Super Healthy Corn Muffins: Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Dairy Free


Posted by Jill Whalen | Posted in Food, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Recipes | Posted on 12-20-2013

Healthy Gluten Free Corn Muffin

One of the finished products!


For awhile now, I had been using a slight variation of this cornbread recipe to make healthy corn muffins for my breakfast on some days. It was the only recipe I found that uses REAL corn in it! I had been making a few substitutions such as using whole milk instead of low fat (because that’s what I always had on hand), plus I used all natural maple syrup for the sweetener (but slightly less then the recipe called for), and I used coconut oil instead of canola. The muffins always came out to my liking and I would often eat one for breakfast, sliced in half and warmed in the toaster oven with some of my homemade sunflower butter on them. They were delicious!

My Quest to Reduce Wheat Consumption

That said, I’ve been reading the book “Wheat Belly” this week, which made me think about how much of what I eat contains wheat, including my corn muffins. While I don’t seem to have any sensitivities to wheat or gluten, the book did make me wonder if I should attempt to give it up, or at least eat less of it. In my quest to be healthy, I’ve definitely been eating less wheat than I used to, but I have been under the impression that whole wheat was a good thing to eat. Perhaps not so much <sigh>.And because I have been wondering if it was ever going to be possible to get rid of my belly, which even after losing 25 lbs. is still prominent, according to the book, it’s likely due to consumption of wheat. While I’m not prepared to give up wheat completely, it surely can’t hurt to cut back on it a bit. I hadn’t yet experimented with coconut and/or almond flour in my baking endeavors, but I’ve seen many good sounding recipes that call for them. So when I stumbled upon a bag of almond meal at  Trader Joe’s the other day, I decided to get it. I wasn’t sure if it was the same thing as almond flour, but knew I’d put it to good use somehow. When I looked it up online, I learned that almond meal is basically the same thing as almond flour, just more coarsely ground.

Let the Substitutions Begin!

Because I was out of my usual supply of breakfast corn muffins, I decided to experiment with the almond meal by replacing it for the whole wheat flour that the normal recipe uses. Also, I thought this might make them “safe” for my oldest daughter, Corie, who was coming to visit for a few days. She’s been working on a “candida diet” to keep her acne in check. There are so many things she tries to avoid, although sugar and yeast are the main ones. And with wheat so high on the glycemic index, it’s a good idea for her to avoid that as well. In addition, I didn’t have any regular cow’s milk around, but did have coconut milk, so I figured I’d also substitute with that.  And to keep the sugar out for Corie, instead of the maple syrup I usually add, I decided to go with unsweetened applesauce.  For the coconut oil used only 2 tablespoons rather than the usual 3 because almond meal is fairly oily in and of itself. Oh yeah and I also made one more strange substitution — because I only had 1 cup of cornmeal left and the recipe called for 1 and 1/4, I used corn grits for the last 1/4 cup.

I wasn’t sure if that was going to work, but they looked about the same as the cornmeal, although perhaps slightly coarser, so I decided to give it a whirl. (I later learned that they are basically are the same thing.) Honestly, I was expecting a major flop. So much of what I’ve read about baking makes you think you need the exact amount of ingredients or everything will go haywire. Even though I assumed the muffins would probably not cook right or really taste disgusting, I figured they couldn’t be so bad that I wouldn’t at least eat them even if no one else did. (I’m generally the only one eating them anyway.)  And if they totally sucked, it was no big deal if I had to toss them down the garbage disposal (although I doubted that would be the case). Well guess what? Much to my surprise, not only did they taste great, I thought that they were even better than my usual recipe!


Lots of Gritty Goodness

Typically, they’re pretty dry and crumbly, but this version was very moist! While they were not very sweet (which might bother some people), I liked the overall natural sweetness that the coconut milk and oil gave it. I’m curious to see what others in my family think of them. So far I’m the only one who’s tried them. My daughter Jamie wasn’t interested in trying one when they were first out of the oven, nor was my husband (although I’m sure he will like them). Corie and my son Tim will both be home later today, so they will be good test cases. I know Corie has a bit of a sweet tooth and has been using sweeteners such as Stevia in her baking, so it’s possible that she will not like these, but we’ll see! I imagine that one could easily add some Stevia or other sweetener to this recipe as well if they wanted them a bit sweeter. Here’s the final recipe I ended up with for this batch which makes 12 medium sized muffins: Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal and/or stone ground corn grits (I used 1 cup cornmeal and 1/4 cup grits for this batch)
  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen, thawed
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk (I imagine almond milk would work well too)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (I don’t melt it)
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Place muffin papers into two muffin tins.
  3. Whisk cornmeal, almond meal, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Pulse corn and egg in a food processor or blender until almost smooth.
  5. Add coconut milk, coconut oil and applesauce, pulse until combined.
  6. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  7. Spoon into muffin papers about 3/4 full.
  8. Bake the muffins until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.

If you’re not serving them right away, I keep half in the refrigerator and the other half in the freezer so that they’re available for my breakfast.

Toasted With Homemade Sunflower Seed Butter!

Toasted Gluten Free Corn Muffin With Homemade Sunflower Seed Butter!

The next time I’m going to make a batch with some diced jalapeno in them. We had some corn cakes in Nashville that had that and were probably the best thing I’ve ever eaten. Of course those were also pretty sweet and deep fried, but the jalapenos went really well with the corn taste!


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I have been reading wheat belly this week myself. WOW a head full , I am not happy with company’s and food scientists this moment. I think many many folks would benefit from this knowledge , if action is taken. You feeling any different so far?

I decided I can’t really give up wheat, so no, no different! 🙂

Have you tried the Honeyville almond flour and/or coconut flour? They are much more “bread-like” for baking. And Udi’s has great gluten-free bread. Once you find enough good recipes it’s a lot easier to do no-wheat.

Bobette, I have not. I did just pick up some Bob’s Red Mill brown rice flour though.

Brown rice flour is OK, but the other stuff works better. has a lot of good bread recipes.

Just made a slightly different version of these, using only a 1/2 cup of almond meal and adding a 1/4 of tapioca flour. The reason was because while the last batch was not to crumbly fresh out of the oven, later on after being in the refrigerator or freezer and being rewarmed, they were super crumbly. I’m hoping the tapioca flour helps this aspect.

I also added a half of a minced jalapeno to half the recipe for some spicy muffins.

Just tried one of the spicy ones fresh out of the oven and the switch was very good so far. They seemed a bit denser than prior versions. The spiciness was also good.

I’ll let you know how they stand up (literally) over time, however.

I didn’t have applesauce so I made some using organic apples (first time making applesauce, but have to say really easy). I also only had 3\4 cup corn meal so I sub the other 1\2 cup for corn flour and I also doubled the amount of applesauce. I didn’t have almond meal, but I had almonds! Almond meal super easy if you have food processor. They turned out SO GOOD. I love that it’s all natural and that they are clean-eating muffins

Thanks Whitney!

I love it. I’ve been gluten-free for quite a while. I did it a decade or two ago, but didn’t stick to it. Then I did it again the past 5-7 years. Then, recently, in the past year or two, I’ve been trying harder to be grain-free most of the time. Though, admittedly, I’m only grain-free about 60 percent of the time, but gluten free almost 100%. It varies week to week on the grain part. I can’t seem to tolerate gluten and dairy (or a ton of grains) very much. I have an especially hard time with dairy. It gives me horrible sinus infections!

My hubby went almost entirely grain free for a year or so, lost a lot of belly weight, etc. We’re trying, as a family, to be more consistently grain-free, and we eat almost entirely organic, too. I think it makes a difference, so I try to make a priority, even though it’s hard on the pocket book. I feel that if I was more consistent with diet and exercise (exercise is the harder one for me), I’d likely lose all the weight I need to. But, I’ll take the gradual improvements, anyway.

Anyway…I love that you are so engaged in self care like this.


Since the time of this writing, I’m much more grain free. Perhaps even 80-90%. Most I have is maybe a sandwich a couple of times a week, and occasionally some rice or potatoes. I do eat some potato chips now and then too and even some battered onion rings. But those are all a small portion of my diet.

I figure if I eat my healthy non-grain mug muffins for breakfast, a mostly veggie lunch, then dinner I mainly just eat whatever I want.

Also, Hannah, just so you know, it doesn’t have to be hard or a struggle at all. None of it! We’ll talk more!

Right! Exactly. It’s all about eating the way your body prefers most of the time. That makes sense. I’m working on trusting the messages my body provides. Thanks for sharing what works for you. Have a swell weekend!!

p.s. I found grain-free tortillas in Whole Foods today and I was so excited! I made lamb tacos…