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Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Feather-light and soft, these delectable muffins have a strong, pleasing lemon flavour. A much healthier take on the classic recipe, these are made with a whole lemon, olive oil and light agave syrup. The acidity in the lemon forms an emulsion with the olive oil, which mimics a beaten egg. Macadamia nut butter is quite sweet, and a small amount of agave syrup provides the rest of the sweetener.

To make orange poppy seed muffins instead, use finely grated orange zest, orange juice and (grape juice sweetened) orange marmalade instead of the agave syrup. For something different, use ground toasted pine nuts instead of the macadamia nut butter.

Recipe from the cooking demonstration at the Auckland Vegetarian Food & Lifestyle 2010 by Laurinda Erasmus, author of Benessere Well-Being: Vegan & Sugar-Free Eating For A Healthy Lifestyle Vegan Well-Being.


8 T dry semolina (uncooked)
4 T wholemeal spelt flour
3 T almond meal
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 1/2 T olive oil
2 T black poppy seeds
1 lime, finely grated zest
1 whole lemon, chopped, seeds removed
3 T macadamia nut butter
6 T orange juice
3 T light agave syrup/ rice syrup

Dressing / Sauce:

2 T + 2 T orange juice (used separately)
2 tsp light agave syrup

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180* C. Use a 6 cup muffin tray (silicone is easiest, but if using a metal muffin tray, spray lightly with cooking spray).
  2. Place the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir to mix. Rub in the olive oil so it resembles wet sand. Stir in the poppy seeds and lime zest.
  3. Place the chopped lemon in a liquidizer, together with the macadamia nut butter, orange juice and syrup. Blend until smooth, creamy and bubbly.
  4. Fold the blended liquid into the dry ingredients. Pour the batter into the muffin pans (three-quarters full).
  5. Mix 2 T of orange juice and the agave syrup together and spoon two teaspoonfuls over each muffin. The liquid will eventually get absorbed as the muffins bake.
  6. Bake in the middle of the oven for 18 minutes, until a knife inserted comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the oven.
  7. Drizzle the remaining 2 T of orange juice over the muffins (1 tsp over each muffin.)
  8. Rest the muffins for 5 minutes in the muffin tray to absorb the liquid.
  9. Unmould and cool on wire racks.

Makes 6 large muffins