A few months ago, I was asked to be the lead person for an allergy friendly refreshment table at our school’s 5th grade promotion. While it would have been much better for all the food to be 100% safe and inclusive, I appreciate the option to get involved and create a spread of nut-safe foods. After a few emails back and forth, the other moms and I agreed that I would take care of the high-risk food items such as bagels, doughnut holes, muffins, and cinnamon rolls and write up some specific suggestions on how to limit cross contact while preparing and serving the other foods, such as cut fruit and drinks. I made plans to go to Krispy Kreme the day before to purchase donut holes, easy! I found out that Western Bagels are made in a nut free facility and are delicious and free of preservatives, bonus! I can’t make mini-cinnamon rolls but I was thinking of making individual sized monkey pull apart breads from canned biscuits, fortunately for me Costco discontinued that product so cinnamon rolls were off my plate (or cupcake pan!), yay! All that was left was figuring out how to make some muffins, just like the ones from Costco….
I looked to Kelly Rudnicki’s The Food Allergy Mama’s Baking Book (affiliate link) and Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s The Joy of Vegan Baking (affiliate link) for egg-free blueberry muffin recipe inspiration. I had to make a few adjustments to the recipes and ended up with the recipe below which incorporate my Top 10 Muffin Baking Tricks and Healthy Tips that I’ve picked up from many years of baking:
Tip #1 Ever have blueberries sink to the bottom of your muffin or become a big wet blueberry mess? Coat them with a little cornstarch!
Tip #2 Want to eat a muffin fresh out of the oven but half of it is stuck to the paper liner? Use parchment paper cupcake liners (affiliate link) (Tip #2 1/2: I stock up when the parchment paper liners go on sale during the holidays ~$3/box)
Tip #3 Say no to rubbery muffins; stir as little as possible when mixing wet and dry ingredients.
Tip #4 Use organic sugar when baking, it tastes so much better which allows you to use less to save calories.
Tip #5 When a recipe calls for lemon zest, buy an organic lemon or use a homegrown lemon that hasn’t been sprayed with chemicals.
Tip #6 Zest right into the flour mixture so that the fragrant lemon oil goes into your mix and you don’t have to wash an extra bowl or cutting board.
Tip #7 Use only fresh blueberries for this recipe, frozen blueberries will throw off the baking times (if using frozen) and texture (if thawed first).
Tip #8 I increased the proportions of a standard muffin recipe by 25% to make gloriously big puffy muffins.
Tip #9 Sprinkle the unbaked muffins with 1/4 teaspoon of organic sugar for a shiny muffin top that has a slight crunch, OR sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar for a pretty presentation (pictured), OR sprinkle both kinds of sugar for beautiful and tasty muffins.
Tip #10 Enjoy the muffins while they’re still warm (thanks to tip #2!)
From Blues to Blessings
I had shared a photo of the muffins with friends a few days ago but it took me awhile to finish this last paragraph as I had mixed feelings about being the food allergy mom responsible for refreshments for year-end activities.
- I wanted to whine: food allergies are not fair, why do I need to do all this work to ensure safety and inclusion, why can’t there be an easy option such as tasty muffins from a bakery? The spunky side of me decided that if I must bake blueberry muffins, then the muffins will have to look impressive and/or taste really good.
- That led to acceptance: for now, people still celebrate happy events with food, the medical condition won’t go away quickly, there just isn’t a nut-safe muffin to purchase.
- That acceptance led to gratitude: despite many school events that involved meals and refreshments and my son’s severe allergies, a very compassionate school community has cooperated to keep my son safe and reaction free at school for 6 years. Even though the refreshments weren’t 100% free of cross-contact from nuts, I had the opportunity to make an allergy friendly food table lovely for all the students with food allergies.
- Deciding to make the best of the situation became a blessing as I had the opportunity to make the occasion a safe and happy one for my son and other students with food allergies and share awareness and nut-safe options with other parents. A friend who volunteered to help serve food, thanked me for my written instructions on how to limit cross contact because she felt relieved to have clear instructions rather than be afraid of accidentally causing a reaction. Best of all, I now have a go-to blueberry lemon muffin recipe that’s easy, moist, and delicious to share with my sons and readers. Enjoy!
This recipe as written is peanut, tree nut, egg, soy, shellfish, and fish free. Please always check all ingredient labels before using and when in doubt, call the manufacturer.
- 2 cups fresh blueberries
- 1-2 tsp cornstarch (or tapioca starch)
- 2½ cups unbleached all purpose flour (Trader Joe's)
- ⅔ cup C&H organic sugar
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- ⅓ teaspoon salt
- zest of 1 organic lemon
- 1½ cup non-fat milk (or milk of choice)
- ⅓ cup melted butter or margarine or oil of choice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ cup lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon)
- 2 tbsp dark brown sugar (optional topping)
- Preheat oven to 350 °F.
- Line a 12 cup muffin tin with parchment paper liners.
- Wash blueberries and dry with a paper towel, place in a medium sized bowl and sprinkle with 1-2 teaspoons of corn starch, gently stir to coat the blueberries with cornstarch, and set aside.
- Add flour, ⅔ cup organic sugar, baking powder, and salt to a large bowl and mix with a wire whisk.
- Wash and dry lemon, use a fine grater and zest the lemon peel directly into the flour mixture and mix.
- Add milk, melted butter or oil, and vanilla extract to the flour mixture.
- Juice lemon and add the juice to the flour mixture.
- Gently stir until the dry ingredients are barely moistened.
- Add blueberries and gently fold them in.
- Spoon 2 heaping tablespoons into each muffin liner and then evenly distribute remaining batter and blueberries (about 3 tablespoons per muffin).
- Sprinkle ½ teaspoon of brown sugar over each muffin (optional).
- Bake for 25 minutes (check for doneness by poking the center of the muffin with a skewer; should come out clean)
Have a dairy allergy too?
Definitely check out Kelly Rudnicki’s baking cookbook and website for some great recipes and food allergy related posts. I have had Colleen’s Joy of Vegan Baking cookbook for many years and have learned a lot about baking without eggs and dairy. However, it is not a food allergy cookbook and some of the recipes use nuts as an ingredient, which may or may not be an issue for you.