Eat Happy, Be Healthy!
As I am writing this I am curled up on my couch drinking green tea, the wind is blowing gusts and the fire is flickering. There is so much cozy going on right now, and I love it! The last couple days I have been making delicious soups and skillet cornbread. There is just something so comforting about cornbread when it is baked in a cast iron skillet. Am I right?
So let me tell you, this is not your typical cornbread! It is a golden delight, perfectly paired with any fall soup or stew. Most cornbread recipes include refined wheat or gluten-free flours and are loaded with sugar or sweeteners. Not the ideal combo when it comes to nourishing a good gut microbiome. My recipe uses old fashioned rolled oats and grated apple instead to keep it nice and moist. This swap not only increases the fiber content but also increases the nutrition density as well. Both oats and apples are rich in soluble fiber, while the corn flours are rich in insoluble fiber. This balance is wonderful for digestive health, increasing stool bulk, speeding up transit time, and feeding good gut bacteria. It also helps increase satiety, keeping you full for longer. Plus, the apple (along with the honey) adds a light but healthy sweetness. Apples are also a rich source of polyphenols, powerful anti-inflammatory phytonutrients that act as prebiotics. As with all my recipes, it's gluten-free too (and happens to be dairy free as well) making it a wonderful side dish to share with friends and family. To make this recipe I suggest visiting the BULK section of your local co-op to stock up on the different flours and oats.
Are you ready to get your fall cozy on? Then whirl up this delicious cornbread in less than 45 minutes. No bowls required, just a high speed blender and a cast iron skillet. And if you don't have one, then use a 9x13" glass baking pan instead.
Whole Grain Harvest Cornbread
1 cup milk (any kind)
1 medium apple, grated with peel
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup raw local honey
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
½ cup cornmeal/Masa Harina
½ cup fine corn flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and oil or butter a 12” cast iron skillet. I like to melt a pat of butter in the skillet before pouring in the batter. Place the first seven ingredients into a high speed blender and blend until smooth (I use a BlendTec). Then add the rolled oats, and once again blend until smooth. Add both the cornmeal and corn flour and pulse until evenly combined. Finally, add the tablespoon of baking powder and pulse a few times until evenly dispersed.
Transfer the mixture into the oiled/buttered cast iron skillet and place into the preheated oven. Bake until golden brown for 25-30 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool 15 minutes before cutting with a knife.
Serve warm with a pat of butter. You can easily reheat a slice in the microwave for 30 seconds or alternatively pan-fry a slice in butter.
Note: This recipe is moderately high in fructose due to the honey and apple content. To reduce the fructose content, swap the honey for maple syrup. Then each serving is considered low FODMAP.
What are your favorite fall foods?
When the weather turns gray and the rain drums lightly on the roof, I want to bake. It just brings a sense of cozy into the home by wafting smells of cinnamon spice throughout the house. Perhaps I am constantly nostalgic for the Fall, but even with the rainy days of late Spring, these muffins do not disappoint. Since I am a mother of a toddler, whatever I bake needs to be quick and cannot dirty too many dishes. If Toren gives me a 30 minute window of self-play, then I am lucky.
So here is what I whipped up this time. APPLE BANANA BREAKFAST MUFFINS!! If you are a fan of apple, banana, and cinnamon, then this recipe is for you! Sweetened only with whole fruit, these muffins are naturally free of refined sugar. They are fluffy yet fiber rich, and an excellent alternative to otherwise sugar laden muffin recipes. I am not a fan of sugar replacements, and encourage the use of fruit, as nature intended, to sweeten recipes. Not only does this practice encourage the consumption of whole foods, it also increases the fiber and polyphenol content. Flaxseeds further boost the fiber content and provide a lot of health benefits including supporting healthy bowel movements, balancing hormones, and reducing inflammation. This little seed may be small, but it is mighty! Plus, the polyphenols in the oats, apple peel, and cinnamon support the growth of bifidobacterium and lactobacillus two groups of good gut bacteria known to support human health in a wide variety of ways.
Although these muffins are gluten free, they are not dairy or egg free. If you want to play around with these additions let me know how it turns out! Also, of importance, when grating the apple make sure to leave the skin on because most of the polyphenols are found directly beneath the skin. Don't let the skin go to waste. I also opted not to use muffin liners, because I feel the muffins rise better when placed directly into an oiled muffin tin. You can easily make a double batch and freeze the leftovers. These muffins taste just as good fresh out of the oven as they do reheated in the microwave or toasted in the toaster. With a pat of butter or nut butter they taste extra yummy too. And yes, my little toddler loves them as much as I do!
Apple Banana Breakfast Muffins
Makes 6 Muffins
1 cup rolled oats
1 medium banana
1 medium apple, grated with skin on
1/4 cup ground flaxseed (also known as flaxseed meal)
1/4 cup whole milk yogurt (I used plain Grace Harbor Farms yogurt)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile add all of the ingredients except the baking powder and baking soda to a high speed blender (I have a BlendTec). Blend until smooth, about 60 seconds or so. I am sure a good quality food processor would work well too. Then sprinkle in the baking powder and baking soda and blend for another 10 seconds, just until incorporated.
Oil six spots of a regular muffin tin with butter or olive oil and transfer the mixture evenly into all spots. Place into oven and bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and allow the muffins to cool in the muffin tin for 10-15 minutes undisturbed. Then gently remove the muffins and enjoy!
For a balanced breakfast consider pairing these muffins with a protein rich meal such as veggie scrambled eggs.
I would love to know what you think of these little gems! Share your adaptations below, so others can learn from you as well :)
Cooking the perfect quinoa does not need to be complicated. I have seen some recipes call for straining cooked quinoa in a colander after cooking and most calling for too much water leaving you with wet, soggy grains. Either way is not ideal...too much work for unappetizing soggy grains. Try my super easy way to make perfectly fluffy quinoa every time.
1 1/2 cups quinoa (any color)
2 1/2 cups water
In a medium pot add quinoa and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to low and keep covered, cooking for an additional 5 minutes. Then turn off heat and leave covered for another 15 minutes or more. I usually just cook it and forget about it until I am ready to serve it for lunch/dinner, etc. For example, sometimes I prep the quinoa in the morning and leave it on the stove until lunch.
What you are left with is perfectly cooked and fluffy quinoa that required very minimal work/attention. If you are using it for salads, it is best to let it cool to room temperature on the stove or let cool in the refrigerator.
I hope you enjoy my creative, flavorful, and nutrient dense approach to whole foods cooking. All recipes are gluten free.