Part of living with dietary challenges is learning to find joy in events and celebrations without your traditional go-to foods! We all have been there and we can attest that the struggle is real! It’s really real. I know many of you will call me crazy for this next admission, but at times I find so much joy in creating foods that I myself cannot currently have, just because I want to share them with others. I am not talking about gluten-containing baked goods, I reserve that for once or twice a year when the hubby makes a special request. More, I am talking about the occasional times I find that I am avoiding a food or foods for an elimination diet or whatever reason.
Most times this desire to create for others goes hand-in-hand with baking for a special occasion. So I think I would like to rename all of this to “baking therapy”. For me, there is just something so special about spending time in the kitchen, with the oven heating up and bringing that comforting warmth, whipping up a recipe and then smelling the glorious aromas from the oven as your creation bakes. I suppose it reminds me of my mother and my sister. Both love to bake and do so for nearly every special occasion. For the last 10 years of me being gluten-free, although I couldn’t eat 95% of what they made, I took great comfort in knowing that the creations that they lovingly made would be there. I also love watching the happy faces of everyone enjoying those creations, whether or not I can be part of it personally.
Food is, after all, something we connect over, we can bond over this love of eating and we find ourselves creating memories over these special foods made with love! When we celebrate special moments amongst our community, whether it be family or close friends or even complete strangers, the food is just as important a part of the gathering as any of the people.
This past weekend I hosted Yoga & Yummies, the ongoing monthly event series I host here in Long Beach. Yoga & Yummies starts with an all-levels yoga class and we then we follow that up with a gluten-free potluck where everyone brings a dish to share. These gatherings bring together an amazing group of people, some gluten-free and some not, but we always connect over our love of yoga and probably even more-so, food! This time around I decided I wanted to bake something. It had been a long time since I baked and I was craving it. I wanted to share something with this group of special people and though I myself couldn’t partake, I was so happy to bring something that would bring joy to others.
These muffins were a huge hit at the potluck! I am pretty sure I saw one nameless attendee alone eat 5 or 6 of these mini muffins and they may have taken a few home for their spouse, too! If that isn’t the ultimate compliment, I don’t know what is. The blackberries bring a pop of bright fresh flavor, slightly sweet and little tart, offset by the moody and distinctive citrus flavor and aroma of the earl grey tea. Being bite-sized, these tiny muffins are the perfect treat for an event. You can literally take off the wrapper, pop it into your mouth and be on your way.
[print_this]Grain-free Blackberry Earl Grey Mini Muffins
makes 24 mini-muffins or 6 to 8 regular-sized muffins
- 2 cups blanched almond flour*
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons earl grey tea*, chopped very finely or ground in spice grinder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/4 cup honey (or maple syrup)
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted (melted butter or olive oil would also work)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup fresh (or frozen and thawed) blackberries, roughly chopped
Preheat your oven to 350˚F. Line a mini muffin tin with paper liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, baking soda, finely ground earl grey tea and sea salt.
In a separate medium bowl, beat the eggs. Add in the honey, coconut oil and vanilla extract, whisk until well combined.
Add the wet mixture to the dry, stirring until combined. Carefully fold in the blackberries. Gently stir until they are well dispersed.
Spoon the batter into the muffin tin, filling to the top. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the muffin pan on a wire rack for five minutes. Gently pop the muffins out to continue cooling on the rack (don’t cool them longer than 5 minutes in the hot pan they’ll definitely get soggy).
I find storing these muffins covered tightly in the refrigerator or freezer to be the best, especially in the heat of summer. Just pop one out as you want it, heat slightly in the microwave if you want to take the chill off and go.
- blanched almond flour and almond meal are not the same thing and almond meal will likely not produce the same results as the blanched almond meal, but I haven’t tested it
- 2 teaspoons of tea comes from approximately 2 tea bags, if you do not have loose tea.
You can opt for an herbal tea if you can’t have caffeine or simply finely chop some fresh mint and add a little orange zest, which would also be great. [/print_this]
More Tea Inspiration
Though this muffin recipe is 100% original, I have to say that my interest in including tea here (and in other recipes this month) was totally inspired by my über-creative friend Annelies Zijderveld. After spending time with her at a local book signing and then meeting up for brunch, I found myself, already an avid tea drinker, wanting to put tea into everything! Annelies’ brand new book Steeped, Recipe Infused with Tea, is loaded with incredible, beautiful and creative recipes, all incorporating tea in some way. From sweet to savory, baked goods to drinks. Many of the recipes are easily adaptable to be gluten-free and vegan, too. This unique book would make for a great gift for the tea lover in your life and I promise you will flip through the pages feeling inspired to turn to tea for more than just the traditional steamy cup of goodness!