I love to see the surprised and delighted face my clients make…
…when I offer them tea and something delicious and sweet during their in-house coaching session with me. So why are my clients so surprised? They come to me for help with their headaches or migraines or general wellbeing. But most of the times together we discover that for them it would be best if they go gluten-free, at least for a while or at minimum to reduce it drastically. So they certainly don’t expect to get something like a muffin to try. Because at that point they feel really deflated and unhappy at the thought to give up so much, well everything in their view.
I tell them to go (mostly!) gluten-free
And that’s certainly how it feels at first because as you know, gluten is in all the ‘yummy’ things we love from our childhood days onwards. It is in bread and cookies and cake and noodles and many more things. It is hidden in many packaged foods where we would not even suspect it.
But it really is the thought of giving up bread and noodles and so on that haunts my clients initially. Because if you take out those things, what’s left? In Germany traditionally we eat a lot of bread, often for breakfast and dinner. In Italy… well, try to take the pasta away from an Italian. In England it’s the toast and scones. Just imagine a proper 5 o’clock tea without decrusted slices of white bread with salted butter and ever so thin slices of cucumber.
Just not possible! Or is it?
Like my clients I also want to show YOU that you actually can eat an endless array of wonderful goodies even if you can’t have gluten or grains. There is such a huge amount of recipes available now, in books and on the internet. To make these things from scratch does not have to be complicated or difficult. And it shouldn’t. I certainly am all a fan of ‘easy’!
Usually when I look for inspiration I want a result very quickly. That’s one of the reasons why I tend to favor recipes with not many ingredients or steps.
I know that having a meal plan for the week or a few days is really helpful to stay on track, so slowly I am getting better at planning ahead. But often it is still a very spontaneous decision for me. I like spontaneous. Suddenly at 2 pm I might get the thought in my head that I want a muffin NOW. As they are quick to bake I know I could have one in around 35 – 40 minutes, so that’s not too bad. Time to clean the kitchen from the baking bowls and spoons and brew myself a cup of tea and it’s almost time to take them from the oven…
So today I had such a day.
I wanted to have a different kind of muffin. After all the spiced baked goods over Christmas I wanted something fresh and juicy instead. I had fresh oranges and a big bag of dried cranberries and almond flour, so that gave me the idea. I know from other recipes that the ratio of 2 cups of almond flour to 3 eggs is one that works, so I took that as a base and the Orange Cranberry Muffins were born.
But before we get into the recipe I want to give you a little more information about the reason behind this ‘gluten thing’.
I know it feels like a fashion, everybody is talking and writing about it and it’s coming to us from all sides, even in the supermarket isles. Those actually expose less than ideal gluten-free products, full of sugar and starches, so stay away from those.
In consequence to this gluten “hype” there are many attempts in the media to disclose the gluten topic as a fashion or craze. I expect that it is frightening to re-think our whole nutrition for the above reasons (because it has become a comfort food) and there are also shocking industry interests involved.
What does Science say?
Additionally science on a whole seems to not yet be fully accepting the facts and studies that are being released more and more. But with more studies like the one by Giovanni Barbara and his team at the University of Bologna, Italy, being released, there is greater evidence for the truth of it. This team was able to prove that gluten-sensitivity is linked to inflammation due to the molecule zonulin reacting strongly and raising inflammation markers in the presence of gluten. Now inflammation is not something we want as it can harm our bodies long term and make things worse. We need to do everything possible to reduce inflammation and we can do that through food choices and also stress reduction.
Let me get back to the gluten facts: apart from the 1% of people with celiac disease, it’s said that gluten-sensitivity is something that affects only 6-8% of people. This might not feel like much in comparison to the whole population. It still makes actually a huge number of people being somewhat impacted by gluten.
Additionally there are also a few smaller studies that show that even for people who are supposedly healthy there is a significant difference in how their blood reacts after the consumption of wheat against the consumption of one of the older grains like Kamut. The study showed for example that wheat consumption lowered mineral intake and both increased Cholesterol levels and inflammatory markers. The consumption of Kamut instead showed a rise of mineral intake and a decrease in inflammation markers and cholesterol.
It might be that we all fare better
Yes, we might indeed fare better, when we take out or reduce most of the gluten containing foods. When we at least opt for products made from older grain types like Spelt, Kamut, Einkorn or Emmer. Possibly fermented with sourdough. These are ancient grain forms which have not been changed through cross-breeding like wheat has. Especially since the 1960s the wheat structure, protein and starch content and quality have been changing dramatically. And more and more convenience foods also have led to a higher consumption of wheat products since the 1960s. So I can’t not point out that there has been a dramatic rise in the occurrence of celiac disease in the last 40 -50 years. Do you also see the connection that I see?
This is the reason I try to avoid gluten containing food as much as possible. When I applied these new nutrition strategies I started to feel overall so much better.
I was able to get rid of my migraines!
This is why I also most of the times recommend this to my clients.
And then present them with a homemade gluten-free, well actually grain-free muffin and they smile….
Believe me, at this point into our wonderful encounter here, I would love to serve you also a cup of tea and a muffin, but virtual-tea-serving still has to be invented. So in the meantime at least I want to share this recipe with you. So you can bake it at home and experience yourself how delicious eating gluten-free can taste!
Here we go, meet the mighty
Orange Cranberry Muffins (gluten-free, grain-free)
- 2 cups (200 grams) almond flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ⅛ teaspoon salt (or a big pinch)
- zest of 1 orange
- juice of ½ orange
- 3 eggs
- up to a ¼ cup (scarcely filled) rice syrup and 10 drops stevia (or use maple syrup, honey plus stevia etc.)
- 2 tablespoons melted ghee or coconut butter
- ½ cup dried cranberries (unsweetened or sweetened with fruit juice only)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees (170 Celsius) and prepare a muffin tin or 12 muffin forms (I used a silicon form and did not need to grease it, if you use another form you might need to grease it slightly)
- Measure out ghee or coconut butter and melt. Either in a small bowl which you put into a bigger bowl with a little hot water. Or on top of the heating unit or for 1 minute in the preheating oven (but be careful to not forget and to not burn your hands! Happened to me!)
- Mix almond flour, baking soda, salt and orange zest (your dry ingredients) in a large bowl.
- In another bowl beat eggs and then add orange juice, sweetener of choice and ghee/oil (your wet ingredients) in medium bowl and mix well. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well, then fold in cranberries.
- Fill each muffin form with dough. Up to ¾ full.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until they are lightly brown. Test with a toothpick. If inserted in the center it comes out clean they are ready. And I know you want to taste them, but let them in stand in the muffin forms for at least 5 minutes before removing them and putting them on a wire rack to cool.
If you feel like giving these gluten-free goodies a go yourself, let me know how you liked them!
If you feel inspired to give the healthy (almost) gluten-free life a go, you can find more tips and delicious gluten-free recipes in my “4 days to kickoff your headache-free life” e-book which you can request here.
P.S.: By the way: did you know that in my individual coaching sessions we can speak Italian or German as well? If you are Italian or German speaking and not too comfortable to be coached in English, we can revert to your language. 🙂 Sessions are possible via telephone or Skype and in person.