Thursday, May 16, 2013

Fudgy Chocolate Flax Muffins

Sometimes I get the urge to bake. I will raid my pantry and cabinets looking for items that I can combine to make something delicious and worth devouring. Today happened to be one of those days. And of course I had overripe bananas, which are cause for instant toss-in (shhh…don’t tell my fiancĂ©, he doesn’t eat bananas and he LOVED these :). What you don’t know can’t hurt you right?

Most of the ingredients found in this recipe can easily be found in your everyday grocery store. The only thing you may have to search for at a food coop or specialty market may be flaxseed.

Flaxseeds are extremely small and provide “huge” benefits to your health. There are three unique benefits when it comes to flaxseed. First, flax is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, specifically alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA has been found to be stable for up to three hours of cooking which means you are still getting the benefits of omega-3s even after using them in baked goods! Second, another feature of flaxseed is its lignans. Lignans are fiber-like structures that also provide antioxidant protection. The third quality that makes flaxseed unique is its mucilage (gum) content. What in the world does this mean? Mucilage refers to the water-soluble, gel-forming fibers that can support the intestinal tract by improving nutrient absorption. Still lost at gel-forming? If you place a tablespoon of flaxseed in water and let it sit for a few moments the mixture will become thick and viscous. This is due to mucilage. Amazed? Me too!

Muffins generally get a bad reputation for being junk food. Now, I can’t always argue this statement because more times than not I would agree. However, these muffins call for a natural sweetener, whole-wheat flour and almond meal, flax (super seed!), raw cacao, coconut oil (no butter!) and dark chocolate. Overall I consider these muffins to be super yummy and a lovely upgrade!

½ cup of coconut oil, melted
¼ cup of pure maple syrup
4 very ripe bananas, mashed
2 tablespoons of coconut cream
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
¼ cup of water
2 large eggs
1 ½ cups of whole wheat flour
1/3 cup of raw cacao powder
½ cup of almond meal or flour
2 tablespoons of ground flax
1 ½ teaspoons of baking soda
¼ teaspoon of sea salt
1/3 cup of chopped dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large muffin pan with liners or spray with a non-stick cooking spray.

Using an electric mixer or standup mixer, cream the oil and maple syrup. Add the bananas, coconut cream, vanilla and water until smooth. Beat in the eggs.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, cacao powder, almond meal, ground flax, baking soda and sea salt. Slowly mix the dry ingredients in with the wet ingredients. Fold in the dark chocolate.

Spoon the batter into the muffin liners and bake for approximately 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick or skewer inserted comes out clean. Place the muffins on a cooling rack for five minutes, or as long as you can wait before diving in :)

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