How do you make a moist and delicious muffin, with no eggs, butter or sugar? This seemed like a new and entirely different experiment. It was a challenge nonetheless, a challenge that lead me to a different source of fiber and fatty acids: the chia seed. I was first introduced to chia seeds several years ago as a child, and like most children of the 80s, I can still hear the catchy jingle “Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!” whenever I think about those little terra-cotta animals with the green grass fur.
I never owned a chia pet as a child, but when I stumbled across a bag of chia seeds on sale at Whole Foods, I was curious about the nutritional properties of this small seed. It was once celebrated by the Ancient Incan, Mayan and Aztec cultures, and more recently has popped up everywhere, from the chia seeds floating in bottles of Kombucha, to the gourmet chia seed muffins available at Le Quotidien. Wouldn’t you know, Chia seeds are not only highly nutritious but are hydrophilic seeds that have 8X the Omega-3s as flax seeds! Extraordinary.
I taste tested the Le Quotidien version of the chia seed muffin and although I found the flavor interesting and the muffin moist, the texture itself was dense and hearty rather than light and springy. It was the texture more so than the taste that made me wonder if the muffin could be tweaked to create a lighter muffin suitable for the spring and summer months. The challenge began….
I searched for the perfect chia muffin recipe, and this one seemed to hit the spot (Thank you VERY much to Sarah at Peas & Thank You for this super awesome recipe!!!!) . It offers a nice balance of healthy ingredients (nut milks, whole wheat pastry flour, applesauce) with just the right amount of lemony essence. Some of the muffin’s moistness comes from the chia seed while the applesauce acts as the binding agent. The agave nectar serves as a low-calorie sweeten and helps to offer a muffin that is not only moist, but also tender.
Along the way, I also realized that the secret to a tender muffin (particularly one with no eggs or dairy) is in the flour. This recipe calls for a portion of whole wheat pastry flour, which is made from soft wheat berries and has comparatively less gluten than all-purpose or wheat flours. The pastry flour’s properties helps to create a light, crumbly texture, comparable to your average, well-made muffin. Hot out of the oven, these muffins are scrumptious. I was pleasantly surprised not only by the lightness of the muffin, but also with the tenderness of the bread – a little bit of pastry flour goes a long way.
These non-dairy, non-egg, non-butter and non-sugar muffins are springy and delicious, perfect to enjoy with a warm mug of freshly brewed mint or chamomile tea.