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.


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


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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jessy said...

these look wonderful! totally going to have to make them! i might sub in a flax "egg" for the egg replacer - now i've just gotta get some quinoa flakes & some dark chocolate chips & i'll be ready to start baking. thanks so much for the amazing recipe! muffins with dark chocolate & pecans sound heavenly!


Another beautiful recipe and post. I personally think aging gracefully is all about embracing what you have and being the best you can be in every way. There I things I know at 40 I can tell my 20 year old daughter that she just doesn't believe, she has to learn for herself through her own experience. Thanks for the food for thought!

Rach said...

These look fabulous!

I'm impressed with how much you are walking - that's great! Keep it up!

thedallasceliac said...

You never fail to impress me with what you come up with. Can't wait to try these!

Amy Green said...

I have some quinoa flakes that I need to use...these look great. It seems that I have a slew of recipes I want to make and just never get around to actually trying. Maybe this one will make it to the oven.

On the aging subject...I've recently acquired grey streaks that highlight my otherwise chestnut brown hair. My hair stylist says I can go lighter to cover the grey. I am not sure it's worth the effort. Today, I'm just enjoying my full, wonderful life as it is grey and all.

veggievixen said...

whatever works for you, do it. if you need to dye your hair to feel great, or buy a new scarf, or develop amazing new recipes...it's all great. and these muffins!!! yum.

CulinaryJen said...

Thanks for the recipe. My husband's stepmother is gluten-intolerant and has vegetarian leanings, and this looks great. His parents will be here this coming weekend, so I will make these for them!

Also, I love your posts...I always loved your cookbooks.


Crystal said...

These look great!

dreaminitvegan said...

My son saw these on your blog and seriously his mouth started to drool. hee hee

Kalyn said...

Good for you with the walking. I'm finally settled back into my house post-painting well enough that I've started exercising regularly again, but I'm not up to three miles yet. Lots to think about in this aging stuff. I'm freaking out on a regular basis watching what my dad is going through now, but then I wouldn't want to miss any part of my life either. And although I'm technically what some people would call "old" I don't feel the least bit old myself. (Well, maybe when I've worked in the garden for too long, but not most of the time!)

Barb said...

I'm on summer vacation so when I saw these muffins on your blog this morning I decided to make them right then and there. They are delicious! Quinoa is a grain I have really come to appreciate! Many of your recipes have become favorites of mine since I learned that I was gluten intolerant about a year ago, and your blog is one of my very favorites.

Bekki said...

I am preparing to head out on a week-long expedition (so it seems when allergic to so many food groups) including a two-night stay in a KOA Kabin (dangerously close to actually camping! *shudder*) My mom and I were discussing what provisions to take along, and we wanted some muffins. But what muffins to make?
I was just then clicking the tab to your blog (set to come up every Sunday) and lo and behold... awesome muffins.
I made them today. Bagged them up for the trip. One wouldn't fit. Oh, drat, I'll have to eat it. (Just like any broken, cracked, or otherwise imperfect cookies... I'm a helper, see?) Oh, my goddess. What a divine muffin. Almost a cupcake. And you say they've got protein? They're good for me? Thank you!

Passport Foodie said...

Wow. Those are getting made this weekend. A nice pot of Twinnings Everyday Organic Tea, some Jam and these.

Thank you!

Passport Foodie

Ameelia Ghareeb said...

These look great, but I'm a little on the lazy side. Instead of combining all my own flours and xanthan gum and everything, is there a flour blend I can buy "pre mixed" that would work OK? Any recommendations?

Johanna said...

These sound delicious - I recently tried a gluten free banana and coconut muffin with buckwheat and soy flours and cooked quinoa grains - so I am sold on quinoa in muffins - looking forward to trying more!

As for ageing gracefully - I found my first grey hair this year - a bit scary but also interesting - while I miss a bit of the energy and enthusiasm of my youth I do love the greater confidence and contentment that comes with ageing!

Roberta said...

Thank you for being the goddess that you are. I made these today in the New Mexico 100 degree heat and they're delicious. Not as pretty as yours, but you have a gift (also for photography and I'm sure many other things).

A Marathon is won, one step at a time. said...

What a beautifully written commentary on being a 'real' woman! Can't wait to try the muffins too!

Elaine said...

I didn't have pecans in the house, but as it's blueberry season, I did have those. I replaced the pecans with blueberries (a bit more than 1/2 cup) and they are delicious! Sure don't miss the gluten in these! Thanks so much!

Deven said...

OMG!! Made em.....delicious! Highly recommend. Moist, decadent, yum. We did blueberries and choc chips instead of pecans and choc chips. Thanks so much for your site and hard work Karina!

Bree said...

Thank you so much for this recipe! I made the muffins yesterday and they were, I think, the best muffins I have ever eaten. I like how they are dense and filling with a little bit of sweetness. So delicious. I did add a little more of the dark chips and I used real eggs. I cannot wait to make more as this batch is just about gone. Even my 2 year old son likes them.
The real test will be my sister who has celiac disease. I am sure she will love them!
Thank you so much for your blog. I do not have gluten allergies nor does anyone else in my household but I have seen what my sister has gone through and I know I feel better when I don't eat gluten. And I also want to start my son out healthy sows he grows hopefully he will continue to choose healthy options. So thank you again!

Anonymous said...

can I use brown rice flour istead of sorghum and could I use teff instead of millet four? Or could anyone else suggest which starches or flours to use as I really want to make this recipe but in the UK its hard to get hold of some flours.


Karina Allrich said...

In general, you can sub a medium weight flour with another medium weight flour; sorghum and brown rice flour are fairly equal medium weight flours. There will be a difference in taste and texture, though.

Some bakers love teff and use it in place of millet or quinoa or buckwheat flours. I have not tried this; but if you enjoy the taste of teff, it's probably worth a try.

Stop back and let us know if the subs work for you. Thanks!


Anonymous said...

in place of organic sugar - is it o.k. to use Stevia instead

Anonymous said...

These are one of my faves, and I regularly do variations/substitutions with them. 1 C cooked quinoa works great as a sub for quinoa flakes. Qunioa can be replaced with 3/4 cup rolled oats and 1/4 cup almond meal.

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