Sunday 15 December 2019

School Sprint: Smuggling in one of their five a day

You know you're a mum, says Susan Jane White, when you fist-pump the air after you've smuggled at least one of your nipper's five-a-day into their granola or cupcakes

Susan Jane White
Susan Jane White

You know you're a mum when . . . you spend the morning looking for the other shoe; the laundry is on its fourth wash because you forgot to take it out and dry it; you find rice cakes in your bra; and instead of running away from projectile vomit, you run towards it.

These are just some of the answers I got on Twitter. My favourite? You know you're a mum when you start hiding vegetables in cupcakes.

Below is my latest human experiment - courgette cupcakes. They are alarmingly tasty and pillowy. My little lads are treating them like logs to a sawmill.

It's not always easy to bake without gluten. Standard flour contains gluten, which is a helpful protein structure. This helps bread to rise and become spectacularly fluffy. Many gluten-free breads end up being dense in the absence of gluten. That's okay too, but not always desirable.

I find brown rice flour the easiest to tame into well-behaved muffins and doughnuts, but a total imposter for bread and pancakes. What's the point? Brown rice flour offers your body a break from the relentless load of wheat products thrown our way. Wheat is in everything - cereal, bread, bagels, crackers, pasta, cakes, biscuits, wraps, flapjacks and even standard sauces. I bet your body would like to samba to something new, and at the same time tap into a suite of nifty nutrients.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Maybe it's time to give brown rice flour a turn. And to sneak green veggies into your morning muffin.

Licky-Sticky-Yummy School Muffins

Makes 8-12

These guys contain no nuts or eggs, which is increasingly important in classrooms, because of food allergies. By soaking chia seeds in milk, we can make a magical egg replacer, pogoing with omega-3 brain fuel. Groovy, huh?

Feel free to crank up the sweetness by using dates, but we prefer apricots for their nutritional muscle.

You will need:

Touch of lemon juice

125ml (4½fl oz) plant-based milk, such as almond milk or oat milk or hazelnut milk

45g (2oz) milled chia seeds

165g (6½oz) brown rice flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

100g (4oz) grated courgette

8-10 dried apricots, chopped

3 tablespoons honey

1 medium banana, mashed

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Fire up conventional ovens to 180°C, 350°F, Gas 4. Line a 12-hole muffin tin or fairy-cake tin.

In a large bowl, add a touch of lemon juice to your chosen plant-based milk. This will encourage it to behave like buttermilk and give awesome baking results. I use hazelnut milk, but you could also use regular cow's milk.

Next, soak the milled chia seeds in the milk and lemon juice mixture, essentially making an egg replacer. In a separate bowl, sieve the brown rice flour with the baking powder and the ground cinnamon. Tumble in the grated courgette and the chopped dried apricots. Set aside.

Return to the first bowl of ingredients. The chia and milk mixture should be thicker now. Stir through the honey, the mashed banana and the extra-virgin olive oil, and pour this bowl of wet ingredients into the flour and courgette mixture in the other bowl. Mix rigorously.

Spoon the dough into the pre-lined moulds and bake for 30 minutes for little fairy cakes, or longer for muffins, as they are larger (40-45 minutes). I get 8-10 muffins out of this mixture, or 12 fairy cakes.

Remove the muffins or fairy cakes from the oven once cooked, and let them cool on a wire rack - preferably out of sight, so you can't scald your tonsils.

Twitter: @SusanJaneHealth

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