One of my favorite parts about my last job working as the outpatient dietitian at a local hospital was getting to work with a lot of people who were very different than me, namely, lots of 60-70 year old men. Being in South Carolina, most had been raised in more rural, agricultural areas. I, on the other hand, grew up in Brooklyn. And of course, I am a 30 year old woman, not a middle aged male. But as a whole, I really enjoyed getting to create working relationships with people who I otherwise wouldn't meet. I found the key to doing that was finding something in common, which as I learned, you can do with anyone.
Of course, sometimes that was easier than with others. I remember one man in particular, who made it pretty clear early on in our appointment that he had absolutely no desire to be told what to eat, especially by "a scrawny little yankee." Gulp. This might be a long hour.
Never one to give up, as we discussed his eating habits, I desperately searched for any little thing I could use. When he mentioned he was an avid gardener and spent his summers canning food, I knew I found my in. Although I've killed every plant I've put in the ground and am way too scared of botulism to can my own food, I'm endlessly fascinated by these skills and uber-jealous of those who possess them. So, I enthusiastically told him that.
He squinted, looked me up and down, slowly reformulating his opinion of me and finally, he cracked a smile. I found my in!
I took two things away from our conversation. First, as someone who lives in the city, doesn't know how to shoot a gun and refuses to leave her dogs behind, I'm basically screwed in any doomsday scenario.
Second, I realized I was actually kind of intrigued by the idea of grinding my own flour.
I ran back to my office, quickly did some research and found out that yes, there actually is a difference in store-bought and homemade flour. Although the whole grain flour you buy in the store is perfectly nutritious, because antioxidants and perishable oils in whole grains break down soon after milling, the fresher the flour is, the more nutrients it will contain. Since it's near impossible to know how long the flour in the grocery store has been sitting there, making it at home is a great way to ensure freshness.
But, despite my excitement, I realized it wasn't exactly a practical hobby and I quickly forgot about my brief flirtation with being a survivalist.
Then my mom gifted with The Homemade Flour Cookbook (thanks mom!), and my excitement for grain milling was reignited. Suddenly, a grain mill seems as essential as a good kitchen knife. Even better, I learned that many homemade flours can be made with equipment I already have on hand - a coffee grinder, food processor and even a spice grinder can blend lighter flours, like quinoa, amaranth, oats and nuts. My cuisinart has turned out to be a pretty handy. And for those lucky folks with a high powered blender like a vitamix, you can make flour out of just about anything - lentils, beans, and wheat berries are all easily pulverized.
These mini cupcakes are my first foray into quinoa flour, which I made in my food processor. Technically a grain-like seed, quinoa is higher in fat than other whole grains, which can go rancid, so it's a smart one to make fresh. I love the dense texture it gives these cupcakes. These cupcakes are the perfectly little chocolatey bite with just a hint of sweetness. Keep extra in the freezer and microwave a few seconds to warm up.
- 3/4 cup quinoa flour
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup light coconut milk
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
- 1/2 cup toasted shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
- Set oven to 350 degrees. Spray a mini-muffin tin with olive oil or coconut oil, or line with mini-muffin papers.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together quinoa flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk coconut milk, egg, and vanilla extract. Mix wet into the dry until well combined. Stir in coconut oil. Fold in the coconut and chocolate chips. Divide batter among the muffin tins. Bake 15-18 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.