Baking Quick Breads (by ratio) & Orange-Saffron Muffins [Gluten-Free]

17 Fri, 2011 § 10 Comments

Early mornings are meant for the kitchen.  Flours dust the counter tops as the sun slowly reaches its way across bowls & bamboo mixing spoons.  Sometimes, 4am (or even 5am) feels too early to be awake & baking breads; but often, I relish this unique perspective of our home as the house fills with light & sweet aromas.

While I enjoy this intimate time with myself, it’s not purely selfish.  Dave doesn’t seem to mind waking to smells of freshly baked millet muffins or Summer-infused quick breads.  I look forward to sending him to work with a scone, a fresh slice of sweet bread or a muffin.

I have taken to creating more baked goods rather than buying bread from the store, especially as I am delving into gluten-free varieties.  Baking my own is less expensive, but more than that, it’s rewarding & sparks creativity.  Experimenting with gluten-free flours is becoming more interesting than sticking to whole wheat, though I still rotate in batches made with kamut.  There is much more variance & diversity of flavors & textures when you explore what lies beyond all-purpose & wheat flour.  Corn. Oat. Rice. Buckwheat. Amaranth. Almond.  Each is distinct in its nuances & offers something different to your baking.

I am becoming very partial to the combination of almond & oat.

Orange & saffron as well.

I have just started baking with a scale & following weight ratios rather than measuring by volume (ie measuring cups), which immediately amped up my confidence in creating rather than simply following recipes.  Baked goods each have a ratio of flours to liquids to eggs to fats.  What makes bread different from pancakes — & these different from pizza dough or a croissant — is not just the ingredients, but how those ingredients work in proportion to each other.  Of course, there are still many recipes out there I have fallen in love with which need little to no adapting; but baking by ratio gives me the freedom to make these recipes my own by more easily swapping flours or the type of liquid or fat I use.

Try it.  My kitchen scale set us back only $20 & is more than worth it.

To ease you into this, I did translate my recipe back into approximate volume measurements.  These will only be useful if you use the exact ingredients I did though, because each flour, oil, etc has its own specific weight.  I’m a newby just playing around, having fun & certainly no expert.  This is a great post if you are interested in learning more about cooking with ratios.

The ratio for baking quick bread is 2 parts flour: 2 parts liquid: 1 part egg: 1 part fat.  To fill a 9 x 5 loaf pan, you would need 227 grams of flours, 227 grams of liquid of any kind, 113 grams egg (2 of them) or egg substitute & 113 grams of fats.   This ratio also works for making muffins.

Almond Meal Muffins with Orange Zest & Saffron

makes 12 muffins

or slightly fewer if you want a higher muffin top

  • 110 g almond flour (~heaping 3/4 cup)
  • 117 g oat flour (~heaping 1 cup)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 131 g orange blossom honey (~1/2 cup)
  • 63 g coconut milk (~1/4 cup)
  • 34 g fresh orange juice (4T) & zest from one orange
  • 2 eggs (113 g)
  • 113 g coconut oil, melted (~1/2 cup)
  • tiny pinch of saffron, seriously only a few strands

Preheat oven to 350*F.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.  Combine wet ingredients separately.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients & mix.  Fold in zest & saffron.  Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling to the rim. Bake for 13 – 15 minutes until muffin tops are lightly golden & a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

These are crumby & moist, best eaten with a fork, fresh & warm from the oven.


Do you bake using ratios?

p.s. The first bread is my vegan variation of Marla’s Strawberry Snack Cakes.


Millet Muffins

2 Mon, 2011 § 8 Comments

Make these.

Heidi’s Millet Muffins.

They are slightly crunchy, still fluffy & smooth on the inside, not overly sweet & have the perfect kiss of lemon.  They are reminiscent of poppy seed muffins, which are my absolute favorite.  Next time, I just might toss in a few poppy seeds for fun.

I adapted her recipe slightly to create a vegan version but left the major components untouched; & though they might not be as pretty as hers, I would wager they are just as delicious.  We also made the Tinto de Verano from her recipe sampler over the weekend…& plan to enjoy her Avocado with Mustard Seeds later this week.  Yes, I really want her new cookbook.  I will be swinging by B&N very soon to take a closer peek.

Millet Muffins

Adapted from Super Natural Every Day

makes 12 muffins

Preheat oven to 400*F.  Prep a muffin pan with oil or butter or line with paper liners.  I like my silicone baking cups, which I place on a regular baking sheet.

  • 2 & 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup raw millet (Heidi’s recipe calls for 1/3 cup, but I like the extra crunch from the millet)
  • 1 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 cup yogurt (I used dairy-free coconut Amande yogurt made with cultured almond milk)
  • 2 flax “eggs” (whisk together 2 T freshly ground flaxseeds with 6 T warm water & let thicken ~10 minutes)
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance, softened
  • 1/2 cup agave or honey
  • grated zest from 1 lemon & 2 T juice from half the lemon

Combine flour, millet, baking powder, baking soda & salt in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together yogurt, flax”eggs”, butter, agave, zest & lemon juice until smooth.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients & mix until flour is just incorporated.  Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling just to the rim.

Bake for 15 minutes until muffin tops are golden brown & just beginning to crack.  Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


Have you ever baked with millet?  What do you think of Amande yogurt?

Sprouted Quinoa, Pear & Molasses Granola

26 Tue, 2011 § 2 Comments

Did you miss us?  No?  Did you even notice we had left?  No? 😛  Tricky aren’t we?

I eluded to our camping trip, which we thoroughly enjoyed…last Tuesday through Sunday.  I prepped a couple posts, hit schedule, unplugged & lost myself in the desert for 5 days.


(even despite the rain.)


Are we really back?

We are, but now I can reminisce over our adventures with you.

We should always start with food though; don’t you agree?

I love quinoa granola & have found its perfect match: molasses.  Try it.  You’ll never look back.

Molasses is a rich source of iron & calcium — important for those following a plant-based diet — as well as magnesium & potassium, providing 20% of the daily recommended value for each of these nutrients.

Sprouted Quinoa & Pear Granola with Molasses & Nutmeg

Preheat oven to 250*F.

  • 1 pear, diced
  • 1 C quinoa, sprouted
  • 1/2 C almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 C ground flaxseeds
  • 1/2 C black sesame seeds
  • 1/4 C sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 C pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 C buckwheat groats
  • 1/2 C hemp protein powder
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • cinnamon, optional
  • 1/4 C coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 C molasses
  • 2 T apple juice

Stir together dry ingredients. Combine wet ingredients separately.  Stir wet ingredients into the quinoa mixture & mix together.  Spread granola onto a parchment-lined baking sheet & bake ~1 hour.  Allow to cool completely before breaking into pieces & storing in an airtight container.

Homemade granola — especially quinoa granola — is great for camping, backpacking or hiking.  It is the perfect way to cram a lot of nutrients into a light-weight, easy-to-pack & store snack.  Along with pieces of banana, this was delicious, light fuel in the mornings.  Dave enjoyed it so much, I’ll be sure to make enough to share next time.  😉


Do you cook with molasses?

Braised Collards with Currants, Chickpeas & Cashew Cheese

18 Mon, 2011 § 3 Comments

Meet one of the random dishes that triggers a good amount of teasing.

Did I mention it is breakfast?

Dave — & most people — find it bizarre I can eat greens in the morning.

I feel completely nourished & balanced when I start the day with something like this though.

Immediately after a good swim & moderate bike ride, I had a recovery drink of coconut water, maca, blue berries, half a banana, a tablespoon of hemp protein, ground flax & carob powder.  About an hour later, braised collard greens tasted perfect.

Cashew cheese complemented the collards & is a quick & simple condiment to make.  I have found the ratio I like for a small batch using 1/4 C raw cashews : 2 T nutritional yeast : 1/2 T flax oil.  I use the “chopping” attachment of my magic bullet to first grind the cashews to powder, then add the nutritional yeast & process to mix.  Add the oil & combine till slightly moist & crumbly.  This lasts 2 – 3 servings for me.  You can make a larger batch:  simply use half the amount of nutritional yeast as cashews & a quarter the amount of oil compared to the nutritional yeast.  I am going to try it using sunflower seeds next time.


Prepare the collard greens by slicing the leaves from the stems; discard stems (or give to your dog to munch on).  Roll each leave in on itself & slice thinly into ribbons.  Heat a small amount of coconut oil in a medium pan on medium to medium-high heat; add the collard ribbons & toss using tongs.  Cook until the leaves are lightly braised (seared), tossing occasionally.  Splash with balsamic vinegar & toss again.  Cover & reduce heat to low.  Cook until leaves wilt; add currants & chickpeas.  Cover & continue to cook, tossing so it wilts & braises evenly, until collards are soft.  Serve in a wide bowl & top with hemp seeds & cashew cheese.  A mochi waffle on the side provided a nice, contrasting crunch.

I felt fueled for our day of climbing — our first trip to the Pit!


Do you ever like greens in the morning?

Kamut Berry Salad

12 Tue, 2011 § 3 Comments

Have you ever had kamut berries?  I am in love.  They are much bigger than wheat or spelt berries & have a nutty flavor with nice, “pop” texture.

Sometimes I do not plan or prep my workweek meals very well & end up hungry mid-day, stranded without sufficient calories.  My blood sugar drops, my mood turns c.r.a.z.y & I “nearly ruin the night” — or so I have been told. 😉  Harsh?  I certainly hope so.  He assured me “once you get food, everything is kosher again.”  I am definitely one of those eat-something-small-every-couple-hours kind of girl…otherwise Hyde emerges.

A big batch of grain salad made over the weekend is perfect to last throughout the week & gives me one more snacking option to keep my blood sugar level.  I was determined to plan my work meals better this week; so when I saw kamut berries at the store on Sunday, I knew what was going in the pot that afternoon.  This salad has been my mid-morning or early afternoon snack.

It is pretty simple & basic, but like I said, I’m in love.

Kamut Berry Salad with Cranberry Beans, Raisins & Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Rinse ~1.5 cups kamut berries & add to 4 cups boiling water [I like my grains a bit chewier, so I use less water than the 4.5 cups recommended but check on them to make sure they don’t run out of water].  Simmer 1.5 – 2 hours until water is absorbed & kamut is cooked.  Allow to sit covered ~10 minutes, then fluff.

Mix with cooked cranberry beans [I soaked & cooked ~3/4 cup dry beans], 1/4 cup raisins & 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds.

You can stir in a dressing or leave it “naked” like I did.  This way I can customize each serving so I don’t get tired of one strong flavor throughout the week.  I like it with champagne-tarragon vinaigrette, simply a little flax oil & sea salt or maybe a splash of white balsamic; & sometimes, I just leave it as is [“naked”].  I also have artichoke hearts & citrus-stuffed olives on hand I can add on a whim.  You can always play with other herbs, like basil, or reheat it with a bit of milk, cinnamon & maple for an alternate to the usual oatmeal breakfast.

I highly recommend making big batches of meals that stay fresh or develop flavor before your busy week starts.

It is only Tuesday, but so far, we’ve only seen Jekyll. 😉  [I think — I don’t know, ask Dave.]


Have you tried kamut berries?

Do you plan or prep any week-day meals during the weekend?

Strawberry Smiles

7 Thu, 2011 § 5 Comments

By 7AM, Dave & I had both dropped the F-bomb.

Mine slipped out because Eisley was sick this morning.  She tried to make it outside but only got as far as the door: my fault for not realizing.  If only more of it had ended up on the linoleum instead of the carpet, maybe I would have kept my cool.  I try not to act mad at her; it’s not her fault…but it’s really really gross cleaning up dog…well, you know…first thing in the morning.  So I guess I thought I would feel better if I tried to push blame onto Dave:

“Why didn’t you tell me she was sick last night?”

“Uh, because she wasn’t sick last night.”


Even after my immature blame-shifting, he still made me a morning smoothie.  He often spoils me with a protein shake & this was one of the best!  F-bomb-dropping worthy in fact.  Dave does not use the word often & never out of anger (something that is slooowly rubbing off onto me); so when he says “ready to have your world f*- in’ rocked?”, I know I am. 🙂

Dave’s Strawberry Smoothie

Strawberries can only make me happy, especially when served by the man I love.

He combined coconut water, banana, maca powder, strawberries, hemp protein powder & topped it off with about 1/4 cup vanilla soy milk before blending it to smooth & creamy perfection.

Strawberries are finally coming in season, so do yourself & someone you love a favor by brightening your day with the simple, fresh treat of these precious berries.

Thanks for brightening my morning, Dave.  You did, even if it was delayed onset. 😉



30 Wed, 2011 § 6 Comments

My diet has not been balanced this week.  My mouth & tummy are seeing primarily carbs.carbs.carbs.  Ridiculous because heavy carbs are not even what I am really craving.  All I actually want is to dine on fruit & vegetables.  I wasn’t staying hydrated either — & that was before I started bike commuting again — now I’m really feeling the thirst.  When I am dehydrated, I crave fruit & juice.  Does anyone else experience this?  I don’t have a juicer, & we try to eat seasonally, which limits fruit right now.  On hand, we have apples, lemons & oranges [citrus is in season here — well, in Phoenix which is only a couple hours away].  Are melons in season yet? 😦  I really want a cantaloupe.

Since I’m actually craving light fruit & veggies, I decided this Wednesday was going to be all about planning & prepping to better fuel & cleanse myself for the rest of the week [& on].  After all, Wednesdays are about me.  😉  I try not to be an “on Monday, I’ll start…”-kind-of-gal.  If I want & need to make a change, I should do it now. It’s easy to put it off but resist!

Natalie reminded me of one of my favorite salad toppings; then Angela went one step further & inspired me to make it my salad.  Tonight I threw together a big serving of her Spring Clean Raw Beet, Carrot & Apple Salad with extra beet. I also added extra lemon juice, so my chopped apples will survive until tomorrow [plus, I like lemon].  In the future, I will make this with white balsamic vinegar to keep it looking fresher.  Dark balsamic made everything slightly brown: not so pretty.  I think white will complement the flavors a bit more as well; champagne vinegar would be good too — oh with tarragon!  Looks like I’ll be making more of this soon.  I plan to top it with hemp seeds & maybe even some toasted almonds.

Some days I miss the shredder/grater attachment on my food processor; then I remind myself I do like the experience of connecting with my food through simple kitchen tools.

If you want practice in presence, grate your own carrots by hand.


— otherwise you lose part of a finger or nail ! which isn’t good for anyone.

A good sweat in the morning & fresh, simple foods should have me feeling my best again soon!


What helps you get back to feeling balanced & cleansed?

Beet fan?  yea or nay?  I think you either hate them or love them.  I am obviously a YEA; Dave is a resounding NAY.  This may be one I’ll never win. 😦

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