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The first time ever that I came across chia seeds was while teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) to adult migrants and refugees. A relative newcomer, Tuoy (pronounced ‘Twee’) had lived in Australia for many years, but had next to no knowledge of the English language. The first day she entered the class I did my best to communicate with her, asking her the basic questions (e.g. Where are you from?) that most migrants would know how to answer… but not her! There was absolutely no comprehension in her expression, though she smiled sweetly. Only two months later, thanks to much repetition and the persistence of her new-found friends, Tuoy was able to hear, understand and respond in limited English.

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It was she who came to class each day with a clear, plastic water bottle recycled to hold a solution of chia seeds suspended in water. This gloop is what she would drink throughout class and it piqued everyone’s curiosity. One of the other students enquired, and once they knew of the seed’s potent health-inducing properties, they all wanted some, too! Orders came in thick and fast! Ever the sceptic, I wasn’t convinced. It’s taken me several years before giving in to the hype and buying myself a packet of the ‘super-food’ seeds. And there is no way they’re going into my drinking water! But I will consider adding them to muffins.

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Lately, I’ve been on an Instagram bender. Following foodie hash tags down the ‘rabbit-hole’, I’ve been discovering loads of lovely photos and other foodie bloggers along the way. This recipe was inspired by an Instagram post, with the recipe conveniently included in the comments below. I’d never really thought of adding chia seeds to muffins, though I had seen it done before. But one day when my gorgeous child was struggling with his emotions (hey, he’s 2!) and refused not one, but two perfectly good bananas, I decided it was time for another batch of muffins.

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This time I wanted a recipe using oil, so that I could make them dairy-free, so I turned to my all-time favourite banana cake recipe: Lauren Zembron’s Strawberry Banana Bread. It already features on this blog, but these banana, raspberry and chia seed muffins are my new take on it, with raspberries subbed in because summer is over and strawberries are no longer on special. With ripe bananas and a little brown sugar for sweetness, raspberries for that pop of colour, and chia seeds for extra nutrition and crunch, these muffins are a strong contender for breakfast food, don’t you think?!

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Banana, Berry and Chia Seed Muffins
I like these best made with wheat flour, but if you’re baking gluten-free, replace the wheat flour with your favourite mix of gluten-free flours, starches and/or nut meal {see below for gf recipe}.

Makes 16 muffins

Ingredients
1 cup self-raising flour
½ cup wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
2/3 cup soft brown sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup vegetable oil (olive oil or coconut oil could work here)
3 ½ over-ripe medium-sized bananas, peeled and mashed (about 1 ¼ cups mashed)
1 tsp natural vanilla extract
1 cup (approx 100g) frozen raspberries or fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped
3 tablespoons chia seeds

Method
Preheat oven to 190 degrees C/375 degrees F. Grease or line 16 regular (½ cup) muffin tins.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a medium bowl using a handheld electric mixer) beat together the sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

On low speed, slowly drizzle in the oil. Add in the mashed bananas and vanilla extract; mix on low speed just until combined.

Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture, fresh or frozen berries and chia seeds just until dry ingredients are fully moistened (no flour streaks should be visible).

Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins. If you’re feeling fancy, slice some strawberries into 3 lengthways and place a slice on the top of each muffin. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top and dry to touch. Let cool in the tins for 5 minutes, and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from Healthy Food for Living

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Banana, Berry and Chia Seed Muffins {gluten-free + dairy-free}

Makes 10 muffins

Ingredients
1 cup plain (all-purpose) gluten-free flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
1/3 cup soft brown sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 medium over-ripe bananas, mashed (a heaped ½ cup)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup frozen berries
2 tablespoons chia seeds
Banana chips (optional) for decoration

Method
Preheat oven to 190 degrees C/375 degrees F. Grease or line 10 regular (½ cup) muffin tins.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a medium bowl using a handheld electric mixer) beat together the sugar and egg on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

On low speed, slowly drizzle in the oil. Add in the mashed bananas and vanilla extract; mix on low speed just until combined.

Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture, fresh or frozen berries and chia seeds just until dry ingredients are fully moistened (no flour streaks should be visible).

Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins. If you have them, place one banana chip on the top of each muffin. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top and dry to touch. Let cool in the tins for 5 minutes, and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

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