Since moving to London earlier this year I have found that I have access to so many new ingredients! My kitchen has bravely ventured into previously unchartered culinary waters, from ‘classics’ like a black pudding fry up and Toad in the Hole to cooking gorgeous local fish and Singapore style chilli crab (ok, that last one wasn’t me – I’m still a shellfish novice).
I have a couple of great independent health food stores near me in North London and love browsing for inspiration. Today I made these delicious muffins:
I am not the best with recipes when I bake. I know it’s risky, but I always seem to use a little less sugar, or flour, or add things. So this recipe was loosely appropriated from the Millet Muffin recipe from Passionate Homemaking. I started by leaving some organic millet flakes to soak overnight, out of the fridge in buttermilk, because I am exploring the benefits of soaking grains to improve their digestibility (you can read more about this here).
This morning I realised I should have also added the flour to the soaking mixture so I added wholemeal wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and about 1/3 cup honey with 1/3 cup sunflower oil. I also added a little soy milk to help the mix stay moist. Then I covered with my tea towel and left it soaking out of the fridge for around 5 hours. Possible not enough time for the “anti-nutrients” (I still have a bit of trouble with that word) to be neutralised but I hope better than nothing.
Before spooning into my muffin tin I added 2 chopped bananas, a good shake of dried barberries (see below!), one beaten egg and some cinnamon. I’m happy to say I added no other sugar or sweetners and that the honey and banana have done the job beautifully.
Of course it’s always great to tuck into fresh home-made muffins, but I also get very excited about the health benefits of these ingredients. Millet is a wonderful gluten-free wholegrain that is high in B vitamins, magnesium and protein. It is a great source of nutrients and fibre. Barberries are not available at home in Australia (as far as I’m aware..) so I am thrilled to get to experiment with them here in London.
The berries are the fruit of the herb Berberis vulgaris, and have a range of medicinal actions focusing on the digestive system. They contain plant chemicals which are anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and regenerating to the lining of the gut, as well as being immune boosting. They have a tart, almost sour flavour which offsets the sweet banana very well. It could be because they are a great digestive stimulant, but I think I need to eat another muffin..