Cheesy Oat Muffins

Cheesy Oat Muffins

These delicious muffins have protein, calcium, fibre and are delicious served warm with butter or dipped into winter soup.

Sometimes with autism, the most reliable *safe* food is beige. These healthy muffins meet that criteria while having a whole lot of added nutrients; if you use egg replacer than the mixture is also safe to eat raw (sometimes kids like the sensory experience of batter better than baked goods).

Ingredients

Allergies: soy free, egg free*, nut free.

Directions

  1. Start the oven pre-heating to 180’C / 350’F and grease the muffin pans.
  2. Whisk the eggs, milk, and oil.
  3. Add the salt, sugar, and oats.
    • Tip: If you prefer a fine texture to your baking, use an electric hand beater to combine. This will help to break the oats into a finer texture (without demolishing them into oat flour).
  4. Add the wheat bran, wheat germ and cheese. Sift in the flour and baking powder. Mix well to combine.
  5. Spoon the muffin mix into the greased muffin trays and pop into the pre-heated oven.
  6. Bake for 25-35 mins until the muffins are cooked through (test with a knife or skewer to see that it comes out clean).
  7. Allow muffins to cool on a wire rack.

These are brilliant served warm with butter and are still lovely for breakfast in the morning. Consider freezing leftovers to heat up as needed.

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Caramel Crunch Cookies

Caramel Crunch Cookies

These delicious crunchy cookies are also a great opportunity to discuss science in the kitchen! STEM discussion points follow after the recipe ūüôā

Ingredients

  • 125 butter
  • 1/2 brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup or golden syrup
  • 1 Tbsp milk
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Allergies: soy free, egg free, nut free.

Directions

  1. Start the oven preheating to 180’C / 350’F.
  2. Have a grown up mix the butter, sugar, maple syrup, and milk in a pot. Heat until the butter is melted and the mixture is almost boiling – you’ll be able to see the surface tension change as it begins to think about bubbling. Make sure that you stir constantly so that it doesn’t stick or burn.
  3. Remove from heat and allow the caramel to cool to lukewarm.
  4. Sift the flour and baking soda into the pot and mix into the caramel.
  5. Stir well and it will turn into a caramel coloured cookie dough.
  6. Roll the cookie dough into balls and flatten on a baking tray (either greased or lined with baking paper).
  7. Bake for 10-15 mins or until golden brown.

Science in the Kitchen (STEM)

  1. Gravity & Weight: When you’re using kitchen scales to measure out the butter, take a few moments to talk about why things have weight and why we weigh them. That butter would weigh about 20g on the Moon and about 315g on Jupiter.
  2. Solids, Liquids, Gas: It’s a good idea to have a grown up do the stirring with the caramel mixture as it gets very hot; keep young helpers interested by helping them to safely view the way the ingredients change. Ask them if the butter and sugar going into the pot are liquids or solids (the latter); then show them what happens when heat is applied (becomes liquid); as the mixture cools and is combined with the flour it’s state changes again (solid).
  3. Gassy Bubbles: Ask young helpers what’s different about the ingredients in this recipe. The answer is that it uses baking soda rather than baking soda. The baking soda causes small carbon dioxide gas bubbles in the cookie mix causing it to rise when it goes into the hot oven. Tip: Get the cookies in the oven quickly as the longer the mix is left at room temperature, the less the cookies will rise.
  4. Sweet Surprise: A great way to see baking soda in action is to make a candy version of these cookies. Have a go at making Hokey Pokey!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Chocolate Peanut Butter breakfast cookies


These are more of a crisp or crunchy cookie that can be eaten on the run or dipped in yoghurt as a breakfast cookie; or topped with a thin layer of Nutella for the lunchbox. They are comparatively low in sugar with good amounts of fat, fibre, and protein. For a soft and chewy version, try these vegan Peanut Butter Cookies.


I note that the peanut butter used contains only two ingredients: peanuts + salt. It’s also easy to make peanut butter at home as an alternative to commercial brands containing sugar, molasses, and hydrogenated oils.

Ingredients

  • 2c flour
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup fine oats (i.e.¬†Milk Oaties¬†or¬†Instant Porridge)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Weetbix
  • 3 Tbsp Dutch Cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup milk (or rice milk)

Allergies: soy free, dairy free*.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180’C / 360’F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. I prefer to add all the dry ingredients, and then in mix in the wet ingredients.
  3. Knead everything together. It will gradually turn to a soft cookie dough. 
  4. Roll the dough into small balls and lightly flatten (with a fork or fingers).
  5. Place cookies on a baking sheet / lightly oiled baking tray.
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until cookies begin to brown.

Peanut Butter Cookies (Vegan)

Peanut Butter Cookies (Vegan)

Peanut Butter Cookies (Vegan). Free from dairy, egg, and soy.

These are a soft chewy peanut butter cookie with a hint of chocolate that went down very well with an audience of young taste testers. They are comparatively low in sugar with good amounts of fat, fibre, and protein. For a crunchier cookie try these Chocolate Peanut Butter breakfast cookies.

I note that the peanut butter used contains only two ingredients: peanuts + salt. It’s also easy to make peanut butter at home as an alternative to commercial brands containing sugar, molasses, and hydrogenated oils.

Ingredients

  • 2c flour
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup fine oats (i.e. Milk Oaties or Instant Porridge)
  • 2 Tbsp Dutch Cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp Orgran egg replacer + 4 Tbsp water
    • OR: 2 flax eggs
    • OR: 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • approx. 100g apple puree
    • TIP: baby food pouches or tins are an easy way of adding fruit puree to baking recipes.

Allergies: soy free, dairy free, egg free.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180’C / 360’F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. I prefer to add all the dry ingredients, and then in mix in the wet ingredients.
  3. Knead everything together. It will gradually turn to a soft cookie dough. 
  4. Roll the dough into small balls and lightly flatten (with a fork or fingers).
  5. Place cookies on a baking sheet / lightly oiled baking tray.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cookies begin to brown.

Summer Baking: Apple & Zucchini Muffins

Summer baking: Apple & Zucchini Muffins

Apple & Zucchini Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup apple (peeled, grated)
  • 1 cup zucchini / courgette¬† (peeled, grated)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (soft) or 1/2 cup Nutellex
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup.
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ

Allergies: soy free, dairy free, egg free*.

Note: Consider mixing this up by doing a 1/2 cup apple and 1/2 cup diced peaches.

Tip: Leaving the skin on the zucchini is fine but feel free to peel it if you don’t want any green specks in the muffins.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180’C / 360’F.
  2. In a food processor, blend the apple, zucchini, vanilla, eggs, maple syrup and coconut oil until smooth. (If you prefer a rougher texture then mixing in a bowl is fine).
  3. Mix in the flour, baking powder, brown sugar, almond meal, and wheat germ.
  4. Spoon mixture into muffin tins.
  5. Bake for 25-30 mins (or until a toothpick comes out cleanly).

Black Forest Slice (GF, DF, SF, EF)

Black Forest Slice (GF, DF, SF, EF)

Black Forest Slice (GF, DF, SF, EF)

This delicious slice is full of goodness from almonds, brazil nuts, and cashew nuts. It can be served as a dessert or be frozen and added to school lunches. I wish I’d found such an easy way to make allergy free chocolate earlier!

As an autism and allergy mum, this is also a great way to add some important trace minerals to a restricted diet. It deliberately has quite a smooth texture (which is why I have opted for coconut flour over dessicated coconut).

NOTE: This is a small batch perfect for an 18x15cm pyrex dish; feel free to double the recipe for a larger quantity.

Ingredients

BASE

MIDDLE

TOP

  • 4 Tbsp dutch cocoa
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp maple syrup

Allergies: gluten free, soy free, dairy free, egg free, peanut free. Contains tree nuts.

Directions

  1. Line a pyrex dish with baking paper with overhanging sides so that you can lift it out easily. (This works better than greasing for slicing and freezing).
  2. Place the base ingredients into a food processor. Blend until well combined and sticking together. Press into the prepared dish and place in the fridge.
  3. Wash the food processor and then use it to blend the middle ingredients until smooth.
  4. Pour the fruit mix over the base and then place in the freezer for 30 minutes to set.
  5. Place the ingredients for the top into a bowl and blend until smooth.
  6. Spread the chocolate mix over the frozen middle layer and return to the freezer for another 20 minutes to set.
  7. Remove the slice from the freezer. Lift out the baking paper and slice into small serves. Enjoy delicious goodness!

Tip: The chocolate will soften easily in summer temperatures so this is best stored in the fridge or freezer. For school lunch boxes, place it in frozen.

Apple Nut Muffins

Apple Nut Muffins

Apple Nut Muffins

These sweet treats are high in natural goodness and fruit fibres, do not contain refined sugar, and contain valuable trace minerals from the almond, brazil, and cashew nut butter.

There are a few different ways that you can make this recipe and I have endeavoured to include options without over-cluttering. Keep in mind when subbing ingredients whether it will impact the recipe overall; i.e. coconut oil or butter will solidify in cold temperatures and hold a gluten free version together better than rice bran oil; using almond meal rather than flour will give a substantially different texture. Similarly, you can create a different texture by mashing the banana by hand + grating the apple; (for our family a smooth texture is imperative for sensory reasons).

For three energetic young taste testers, I made these containing gluten but free from soy, dairy, and egg. Feel free to adapt the recipe so that it works for you and your family.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour + 30g fine instant oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 ripe bananas (= 150g frozen sliced banana)
  • 2 apples peeled and quartered (= 350g intact apples)
  • 1/4 cup Almond Brazil Cashew nut butter (or almond butter).
  • 2 tsp Orgran egg replacer + 4 Tbsp water
    • OR: 2 flax eggs
    • OR: 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil (melted)
    • OR: 2 Tbsp rice bran oil
    • OR: 2 Tbsp butter (soft)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Optional: 1 tsp cinnamon

Allergies: This recipe can be made gluten free, soy free, dairy free, egg free, peanut free. Contains tree nuts.

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180’C / 350’F. Grease a muffin tray or cupcake liners.
  2. In a food processor, blend the banana and apple until smooth. (If you prefer a rougher texture, grate the apple instead and mix in at the end).
  3. Add the egg replacer (or eggs), coconut oil, ABC nut butter, and maple syrup. Pulse to combine.
  4. Add the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon (if using), and apple cider vinegar. Gently pulse to combine.
  5. Spoon your batter into the muffin trays and place in preheated oven.
  6. Cook for about 35 minutes. Check after 25 minutes (you may want to add tinfoil as a cover for the remainder).
  7. Take out of the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Easy Breakfast Muffins

Breakfast Brunch Muffin

Breakfast Brunch Muffin

I made mine in the Kmart Pie Maker but you could also make these in greased metal muffin tins and bake in the oven. Also, although these ones are ham and cheese based you can easily adapt them to use up last night’s leftovers – chicken & roast pumpkin, lamb & feta, etc.

Breakfast Brunch Muffin

Ingredients

  • BASE RECIPE:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds (or ground linseed, or LSA)
  • 1/4c wheat germ (for protein and fibre)
  • 3 eggs (whisked)
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar or a squeeze of lemon (the acid helps activate the baking powder for the fast cook in the pie maker),
  • YUMMY EXTRAS:
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley from the garden
  • 1 finely chopped ripe tomato
  • 50g finely chopped ham
  • Large handful of grated cheese (about 1/2 cup)
  • Last of the frozen corn (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup milk

Allergies: soy free, nut free.

TIP: Since cooked tomato is rather moist, I would use garden tomatoes for immediate eating and finely diced sundried tomatoes for school lunches.

Directions

  • In a mixing bowl: combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, chia seeds, wheat germ.
  • Make a well in the dry ingredients and add: eggs, parsley, tomato, ham, cheese, corn. Mix.
  • Slowly add a small amount of milk to make a smooth, thick batter. Add the apple cider vinegar or lemon juice last and give a final mix.
  • Bake in Kmart Pie Maker for 8 minutes. Makes 3 batches (12 muffins). Alternatively, bake in oven at 375’F / 180’C for about 20-25 mins (or until skewer comes out clean).

Gluten Free American-style jam donuts

I finally made the leap and purchased an NZD$29 Kmart Pie Maker. They are quite the internet phenomenon in part because they can be used for so many things other than pies. We decided to celebrate the purchase with family by making coealiac friendly american style donuts! They are delicious!

Allergy friendly jam donuts

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup Healtheries Gluten Free Bread Mix
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 3 tsp Baking Powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • (Pinch salt)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup rice milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 30g Nuttelex or 1/4 to 1/2 cup rice bran oil
  • Squeeze of lemon (or 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar).
  • Filling: jam, or maple syrup, or honey.

Allergies: gluten free, dairy free, soy free, nut free

Note: Although I made 12 in the pie maker (3 rounds) you could bake them in the oven in muffin trays instead. You’d probably want 375’F / 180’C for 20-25 mins.

Directions

  1. Mix the dry ingredients.
  2. Make a well in the middle. Add milk, vanilla, eggs, rice bran oil, lemon juice. Mix well.
  3. Allow mix to stand for a few minutes (the gluten free flours will thicken)
  4. 3/4 fill each space in the pie maker. Put a teaspoon of jam in the middle. Put a little more mix over the top.
  5. Cook for 8 minutes. Remove and place on cooling rack. Put the next batch on to cook. (Makes 12 donuts) .

How do I make my bread light and fluffy?

Musings on baking bread

Musings on baking bread

I’ve written previously about ‘Everything you wanted to know about baking bread‘ and it occurred to me today that it’s a little more process driven than ingredient focused. My journey making bread began because my daughter’s allergies precluded me buying bread (unless I wanted to pay $10 a loaf!). For a long time, I was making all our bread by hand which I found restrictive and time consuming (combined with the level of special needs care she required). I later moved, very happily so, to a Panasonic Bread Maker. That allowed me a little more time to experiment with ingredients and research.

I gave serious contemplation to buying a sourdough starter (sourdough is much easier to digest than commercial bread) but my daughter doesn’t like the tangy taste. I researched ways to make the bread I was feeding my daughter more nutritious. I also made myself more aware of the chemistry involved and how different ingredients impact hydration ratios and rising.

Supermarket bread is essentially refined white flour (so basic starch) with a token amount of other ingredients potentially added; Julian Lee wrote an excellent article in 2018 revealing commercial bread-making processes in New Zealand. At home, you can start with high grade (or strong) white flour but add extra nutrition into the mix.

Whole Wheat

If you can afford to buy stone-ground whole wheat flour then you can make some pretty fine bread. If you’re shopping at the supermarket then it’s sufficient to be aware that the wheat kernel is made up of¬†bran (fiber), the germ (protein and nutrition), and the endosperm (a starchy tissue). You can probably guess which part white flour is made from!

At the supermarket you can buy strong white flour and also buy bags of wheat bran and wheat germ. Not only do these have different nutritional profiles but these also have different impacts on the properties of your bread. Wheat bran has a drying quality and may require additional hydration. Wheat germ will naturally make your bread moister and fluffier.

Keep in mind that you don’t need to make a loaf entirely of white flour. When baking, I usually have 70-80% of my ‘flour’ made up of white flour and then use a range of dry ingredients to make up the weight. This equates to 350-400g of white flour and 50-100g of other flours and seeds.

Wholemeal Spelt Flour

Wholemeal spelt flour has a high nutritional profile and is easier to digest. It also has less gluten so will produce a denser loaf and may require guar gum to help it bind.

Wholegrain Kamut Flour

Like spelt, kamut flour is lower in gluten and easier to digest. It’s a brand name for khorasan wheat and is an older variety of wheat. There have been small studies performed which suggest that kamut flour has health benefits (over standard flour) and may help to reduce certain inflammation markers. It’s important to remember that one of it’s other benefits is that it is an organic wholegrain flour (as opposed to highly refined bleached white flour).

Ground Linseed – Sunflower – Almond (LSA)

Whole seeds can make a loaf dense and the texture doesn’t appeal to everyone. It’s not necessary to pour heaps of whole seeds into your bread dough. You can add plenty of protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids just by adding 2 Tablespoons of ground seeds to your bread dough.

Popular powerhouses of nutrition include linseed (flaxseed), sunflower seeds, almonds, and chia seeds. Quinoa is another but I found even small amounts of quinoa flour to have a noticeable taste in the bread.

You might like to rotate different seeds in order to vary your nutritional profile. The cheapest and easiest option is to alternate between ground LSA and ground chia seeds.

Gluten Free Grains

One of my favourite ways of making multi-grain bread is to use Red Mill Gluten Free Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal. If you’re picturing a cereal box with some puzzlement, it’s actually a mix of¬†freshly milled whole grain brown rice, corn, buckwheat and sorghum. It’s a handy way of adding a broader nutritional profile to the loaf and is so finely milled that it doesn’t overwhelm the loaf. It’s weight-dense so you only need a small amount; it still produces a fluffy loaf and is incorporated into the texture without being obtrusive.