Sunday, August 9, 2009

Cooking: Wheat-Free, Sugar-Free Muffins

Joanne's Muffins, Amended"What!!?"

Take a deep, cleansing breath or two. Better now?

I've posted previously about some of the dietary changes we've been making of late. Less a diet than an entirely different way of thinking about what we put in our bodies, it's had some remarkable effects already, particularly for me.

We kept hearing about this "anti-inflammation" diet craze that seemed to be sweeping the island. Hey, it's not that big an island; word travels fast. What was amazing was just how many people we knew or met who had taken the classes and experienced a wide range of relief from many common symptoms. Between my sweetie's arthritis and my chronic digestive and allergy problems, as well as being overweight, there were many compelling reasons to check it out.

In the course of taking the classes (if you live in the Seattle area you might want to check them out at this web site), one of the recipes that was provided was for Joanne's Muffins, made with no wheat and no sugar. Intrigued, I whipped up a batch and, somewhat surprised, we found we like them.

Being an inveterate tinkerer in the kitchen, however, I immediately began thinking of slight alterations. We really like this version, which omits the olive oil completely (because I forgot it, but it didn't affect the final outcome at all), and adds grated carrot, cooked quinoa, cinnamon, ginger, and both vanilla and almond extracts. Here's the revised recipe:

Joanne's Muffins, Amended
makes 12 muffins

1 cup cooked squash, pumpkin or sweet potato (I used canned organic pumpkin)
1 cup mashed ripe banana
1/2 large carrot, grated
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup chopped walnuts
4 eggs, lightly beaten until creamy
2 cups almond flour (usually sold as almond meal—keep this in the refrigerator or freezer)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (use less if using table salt)
2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
pumpkin seeds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 12-muffin pan with unbleached muffin papers and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except pumpkin seeds. Mix well. Because there is no gluten, you cannot really overmix this batter.

Using a large spoon, fill the muffin cups to the top. Place a few pumpkin seeds on each muffin.

Bake for 25-35 minutes (check them at 20 minutes). Cool in the tin on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove from the pan.

When completely cool, wrap the muffins individually. Keep some in the refrigerator for immediate use, and freeze the remainder in a zipper bag. To serve, rewarm in a 300 degree toaster oven.

If you are used to eating a lot of sugar (as we were), these will not taste very sweet the first time you make them. If, however, you do not eat sugar, the subtle sweetness of the banana and pumpkin is quite delicious. We like these just as they are, with some fruit, for a satisfying breakfast. Add a cold-brewed iced coffee: oh la la!

You can also add blueberries to the batter, or substitute almonds or hazelnuts for the walnuts. Substitute sunflower or sesame seeds or poppy seeds for the quinoa. And if you are trying to consume more good-quality oil, add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil to the batter.


  1. I use walnut oil vs olive oil (tastes better to me in baked goods.) I always use fruit, sweet potato, yams, nuts etc. Almond / vanilla extract. cook for 20 min for a moist muffin.

  2. I tried the original recipe out tonight and was pretty confused by the outcome-- SO dense, too dense and wet in fact that even after baking 10+ minutes longer than instructed (toothpick did not come out clean) the bottom half remained soggy and almost resembled a quiche in texture. Any idea how to fix this? Perhaps using 2 eggs vs 4 or omitting olive oil?

    1. I have also found the recipe to be way too moist. I have tried substituting half coconut flour but no luck. Did you try using 2 eggs?