Tender Corny Almond Muffins

corn muffins, gluten free, corn-free corn muffins, muffins, recipe, corn reactions, Shirley Braden, gluten free easily,

Tender Corny Almond Muffins

It’s every food blogger’s hope—and any good cook’s as well—that if they make a variation of one of their standby recipes, they’ll end up creating something even better. Happily, that is very much the case with these Tender Corny Almond Muffins. These honey and corn kernel-sweetened almond muffins made me want to skip down the lane like a little girl. Really, they made me so happy! Mr. GFE loved them, too. His comment: I don’t usually need bread with dinner, but I couldn’t resist these.

The Back Story

I wanted to make corn muffins that did not contain cornmeal. I’ve found that as much as I love corn products, they don’t always love me back. In my case, I seem to be mostly fine with whole corn and even cornstarch, but cornmeal, even “gluten-free” cornmeal and processed products like corn tortilla chips often seem to bother me. I get congested, constipated, and often a little fuzzy when eating them. Oh joy!

It turns out that I am not alone in having corn issues. A 2012 study showed that some of us who are gluten free, specifically those with HLA DQ2 or HLA DQ8 genes (I have the HLA DQ2 gene), do react to corn similar to the way we react to gluten. Personally, I don’t find my own reaction to corn to be all that much like a gluten reaction because for me those are pretty severe from even a minute amount accidentally ingested and I can eat a good portion of corn products before I have issues, but I definitely do have some type of reaction to corn in some forms. Read more on the 2012 Study that shows Corn Cross Reactivity in Celiac at About.com.

Last, but not least, remember that just because a grain does not actually contain gluten in its natural state does not mean that it is gluten free. Okay, that certainly sounds confusing. Allow me to explain. If you’ve ever passed by fields of crops, you probably noticed that the farmer does not plant the same crop in the same field, year after year, or even season after season. The field where you see corn growing right now might have winter wheat next season. The following season, millet, sorghum, or soybeans might be planted … and then barley the next season, and so it goes.  Crop rotation has long been used for optimum farming, protecting the soil and increasing plant yields.

Flickr Fields andyarthur

photo credit:  flickr andyarthur

Now think about the farmer harvesting one of those crops that’s naturally gluten free. Do you think there’s any way that he can avoid also harvesting some errant gluten-containing grains from a previous season? And what if he had just harvested wheat in another field? His equipment already contains those gluten-containing grains, so there’s no way that he can ensure that the naturally gluten-free grains remain “gluten free” even at that point. Now add in the fact that these grains are taken to processing plants to be milled into meal or flour are typically not plants that are dedicated gluten free. The likeliness of gluten being introduced to these “gluten-free” grains just went up again, right?

Tricia Thompson, the Gluten-Free Dietitian and founder of Gluten-Free Watchdog (which is constantly testing “gluten-free” products to ensure they really are–well worth the $4.99 per month subscription), did a pilot study (with two others) of naturally gluten-free grains in 2010. The purpose of the study was to get an “initial reading” on what percentage of such grains were actually gluten free. This information is critically important because under the FDA’s proposed gluten-free labeling laws (yes, the laws we’re still waiting for), Tricia states that “single ingredient foods, such as corn, rice, and millet are considered inherently gluten free. These grains will be considered misbranded if they carry a gluten-free label that does not also state that all foods of that same type are gluten free (e.g. “all millet is gluten free” or “millet, a gluten-free food”).” Do you see where this is going?

While the pilot study done was small—only 22 samples were taken–a whopping 32% of them contained gluten! How much gluten? They contained anywhere from 8.5 ppm gluten (a white rice flour sample) to a whopping 2925 ppm gluten (a soy flour sample)! You can read specific results here. While, again, this was a small sampling in this pilot study, and no further testing has been done to my knowledge, these results show that “inherently gluten-free” grains can be anything but that. Dr. Vikki Petersen (co-author of The Gluten Effect and co-founder of HealthNOW Medical Center) addresses these results (and offers advice on how to mitigate those risks) in an article here and a video here.

Note that oats were not included in this study because it was already established in an earlier, more comprehensive study (by Tricia Thompson and others) that oats have the same issues and risks as these “gluten-free” grains unless grown in dedicated fields (from Day One), harvested using dedicated equipment, etc. Therefore, oats must show that they are certified gluten free to be safe for those of who are gluten free, and per Tricia “will be considered misbranded if the label implies that all oats are gluten free.”

I talked about the importance of using certified gluten-free oats—and the fact that some folks can’t even tolerate those—in my Flourless Oatmeal Cookies post. TIP: If you’re still using McCann’s Irish Oats, those tested up to 725 ppm gluten. I mention those specifically because I hear that a lot of folks in the gluten free community mistakenly think that brand of oats is safe; it is NOT. Remember that lack of a visible reaction DOES NOT mean lack of gluten. And, if you are eating something that contains gluten on a regular basis, you might have a constant level of not feeling your best, but might not be able to pinpoint the cause.

One Brand of Certified Gluten-Free Oats

One Brand of Certified Gluten-Free Oats

Last, I believe that one of the reasons that many do better so much better on a grain-free diet, going a step beyond gluten free, is because being grain free takes out a huge part of the gluten cross contamination (also known as cross contact) risk factor.

Back to the Recipe … The Starting Point

corn muffins, cornmeal, gluten free, Shirley Braden, gluten free reasily

Honey-Sweetened Corn Muffins

I used my Honey-Sweetened Corn Muffins recipe as my starting point. I subbed almond flour for cornmeal (the recipe contained half gluten-free all-purpose flour and half cornmeal), added frozen corn kernels, and reduced the amount of honey I used.  I also used an extra large egg from a family member’s happy chicken. The result muffins are nothing less than melt-in-your-mouth magic. Each bite amazes. There’s the buttery tenderness, the explosion of flavor from the kernels of sweet corn, and the slight crunchiness of the outside of the muffin. Oh my.

corn muffins, gluten free, corn-free corn muffins, muffins, recipe, corn reactions, Shirley Braden, gluten free easily,

Honestly, I almost forgot about eating my Green Chile Chicken Casserole, which was our entree, after not being able to resist sampling one of these muffins first. These Tender Corny Almond muffins exemplify why some of us love muffins so much. There’s nothing else that compares to a good muffin. And you know how some muffins transition to perfection with an added dollop of butter? Well, these muffins already taste like that dollop has been added. There’s no butter or topping needed at all! Remove these muffins from the muffin tin and simply enjoy!

Oh, and yes, they are still great the next day (they’re divine for breakfast!), but the true magic happens on Day One. Hot out of the oven? Muffin bliss for sure!

corn muffins, gluten free, corn-free corn muffins, muffins, recipe, corn reactions, Shirley Braden, gluten free easily,


Tender Corny Almond Muffins
  • 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour*
  • 1 tbsp plus ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup blanched almond flour, packed (I use this brand)
  • ½ cup butter (dairy or non-dairy), melted
  • 1 extra large egg
  • ⅓ cup honey (or slightly less agave nectar)
  • ¾ cup canned full-fat coconut milk (or other non-dairy milk or dairy milk, not skim)
  • ⅓ cup frozen corn kernels (yes, frozen), plus a few more corn kernels (about a tablespoon or so) to top the muffins
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease muffin cups.
  2. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in almond flour.
  3. Stir butter, egg, honey, milk, and corn into cornmeal mixture. Stir until just moistened and any almond flour chunks are broken up.
  4. Fill greased muffin tins. Top batter with corn kernels (two or three per muffin). Bake for 15 – 20 minutes. Let cool about 10 minutes before removing.
I can’t always tolerate many of the healthier, gluten-free flours; e.g., sorghum, buckwheat. Therefore, my gluten-free flour mix is 3 parts Asian white rice flour (which is very finely ground) and 2 parts cornstarch. I gently mix three 1-lb bags of the Asian white rice flour and two 1-lb boxes of cornstarch in a very large bowl and then store the mix in several airtight containers. It’s a very economical mix that works well in most recipes. No refrigeration is needed for this flour mix.

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This post is linked to Foodie FridayGluten-Free Wednesdays, and Allergy-Free Wednesdays.

Not just gf, but gfe!

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20 Responses to “Tender Corny Almond Muffins”

  1. SherriS. on May 31st, 2013 11:11 am

    Hi Shirley!

    This recipe sounds GREAT! I will try this soon. Where do you get your Asian white rice flour?

    Have a great weekend,

    • Shirley on May 31st, 2013 12:51 pm

      Hi Sherri–It’s great to see you again! :-) Thanks so much regarding the muffins. I hope you enjoy them if you give them a try. ;-)

      I get my Asian white rice flour at the international market in Fredericksburg at 5-Mile Fork off of Route 3 west. Before that, I would buy it at Tan A on Broad Street in Richmond. I just looked and there’s another Asian market called Thai Asian grocery on Midlothian Turnpike in Richmond. Hopefully, one of those will work for you, but you might also want to do a Google search because a few more showed up that might be closer to you. Be sure to get the rice flour with clear bag and red lettering, NOT the sweet rice flour. ;-)

      Hope you have a wonderful weekend, too!

  2. Vicky on May 31st, 2013 12:36 pm

    These DO look so melt-in your mouth Shirley and I found the information about cross contamination so interesting :)

    • Shirley on May 31st, 2013 4:11 pm

      Vicky–Thanks! And my photos don’t even do them justice! ;-) I’m glad the info on cross contamination is enlightening folks. We have farms all around our area, so I see the reality of this every day.


  3. Susan on May 31st, 2013 12:43 pm

    Thanks for sharing the concerns of cross-contamination and for sharing another wonderful recipe Shirley.
    Just a quick question — I don’t like corn kernels in my muffins. Could I blend these to a pulp or do something else to get the taste without the kernel?

    • Shirley on May 31st, 2013 4:14 pm

      Hi Susan–I’m happy to share info and recipes. So glad that folks find them both useful! I’m sure that you run the corn kernels through a mini chopper or food processor of if you normally use canned corn, perhaps even use drained canned corn? I’ve not tried either yet, of course, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the results will be good. Part of the success of this recipe is the fact that the kernel are frozen and has they bake they thaw/cook and add additional moisture. So the results will not be exactly the same, but I hope they’re good! :-)


  4. Linda on May 31st, 2013 1:34 pm

    I love the grain discussion, Shirley, and those muffins do look like they’re wonderful. I’ve always loved muffins, but really haven’t missed them since going grain free. As you know, I’ve made grain free muffins occasionally, but I don’t feel the need to replace baked goods most of the time. The drawback is that I have fewer recipes to share on my site!

    • Shirley on May 31st, 2013 4:16 pm

      Hey Linda–I haven’t made muffins in a while, but made these for a specific reason/obligation. That didn’t quite work out as I’d planned, but I still loved this recipe. :-) I’d love to make them completely grain free next time. This time a slight adaptation seemed much easier. I agree that as we’re eating healthier, there tend to be less recipes to share. ;-)


  5. Johnna on May 31st, 2013 2:34 pm

    These muffins sound delicious. The muffin tin in the photo is beautiful! Thanks for all of the info on cross-contamination literally from the ground up. I think I need to plant more corn now…

    • Shirley on May 31st, 2013 8:43 pm

      Thanks, Johnna … on both! Ha! Well, the tale really is from the ground up, isn’t it? I guess some folks don’t have any idea about how crops are grown and processed, so I thought I’d share. You really don’t have to plant much corn to get a good amount. But making your own cornmeal, etc., now that would be tough! Well, at least IMHO. Btw, thought of you today when I had my kale-infused smoothie. :-)


  6. Yvonne on May 31st, 2013 2:59 pm

    Looks good. Interesting, I too do NOT tolerate sorghum or buckwheat, and sometimes even corn.(for neither oats). Do you know if others with celiac have the same problem?

    • Shirley on May 31st, 2013 8:45 pm

      Hi Yvonne–It looks like you are new here–welcome! :-) Well, I certainly don’t know the data on all who are gluten free, but I personally know a good number of gluten-free folks who have issues with all grains or specific grains. Sorry, you are one of them. :-( It definitely makes life more challenging as far as choices, but it might be protecting us in the long run. Maybe?


  7. Alisa on May 31st, 2013 7:44 pm

    So ingenious Shirley! I’ve often thought how some almond flour baked goodies taste like corn – I bet these are amazing!

    • Shirley on June 1st, 2013 12:26 am

      Alisa–Thanks! There’s something about the texture of almond flour in muffins I think. With the kernels of corn, these muffins really are amazing. I want to make some more now! ;-)


  8. Ina Gawne on June 1st, 2013 8:02 am

    These muffins sound wonderful Shirley. I am like you except with gluten free oats. I learned that the protein in oats is actually very similar to the protein found in wheat so oats are definitely a no go for me. I’ve never stopped missing oatmeal!

  9. Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) on June 1st, 2013 5:59 pm

    These look beautiful my friend! I need to keep a closer eye on other triggers for my guys. I’ve found all of mine, but I don’t really know if they have others that get to them. Thank you for sharing your story!

  10. InTolerant Chef on June 1st, 2013 9:36 pm

    These do sound lovely indeed! Corn adds so much natural sweetness- delicious!

  11. Elle on June 1st, 2013 10:53 pm

    Shirley, I had never thought of it that way.

    I don’t think I have ever considered the type of contamination (for lack of better word) that happens from the planting/harvesting process all the way through to the production of something. There are definitely a lot of steps involved.

    I sincerely doubt that any of this is intentional, and actually it all seems pretty much unavoidable. It is just part of the cultivating process.

    Your recipe looks delicious and I am glad that you have found a way around it. I am going to have to try baking these muffins soon!

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