early days. And I love the sound of these - they do sound healthy but in a good way.

    1. I have given up on bay leaves and definitely adopted the fridge for everything that will fit. If only I could have two fridges I'd be a happy girl!

      I'm glad it's not just me that feels the need to return to older recipes. There are a few others in my mind but these have definitely been the biggest 'niggle' over the last few years.

  8. So these are gluten-free and dairy-free! I love the look of them. They must be so good for you. Good on you for finally making something that had been on your list for three years! xx

    1. These tick all the 'free' boxes I think! Good for fussy guests ;)

  9. These look and sound delicious! Even if you think they are on the healthy muffin side of the spectrum :)

    I have quite a few recipes I want to make again and re-photograph too.

  10. Mine is that I've really hated having to take photos lately. I think it's part of the endless-winter-no-light Canada thing. But it just makes me tired to even think about having to take photos of whatever I've made.

    Glad you feel you won at these muffins! Nut butter always. "Health-aware". That's a new one!

    1. I may be giving the muffins a little too much credit in the consciousness stakes ;)

      I am curious to see how I go with photographing food in UK winter when it's only light from about 9.30am to 3pm. I may be faced with figuring out light boxes and that makes me tired to think about.

  11. Such a healty and yet tasty sweet bites,
    looks delicous!!!


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