Guys…it’s finally here! No, not summer (but that’s great, too). I’m talking about strawberry season!! Yes, the fields of Ontario are bursting with delicious sweet, red flavour (yes, red is a flavour) and this girl could not be more excited. And if that wasn’t enough, they’ve been accompanied by their crumble and pie-filling partner in crime, rhubarb. I’ve honestly made like 8 crumbles featuring these fruit (and root?) besties, but today we’re going to take it somewhere a little less obvious (because I just can’t be that predictable…): muffins! Yes – today we’s baking Strawberry Rhubard Muffins – and hot dang, they are delicious.
But before we get to that I want to take a sec to discuss why these flavours seem to only explode this time of year (and why although you miss them when they’re gone, it’s actually a good thing). It’s simple: because this is when they are in season, making this the best time for your body (and taste buds) to enjoy them. This is true for all produce, and when you think about it it makes perfect sense. Local produce is fresher than produce that has travelled long distances; and fresher produce means better and more nutritious. How? Fruits and vegetables lose their optimal nutritional value as soon as they are picked. When picked, vitamins such as C, E, A, and some B vitamins begin to deteriorate and thus decrease (meaning you don’t get the benefits when you eat them). Other factors such as the exposure to air, artificial lights, and temperature changes can also contribute to the decrease in nutritional value. Thus, the longer the food sits the more it decreases in nutritional value, and the less beneficial they are to you! Now this doesn’t mean there’s no point in eating fruits and vegetables that have enjoyed a little road trip – they still provide a lot of nutrients. They just won’t be as optimally rich as when first picked. PLUS, when you buy local, you’re supporting local farmers and the planet by lessening the carbon footprint transporting produce over long distances makes. And by getting to know my local organic farmer (good old, Joe – yes, that’s actually his name), I know exactly where my food comes from; the farming practices used to grow it; and that their organic produce is truly organic and grown with some love and pride! And I swear I can taste the love in my fruits and veggies….
And hopefully you will taste the love I send to you via these amazing, seasonal muffins! They are refined sugar-free (and crazy low sugar in general if you use the xylitol), dairy-free, gluten-free and are pretty much summer in a muffin. Translation: they’re friggin’ delish.
The Natural Blonde
P.s. I’m not saying I got on first name basis with Joe so he’d slip me the odd free broccoli or bundle of chard, but I’m not saying it’s not why I did it, either…. #youdefinitelycatchorganicchardwithalittlehoney 😉
Strawberry Rhubarb Oatmeal Muffins (makes 15-18)
- 1 cup rhubarb, sliced in in ½ inch slices and then cut in half
- 1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced (ideally organic – they’re on the dirty dozen!)
- 1 egg
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
- 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup Xylitol (or more maple syrup)
- ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
- ½ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
- 2½ cups oat flour
- 1 cup rolled oats
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
In a medium bowl, mix together the xylitol (if using), oat flour, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg until yellow and creamy. Add the milk, maple syrup, vanilla, applesauce, and coconut oil. With a hand mixer on low, mix until well combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients mixing just until mixture is wet and combined, careful not to over mix. Lastly, fold in the strawberries and ruhubarb and let the batter rest for 10-15 minutes (this allows the batter to absorb the liquid in the fruit making for a better muffin so DON’T GET LAZY AND SKIP THIS STEP!). When you are letting the batter rest, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a muffin tin and fill each cavity about ¾ of the way full. Bake for about 25 minutes (or until the edges are starting to brown) then remove and let cool in the pan for about 15 minutes before serving. These are best eaten the day of but can be stored for 2 days in an airtight container. They can last longer in the fridge but they do get a little dry so better to just eat them! 😉 However since this recipe makes a lot you may want to freeze a few to enjoy when this blessed strawberry season is over….