The elusive grain-free muffin


When I first gave up eating grains, I searched high and low for any and all recipes that would replace bread products in my life. Pizza dough, muffins, scones, sandwich bread, crackers. I googled, experimented with alternative flours, and baked like my life depended on it.

And day after day, I was sorely, even desperately disappointed. Gluten-free is one challenge; grain-free is a whole other ball game — and when it comes to beloved sandwich bread, it’s a game I have forfeited. Nut flours are an entirely different creature than their grain counterparts, and in most cases do not behave remotely the same.

I had to learn to change my expectations. For the most part, I think I’m there (though I still long for the day when I can once again have pizza, because right now there’s nothing grain-free that compares to an airy, stone-baked crust).

So far, the thing that seems easiest to replicate is the muffin. But it’s not as simple as replacing wheat flour with almond flour — you’d end up with a crumbly, dense almond ball. My local GAPS-friend Jen shared a banana muffin recipe that called for no flour at all — just almond butter and eggs — and it had the lightest, most delicate crumb of any recipe yet. Wanting a blueberry muffin, with a little less banana, I decided to develop my recipe from that no-flour starting point. After a few failed tweaks, I ended up with a keeper (though a 1/4 cup of almond flour did find its way back into the mix). So good, my kids beg for the muffins, even though they know they are “mommy’s special breakfast,” (I *might* guilt them every time their greedy, fat little fingers unwrap one for snack — while also secretly loving the fact they want them, being the high-protein, low-carb treat they are).

Not too dense, not too eggy — these muffins are just right. Goldilocks would have gobbled them up.


Recipe: Blueberry Crunch Muffins (grain-free, dairy-free, GAPS-friendly)

: makes 10-12 muffins

Since this batter can be thin, it works best for blueberry distribution if half of the berries are reserved for dotting on top of the batter (otherwise they all sink to the bottom of the cups). Feel free to substitute ghee or butter for the coconut oil.


  • 1 ripe banana
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup almond or cashew butter
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tsp coconut oil, divided (room temperature ok)
  • 3 Tbsp honey, divided
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp blanched almond flour, divided
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 3 Tbsp finely chopped nuts
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Have ready a standard 12-cup muffin tin, either very well-greased or lined with muffin cups.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mash the banana to a pulp. Add the eggs, nut butter, 1/4 cup coconut oil, 2 Tbsp honey, vanilla, and cider vinegar. Using a fork or whisk, mix vigorously until well-combined.
  3. Sift together 1/4 cup almond flour, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda. Add to the liquid ingredients and mix well.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the chopped nuts with remaining 1 Tbsp honey, 1 tsp coconut oil, 1 Tbsp almond flour, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
  5. Add half of the blueberries to the batter, and fold in. Scoop batter into muffin cups, filling 3/4 full. Divide the remaining blueberries among the cups, pushing into the batter.
  6. Break off small pieces of the honey-nut paste and dot on top of the batter, dividing evenly.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until tops are golden and centers are set.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.


This post was linked up to Simple Lives Thursday, via GNOWFGLINS.



3 thoughts on “The elusive grain-free muffin

  1. Hi! For your almond flour, did you use store-bought or did you grind your own in a food processor? I’ve found that coarseness/fineness makes a big difference in recipes, and that they can’t be substituted for each other well.

    1. For these I’ve used Honeyville brand, it’s a blanched almond flour recommended by Elena of I do sometimes use my own, dehydrated from making almond milk — and I doubt the texture would make a difference in these muffins since only 1/4 cup is used. I do however have a few other recipes where the bulk is almond flour, and quality does make a difference!

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