Sunday, 22 January 2012

Chia Seed Muffins - We Should Cocoa 17

As some of my regular readers will know, I try to ensure that most of my baked goods contain mostly healthy ingredients. Indeed they are a good vehicle for nuts, fruit, seeds and various super foods. I generally use at least half wholemeal, spelt or other healthy flours in my baking. I use organic eggs where possible and properly free ranging hen and duck eggs when it's not. I believe organic butter where the cows have been grass fed is also nutritious (in moderation). Chocolate, it goes without saying is good for you ;-) My main concern is sugar - I haven't managed to convince myself on this one. I use raw sugars in the main and do use other sweeteners such as Rapadura and agave syrup sometimes. But these substitutes are expensive and I do have rather a sweet tooth. I just hope, the other nutritious ingredients counteract the bad of the sugar. For more information on Rapadura and other ingredients I use see ingredients are the key - ties in very nicely with this month's healthy theme.

But when Chele announced that the theme for this month's We Should Cocoa was healthy eating, I thought I'd go the whole hog and produce something that was properly good for you. One of my Christmas  presents from CT was a packet of chia seeds. Chia seeds are said to be super healthy: they contain omega 3, vitamin B, complete protein, anti-oxidants and fibre. It is also claimed they can replace half the conventional fat in any recipe with no discernible effects on taste and texture. The secret is to soak the seeds in water for 15 minutes before using. They form a gel, which is then ready to be used. This seemed to be a good opportunity to put these claims to the test.

So for added nutrition, I rather nervously thought I'd create a muffin recipe using wholemeal spelt and oats, some of the pumpkin butter I made back along, Rapadura rather than sugar and of course, chia seeds. I also had a jar of raw chocolate and almond spread that I hadn't yet used and thought this would be suitable for the chocolate element.

This is what I did:
  • Spooned 1 level tbsp of chia seeds into a jug.
  • Topped it up with water to 50ml and left to soak for 15 minutes.
  • Beat 2 eggs with 120g rapadura and 35ml sunflower oil for a few minutes until well incorporated and bubbly.
  • Beat in 2 heaped tbsp pumpkin butter.
  • Stirred in the chia seeds (which had indeed turned to gel)
  • Sifted in 200g wholemeal spelt, 2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda.
  • Folded this into the egg mixture together with 50g rolled oats.
  • Spooned this into 12 muffin cases.
  • Placed a small teaspoon of raw almond and chocolate spread on top and scattered over a few oats.
  • Baked at 180C for 23 minutes.
These had a nice flavour with a rich aroma of molasses, but they weren't overly sweet. They were firm, substantial and chewy and had a crunchy top. CT's comment was "it tastes like it's probably good for you". They'd be ideal as a breakfast muffin, but I think I'd feel a bit short changed if I got these as a tea-time treat. The chocolate spread was really good and I'm not sure why I haven't used it before.

The only thing I wish I'd done differently was to put the chocolate spread in the middle of the muffin rather than on top, where it got burnt. I'd sort of assumed the chocolate spread would sink through the mix, which is why I'd put it on top, but it didn't!

PS 18 February - Nearly one month after making these, I've just found two muffins hidden in one of my cake tins and amazingly they are not only still edible, but really nice - I shall have to rename these indestructible muffins!

39 comments:

  1. Delicious & healthy.

    I have found it really had to buy chai seeds in the UK are they are classified as an additive (I think) rather than a food.

    The wonderful and sadly now vanished Green & Crunchy blog used them all the time.

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    1. Helen, CT bought them in the health food shop in Lymington, New Forest. Haven't tried looking for them around here, but I will now. Green & Crunchy is a great blog name.

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  2. Sounds great! I love chia seeds - well I love the slight crunch they give to baked goods - have never heard that they are good for replacing fats - I have used the for added nutrients and to replace eggs. So I am interesting to see how you used them. I think using the spread in the muffins is genius - I see such spreads and wonder what I would do with them.

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    1. That's interesting Johanna, that was the main use I found for them when hunting for info on the net. I'm looking forward to experimenting more with them. Will have to come visit you for more ideas.

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  3. Love chia seeds - they sell them in the supermarket here so I usually have them - never heard about them as substitute for fats but I have read about the nutrients and enjoy them in baked goods

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  4. How interesting......I have seen Chia Seeds and have never thought how to use them, they obviously worked well in this recipe. Yes, I am with you in chocolate inside too....but they do look extremely tasty.

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    1. Yes, they are new to me too Karen. I shall try them in something more conventional next and see how much it effect the taste / texture.

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  5. You win!!! I made muffins for this month's challenge too (post is still in the process of being written!!) but your muffins are way healthier than my offering. They look wonderful too, who knew healthy eating could be so much fun ;0)

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    1. He he, great minds and all that. Look forward to seeing your healthy muffins.

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  6. Good tip with the seeds. Haven't heard of that before. Chocolate spread in the middle, well that sounds perfect :)

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    1. Chocolate spread - mmmm. Have been meaning to try nuttella in the middle of cupcakes, but haven't managed it yet. Sadly not quite as healthy as these muffins !

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  7. They look delicious, and sound soooo healthy, I am very impressed :-)

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    1. Thank you Jude. Not sure I'd go so far as to say delicious. They were good, but .........

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  8. This looks very healthy indeed. I've been seeing quite a few recipes with chia seeds recently having never heard of them before. I *try* (occasionally) to make my bakes healthier but they just don't taste the same.

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    1. I know Roz, it's very depressing. Cakes without plenty of butter and a fair bit of sugar, just aren't the same :(

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    2. Just re-testing the reply within a reply on your blog :) It's depressing indeed thst butter and sugar makes it taste SO much better but doesnt help your hips or waistline!

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    3. Thanks for doing this Roz - I'm really pleased there is now the ability to have a proper conversation. :)

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  9. Ha ha I love CT's comment. Can I take it from that that he would prefer something a little less healthy. The new comment form is good!

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  10. If truth be told Kath - I think we both would ;-)

    Have only just discovered new comment form and am really pleased with it.

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  11. I have never heard of chia seeds - I am now educated!

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    1. Glad to have been of service ;-)

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  12. I think these look great and are probably far better for you than many other muffins. Great for a mid week snack but I agree with you, I would need the full fat alternative if I was making muffins for a tea party. Love the sound of the raw chocolate & almond spread though, must look out for it!
    I have made my entry too so will aim to post soon I hope xx

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    1. Oh so glad it's not just me Laura :)

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  13. Yum! I don't think I've heard of Chai seeds before Choclette, thank you for enlightening us! As they are super-healthy does that mean we can have two??

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    1. Kate of course you can have two - two = twice as much health benefits ;-)

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  14. Can't imagine a nicer 'healthy ' breakfast!
    I've never tried chia seeds, never seen them before either I don't think.
    The chocolate spread sounds good.

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  15. Thanks Anna - they were new to me too. Am going to have to experiment some more.

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  16. Looks lovely, is chia seeds readily available? This recipe is pretty much guilt free, looks great x

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    1. I'm not sure how readily available they are. CT bought them for me in a health food shop in Lymington, New Forest. But I would imagine they would be available in any good health food shop.

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  17. They look lovely - I prefer muffins when they aren't too sweet. I'd never heard of chia seeds before - I'm going to look out for them now.

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    1. In that case, you'd probably like these. I'm suddenly hearing lots about chai seeds, so you should be able to find them.

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  18. Lovely recipe - you are always full of great ideas. I have used chia seeds in gluten free baking, but they seem to feature more in american freefrom cookery books in my experience. I think the spread in the middle would be fantastic next time.

    I manage to find chia seeds in my local independent health food shop. They are also very good at ordering in for customers if you fancy trying something different, which I would hope other independents would do too.

    Charlotte @gofreecakes

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    1. Thank you Charlotte. Interesting that you have used these before. Have you any tips? I would have thought any good health food shop would stock chai seeds or as you say be happy to order them.

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  19. That's seriously going for the healthy chocolate recipe - I'm very impressed. A healthy muffin for breakfast would do me very well.

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    1. Muffins for breakfast make a nice change from toast and they seem to last quite well too.

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  20. I think I had momentarily forgotten about chia seeds. They must have been cast aside in my fridge and forgotten about... an over sight! These look lovely Choclette. Healthy and tasty!

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    1. Ah, I should have know you'd know all about them Brydie. I'd be interested to know what you've used them for. Wonder what else is lying lost and forgotten in the back of your fridge!

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  21. This is really a great healthy recipe & looks tasty too. Thanks for sharing :)

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  22. Thank you, you are very welcome :)

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