Tahini Raisin Bran Muffins and Simple Sesame Milk (gluten-free, vegan, low sugar)

I have had this crazy craving for baked goods lately. If I were to post all the cookies, breads, and other sweet treats I've made lately, I'd have to call this a baking blog, seriously. Combined with my crazy craving for and indulgence in fruit, my liberal use of sweeteners like honey and maple syrup and palm sugar that I know I shouldn't be eating, my wild desire for chocolate, my urges to binge eat (and the inevitable followthrough), and my recently recurring joint pain, burning feet, headaches, and a crazy bought of wicked congestion, I am feeling a little concerned. I can't deny it anymore. Once again, I'm having a Candida flare up again or my Lyme is acting up, and  I think I am overindulging in some of the foods that I had been previously avoiding due to allergies or intolerances.

Damn it!  It is hard to keep clean of Candida when taking so many gosh darn antibiotics for Lyme treatment, and it is so easy to go overboard with those foods you reintroduce after years...  Argh.

In addition to being frustrated about those symptoms, I feel fat. I know I'm not, and I know I look healthier now than I have in years.  But my lifelong struggle with weight and body image is playing massive tricks on me. I want to feel more comfortable and confident in my skin again. 

So, I am posting this muffin recipe as sort of a bon voyage to baked goods for a while.  I told myself that once I ate half the batch, I had to put the other half in the freezer, and that I have done.  And now, I need to go on a break from sugar, fruit, and most grains again.  I know these things throw off my blood sugar, increase my cravings, and slow my metabolism. I need to focus on protein and vegetables; I feel best eating that way, and I need to get back on track.  This is going to be hard, but I know I have the willpower, somewhere...I am hoping I didn't forget it in the pocket of those smaller jeans I had to divorce last year....

This is about living more mindfully, about trying to reevaluate my relationship with food, and about making decisions that honor my body as best I can.  This is about creating an inner ecosystem that better facilitates my healing process, and about creating an outer image that makes me feel more confident and reflects my spirit.  I need to start doing more physical activity now that I have more energy, and I now that I will feel better.  I have started a modified plan from the amazing book The Fourfold Path to Healing by Dr. Thomas S Cowan, and I couldn't believe how satisfied and balanced I felt today. I'll be posting more later about my modifications and changes.

Okay, enough about me. Let's talk about muffins, a much more delicious topic. These are moist and dense, with a spicy sweet flavor and flecks of sweet raisins and toasted pumpkin seeds.  The flours - a mixture of quinoa and sorghum - are toasted in advance for a nuttier, warmer flavor.  I love quinoa flour, and the unique flavor of toasted quinoa comes through in these muffins.  Combined with fiber-rich rice bran and a little tapioca starch, these little guys have a nice texture and solid mix of protein, complex carbs, and whole grain nutrients.

The use of tahini and homemade sesame milk adds a powerful punch of nutrition to these muffins. Sesame is high in copper, manganese, tryptophan, calcium, magnesium, and iron.  They also provide protein and fiber, omega fatty acids, and valuable amino acids.  

Okay, wish me luck. Please send me positive energy and strength to help me make the life changes I need to make in order to get back on track, have more energy, and feel more comfortable with my body.  Healing is a struggle sometimes, isn't it? At least I will have the rest of these muffins in the freezer, waiting for me when I get to the other side... ;)

Tahini Raisin Bran Muffins

yield 12 muffins

These muffins are dense, spicy, and sweet.  Don't be intimidated by the long list of ingredients - these are very simple and easy to prepare, and worth the gathering.  Palm sugar is a low glycemic sweetener, with 9 grams of sugar per tablespoon, lower in sugar than agave, honey, maple, or any other sweeteners. However, to make it completely Candida-friendly, omit the raisins and palm sugar, and substitute more stevia to make it sweeter.

1 cup sorghum flour

1 cup quinoa flour or amaranth flour

1/2 cup tapioca or arrowroot starch/flour

1/2 cup rice bran

2 Tbsp finely ground flax seeds

1 Tbsp corn-free baking powder

1 1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp ground cardamom

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp stevia extract powder

1/4 cup melted butter, melted coconut oil, or other neutral tasting oil

1/4 cup sesame tahini

1/3 cup palm sugar

2 cups sesame milk (see recipe below), or other non-dairy milk (a creamier, fattier milk would be a good choice)

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds 

sesame seeds and palm sugar, for sprinkling 

Pre-heat oven to 350º F and prepare 12 muffin cups. 

Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Place quinoa flour and sorghum flour in pan, and spread out evenly.  Stir around in pan, and toast until it starts to smell nutty and fragrant. Remove from heat, and transfer the flour to a medium bowl. Add starches, salt, spices, baking powder, stevia powder, and 1 Tbsp of flax seed.  Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together milk, palm sugar, and remaining 1 Tbsp flax, let sit 5 minutes, then whisk in tahini and melted butter until creamy. Slowly stir in dry ingredients, then add raisins and pumpkin seeds. Mixture will be very thick.

Spoon evenly into muffin cups, smooth the tops lightly with wet fingers, then sprinkle with sesame seeds and a little palm sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes until firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven, let cool 10 minutes, then turn out of tins and finish cooling on a rack.

Simple Sesame Milk

yield about 2 cups

1/3 cup raw or toasted sesame seeds

2 cups water

Soak seeds in water for about 20 minutes, then blend on high until totally smooth. If you have a Vitamix, use as is. If you have a regular blender, you may want to strain it through a fine sieve to remove chunks.

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