We threw my sister-in-law a real curveball, coming to visit during Lent when our entire family was grain-free. I’m pretty sure she had a spectacular menu all planned out when I dropped the email bomb about, “By the way, we gave up grains for Lent, and it’s not just a sacrifice thing, but we have to stick to it to see if anyone actually has a health issue with gluten. Hope you weren’t planning veggie lasagna for a meatless Friday dinner…”
She was, of course. Then she was going to use eggplant in one dish instead of noodles, until I told her nobody around here likes eggplant, either.
The poor girl. I don’t blame her for being frustrated at first, and I felt horribly after speaking to her on the phone.
She never ceases to impress and amaze me, though, so I wasn’t completely surprised (although honored and touched) that she tossed her original plans and rose to the challenge with new recipes the whole weekend.
She learned to read labels, found some fun gluten-free crackers, served an amazing meat- AND grain-free supper on Friday (pasta-less minestrone, salad, and zucchini-based cheesy lasagna), and got creative with quinoa crepes for breakfast. (The only time my husband has ever eaten quinoa and enjoyed it! Woo hoo!) She found a little restaurant in Cincinnati for Saturday’s lunch that serves local, pastured meats and eggs which I raved about on Facebook as soon as I could, and she had bunless and delicious homemade turkey burgers with tons of side dishes for dinner.
I am so truly blessed to have a sister-in-law who cares about us so much. *sniff*
She even knocked out the ever-difficult “snacks” category with these apple flax muffins, a recipe she realized she had bookmarked long ago before she had ever heard of anyone going grain-free.
They were the absolutely perfect to-go treat for the 5K run/walk that we all participated in.
And now, for the recipe. You won’t trick anyone into thinking they’re not health food, but if you like a hearty muffin, you’ll never miss the flour in this recipe. I just love the chunkiness of the nuts and apples, and I remain amazed that flax can take the place of all grains like this.
- 1¼ c. flax seed meal OR whole flax seeds
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 Tbs. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. nutmeg (optional)
- ½ tsp. salt
- ⅓ c. sugar or sucanat (next time I'm trying honey)
- 4 eggs
- ¼ c. melted unrefined coconut oil (or butter)
- ½ c. applesauce (yogurt works as a substitute)
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 large apple, chopped
- ½ c. walnuts, chopped
- If using ground flax (meal):
- Mix dry ingredients. Beat the eggs and add to dry mixture along with oil, applesauce, and vanilla. Mix thoroughly. Add apple and nuts and stir to combine.
- If using whole flax seeds; you'll need a decent blender for this one:
- Blend eggs, oil, flax seeds, applesauce and vanilla about a minute, or as long as it takes to grind up the seeds completely. (This just about killed my blender, so I decided "good enough" when my blender just didn't want to move anymore.) The mixture will get very gummy and thick quite quickly.
- Combine dry ingredients separately.
- If you have a high-powered blender, add dry ingredients to the mixture in the blender and blend to combine, then stir in apples and walnuts.
- If you have a regular blender, pour wet mixture from blender into a bowl, where you can combine with dry ingredients, apples and nuts.
- To finish either method:
- Allow fully incorporated mixture to stand 10 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line or grease muffin tins. Spoon into tins (the batter will be very thick) and bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (12-14 for mini muffins)
I recommend storing any baked good made with flax in the refrigerator, unless you’re going to consume them all within 1-2 days. Flax just seems to mold quickly, possibly because of the unstable omega-3s that are so healthy for us to eat. (More on how to store flax seeds and flax oil.)
Like I told you last week when I detailed the difficulties of going grain-free and gluten-free, eating with others is the greatest challenge. I’m so thankful my sister-in-law made it really, really easy on us for an entire Lenten weekend.
Be sure to keep watching this week for more on the grain-free lifestyle, including two new giveaways to help you make the transition if you think you need to cut grains out (or down).
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