(NaturalNews) If you are reading this article than you are probably one of a growing number of health conscious consumers, or are learning to be. And as most health conscious folks know, it can be hard to find quick, tasty snacks when you're craving something that's not a fruit or a vegetable (wonderful as they are). So what could be better than an easy recipe for healthy, grain-free muffins that have the taste and texture of `real` muffins and that you can make in about 20 minutes from the initial `whir` of the grinder to that first warm, gooey, chocolaty bite? These make perfect little treats to take to holiday gatherings without any concern of adding to the waistline.
Mini Minty Chocolate Chunk Muffins
2 tbs of whole organic flaxseed, ground 3 tbs organic almond meal 1 tbs organic cocoa powder 1/4 c xylitol 1/2 tsp aluminum-free baking powder 1/4 tsp sea salt 1 square unsweetened bakers chocolate, melted 1 free-range egg 2 tbs strongly brewed organic coffee 1 tbs cold pressed olive oil (or similar, e.g. high-oleic sunflower/safflower oil) 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 1 dropper full stevia liquid 1 ounce dark (70% cocoa or greater) mint chocolate
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease mini muffin tins.
Grind whole flaxseeds in a coffee grinder and combine in a medium bowl with almond meal, cocoa powder, xylitol, baking powder, and salt. Over low heat begin to melt the square of bakers chocolate, careful to heat it as little as possible. While bakers chocolate melts, chop mint chocolate into small chunks. In a small bowl combine the egg, oil, liquid stevia, coffee, and vanilla. Combine wet and dry ingredients together in the larger bowl. Adding the coffee still warm is ideal, as your next step is to add the melted bakers chocolate, and the warmth from the coffee will help to keep the chocolate from trying to solidify again. Add chopped mint chocolate, and fill mini muffin tins halfway full for 16 mini muffins or completely full to yield 12 mini muffins. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.
Chocolate has been around for hundreds of years, but only within the last 150 years or so have we begun to eat it. For most of its existence chocolate was a frothy, spicy beverage and an expensive one at that. Ancient Mayans also used it in religious ceremonies and as currency (1).
More recently, chocolate has become the subject of constant research into its health effects and one recent study indicated that regular consumption of cocoa powder reduced LDL, increased HDL, and suppressed oxidation of LDL as well (2). Another study showed that ingestion of dark chocolate, whether in solid or liquid form, improves endothelial function and reduces blood pressure in overweight adults (3). Yet another study showed that dark chocolate reduces blood pressure and improves insulin sensitivity in healthy adults (4).
Chocolate also has beneficial effects on brain chemistry increasing endorphin production and serotonin production (5). This is the part of chocolate consumption that makes us feel so happy (and usually want more). Because of the effects chocolate has on the brain, it can help to ease stress and relieve mild depression. Just be aware that chocolate with a higher sugar content will reduce or negate its health benefits. So go for the chocolate bars that are 70% cocoa or higher, or stick with cocoa powder and use safe, natural sweeteners to make its consumption pleasurable. Your heart and your waistline will both thank you.
Megan Rostollan is a Certified Family Herbalist and works with her husband David, a private natural health and nutrition consultant (www.reforminghealth.com). She is also the author of a blog which can be found at NaturalHousewifery.com. Her areas of greatest interest include women's reproductive and prenatal health, as well as organic and green living and dietary and lifestyle changes.