Wheat free, dairy free, low sugar berry muffins


They were going to be blueberry (and a little bit banana), but we ate too many blueberries for breakfast. They were on sale at Sprouts, and they were so plump, so round, so blue. Too good to pass up on their own. Too perfect to adulterate with other would-be companions, even the most sweet, innocent ingredients like mashed banana and organic eggs. So beguiling, I couldn't bring myself to care, this time, that they are out of season. After breakfast, there weren't enough blueberries for my muffin experiment plans.

So that's how these became, for today, strawberry (with a touch of banana). In any case, frozen strawberries fit in just fine, and at least seasonal considerations don't hover so much in the freezer. Besides, frozen strawberries don't seem to stain the batter like blueberries do.

The reason behind the "wheat free" is more severe. I would have labeled "gluten free", because they are supposed to be, but I couldn't find rice bran. I had to go with oats. But the fact is, today, wheat was the poor shunned lurker in the cupboards, crouching in the shadows like a criminal. Which, depending on your beliefs, it might be, though it isn't really wheat's fault. That credit goes to people.

This week I read this article from Rodale on the dark side of wheat...namely being, today's wheat may not really deserve to be called "wheat" anymore, for the most part. Admittedly, I've generally been somewhat skeptical about gluten free trends; not that I haven't believed gluten free diets to be legitimate and, when needed, extremely significant. Only I've wondered if at times food marketers and brands latched onto it as one more vehicle for overpricing and hype, and possibly also present additional types of junk food as health food with the gluten free stamp.

That was before I started digging for more facts, and studies. Including, as stated in the Rodale article, how celiac disease has increased by 400% over the last 40 years! Whopping and scary statistic! According to this particular article, a factor could well be the changing face of wheat by the big food industry. Over the decades, it has been subjected to all kinds of torment designed for profit, including crossing wheat with non-wheat grasses to introduce altogether new genes using techniques like irradiation of wheat seeds and embryos with chemicals, gamma rays, and high-dose X-rays to induce mutations.  Yes, there are always two sides at least to each story; yes, progress doesn't always look agreeable in the moment; and yes, this too should probably be taken with a pinch of salt.

But it's certainly thought-provoking. Enough to call for pause and consideration of how much wheat is in one's daily diet. Which, for me, is a bit awkward to do just now, because I've been having some cravings for homemade bread, and baked goods like muffins. Not huge, but compelling. It's probably down to our own bun in the oven...yeah, that means what it sounds like! This isn't supposed to be an announcement or anything, but I couldn't resist sneaking it in, as I haven't had a chance to share with my Farm Project friend Kristie, and I thought she'd enjoy the insertion (and I hope we get to connect soon! :)).

Sweetened simply by 1/2 banana, berries, orange juice and a tablespoon honey, these muffins make a nice sunshiney start to the day. The texture is great, with a lightly crisp top and the plumply soft middle that's so desirable in baked good. Plus, you don't need to obtain odd, often hard-to-find or expensive ingredients, like xanthan gum or tapioca starch. I liked them, and so did more skeptical Dave, and (I think) the little lime-sized growing person testing things out for me, too.

 Wheat free berry muffins (adapted from blueberry muffins in the autumn 2010 edition of Celiac.com's Journal of Gluten Sensitivity)

  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • ½ cup rice bran (or oat bran)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup mashed banana (about 1/2 medium)
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • 3/4 cup berries (this time I used chopped strawberries)

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Combine flour, bran, baking powder in bowl.  Stir to mix.  Add rest of the ingredients.  Mix well.  Spoon into lightly oiled muffin cups.  Bake 15 minutes, or until brown.  Makes 9-10 muffins.