I heard about chia seeds a long time ago but all I could think of were chia pets (yes, that dates me a bit!) and they didn’t really appeal. The trouble was, I did feel I should try them because they are so good for you. Chia seeds are very low calorie and incredibly high in fibre and nutrients. They also contain Omega 3 fatty acids and protein. Still, even though they were available locally, I kept finding reasons not to try them.
Then one day I walked into my favourite local bakery, Bon Appétit in Pangbourne. My family and I love so many of their artisanal breads, especially the spelt and honey. Bon Appétit had just begun to offer a chia loaf and one of the co-owners encouraged me to give it a try. She reassured me that the tiny seeds gave the bread a lovely sweet taste and so I decided to take the plunge.
Ever since then, I’ve bought a loaf of chia bread nearly every week. It is delightfully light and delicately sweet – but not so sweet that you can’t use it for your favourite sandwiches. Still, even after I bought a box of chia seeds to add to my cooking and baking, I couldn’t bring myself to try using them. They languished in the cupboard for ages.
Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I took the plunge…and now I’m obsessed. These nutritious little seeds add such a great flavour and texture to baked goods! And although I’m a fan of poppy seeds, chia seeds have the appealing look of poppy seeds but without the strong flavour. They are perfect for kids and fussier eaters.
One of the first recipes I worked on was an adaptation of my late Mom’s Blueberry Muffins. After a bit of experimentation, the recipe became Blueberry Chia Muffins with Lemon and Ginger. Despite the name of the muffins, the blueberries are still very much the star of the show. The chia, lemon and ginger are just delicate flavours in the background. However like so many things that don’t necessarily have the starring role, these seemingly secondary ingredients are vital to the wonderful flavour of what is rapidly becoming my new favourite muffin.
One of the best things about my Blueberry Chia Muffins with Lemon and Ginger is that you can use either fresh or frozen blueberries. You don’t even have to thaw the frozen berries. This means that you can enjoy muffins that taste of summer all year round!
The trick with both fresh and frozen berries is to combine them with the flour mixture before you mix the wet and dry ingredients together. Not only does this prevent the blueberries from sticking or sinking, it also helps stop ‘bleeding’ (you know, when blueberry muffins end up a light shade of purple all the way through).
The streusel topping on my Blueberry Chia Muffins with Lemon and Ginger really does make them extra special but they are still low enough in sugar to be reasonably healthy. And with the addition of the chia seeds and the antioxidants in the blueberries you can enjoy these treats guilt free, knowing that your tasty, portable breakfast is pretty good for you too!
- For the streusel:
- 2 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
- 3 tablespoons all purpose (plain) flour
- 2 tablespoons Demerera (turbinado) sugar
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- 3 tablespoons rolled oats
- For the muffins:
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup milk
- 1½ cups all purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 generous tablespoon chia seeds
- grated rind of 1 lemon
- 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (if frozen do not thaw)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (170°C or 160°C for fan ovens).
- Grease and flour a 12 cup muffin pan or line with paper liners.
- Make the streusel:
- Cut the cold butter and the flour together using a pastry blender or two dinner knives.
- When the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, stir in the Demerera sugar, ginger and oats.
- Set aside.
- Make the muffin batter:
- Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl.
- Beat in the egg.
- Add the vanilla and milk and mix thoroughly.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, ginger and salt.
- Add the chia seeds and the lemon rind and stir together.
- Toss in the blueberries and stir gently so that they are lightly covered with the flour mixture.
- Add the flour and blueberry mixture to the wet ingredients all at once, stirring gently just to mix. You don't want any dry clumps, but the batter will be a bit lumpy. Don't stir too enthusiastically or you will have batter that is purplish blue all the way through. (Not a disaster but it looks better if it's not!)
- Spoon the batter carefully into 11 to 12 large muffin cups. (I like to use an ice cream scoop to do this.)
- Sprinkle each muffin with the streusel mixture.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the muffin tops spring back when touched gently and a skewer inserted into a muffin comes out virtually clean.
- When cooked, remove the muffins from the pan and cool on a wire rack.
- These are delicious warm from the oven but do allow them to cool slightly first to avoid being burned by the molten hot blueberries fresh from the oven!
- The muffins will keep for 2 to 3 days at room temperature in a sealed container. If you want them to keep longer - or if it is very hot where you are - store them in the fridge. Just remember to bring them back to room temperature or warm gently before eating.
If you enjoyed this recipe you may also like My Mom’s Jam Muffins.