Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Easy Paleo Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Muffins

Normally one to avoid sweets as I easily get debilitating sugar headaches when I eat too much, my recent surge of eating cookies, pies, and other treats this holiday season has rendered my sweet tooth a little out of control. 

Now that the festivities and frivolities of the holidays have come and gone, I join the millions of other people who resolve to eat, live, and just be better in 2015. Topping my list of resolutions for my blog this year is testing and sharing more recipes that are easy for college students, teens, or anyone who fears complicated gluten and dairy free recipes with lengthy ingredients lists that are  expensive and exotic.

My favorite meal of the day is breakfast, and one of my favorite morning treats is muffins. Searching the internet for muffin or breakfast cookie recipes that were minimally sugared yet involved a hint of chocolate to appease my sweet tooth I ventured into paleo baking for the first time. Naturally gluten, grain, refined sugar and dairy free, the paleo diet's parameters proved to be exactly what I was searching for.

Before going any further, I will admit first and foremost that I do not maintain a paleo diet and know only a minimal amount about it. For more information on paleo dos, don'ts, and other info, definitely consult a paleo website or other resource. The recipe I ended up adapting hailed from Ultimate Paleo Guide and can be found at this link.

The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of honey, an unrefined sugary substance. I used local, raw, orange blossom honey from Winter Park Honey that I picked up at the Maitland Farmer's Market which has numerous health benefits including allergy prevention for seasonal allergies and antibacterial properties. For more information on Winter Park Honey, check out their website.



For the chocolate chips the recipe called for, I realized I had to make a quick grocery run to pick up this essential ingredient. While I usually use Enjoy Life Foods' semi-sweet chocolate chunks for any baking I do, the only ELF baking chocolates Target stocked were their semi-sweet mini chips and dark chocolate morsels, neither one satisfying my love of the chocolate "chunk" taste and texture. In surveying the alternatives, I picked up a bag of Scharffen Berger's bittersweet baking chunks, which are gluten-free and dairy-free. They do contain sugar, so are not truely paleo.



Per the recipe's directions, assembling the ingredients into the muffin dough was super simple. The almond flour, baking soda, and salt is mixed in one bowl while the wet ingredients were mixed in another. I substituted canola oil for coconut oil because I wanted to test the recipe out before investing in a jar. The contents of the two bowls are then combined, chocolate chips are folded in, and voila- the dough is ready to go. 



To further simplify the baking and clean-up process, I used paper baking cups to minimize the pan scrubbing I'd have to do later. After divvying out the dough into the cups, into the oven the muffins went- and in fifteen minutes later, they emerged, golden and delicious.



The paper cups I used ended up being impractical as the muffins did not rise much so I had to remove them one by one from the cups before consuming them. Next time I'll either put them directly in the muffin tin or use paper wrappers. 

Once cooled, muffins are soft-baked and chewy and reminded me of a cross between a muffin and chocolate chip cookie. The almond flour-based muffin "bread" was sweet and slightly nutty and the chocolate chips were bitter but really worked in this recipe as they melted well and had a nice, complex dark chocolate flavor.

Minimally sweetened, the cookies are perfect for a snack, dessert or breakfast without the guilt, weight, or sugar rush of some baked goods. While they may be an acquired taste for those accustomed to sweet treats, I loved them and will definitely be putting them into my baking rotation when I return to dorm life to get my sweet fix without a major sugar load. They're simple enough that I do not need 48 types of flours and the recipe can be easily adapted to accommodate other mix-ins such as fruit or nuts.

The recipe, once again, is not mine and appears on the Ultimate Paleo Guide's website here

Disclaimer: The recipe provided is not an endorsement of the products used and should be reviewed to assess for personal dietary needs. Feel free to to contact me with any questions or comments. I was not compensated for this review and it is a reflection of my personal opinion.

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