How can it be that Easter is knocking on the door when Christmas seems like two minutes ago.
I always feeling slightly disorientated at Easter. This is because having grown up in northern hemisphere in England for the first 32 years of my life, Easter represented springtime, new beginnings, daffodils, crocuses and all the greenery coming through and a smell of freshness in the air.
New Zealand is now the place I proudly call home but being in the southern hemisphere – Easter is a sign that Autumn has well and truly begun and winter is round the corner. The nights are getting longer and the days are getting shorter, my ugg boots, cardis and jumpers are unleashed out of storage and I’m starting to think about making heart warming soups and broths instead of salads and barbies.
Easter has changed for me in another way too. It used to mean CHOCOLATE, a big Sunday Roast feast at my folks, chocolate, a long weekend off work and more chocolate. Even as an adult I got great delight in the fact that my mum always bought me a big Easter Egg or 1kg slab of Galaxy milk chocolate.
Hot Cross buns were the other thing I just couldn’t get enough of. Mmmmmm that doughy, bready, spicey, fruity goodness. The smell of hot cross buns being toasted was (and still is) one of the most delicious aromas to me, along with the waft of freshly brewed coffee and bacon. I reckon back in the day I could have held my own pretty well in a Hot cross bun face off challenge.
Back to today though and I rarely eat chocolate unless it’s 85% cocoa solids or a homemade sugar free version that I make at home. I make a point of telling my mum and hubby not to worry about getting me Easter eggs. Don’t be fooled into thinking I’m a saint – I LOVE my food. This is a choice for me – I understand life is all about balance but I honestly don’t look at an Easter egg and feel the need to dive in. If and when on the rare occasion I have a bar or few squares of normal milk chocolate I always regret it after, not because I feel guilty but because my mouth has a horrid after taste from sugar (because I’m not used to it) and I feel the need to brush my teeth because they feel all furry. When it comes to chocolate and sugar – the less you eat the less you crave.
Long gone are the massive feasts that would leave me needing to change into my stretchy slouchey pants and have a wee nap to recover from the food sweats. Instead I enjoy the Easter break by spending quality time with my family and friends and doing some experi-baking of homemade clean and healthy Easter treats that fit our health and food philosophies.
Recently my experi-baking led me to see if I could create a sugar and gluten free hotcross bun. I don’t miss the chocolate Easter eggs but I do miss the hot cross bun deliciousness. I’ve tried some gluten free versions but I’ll be honest I’ve not come across any that don’t taste like a cross between a sponge and cardboard rolled into one. The texture just never seems right, I think it’s all due to the gluten free flour alternatives just not providing that doughy yeasty texture.
So rather than try to create a hot cross bun I created ‘Hot Cross Muffins’ – sugar free, gluten free but not taste free. I think they are delish and so do my boys.
Not convinced? – Then why not try for yourself.
Hot Cross Muffins (Sugar, Gluten & Grain free)
- 2 bananas
- 1 cup of almond butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 heaped teaspoon of mixed spice
- 1 heaped teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 tspn of (GF) baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extra
- 1 cup of mixed dried fruit of your choice (I used sultanas, mixed peel and currents)
- 1 earl grey tea bag
For the icing to make the crosses
- 6 dates
- 1/3 cup almond butter
- Half teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.
- Place earl grey teabag in a bowl with about 350 mls of boiling water, steep for a min or two and then add the dried fruit and leave to soak for at least 20mins.
- Place banana, eggs, almond butter, baking powder, mixed spice, cinnamon and vanilla extract in a food processor and whizz until combined.
- Drain the dried fruit – it should be nice and juicy but make sure you remove all excess liquid.
- Gently fold the dried fruit (apart from the dates) into the muffin mixture until combined.
- Spoon the muffin mixture into muffin cases. It should make either 12 snack sized muffins (the smaller cases) or 9 normal sized muffins.
- Bake muffins in the oven for approximately 12mins to 15mins (depending on your oven so check after 10mins).
To make the icing for the crosses
- Soak the dates in boiling water for 20 mins then drain them and remove all excess liquid.
- Place the almond butter, vanilla extract and drained dates in a food processor and blend until you get a smooth paste like consistency. Add more almond butter if it’s too runny.
- When the muffins are cool use an icing bag with a round nozzle (about 3 to 5 mls) and pipe crosses onto the muffins.
There you have it my ‘Hot Cross Muffins’. Give them a try and don’t forget to let me know what you think – I really encourage feedback to see if these recipes are enjoyed as much by you as they are by me and my family.
Enjoy your Easter – whatever it means to you, whether it be a religious time, family time, fun time, chillax time or all of these rolled into one. Try to keep it a healthy time though and avoid making it an excuse to eat extra food just for the sake of it. Don’t reward yourself with food, you’re not a dog. Reward yourself with enjoying the moment as well as looking after your body, health and wellbeing.
Want some more tips and ideas for a healthy Easter – check out this post ‘Tips and Recipes for a Sugar-free Easter’ from one of my favorite blogs www.sarahwilson.com.au.
Wishing you all a fantastic, happy and healthy Easter.
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