Friday, April 04, 2014

Banana Blueberry Kamut Muffins

Once upon a time, not too long ago, wheat was a staple grain in our diets. Depending on which part of the world you were in rice was a close contender as mankind's favorite grain. But we will tackle rice in another post. For better or for worse, the wheat crop has taken a battering all in the name of increasing production to feed the explosive human population. The poor humble wheat has apparently been hybridized by crossing it with different strains, crossing with non wheat plants and exposed to chemical rays to induce mutations. So, the latest nutrition studies report that wheat is no longer a complex carbohydrate, it has been reduced to the likes of simple sugars like *gasp* glucose. As if that wasn't bad enough, our food chain has been inundated with refined wheat also known as all purpose flour. To make us feel better about our choices, they are now marketing all purpose wheat as 'enriched'. Really?  Ever since, the controversial wheat belly book came out the gluten free food market has exploded in North America. Now, I personally know of individuals who have severe sensitivity to gluten - the wheat protein - and for them simple pleasures like bread and pasta can mean severe discomfort and questionable nutrition availability of food consumed and as a result poor immune system. For them gluten is poison. Then there are others who don't have any medical symptoms of gluten sensitivity, but they can feel a difference in their energy levels and well being once gluten is eliminated. What I find extremely disturbing are the gluten free products that sit on supermarket shelves like wolves in sheep's clothing. More than half the gluten free products are stuffed with all kinds of highly processed starches (potato starch, tapioca starch, corn starch to name a few) and many binders or edible gums. So we may be replacing one evil with another by going gluten free the wrong way.

Should we all be saying no to wheat? We should definitely be shunning the refined and 'enriched' varieties of wheat.  Apparently a lot of us already are. So way to go, us :) The worldwide sales of bread has dropped so much that even the French government is reportedly concerned about losing a sacred tradition. The good news is that there are so many other nutrition packed whole grain options available outside the realm of wheat. To me, adding a variety of grains to our diets seems to be the key. And, the world around us seems to be cycling back to making everything from scratch and at home. The pressure is on the businesses to churn out more food with real ingredients. I predict that sometime in the near future, we will see a supermarket brand of bread with 5 simple ingredients - 'non enriched' real whole flour, water, yeast, salt and sugar. So, to anyone reading this post with earnest, the take-away should be that we should make a variety of grains as part of our daily diets. Look beyond wheat and you will find a whole new set of options!

During a trip to the farmers market a few weekends ago, I discovered Kamut. It is a an ancient strain of wheat historically originating in Persia. It is currently cultivated mostly in the USA and western Canada as the growers need to adhere to strict 'brand' guidelines. It has a higher protein and fat content than traditional dwarf wheat. So, the grain naturally yields a better crumb to baked goods. Kamut is an excellent choice of grain to put in your morning muffin. I have tried many different combinations and have locked in the recipe below for Blueberry, banana kamut muffins. I do use a large number of eggs... I do so, because I want to get more of the good nutrition from eggs into my 19 month old. You could get away with using only 1 egg in the recipe. I have had success with the eggless version using a chia egg, read on below.

Blueberry Banana Kamut Muffins
Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins (+ cooling time)
Makes: 6 muffins

1 ripe banana
2 eggs ( or 1 chia egg - 1 tbsp ground chia seeds soaked in 1/4 cup warm water for 10 minutes)
1/2 cup kamut flour (preferably coarsely ground flour)
1/4 cup oat flour (1/4 cup oats ground in a spice grinder)
2 tbsp almond flour (handful of raw almonds ground in a spice grinder)
a pinch of cardamom powder
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup yogurt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup frozen wild blueberries
Blueberry Banana Kamut Muffins


Preheat oven to 350 deg F.

In a large bowl, mash the banana till smooth. Crack open the eggs (or chia egg) and whisk together. Add kamut flour, oat flour, almond flour, cardamom, maple syrup, yogurt and baking soda and mix with a large spoon till combined. Last, fold in the blueberries gently so that it doesn't bleed into the batter.

Line a muffin tin with good quality parchment baking cups or use a silicone muffin pan. Scoop out about 1/2 cup batter into each prepared  muffin mold and place in the oven for 30 mins or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

1. Please do make sure to use good quality baking cups. Or grease the cups as a precaution before putting the batter in. I once baked a batch which ended up sticking completely to the paper. Such a waste of good ingredients
2. You can substitute finely chopped apples for the blueberries and use cinnamon instead of cardamom for yummy apple-cinnamon muffins

And Oh my, I used kamut flour to make chappatis (the Indian flatbread), and I must say I was pleasantly surprised with the fantastic results. It must be the higher fat content that made the chappatis stay soft long after they came out of of the stove. If you are one of those who struggle to make soft chappatis on an induction stove you got to give kamut a try.

If you don't get kamut where you live... well... you can try using regular whole wheat flour. But I highly recommend going out of your way to source kamut for this recipe. You won't regret it!

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