Monday, October 12, 2015

let there be muffins!

Have I ever told you that I love muffins? I'm pretty sure the love affair started during my senior year of high school when my friends and I started meeting at a little local restaurant - Fay's Country Kitchen - for breakfast on Friday mornings before school. I don't remember who ordered it first, but one morning there appeared on the table the biggest, most amazing looking blueberry muffin I had ever seen. I quickly hopped on the muffin bandwagon and ordered one of my own and let me tell you, it was love at first bite. What made that muffin so special you ask? Here's the secret...

They grilled it. 

They cut that giant, delicious muffin in half, slathered some butter on it, and slapped it on the flat top where it got the most amazing crunchy crust on it. When it showed up on the table with a huge cup of even more butter next to it, I would spread that sucker with a generous amount and then eat it fast, as though I was afraid that if I gave my attention to my over-medium eggs for even a second, someone was going to take that delicious muffin from me. 

Not on my watch.

After that first muffin I was completely hooked and ordered one to eat first, even if I wanted french toast or pancakes for my "actual" breakfast. Clearly, this was back in the days when I could eat whatever I wanted and not have to spend an hour at the gym afterwards.

When I found out that I had Celiac disease and then Crohn's disease, I mourned the loss of those grilled muffins and all the others I have known and loved throughout the years. Like seriouly mourned. But once the dust settled and I accepted this new curve ball that life had thrown at me, I got to work experimenting with different flours and recipes in hopes of finding a tasty alternative. I found a couple that were decent, but I noticed that the pre-mixed bags of gluten-free flour have something in them that doesn't really agree with me...

And then I mourned the loss of the hope of a good gluten-free muffin. Like seriously mourned. And then the dust settled and I found a little bit more determination and went back to the drawing board (read: the vast land of Pinterest and the Internets) and started experimenting with the two flours that are on my "approved" list of foods on my new eating plan: almond and coconut. But after a few attempts (and subsequent dumping in the trash of said attempts) I realized that the consistency just isn't what I want it to be with those two alone. For the past couple weeks I've once again been scouring the Internets for a muffin recipe that would not only fit into my diet, but also taste amazing. I wasn't sure there was any real hope out there. But then.

Then my friend Breanne (THANK YOU, from the bottom of my muffin-loving heart, Breanne!) told me about a website and blog that she follows called Against All Grain by Danielle Walker. I went home that night and started searching through the impressive amount of recipes featured on the website, and I stumbled upon a muffin recipe called "Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chip Streusel Topping." I almost passed them up since I hadn't eaten any chocolate since I started this new eating plan, but decided that a little dark chocolate would be a good "experiment." (Do you see how I did that right there? How I justified eating chocolate by calling it an experiment? Brilliant idea, if I do say so myself, and also informative so a win-win, yes?) They looked amazing and I immediately scanned the ingredient list to see if I could make them without going to the store. As fate and good fortune would have it, I had every single ingredient in my pantry and refrigerator. Win! I made them the very next day with a spring in my step and hope in my heart. I mixed and folded, blended and sprinkled, filled and topped, and then they were out of my hands and into the oven where I not-so-patiently waited for the timer to tell me that it was time, at long last, to see if I had finally (finally!) found a good muffin recipe. 

(Is the suspense killing you? Can you believe I'm making this big a deal out of muffins?! I know, me either.)

The timer went off, I reached into the steamy oven, pulled out the beautiful muffins that looked surprisingly like the picture from the website, and impatiently waited for about one minute before burning my fingers as I quickly peeled the wrapper off of one. I crossed my fingers, hoped for the best, and took a bite. 

And then I may or may not have jumped up and down in my kitchen while Annabel wondered what in the world was wrong with me. 


They are far and away the best gluten-free muffins I've tried. But the best part? They're sweet without even a pinch of white sugar. The secret is the bananas. If you wait until they're just about over-ripe, they sweeten the muffins naturally without the help of sugar (although you can add a couple tablespoons of honey if you need your muffin fix before your bananas ripen up). The dark chocolate is just icing on the cake muffin but totally not necessary to make them delicious. I made a blueberry version just last week that was every bit as good as the chocolate version. 

Now, I don't know how you feel about muffins and I don't know if finding a really great muffin recipe would ever make you jump up and down in your kitchen. But I do know that if you like muffins even a little bit, you should give this recipe a try. Annabel loves them (Will and Tommy are decidedly not on the crazy-love-of-muffins train...more for me!!) and I really can't adequately convey my muffin-lovin' happiness with words (although that obviously did not stop me from trying in this very long post about muffins). You'll either have to take my word for it or try them for yourself. Bananas as sweetener...genius! 

I haven't tried grilling these muffins yet but I'm thinking that might have to be next on my list-of-things-to-try-in-the-kitchen. Bringing it full circle...yep, I'm gonna have to try it. 

P.s. Happy Birthday, Aunt Shelley!

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