Haven’t you heard? Gluten-free is so hot right now. No, I am not gluten-free. I’m just not hip enough to align myself with Victoria Beckham, Zooey Deschanel, Rachel Weisz, and a whole host of Hollywood glitterati. Rather, I got a whole lotta love for coconut and alternative flours of all-stars and stripes (thank you, Kim Boyce!) My coconut lovin’ kicked into overdrive after a family vacation to sunny Puerto Rico, where coconut is practically the national emblem. Street vendors sell endless varieties of shockingly sweet coconut candies while coconut water, the health craze du jour of the moment, is readily available on most street corners where it is epically served to you by a man with a machete, who lobs off the top of a coconut for you, jams a straw through its spongy flesh, and hands you what must be a gallon of coconut water for a mere dollar or so.
Back to the main attraction, yes? I am endlessly intrigued by recipes that challenge the paradigm of what a food traditionally is, often with a more nourishing angle that steadfastly refuses to sacrifice taste. These muffins aren’t revolutionary by any means, so don’t be scared. It was my first time baking gluten-free anything and I was pleasantly surprised by the results. They’re reminiscent of a good ol’ loaf of banana bread; moist, very dense, and not cloyingly sweet. Coconut flour is the key to this recipe, a high-fiber, nutritional superstar of a flour that can be found with increasing frequency in natural food stores. Your Whole Foods will without a doubt stock it.
This recipe makes all sorts of intriguing substitutions; coconut oil for the fat, almond milk for the dairy, and honey for the sweetener, with shredded coconut and pecans thrown in for texture and their overall yumminess factor. All of these off-the-beaten-path components come together for a wholesome take on the traditional breakfast muffin. Give this recipe a go if you’re on the prowl for something to munch on in the morning that won’t send you into a sugar comatose. Also, they are quite filling so you needn’t have more than two for breakfast. Unless you’re me, that is. As I’ve previously mentioned, restraint isn’t exactly my strong suit.
Wee purple flowers, one of the few paltry reminders that spring is allegedly here in blustery Chicago.
Gluten-Free Coconut & Banana Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
1 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
3/4 cup almond milk
4 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon maple sugar or brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup overripe mashed bananas (2-3 small ones)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut + extra for muffin tops
1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line with baking cups a 12 spot muffin tin. Sift the coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a small bowl. Set aside.
2.) In a medium-sized bowl beat eggs together. And add milk, coconut oil, honey, sugar and vanilla. Whisk together to blend.
3.) Stir the bananas, nuts, and shredded coconut into the coconut flour mixture until evenly incorporated. The batter will be very thick. Spoon into prepared muffin tins and sprinkle the tops of the muffins with extra coconut.
4.) Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.