Fresh Peach and Brown Sugar Muffins

Vegan and Wholemeal 

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Guys I’m back! Did you miss me?!?! Europe was so amazing and I had the best two months of my whole life, but! I was very excited to come back and blog again. Mainly because the last few posts have been horrendous! I squeezed them out just before I went away and they’re so horrendous… why! It makes my eyes burn. 

My new years resolutions (of which I made 25…) included using only manual on my camera and spending more time making my photos pretteh. So that started out today! Ok, so I haven’t mastered manual yet, and the peach muffins I made decided to come out as little butt ugly troll muffins, but they’re waay better than I was expecting for my first attempt.

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I have so many recipes that have been building up in my head to make as soon as I got home, but when I got off the plane yesterday after sitting in front of a screaming baby for ten hours, I just couldn’t do anything except make muffins. I just couldn’t face the world!!

Plus as a welcome home present my step-dad bought me a box of peaches. And they’re all ripe RIGHT NOW! So I whipped out the trusty Moosewood Cookbook and made some wholemeal brown sugar muffins, studded with lots of juicy peach slices. And they turned out so so good. I have a very evolved and scientific method of testing my recipes: I take a small bite, and if I don’t want another huge bite in the next two seconds, the recipe isn’t very good. These guys passed the test. I ate the whole thing in about 4 seconds. 

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I didn’t realise until I went away how big muffins are in Australia! I seriously don’t think I saw any the whole time I was away. I ate scones in Ireland and crepes in France and gelato in Italy, but where were the good old muffins hey? I missed these little guys. 

Starting the new year (my new year starts in February, shh) made me think about what this blog is going to be about more. Last year when I started it I had no clue what kind of things I wanted to make and what kind of photos I could of taken. I think most of the recipes from now on are going to be more centred in my everyday diet. Lots of wholemeal, mainly vegan, healthy and colourful recipes with some celebration things as well. I’m so excited! Happy belated New Year! 

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Vegan Fresh Peach and Brown Sugar Muffins

Update: On repeating this recipe they did not turn out well- word of warning, I no longer trust this recipe
125g (1 cup) wholemeal flour

1 tsp baking powder

25g (2 tbsp) brown sugar

1/2 medium banana, mashed

2 tbsp olive oil or grapeseed oil

120g (1/2 cup) soy or coconut yogurt

310g (2 cups, 2 medium peaches) cut into 1cm (1/2 inch) chunks

Preheat the oven to 170C (350F). Line 6 muffin tins with papers. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the mashed banana, oil and yogurt. Stir together well. Stir through the sliced peaches and spoon into the muffin moulds. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tops are golden and the muffins spring back when pressed. Makes 5-6 but the recipe can easily be doubled!

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Summery Green Smoothies

Raw, Vegan, Refined Sugar and Gluten Free

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 I finally did it! I’ve jumped on to the green smoothie bandwagon. I know, I know. Green smoothies are so 2013. But if it helps, I actually made this smoothie way back when in November last year! I’ve been away so long I haven’t posted it until now. How’s that for a time warp! Helloooo from the paaaast. There’s only so many stunning photographs of fresh, healthy looking green smoothies a person can take before you absolutely have to try making one. Even if it does look like Shrek’s pond juice.

I decided to play it safe for my first foray into green smoothies and look at some recipes. They all seem to follow a similar guideline, but one helpful person (which I’ve completely forgotten where I read it…I’m sorry!) warned against diving into green smoothies head first. So I decided to leave out the cucumber and celery and avocado for the first time. Instead this green smoothie is packed full of baby spinach, kale and a big handful of mint. Yum!!
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This green smoothie was so so good. It was rich and creamy from the coconut juice and flesh, plus the whole banana. Lots of recipes said to use frozen banana, but I would instead suggest just a very cold banana and an ice cube or two. When you freeze and then defrost bananas they lose their creaminess and become kind of…weird. Watery and super runny. Great in a banana bread, gross in a drink.

You could get a bit creative with this. It’s a very simple recipe! I used mango and banana as sweeteners but you could use apple if your blender was powerful enough, or add in some berries (they might make it go brown though). Try throwing in a couple of dates or agave nectar for a sweeter breakfast experience. Add chia, chopped nuts, pineapple, whatever your heart desires. And tell me how you go with that celery…
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Try and use organic greens in these smoothies, not just because they’re good for the environment! They’re also better for you. I’m conflicted about buying organic because it’s unsustainable on a large scale, but chemicals are so yucky and just bad for our bodies. When you’re drinking something as healthy and antioxidant packed as a green smoothie, I feel like you just have to go organic. It’s just one of those things.

And if you can’t get your hands on a whole coconut, using just coconut water is fine. (Not coconut milk. Ew). If you can, cut off the top and put some of that coconut meat in the smoothie! By the way does anybody know of an adjective describing the inside of a coconut that isn’t “meat” or “flesh”? It’s just creeping me out… so meaty. Enjoy your green smoothies! Perfect for a new year.
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Green Breakfast Smoothie:
1 cup baby spinach
1 cup de-ribbed kale
handful of mint (don’t leave out the mint!)
1 banana from the fridge
half a mango
1 whole coconut, juice and flesh, or one cup coconut water
a few ice cubes

Blend everything together in a powerful blender. (If you don’t have one, borrow your friends. You can’t really make the greens break down in a piddly blender) Drink while it is still cool, or store in the fridge for an hour or two.
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Fluffy Orange and Poppy Seed Pancakes

Optionally vegan and wholemeal

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I have a weird thing with pancakes. I love making them, and I love eating them. But I don’t really like making and eating them. Does anyone else have this strange dilemma?!?! Going out for breakfast to a cafe and ordering pancakes is the best thing ever. Eating hot pikelets with jam and cream at my grandma’s is my idea of heaven (oh my god I need hot pikelets now that I said that). But standing over a hot stove flipping pancakes for half an hour and sitting down and eating them. Ew… Something must be wrong with me, but I just prefer making pancakes for other people. Or getting made pancakes by someone else. Hint hint. 

I made these orange and poppyseed pancakes for my sister, because she always likes pancakes, and she doubles as pancake decorator as well. I feel bad whenever I make her pancakes for the blog as well, because I spend half the time roaring at her to stack the pancakes evenly, drape her fruit more artfully and suspend the bite in midair so I can capture the dripping syrup.

Don’t worry, I wasn’t trying to gain forgiveness for anything through butter and flour like with these apple pancakes, I just wanted to try yet another recipe in the Three Blue Ducks cookbook. Any day now I’m going to get an email telling me to stop spamming all their recipes all over the internet. I can’t help it! They always taste so yummy! I adapted their orange and yogurt pancakes to make orange and poppy seed pancakes, because we had soo many oranges we could literally last the winter on them. 

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 Whipping up the egg whites separately might seem like a big hullabaloo for breakfast cooking but believe me, you won’t regret it. They’re the only rising agent in this recipe and they make the pancakes so fluffy and light. The vegan version using chia or flax eggs makes denser pancakes, especially if they’re wholemeal. It’s kind of a completely different route that works surprisingly well! The addition of poppy seeds made the pancakes slightly crunchy and textural, and kind of made them taste like orange poppyseed cake. But for breakfast!  

I feel very conflicted about photographing pancakes. On the one hand, when I make pancakes I know they’re going to be eaten. I’m pretty sure I have a phobia of wasting food. Seriously, some of the blogs I read say things like “the first time I made the cake batter it was too lumpy, so I scrapped that and tried adding blah blah…”. Sentences like that upset me! If I made a lumpy cake batter and knew I had to fix it, lets be honest here. I’d probably eat it. Or blend it with an egg of something in a poor attempt to fix it. I would adjust the recipe and try again at some point before I posted it, but probably not until a week later when the first cake had been satisfactorily eaten down. 

But pancakes really have to be eaten hot. You can pop them in the oven for a quick warm-up, but not if you’ve already dolloped on the toppings. And I can’t photograph without toppings, people! So I always end up trying to photograph at the table whilst people are already eating it, and more often than not they turn out horrific. I’m not too happy with these photos today, but again the recipe makes it necessary I post about them anyway. There you go. Laugh as you please! Send me beautiful photos of your pancakes so I can see how it’s done. 

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 If I’m a little slow replying to comments or if there are any major flaws in this post, please forgive me! I am away and am trying to update from overseas.

Want to see some other awesome pancake recipes I’ve been reading this week? Here are three of my favourite:

I know it’s not Easter but PLEASE someone make me Joy the Baker’s hot cross pancakes

These Honey and Oat Pancakes from Top with Cinnamon look so good I want to weep

Holy moly ricotta has never looked so evil! Wit and Vinegar yum times 100000

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Orange and Poppy Seed Pancakes: Adapted from Three Blue Ducks

3 eggs, separated (or 3 tablespoons of chia seeds mixed with 6 tablespoons of water)

50g (1/4 cup) caster sugar

zest and juice of two medium oranges

120g plain flour, sifted (can substitute half for wholemeal)

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

150g natural yogurt (or coconut/soy yogurt)

Orange segments and coconut yogurt or ricotta, to serve

 

Whip the egg whites until soft peaks form (not too stiff!) Whisk lightly the egg yolks, sugar, and orange zest until combined. Whisk in the yogurt and orange juice. Whisk in the flour and poppy seeds until almost smooth, don’t over whisk! Fold in the egg whites until completely combined, without beating out the air too much. If using chia seeds, blend the chia gel with the coconut yogurt and orange, than fold in the other ingredients. Heat a fry-pan with some coconut butter or oil over a low-medium flame and cook the pancakes for a few minutes on each side, using a large ladle to get even sizes. Serve with desired topping and eat hot for the love of God! 

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Layered Chia Coconut & Fruit Puddings

Vegan, Refined Sugar and Gluten Free

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 The first time I made chia pudding I had a horrific experience. I ate too many chia seeds, my stomach swelled up, I didn’t put any yummy maple syrup in it, it was just miserable. I did kind of like the pudding itself though, even though I was still in my early chia pudding days. The chocolate chia pudding I made next was out of this world good. Creamy from avocados, chocolatey, sweet and peanut buttery. But it wasn’t really breakfast material. It was more dessert territory. I wanted to master the perfect fruit chia pudding. And I finally did it. 

I thought I must be some kind of colour goddess when I thought up this beautiful layered effect. But then I went to the bathroom and realised I had made an exact replica of my bar of soap…it’s exactly the same! I must have been subconsciously inspired whilst I was washing my hands! The bottom layer is mango and coconut milk, the middle layer is strawberry coconut and the topping is blueberry and almond milk. This is complete sacrilege because mango is always my favourite, but this time the blueberry was actually the star of the show. It was so sweet and jammy. It tasted like blueberry cheesecake ice cream, which was my favourite flavour when I was nine. Fun fact I know.

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The key to making good chia pudding is to put in lots of yummy ingredients as the backbone of the recipe. Chia has no flavour. None at all. It’s packed full of iron, antioxidants, vitamins and is a complete protein, but it tastes like nothing at all (That makes me not trust it…what is chia hiding from us?). The coconut milk makes the pudding deliciously creamy and rich, and the high ratio of fruit makes the pudding really sweet and hearty. Add some maple syrup if your fruit isn’t very sweet, and only use perfectly ripe and flavoursome fruit. Don’t use mushy or bitter berries, because they will taste even worse mixed up in a pudding.

Feel free to mix up the flavours and layers as well! Use whatever fruit and milk you prefer. You can use rice, almond, or soy. Just remember the flavour- it will come through! And guess what. You can totally eat these for breakfast. Just layer them in a jar, stick in some chopped fruit, and away you go. 

This post is similar to an old chia pudding recipe I made (even the photos!) but the subtle changes really make it so much yummier! That’s why I’m putting it up again. PS whoever can spot where I edited my reflection off the back of a spoon gets a shout out.

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 Layered Chia Pudding Recipe:

For 4 jars of chia pudding:

8 tablespoons chia seeds 

2 cups of coconut milk, almond milk, soy, rice or dairy

1/2 a medium mango, sliced

1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen) defrosted if frozen

1/2 cup strawberries, cut up in chunks

1-2 tbsp maple syrup, optional Image

Separate the chia into three even sized bowls. Put the mango in a blender with 1/3 of the coconut milk and blend well. Pour into one of the bowls with chia and stir until well combined. Wash out the blender and repeat with the other two fruits, until you have three bowls of pudding beginning to set. Pour in your first layer carefully so it doesn’t splash on the sides. Wait to set (about ten minutes, not much longer) and repeat with your next layer. Add the final layer and refrigerate for a couple hours or overnight, so they’re fully set. 

It’s easiest to fill the jars with the pudding when it’s still slightly runny, otherwise it’s hard to scoop in. You don’t need to use jars- cups look good, or bowls as well. Jars are just handy because you can put a lid on them and take them to work in the morning. Add the maple syrup to any fruits that weren’t very sweet, or as a nice top layer add a little dollop that you can swirl through. And remember, chia is really filling! You don’t need much to feel full at all xx

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Wholemeal Cinnamon and Rhubarb Muffins

optional Vegan and Sugar Free

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 I made a chocolate birthday cake for my friend recently, and I was so impressed with myself. It was a fudge layer cake with chocolate ganache and I decorated the top and everything! With little edible sugar flowers and silver drops spelling out HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I took a photo of it and snapchatted basically every single person I knew, claiming I was Lord of the Cakes and they must bow down to me. 

And then I looked at the photo more closely, and realised I’d written HAPPY BIRTHAY. Birthay. Wow. I really set myself up there. The worst part is, it’s not even the first time I’ve spelt birthday wrong on a cake. Last time I forgot the H! But last time, I was smart, and didn’t send a picture of it bragging to everyone on my contacts list. THE SHAME!

ImageI kind of made these muffins to comfort myself that I can, indeed, create something worthy of photographing and sharing with everyone. I wanted to use the last few sticks of rhubarb leftover in the fridge. They were getting quite sad and floppy in there (that’s what she said hehehehe…) and I kept picturing the delicious pairing of cinnamon and poached rhubarb I have on cereal every morning, but in muffin form. 

I looked up a basic muffin ratio on the internet, pre-sugar and add-ins like buttermilk and fruit, and decided I’d adapt it myself. I was nervous because the recipe didn’t have any sweetness in it or fruit measurements yet, and the batter came out looking clumpy and strange. But they turned out absolutely perfectly. 

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You can see from the photos how perfectly they rose and how crunchy the top layer became. I’ve adjusted the recipe I used slightly to give more rhubarb in the centre and a slightly sweeter batter, because I used almost no sweetener at all. The spices in the batter came out really sweetly and perfumed my house while they were baking. Soo good fresh from the oven. 

I talked about that amazing moment you get when you produce the perfect muffin when I made the Best Banana Muffins, and the Chocolate Fudge Vegan Orange Cupcakes. Well these are my favourite fruit filling muffins. You don’t have to fill it with fruit, you could put nutella, a chocolate ball, anything really. The muffin mix is strong enough to hold anything!

There’s no refined sugar or butter in these muffins, and the addition of wholemeal flour makes them a little healthier than the usual muffin affair. They’re still rich and a little bit naughty though! Perfect for weekend mornings 🙂 

ImageRhubarb and Cinnamon Muffins: 

200g (1.5 cups + 1 tbsp) plain flour

130g (1 cup) wholemeal flour

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp vanilla extract

125g (1/3 cup) runny maple syrup or honey

3 eggs (or flax eggs for vegan)

125ml (1/2 cup) olive oil

120ml (1/2 cup) natural or coconut yogurt

450g (1 pound) rhubarb, cut into chunks + 2 tbsp maple syrup

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 Preheat the oven to 165C (330F) and line 10 muffin holes with papers. In a small saucepan, stir the rhubarb and honey together with a splash of water. Cover with a lid and stew until soft for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and add in the oil and yogurt. Combine the wet and dry together, add a splash of milk if the batter is too dry. Spoon half the batter in to the muffin cups. Make a depression in the centre and put in a few pieces of rhubarb. Add the other half of batter and press down to cover the rhubarb completely. 

Bake for 25 minutes, until risen and golden on top. Eat them warm! 

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Fruit Salad & Honey Orange Syrup

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I felt a little unsure of whether I should post this recipe today. I mean, could we call it a recipe? Fruit salad is more of a…bowl of fruit. Kind of like giving a recipe for a lettuce salad. But then I thought, hang on. I would love a recipe for a lettuce salad. Because until I actually READ a recipe for a lettuce salad in a real cookbook, I didn’t realise that my lettuce salads had always been inherently wrong! And now that I know to wash my leaves and dry them thoroughly and only add my dressing at the table, my entire salad eating experience has transformed. 

So here is a post about fruit salad. Not exactly a recipe, more of an inspiring collection of photos to encourage you to go out, get some fruit, and make a delicious bowl of whatever things you fancy. I know it’s coming in to cold season in the Northern Hemisphere but there is still plenty of fruits to be found! Fruit salad may be best in the summer but it is still yummy all year round. Think apples, pears, orange segments, bananas, whatever looks the best at the time!

And if you really want your fruit salad to sing! Make up some honey and orange syrup for drizzling on top. The acidity from the oranges stops some of the fruits from browning. Things like pears, apples and bananas all oxidise quickly so it’s important to get some citrus on them.Image

Handy hints for fruit salad include: Wash all your fruits and completely dry them before using. Otherwise water will collect in the bottom of the bowl. Only use fresh, firm fruits. Fruit salads aren’t good hiding places for that slightly smooshed strawberry or bruised banana. Add all your whole fruits to the bowl first- berries, grapes, mandarin segments etc. Add your cut fruits as close to serving time as possible. Add your banana literally at the table, or it will dissolve and you will be left with honey orange and banana syrup. Mmmm…??!?!?! Not really. 

I like to eat my fruit salad in the morning with a big scoop of Greek yogurt and some chia seeds and sunflower seeds sprinkled on top. But especially in the warmer months, fruit salad can make a really easy and light dessert. Or brunch! People always talk about their brunch ideas and recipes they’ve developed brunch…who the hell has time to invite all their friends over for brunch? That’s a question I’ll never understand. But if you are a brunch eater, fruit salad may just be the thing for you. Keep fruit salad in the fridge before eating because it’s way better cold. And think about what fruits would taste great together! Here’s some ideas:

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Think of fruits that go well together:

Salad 1: The ‘green’ salad- green grapes, apple, kiwi fruit, pineapple, honeydew, blueberries, pear, passionfruit pulp, and sprinkle in some fresh mint leaves.

Salad 2: The ‘red’ salad- strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, mulberries, watermelon, mango, red grapes, tangerine or mandarin

Salad 3: The ‘yellow’ salad- banana, mango, rockmelon, pear, peaches, nectarines, plums and green grapes

Feel free to make up your own fruit salads. Remember the more colours you mix in, the wider range of vitamins and nutrients you’re getting from your fruit. Cut the fruit as close to serving time as possible, and have a good balance of sweet, sour, crunchy, soft, sharp and mellow. 

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Honey Orange Syrup:
2 oranges, juiced
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons water
Combine all the ingredients and mix until the honey dissolves. Heat gently over a low flame until everything is combined and slightly thickened. Allow to cool completely before pouring over the fruit salad.
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Banana and Dark Chocolate Chunk Muffins

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 I know! You don’t have to say it. You think I’m obsessed with muffins. You think that’s all I ever do. Make protein packed quinoa carrot muffins one week and posh little banana chai muffins the next. Well it’s not my fault muffins and cupcakes are so damn cute! And I’m not the only person who thinks mini cakes encased in paper are somehow so much more exciting and easy to serve than full-sized cakes. 

This week there were many many bananas. You’re probably imagining six or seven bananas ripening away in a fruit bowl right now, a typical kitchen scene that leads to banana baked cakes. Now take that image and multiply it by thirty! That’s right, I counted. You know that TV show called hoarders? Where they go in to people’s houses and they have newspapers from 1933 and pizza boxes filling their children’s beds? Well I’m one of those people. Although you wouldn’t know it, because it seems the only thing I hoard is overripe bananas (for now….). I deliberately buy a few too many and when the end of the week comes, steal some spotty ones away to the freezer, chuckling to myself like rumplestiltskin.

This week when my banana cube container reached overflowing in the freezer, and there were three ripe bananas still in their skins sitting on top of it, as well as fifteen small overripe bananas on the counter, it was time to take action. It was time for an intervention. So I adapted another Three Blue Ducks recipe, this time their famous banana and fig bread, into these chocolate chunk muffins. And let me just say one thing. These banana muffins put all those dry, powdery, gummy banana muffins out there to shame. TO SHAME.

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 They’re finally just as good as that super gourmet cafe muffin I’ve always wanted to recreate. They are somehow fluffy and dense at the same time. Somehow light yet moist, crunchy yet sticky, fruity yet chocolatey! You get the picture. They’re just that next level of yum. Sometimes you just have those moments in baking where you create something that makes you stop and think, wow. I made that. It happened when I made the vegan chocolate orange cupcakes, which just came out so so delicious and moist. It happened when I made a rhubarb and coconut crumble slice so crunchy and flavoursome no one could stop eating it. And it happened today!

Usually when I make something or follow a recipe, I might use features of that recipe again but it will be very rare that I’ll make it in it’s entirety more than once. These are those kind of recipes that never get improved upon. Everyone has their staple chocolate cookie recipe (I use David Lebovitz’) and their chocolate birthday cake recipe and their best sponge recipe. This is going to be my banana muffin recipe. Statement of the month. 

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 My mum isn’t much of a baker, she’s more of a savoury food fan. But she did used to make banana bread pretty regularly when I was growing up. It was a little bit hippy with a sesame seed crust and a dense, wholesome texture, and a little bit my mum’s baking with a slightly raw middle and little lumps of flour that hadn’t been sifted through. But man, I really loved it. It was always so exciting finding a piece in my lunchbox and eating it in first class even though it was still slightly frozen. 

Banana baked goods are so homely. I always feel worried at first posting them because the Internet is so saturated with them. Plus I’ve made a lot! Caramel Chocolate Muffins, Banana Maple Layer Cake, just to name a few. But then I think it’s not like readers have to go ahead and make everything I post. I know with most of the blogs I read all the time, I just want to eat the photos and the stories with my eyes. It’s not like a weekly update of what I should whip up in the kitchen.

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 Nowadays so many of the recipes I make are vegan or gluten free, sometimes both, and almost always sugar free. It was strangely therapeutic to pull out my old tins of flour and sugar and beat the eggs and vanilla together until fluffy. I didn’t have to worry about lumpy chia seeds or faulty blenders or strange overpowering raw flavours. These muffins may not be as good for your body as many other muffins on this site, but they are still very worthy and a little treat for every now and then.

If you don’t want to use chocolate chips, you could substitute 100g of walnuts (like the original recipe) or other toasted nuts and seeds, or you could throw in some raisins or blueberries, or just leave them plain. This is a simple recipe that you can take in a few different ways. Originally it was made for a banana bread. If you want to do that, substitute plain flour + 1 tsp baking powder for the self-raising, and increase the baking time to about half an hour to 45 minutes. 

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 Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin Recipe: Adapted from The Blue Ducks

200g (1 cup + 1.5 tablespoons) self-raising flour

½ tsp bicarb soda

1 tsp cinnamon

2 medium-large eggs (100g)

170g (3/4 cup) sugar

430g (1 pound or 3 large) bananas, mashed well, plus extra for garnish

45ml (3 tblsp) olive oil

40g (3 tblsp) melted butter

100g (2/3 cup roughly) dark chocolate, cut into chunks

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Preheat the oven to 160C (320F). Line 10-12 muffin tins with papers. Blend together the bananas and stir in the butter and oil.

Sift the flour, a pinch of salt, bicarb and cinnamon in a small bowl. Beat the eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Add the other wet ingredients and stir together. Gently fold in the chocolate chunks and sift in the flours.

Split in to muffin tins and top with a slice of banana, if you like. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until golden on top and springy to touch. They last for 2-3 days, but best just out of the oven. They freeze well too!

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