Quinoa Muffins with Pecans

High protein quinoa flakes make this gluten-free muffin yum.

Not since my Quinoa Breakfast Cake recipe have I enjoyed a morning treat more. I am seriously digging these cute little quinoa beauties. I started out imagining a quinoa breakfast bar, an easy to-go treat that might fuel my morning walks on the beach (I've been walking three miles almost every day- which is a minor miracle, for those of you who remember the trippy Richard Gere incident). I wrote up a recipe I thought might create a higher protein snacking bar I could munch with my mug of Irish Breakfast Tea as I browse, bleary-eyed and yawning through the morning chirps over at Twitter.

But it became apparent rather quickly this batter was born to be muffins. I could just tell. It had that perfect stretchy je ne sais quoi that I knew deep down in my private tiny girl heart would urge the dark chocolate studded dollops of earthy quinoa goodness to rise into tender golden domes like champs.

So I followed my intuition and switched gears and veered into Muffin Land.

And speaking of domes and Muffin Land...

My intrepid husband has been enjoying plenty of eye candy out here in sunny Hell A, let me tell you. It's a crazy and diverse people watching paradise. And if I am totally honest, I am, perhaps, a wee bit in awe. I've never seen so many adults (and children) out in the fresh air- biking, walking, jogging, kayaking, surfing (well, to be fair, surfing would be difficult in Abiquiu, New Mexico). And skating. Skating is big.

There is so much activity.

It's a visual buffet of high energy and fitness. Quite impressive. And inspiring. Women older than me jogging past me on the ocean front walking paths and on Santa Monica Beach. And smiling!

You always hear all the snarky remarks about crazy LA LA Land but the prevailing mood here in Santa Monica is light and friendly. Even the dogs are laid back (and well behaved). They know it's cool to chill. They're just diggin' the ocean air and eucalyptus breeze with the rest of us. People in the neighborhood actually say, Good morning to you. My favorite ambulators are the early risers in their rumpled PJ's, walking their pups and yawning into cell phones. The other night I saw a forty-something woman dancing to her iPod tunes in the Palisades Park rose garden at twilight. She was boogieing down in the dreamy glow, smelling a cluster of pink roses while she shook her booty.

But I digress.

Back to eye candy. Steve got an eyeful this week. He brushed by- on separate occasions- two of his all-time top ten favorite actresses. Lest I be considered indiscreet, I won't name names. But I'll give you a clue or two. Both are past forty. One is actually 50. The forty-two year old thespian is a classic California beauty who shopped for groceries without a dab of make-up, her flaxen hair swept back in a simple pony tail. She was slim and elegant in a pair of jeans, her crow's feet only making her untouched face even more stunning.

The second encounter was a little sad. Not because she wasn't as arresting and gracious in person as you might expect. She was always drop dead gorgeous and still is. But faintly sad because she has obviously surrendered to industry pressure to try to look younger than thirty-five. Her lips were inflated, her cheeks contoured. Her once perfect ballet figure now top heavy with implants. Although someone is obviously telling her she looks fabulous for her age, her devotion to surgery has an aura of sadness about it that counters the plumped and youthful sheen she is chasing.

Growing older gracefully is an endangered art.

I've been thinking a lot about aging (healing a broken hip will do that) and walking that delicate line between staying vital, engaged and sexy- and going too far, veering into that tricky Neverland territory that oozes insecurity and quiet desperation. Clinging to the past by trying to recreate it is not an attractive quality. But neither is giving up. Like John Mellencamp sang,

Just because I'm middle-aged
that don't mean
I wanna sit around my house and watch TV

Or wear muumuus and watch my thighs and waistline thicken. I may be aging but I'm not done yet. There is too much I want to do. I'm still curious. I still want to learn. Curiosity is sexy, right? Nora Ephron claims hair dye was a game changer. I guess she's right. You don't see as much gray hair as you used to. There are natural-looking options now. We can highlight, we can dye, or we can henna. We can streak. We don't have to go quietly into that good Grannyhood. We can pluck those chin hairs. We can eat our veggies and moisturize with coconut oil and keep fit.

Fit is sexy- at any age.

But Nora is also right that a good dye job still doesn't hide our crepey necks. Come to think of it, you don't see many crepey necks here in Santa Monica. Oh well. Whatever their neck secret is, I'm sure mine is less painful. And cheaper.

It's called a scarf.

And just think of the money I'm saving. Money for art books and movies and Jungian lectures. Road trips. New camera lenses. Paint and canvas.

Just like love, sexy is as sexy does.



Not much to look at. But kind to your taste buds- and tummy.

Quinoa Breakfast Muffins Recipe with Pecans and Dark Chocolate Chips


The pecans add a delicious toasty-nutty crunch to this delicious muffin, but you can change the pecans for nuts you prefer, or forgo the nuts completely, if you must. As for the bits of dark chocolate, try them before you automatically substitute them- they add a melty, rich contrast to the tender grainy quinoa. And after all, dark chocolate has those nifty antioxidants we hear so much about. Why not indulge?

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line twelve muffin cups with parchment liners.


Ingredients:

In a bowl whisk together the dry ingredients:

1 cup Ancient Harvest Quinoa Flakes
1/2 cup sorghum flour or brown rice flour
1/2 organic GF buckwheat flour
1/4 cup GF millet flour
1/4 cup potato starch (not flour!) or tapioca starch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/4 teaspoons xanthan gum
1-2 teaspoons organic ground cinnamon, to taste

In a mixing bowl, beat together until smooth:

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon light olive oil
3/4 cup organic light brown sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon vanilla extract
1/2 to 3/4 cup rice milk, as needed (start with 1/2 cup)
1/4 teaspoon light tasting mild vinegar
1 tablespoon Ener-G Egg Replacer whisked with 1/4 cup warm water (or 2 large eggs)

Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and beat to combine. Add a little more rice milk, as needed (I ended up using 3/4 cup) to make a thick but smooth muffin batter.

Add in by hand:

1/2 cup chopped pecans (may omit for nut-free)
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips



Instructions:

Stir the batter to distribute the pecans and chocolate. Drop the batter by spoonfuls into twelve prepared muffin cups.

Bake in the center of a preheated oven until golden and firm- about 18 to 20 minutes, depending upon your oven and altitude.

Remove muffins from the pan when they are cool enough to handle- cool on a wire rack to prevent soggy bottoms.

Serves 12.

Wrap in foil and freeze for easy on-the-go breakfast bites. Especially good before a brisk walk by the beach or in the park.

You need fuel to boogie.

Recipe Source: glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com

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