Mother’s Day is just around the corner. For those of us without mothers, Mother’s Day is bittersweet. My own mother died quite young (age 54) and I wish she was here so I could shower her with love and attention. Instead, I treasure two dear elderly aunts who mean a great deal to me and are my connection to my mother.
If you are lucky enough to have your mother in your life, why not bake these healthy muffins for her that say “I love you and I care about your health.” Or, bake them for yourself as a self-embracing hug or salute to your own health.
These muffins feature several healthy ingredients such as almond flour and flax. And many of you ask for grain-free recipes because you have adopted a Paleo diet or simply can’t tolerate grains anymore so this muffin meets those needs. Choose versions of ingredients that suit your needs (such as grain-free baking powder) and make it your own.
One ingredient you may not be familiar with is chia, a nutrient-dense seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica. “Chia” means strength in the Mayan and Aztec cultures —probably because these seeds contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, protein , fiber, antioxidants, and calcium. You may find them in light or dark colors but either color works just fine. Plus, you don’t have to grind them first to get their nutritional benefits.
These muffins are dense and filling, rather than light and airy so don’t expect them to rise super- high. Because of their density, they also travel well so stick a few in the freezer.
Grain-Free Almond Flour, Flax, and Chia Muffins
By Carol Fenster, author of Gluten-Free 101: The Essential Beginner’s Guide to Easy Gluten-Free Cooking (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014)
Serve these hearty muffins when you want a healthy treat that fills your kitchen with a heavenly cinnamon aroma. And, you don’t have to save them for Mother’s Day; anytime is just fine. Any type of apple works well, and I prefer to leave the peel on but you can peel if you wish. These are best eaten the second day, so make them the day before and store at room temperature overnight, then refrigerate or freeze any leftovers.
1 cup apple juice
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 cup almond flour/meal
3/4 cup ground flax seeds or flaxmeal
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice
1 teaspoon guar gum
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 medium cored, grated apple
2 tablespoons raisins
 Place a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375⁰F. Generously grease a standard 12-cup non-stick (gray, not black) muffin pan or use paper liners.
 In a small bowl, soak the chia seeds in the apple juice for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
 In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the almond meal, flax, sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, xanthan gum, salt, and baking soda until well blended. With an electric mixer on low speed, beat in the apple juice-chia mixture, eggs, and vanilla until thoroughly blended. Increase the speed to medium-low and beat until the batter is slightly thickened, about 30 seconds. Gently beat in the apples and raisins. Divide the batter evenly in the muffin cups. (A 1 [½]-inch metal spring-action metal ice cream scoop helps ensure uniformly -sized muffins.)
 Bake until the muffin tops are firm and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out almost clean, about 30 to 35 minutes. If the muffins start to brown too much, lay a sheet of foil over the top. Cool the muffins in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes and then remove the muffins from the pan and cool completely on the wire rack. These are best served the next day.
Per muffin: 175 calories; 8g protein; 8g total fat; 3g fiber; 20g carbohydrates; 31mg cholesterol; 274mg sodium