Almond Apple Cinnamon Muffins
I’m very excited about this recipe! These muffins are really yummy and super healthy, with lots of plant-based protein, whole grain nutrition and no oil. I hope you’ll give this recipe a try and that you like it as much as I do!
I’m also pretty psyched to tell you about a new product I’ve discovered, called Almond Pro Organic High Protein Almond Flour. It has only one ingredient: organic almonds. But the company has developed a natural, pressurized method of extracting much of the fat from the almonds, giving this flour a very high concentration of protein by volume. Specifically, one quarter-cup serving contains 14g of protein and 5g of fat, as compared to regular almond flour, which contains 6g of protein and 14g of fat. That’s a lot fewer calories as a result, so if you’re watching your weight or fat intake (particularly if you’re trying the 80-10-10 method of eating I mentioned in my article on the Mastering Diabetes Retreat), this could be for you. I’d like to add that the almond flavor is also much more concentrated, which makes sense when you consider that a lot more almonds go into any given volume of Almond Pro than regular almond flour, but it was something I hadn’t expected when I first tried it. It gives these muffins a distinctive almond flavor that I love, almost as if I’d also added some almond extract.
I’ve been experimenting a lot lately with Almond Pro, not only with baking but blending it into smoothies, too, and I’ve come up with some great recipes that I’m looking forward to sharing with you, so stay tuned for those. In the meantime, if you’d like to do your own experimenting or give this recipe a try, you can pick up Almond Pro from Amazon with free Prime shipping, or buy it directly from the Almond Pro website.
I’d also like to point out that this recipe is sweetened only with a little maple syrup (1 tsp. per muffin, plus a tiny bit more if you choose to coat the tops) and it’s oil free. There’s a (small but growing) contingent of people who recommend leaving oil out of your diet entirely or keeping it to a bare minimum. A brief summary of their rationale is that oil is 100% fat calories with zero other nutrients. Furthermore, they point out that it’s a processed food (not a whole food) and it leaves you craving more fat. I haven’t eliminated oil from my diet yet, but now that I’m more aware of it, I’m experimenting with alternatives. On a whole-food plant-based diet, my fat intake is naturally pretty low, and I still get some in the form of seeds, nuts and high-fat fruits like coconut and avocado, as well as using small quantities of unrefined olive oil and coconut oil for frying and roasting. This is just something else to consider as I shape my ever-evolving diet and lifestyle in attempt to optimize my health. Of course, everyone is free to determine what works best for them. If you have any opinions about this, I’d love to read them in the comments below!
And now, here’s the recipe! 🙂
- 1½ Tbsp. flax seed, ground
- ¼ cup water
- 1 cup spelt flour (whole wheat flour also works well)
- ½ cup Almond Pro Organic High Protein Almond Flour
- 1 cup oat flour (you can use a food processor to grind your own from rolled oats)
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
- ½ tsp. fine sea salt
- ¾ cup unsweetened applesauce
- ¼ cup coconut milk
- ½ cup apple juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, divided
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup hemp seeds
- 1 apple, peeled and chopped (peeling is optional)
- Additional 1 Tbsp maple syrup and slivered almonds (for optional topping)
Helpful note: If you don’t already have oat flour, you can grind rolled oats into a flour in your food processor. A scant cup of rolled oats should produce about a cup of oat flour. Just pulse the rolled oats until you have a coarse flour – you don’t need to make it very fine for this recipe.
Line a regular-sized 12-well muffin tin with parchment cupcake liners. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Peel and chop your apple (the peeling is optional), and then toss the apple pieces with 2 tsp. of lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown.
Grind your flax seed. I use a Magic Bullet blender for this task. Whisk the ground flax seed in the water with a fork, then set aside.
Helpful note: Of course, you can buy your flax seed already ground, just be aware that the nutritional value declines much more quickly once the seeds are ground. This is why I always grind mine as I need them, but if you’re looking for convenience, pre-ground flax seed meal is the way to go. In that case, store it in the fridge after opening, because that helps slow its decline.
In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients: Spelt flour, Almond Pro, oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and sea salt.
Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, and then add the wet ingredients: Flax + water mixture, applesauce, coconut milk, apple juice, vanilla extract, the remaining 1 tsp. of lemon juice and maple syrup.
Using a large spoon or spatula, gradually stir the wet ingredients into the dry. With muffin batter, it’s best not to over-stir, so only continue stirring until just combined.
Fold in the chopped apple and hemp seeds.
Distribute the batter evenly into the 12 wells of the prepared muffin tin.
If you’d like, sprinkle the muffin tops with some slivered almonds, and then use a pastry brush to coat the surface with a touch of maple syrup. This helps the almonds stick and browns and sweetens the tops a little bit, too.
Bake the muffins for about 28-30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Allow them to cool for about 10 minutes in the pan, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool the rest of the way.
These muffins look so inviting in the morning light and make a great start to the day. They’re delicious cut in half and toasted before serving.
They also make a great afternoon snack with some tea…
What’s healthy about this recipe?
A half cup of dry oatmeal (equivalent to one cup, cooked) delivers 7 grams of protein (more than one large egg). Because they contain a specific kind of fiber known as beta-glucan, oats are known to reduce cholesterol levels, thereby decreasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Beta-glucan has also been found to enhance the immune system’s ability to respond to bacterial infection, and is recognized for its ability to stabilize blood sugar levels. The same serving of oatmeal provides 77% of the recommended daily value of iron, as well as a good dose of Vitamin A, Vitamin B-6 and calcium. Oats are also very filling, which could help stave off mid-morning cravings and keep you focused until lunch.
Almonds deliver excellent plant-based protein, iron and calcium, all of which are some of the first few things people wonder about when considering a vegan diet. So you can carry that information around in your back pocket until the next time you’re questioned. You can also carry a handful of almonds with you for your next snack.
An apple a day… Is the old adage true? I hope so! At the very least, it’ll give you a good amount of dietary fiber and Vitamin C. There is also some recent scientific evidence that eating apples may have a positive effect on intestinal bacteria, helping to promote good digestion.
Hemp seed is 65% protein by weight, making it one of the best plant sources of protein available, and it’s especially good because that protein comes in the form of globulin edestin, which is easily digested. It also contains the essential fatty acids (EFAs) in a ratio that is suitable for human nutritional needs. It is a good source of fiber, as well as magnesium, iron and zinc. It’s also gluten-free, and there are no known allergies to hemp seeds.