Years ago, when we still had cable (and before she sadly fell out of culinary and social grace), I regularly watched Paula Deen’s show on Food Network. Although she doesn’t cook gluten-free, some of her recipes were inspirational and could be deglutenized. Now, I have to digress here and say something about Ms Deen. Even before she her attack by the media in 2013, her show on Food Network was under attack. Many, many people (even other celebrity chefs) criticized Ms. Deen’s recipes as having too much sugar, butter, and cream. I always mentally defended her when I read such criticisms, on the grounds that she’s a chef, not a nutritionist and an entertainer, not a doctor. Moreover, these three ingredients make everything taste better. Who doesn’t want to use them liberally in recipes? Personally, I enjoyed the gusto with which Paula Deen added sugar to the vanilla milkshake she made on one episode (I believe it was a truck stop food episode?). In today’s food-shaming culture, such action in the kitchen is nothing short of courageous! Regardless of what people think about the type of food Ms. Deen creates or the ingredients she uses, however, people have to admit that throughout her episodes she offered kitchen and food tips helpful to anyone who cooks and bakes. One such tip is (and I promise she must have given this tip about every third episode, or so it seems to my memory) to throw aging bananas into the freezer to pull out later for use in breads, muffins, or cakes. I took that tip to heart so much so that eventually I had such a large supply of frozen blackening bananas that I would have had to bake banana bread, muffins, cakes, every week for months in order to use them all. At that point I realized my supply was outstripping my demand, and simply quit buying more bananas than Phillip and I could eat in a timely manner (as runners we seem to think we need a steady supply of the potassium rich fruit). Still, sometimes I end up with bananas past their prime and I throw them in the freezer to preserve until I have time to bake them into something.
This week I baked those fading bananas into some super delicious muffins (which happen to be grain-free as well as gluten-free) using my new flour love: walnut flour. Walnut flour is available in some places online, but it’s SO expensive to buy. I don’t mind paying a high price for gluten-free flours, such as apple and mesquite flours, that I won’t or can’t make myself. Walnut flour, though, is easy to make with the right equipment. I buy walnuts, pecans, and almonds at Costco, so I get them at a relatively low price. I just can’t make myself pay the online price for walnut flour when I know walnuts are so inexpensive. I tried grinding my own walnut flour in the past, but my blender wanted to make butter from it, and my food processor’s centrifugal force kept it from grinding the nuts small enough to be used as flour. One day I was walking down the kitchen appliance aisle in a store and stopped to look at the Ninja blender. I had never really looked closely at Ninja or Vitamin blender before, and I realized that the design of the Ninja blender would be more conducive to grinding nuts into flour than the traditional blender I’ve always used. I bought the blender (my blog is not monetized, so I receive nothing for mentioning products – I just like to share with people what works). I immediately tried it to make walnut flour. It works! When I grind walnuts, I grind more than I need at the time so that I can store the extra in a sealed container in the refrigerator. That way I don’t have to grind walnuts every time I want to use walnut flour in something.
Walnuts have a wonderfully rich flavor and texture. The nut is often used as a meat substitute by people who follow vegetarian and vegan diets, and figures prominently in traditional Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking as well. Additionally, the nut is versatile; it works well in both savory and sweet dishes. Walnuts are quite filling, too, so a couple of muffins made with walnut flour can carry a person right up to lunch time. Of course, I’m not one to shy away from sugar and butter in my cooking, so this banana muffin recipe has other ingredients that help to keep one’s tastebuds joyful and her tummy full for quite a while. It’s all good, though. Eating one of these filling muffins for breakfast or lunch will discourage snacking in between meals!
*Two cups of commercial gluten-free all purpose flour can be substituted for the flours used in this recipe.
- 100g walnut flour
- 100g cassava flour
- 50g arrowroot flour
- ½ cup organic pure cane sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup puréed banana
- 6 tablespoons melted butter
- 2 teaspoons Ceylon cinnamon
- ½ cup brown or grated piloncillo sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Mix the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the banana purée to the dry ingredients and mix well. The mixture will be thick and lumpy. Add the beaten eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the melted butter to the batter, mixing until the butter has blended completely into the batter. Line the cups of a 12 up muffin tin with parchment paper cupcake liners. Divide the muffin batter evenly among the muffin cups. Mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle the mixture evenly over the batter in the muffin cups. Bake the muffins at 350F for about twenty minutes, or unit they start to turn golden brown. Remove the muffins from the oven and let them cool in the pan for 5 - 10 minutes. Remove the muffins from the tin to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Enjoy!