THESE MUFFINS ARE DELICIOUS AND I REALLY WANT TO TELL YOU ABOUT THEM BUT I HAVE SPECIAL NEWS FOR YOU AND IT JUST CAN’T WAIT.
Okay, I’ll try to keep the caps lock to a minimum, but I’m telling you it’s gonna be hard.
I’m going to Italy. ITALY! (I’m sorry. I just couldn’t stand to see Italy not in caps.)
Yes, this summer I will be going to Florence–and spending what I’m sure will be two of the most memorable weeks of my life—to study the Mediterranean diet and gluten intolerance. In Italy. At the University of Florence. I am just at a total loss for words, so I’ll copy and paste the description of the program from the website.
Join University faculty and registered dietitians in Italy for a two-week immersion into the Mediterranean diet — the food and lifestyle. Learn about the ongoing research at the University of Florence on old wheat varieties and grains to address gluten intolerance and sensitivity.
As if by this point I wasn’t already drooling enough, the website goes on to add:
Visit local food markets and producers of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, wine, cheese and pasta to explore and experience the production, marketing and consumption of regional foods. Prepare foods of the Mediterranean diet and participate in discussions with researchers and practitioners engaged in studying ways to alleviate intolerance and sensitivity to gluten.
You guys. YOU GUYS. Not only will I be in Italy, but I’ll get to EAT EVERYTHING IN ITALY. You think I’m kidding. I’m so not.
Honestly, this opportunity is a dream come true. I’ve had this obsession with Italy for a while now—the culture, the language, the art, the architecture, the history, and obviously the food. Obviously.
I took French during high school, but I decided to start taking Italian in college. It has been one of the greatest decisions I’ve made, and a large thanks has to go to my aunt, who majored in Italian, for inspiring me to actually start learning the language. (Shout out: Hi, Tanta Karen (and the whole fam)! Love and miss you!)
You want to talk about a beautiful language? I could sit and listen to someone talk in Italian for HOURS. About literally anything. There’s just such a beautiful, natural lilt to it. It reminds me of iambic pentameter, and I don’t care if that makes me sound weird. Italian is like the Shakespeare of language. That’s a thing.
This trip will be my first time out of the country, and I’m a little nervous. I don’t even have a passport. I think this happens for a lot of people, but when I get nervous, crazy scenarios start running through my head. There are the bad ones like, “What if I’m ogling Italian bread or something, and the group leaves me behind, and then I can’t find them, and I have no sense of direction to get back to the hotel, and I have to sleep in the corner of a bakery for shelter overnight?” I mean, I guess that wouldn’t be too bad. But then there are scenarios that are definitely good. Like…
“What if I meet a nice Italian
boy man who can cook?!” I can imagine the conversation now:
Him: Salve! Come state? (Hello! How are you?)
Me: Sto bene! Voi siete perfetto. Mi date il cibo. (I’m good! You are perfect. Give me food.)
Anyway, I’ll be sure to spam memo2munch with pictures and stories when I get back! Let’s talk about these muffins now.
Since part of the reason I’ll be going to Italy is to study gluten intolerance, and I have friends who can’t have gluten, I figured I should give a gluten free recipe a go.
And man, are these good.
They’re made with one hundred percent corn meal. While it’s not the healthiest of whole grains, corn IS a whole grain. It sure beats white flour, friends. These muffins are more of a scone consistency because cornmeal is a heavier base than flour. They’re also studded with fresh blueberries (the grocery store was having a sale!), so you’re getting a pretty substantial meal/snack out of these!
I made these vegan by using a mashed ripe banana and blueberry soy yogurt instead of eggs. You can easily use eggs, but I find the vegan substitutes really fun to play around with! Did you know that when you mix 1 tablespoon flax meal with 2-3 tablespoons of water, it has the same binding properties as an egg?
Sometimes I feel like a mad scientist when I bake, and it’s awesome.
Okay, this post has gone on long enough. Make these muffins! I’ll be looking at google images of Florence. *sigh*
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Gluten Free Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins
Makes: 12 muffins
2 cups corn meal
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 ripe banana, mashed*
½ c. Blueberry (or plain) soy yogurt*
½ c. almond milk
3 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 tbsp. vegetable oil
1-1.5 c. fresh or frozen blueberries, not thawed
*Note: you can substitute 4 eggs for these ingredients if you wish. They will no longer be vegan.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line muffin tin with paper. (Alternately, you can just grease the muffin tin and not use paper liners.)
2. Combine corn meal, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
3. Whisk together remaining ingredients—except blueberries—in a separate bowl.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix. Fold in the blueberries. Distribute mixture evenly into muffin tins.
5. Bake for 5 minutes at 400 degrees, and then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for another 10-12 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. (The initial 5 minutes at the higher temperature helps the muffins lift and achieve a domed top.)