Almond butter quinoa muffins


What these muffins have: Good fats, protein, Omega-3s, deliciousness.

What these muffins don't have: Gluten, dairy, refined sugar, wheat, eggs, soy.

Bonus feature: The muffins only require one bowl!


The new school year already started for lots of the country, but here in CT, M's preschool starts again on Monday. I've been thinking about quick ways to begin our day with protein that don't require cooking in the morning. These muffins are the answer!

Half of the flour is ground quinoa, which has lots of protein. The other half is oatmeal. I originally made these muffins with almond flour instead of oats for even more protein, but the almond flour was so dense that the muffins stuck to the roof of your mouth. You could just feed your kid a spoonful of almond butter and save yourself the trouble.


With the oatmeal, the muffins are still substantial, but they're no longer dense. They're actually a smidge crumbly because I omitted eggs and any other binding agent. I wanted them to stay vegan and I don't always have the patience to make a flax egg. Letting them cool completely before eating them made them sturdier too. 


For the first day of school, I thought it might be nice to add some blueberry chia jam and a quick icing to make the muffins more special. (I also called them breakfast cupcakes, which went over VERY WELL.) The jam is simple and free of any added sugar. I used cream cheese and maple syrup for my frosting, but you could also use coconut cream or a pre-made dairy-free topping.

You could also mix the chia jam with some yogurt for a delicious breakfast for the younger set (or the parental set, if I'm honest).

If you're avoiding nuts, substitute coconut or rice milk for the almond milk and use sunflower seed butter in place of the almond butter. Still delicious!

Important note: These muffins are best when fresh, so I recommend freezing 3/4 of the batch and then either defrosting a serving at night for breakfast the next morning, or toasting a frozen one right before eating it.


Almond butter quinoa muffins

2 large mashed banana
1 cup creamy natural almond butter, well mixed (or nut butter or seed butter of your choice)
½ cup maple syrup
¼ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or rice, coconut, or other non-dairy milk of choice)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup quinoa flour
1 cup quick oats
½ tsp salt
1½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp pie spice (or cinnamon)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas. Add the almond butter, maple syrup, almond milk, and vanilla extract and mix well.

Add the flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. Mix well. Add the apple cider vinegar and mix again. Let the mixture sit while you prep the muffin tin and prepare the jam and icing (if using).

When ready, spoon the mixture into your muffin tin until each opening is half full.

Bake for 12-14 mins or until the tops turn golden brown and the muffins are firm to the touch.

Let cool completely in the muffin tin before serving.

Yield: 18 muffins


For the Blueberry chia jam:
1 pint blueberries
1 ½ Tbsp chia seeds

Put the blueberries into a small sauce pan and cook over a medium low flame until the berries have broken down and become syrupy, about 15 minutes.

Let cool for 5 minutes and add the chia seeds. Mix well.

Place the mixture in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes or until ready to use.

Yield: 1 Tbsp per muffin


For the frosting (optional):
2 ¼ cups whipped cream cheese
6 Tbsp maple syrup

Mix the cream cheese and maple syrup well with a spatula. The mixture will look curdled at first. Continue mixing until the two ingredients have come together. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Yield: 2 Tbsp per muffin


Granola cups


So, lunch at school. Do your kids actually eat it? M's eating is hit or miss. Though I pack his favorites, the school lunchroom seems to render them inedible. Fancying things up with cookie cutters and toothpicks seems to increase his interest. However, I'm pretty sure that the amount of effort I put into his lunches is inversely proportional to how much of it he actually eats.


To that end, here is a SUPER SUPER easy way to get some whole grains into your kiddos. Fill them with yogurt, fruit and veggie purees, sun butter, or whatever strikes your fancy. AND, these are so quick, require one bowl, and keep well in the fridge or freezer. So if your kids don't eat them, you'll feel less like raging at the sky!

I've experimented a lot with granola cups. We made them for the first time in a kids' cooking class and they were tasty, albeit a little bland. They also lost their crispiness almost immediately. I added some egg whites and a little healthy fat, which helped. But really, the millet is the key here to a crispy texture. So get thee to Whole Foods and pick up some millet. You won't regret it.

I used a combo of regular oats (not quick oats!) and quinoa flakes for extra protein, but feel free to use 2 cups of regular oats if you don't have or don't want to have quinoa flakes (you can also snag these at Whole Foods or a health food store in the cereal aisle).


Granola cups

1½ cups rolled oats
½ cup quinoa flakes
½ cup millet
½ cup + 2 Tbsp honey
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare a 12-cup cupcake tin by spraying or wiping it with coconut or olive oil. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, quinoa flakes, millet, honey, whipped egg whites, salt, and cinnamon and mix well.

Add two heaping tablespoons of the mixture to each cup, making sure to leave some in the bowl for filling in holes as needed. (So, start out filling 9 of the 12 cups and then fill in the rest with whatever you have left in the bowl.) Using the back of the spoon, press the mixture gently up the sides of the cups. If any holes appear while you're smoothing out the sides and bottom, add more of the oat mixture.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes until the cups start to brown at the edges.

Yield: 9-11 cups