Both my boyfriend and I have remained remarkably free of illness this winter. He had a slight sniffle after a very brief trip to India last week which was unexpected considering he spent more time on a plane than on the ground. I thought I was coming down with something over the weekend but I soon realised it was just my hayfever kicking off even earlier than usual.
Whilst I have no doubt cursed us and, come the weekend, we will have to take to our sick beds, I ascribe our success to the new and revolutionary diet we’ve eaten over the last couple of months which I like to call the ‘one more vegetable diet’.
The premise is fairly simple. At every meal that we have, I try to see if I can cram in one more (type of) vegetable. Whether this is throwing a handful of frozen peas into a pan of pasta, adding whatever is lurking at the bottom of the fridge into a curry or just serving a salad alongside whatever we’re eating, it is a remarkably easy way to feel better about our food.
For a lot of people, this may be second nature but I would best describe our approach to eating vegetables as lazy. They’re always there but too often we don’t make them the focus of our meals and end up sadly picking at a pile of wilted green beans on the corner of our plates.
This same principle doesn’t just apply to vegetables, hence these lemon, almond and chia seed muffins. You probably don’t need any introduction to chia seeds, considered a ‘superfood’ by many and packed with omega-3 fatty acids and many other essential minerals. I’ve had a packet lurking in my kitchen for a while now but it’s only in the last few months that I’ve started to chuck them into anything and everything.
My favourite use, so far, is in these muffins where they act a bit like poppy seeds, adding a little bit of texture and crunch without distracting anyone from the serious business of breakfasting. Like adding one more vegetable to our plates in the evening, adding a handful of chia seeds to a muffin is one of the best kind of ways to improve what I eat – a small change that has a big impact.
More ways to use chia seeds? I’m excited to make batches of both this chia lemonade and this blueberry pomegranate chia fresca this summer. This raspberry and vanilla chia seed pudding looks so good as do these almond and chia seed waffles.
I've made a batch of these every Saturday for the last couple of weeks and therefore I can inform you with some authority that if you want to throw a handful of white chocolate chips into these muffins, it wouldn't be the end of the world. You could, of course, use poppy seeds rather than chia seeds but I never turn down an opportunity to shove a "superfood" in when I can.
- 95g (2/3 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoon) brown rice flour
- 45g (just under 1/2 cup) ground almonds
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 75g (1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon) demerara sugar
- The zest of 1 lemon
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract (or, indeed, 1/4 teaspoon almond extract if you're that way inclined)
- 60ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
- 60ml (1/4 cup) yoghurt
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- Flaked almonds, to scatter on top
- Preheat the oven to 170C/325F (fan) and line a muffin tin with paper cases.
- In a large bowl, lightly whisk together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. In another bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together until fragrant and then whisk in together the egg, vanilla, olive oil and yoghurt.
- Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and gently fold a couple of times. Add the chia seeds and fold again until the streaks of flour just disappear.
- Spoon the batter into the muffin cases, sprinkle with flaked almonds and bake for 20 - 15 minutes until risen and firm to the touch. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes or so before removing.