October 02, 2011

Grain-free, sugar-free breakfast muffins


I don't usually get excited about any new "diets" that pop up in the media - there were Atkins and South Beach, now there are Paleo, Dukan, Alkaline and of course the most miraculous fad diets such as the grapefruit diet, cabbage soup diet and the baby food diet. There is a difference, of course, between following a certain diet as part of a healthy lifestyle, and a fad that is supposed to last only a few days and shed all those extra kilos away.

In the past I've been experimenting with some dietary changes (like gluten-free and dairy-free) to see if they make a difference in my or my partner's health. In general, however, we both like to think that moderation is the key and a balanced, healthy diet is part of our lifestyle, along with exercise and getting enough sleep.

When I read Sarah Wilson's new e-book "I Quit Sugar", I started thinking about how much sugar I consume daily. Judging by the amount of baking I do, it may seem like I consume a lot, but in actual fact my diet is fairly low-sugar and has been this way for many years. I haven't been using "white", processed sugar in baking for quite a while now, but raw sugar, coconut sugar, agave and honey are all still sugars and count towards the daily sugar consumption. My biggest source for sugar (fructose) has been fruit and this is something I have been wanting to cut back for a while now.

Inspired by Sarah's book I have decided to see how I can benefit from a sugar-free diet. In my daily life this means eating less fruit (1-2 pieces a day) and baking sugar-free treats. These grain-free rhubarb muffins are by no mean pretty, but nevertheless make a lovely breakfast treat. Rhubarb has a low fructose content, but is perfectly sweet when baked, and warm spices make these muffins complete. Enjoyed with a cup of spiced herbal tea they are a perfect guilt-free treat.


Grain-free, sugar-free breakfast muffins
(makes 8-10)
(recipe adapted from "I Quit Sugar" by Sarah Wilson)

175g hazelnut meal
85g almonds, chopped
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
2 large eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons milk/nut milk/coconut milk
200g rhubarb, washed and chopped in 1 cm pieces

1. Preheat oven to 170C and prepare a 10-cup muffin tin. 

2. Combine the hazelnut meal, almonds, baking powder and soda, salt and spices in a bowl. 

3. Whisk together the eggs, oil and milk and add this to the dry ingredients.

4. Fold through the rhubarb.

5. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cups and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the muffins feel firm to touch. Leave to cool on a wire rack before serving. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze.

And if you want to go sugar-free...

Start by analysing your daily sugar consumption: Do you add sugar to your tea/coffee? Do you drink soft drinks? Eat sweets or chocolate? How much sugar is in your breakfast cereal/muesli/yoghurt?


Get in the habit of swapping your daily snacks to sugar-free ones: Try home-made vegetable chips (kale is great), nuts or home-made treats like these muffins.


Try mineral water (or tap water!) or herbal teas instead of sugary drinks. Roasted dandelion tea is a delicious option. Add ground cinnamon and enjoy with home-made rice or nut milk.


Read more... "Is Sugar Toxic?" - NY Times article
                     "I Quit Sugar" - Sarah Wilson

Buy Sarah's Book: 
Click here to view more details

 

47 comments:

  1. Curious to see how your sugar free goes. My weaknesses would be dark chocolate and homemade ice cream :) I actually think these do look quite pretty flecked with the pink rhubarb. And I am all for guilt free treats! Who wouldn't be!!

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  2. mmm...what a perfect breakfast!

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  3. Those are far from being ugly! An interesting diet. I also have to cut down on sugar...

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  4. I don't think I can quit sugar... but the muffins do look lovely!

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  5. Maria, this is something I need to do more of. Less sugar is something I need to seriously consider. I think reading that e-book is a great place to start.

    By the way, I think these muffins are plenty pretty.

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  6. Oh my gosh Maria! I was experimenting with a very similar (hazelnut and rhubarb muffin) recently but I have found they turned out a little dry... I was going to add unsweetened apple sauce to them but other things took over. Now I can just borrow your recipe when catering for large morning teas...

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  7. I doubt I can quit sugar, but this looks like an amazing recipe to try, especially since I've rhubarb frozen for uses like these :D I love how the bits of pink/red pop out in the muffin!

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  8. Every time I think I should cut down on sugar I see a recipe I want to make.The best of luck to you on the sugar thing!

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  9. These sound good and for breakfast I don't even want anything really sweet :)

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  10. Didn't know there's such a diet called "South Beach"...you are so right about the diet. I believe that moderation is the key too. Sugar-free unnecessarily means tasteless..I love healthy muffins.

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  11. I think they look pretty! They actually look kinda deceivingly chocolatey, which is bad! :)

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  12. I'm interested to see how this change in your diet goes. I too only use raw sugar and honey in my cooking, but eat lots of fruit so I'm sure I'm still getting a fair bit of sugar in my diet.

    You have made these nutritional muffins look beautiful though :)

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  13. The muffins sound delicious! We went no-sugar at the end of last year - I'm right in the middle of doing a post about it :) I still bake with a small bit of apple juice concentrate but that's about it. The first few weeks are the hardest. Then it just becomes habit really! The most amazing thing is when your taste buds begin to change. There is sugar in everything these days so I read a lot of labels. Good for you taking the first step.

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  14. they look fabulous and I love the muffin containers. I try to keep my baking as low sugar and natural as possible, despite my nagging sweet tooth. I think if you shove enough fruit inside, i may not miss it ;) Excited to try them.

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  15. lovely muffins! i could never cut back on sugar entirely, but i could try these muffins for sure!

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  16. They must be delicious with the hazelnut meal. I don't even have white sugar at my house and I don't eat any desserts out but I do probably eat too much honey, maple syrup etc.

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  17. Oh sugar! I like to limit my refined sugar intake, but I don't think I could ever cut down on fruit. :) Those muffins don't look ugly at all.

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  18. very very nice. I just made some muffins with almost no sugar except for the natural sugar contained in the pears I grated in the batter. lovely, now time for trying these!

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  19. It would be hard for me to cut down on sugar! but yes... i can definetly have savory muffins and other breakfasts. In India all our breakfasts are sugar free.

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  20. grain free and sugar free yet they look so beautiful and so delicious? Wow, I am amazed and intrigued to take a bite. Great idea of using the rhubarb in them. I love rhubarb

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  21. I love the look of these Maria, and the ideas behind them! I must try them this weekend!

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  22. I know what you mean about diets. Some are so unhealthy for you and only offer a quick fix. Stud and I have been eating healthy for our weddingbut we both feel so good that we'll def stick to it afterwards

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  23. What a great recipe - just the kind of muffin I would enjoy for my morning breakfast!

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  24. This recipe looks phenomenal! I love nut-based treats. Nut-based anything, really. However, I think I would need to add a leeeetle bit of sweetener ;) I think I'll stick with the moderation part!

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  25. I have noticed a lot of health improvements since I switched to a Paleo (grain/sugar/dairy/legume-free) diet. Funny that you said your muffins don't look pretty, to me the most natural looking desserts are the ones who I feel more attracted to. Thanks for the recipe!

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  26. I also have been reading my way through Sarah's book. Most people wouldn't realise how much sugar they actually consume - it is in everything! None the less i agree in balance and moderation. Your muffins look delightful and I will be giving them a try as they will be a great addition to the boys lunchbox.

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  27. Hi, it is very nice to encounter your blog! Beautiful pictures and nice recipe. I love to make these muffins. I will stop by again. Thanks for great posting! May I link your blog?

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  28. Hey Maria, I just tried these out today and they didn't turn out too good. I'm just wondering if the inside of the muffins will be a tad mushy and not muffin-like?

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  29. Hi Janine! I'm sorry to hear yours didn't turn out good. Mine were not mushy inside at all. I'm not sure what might have gone wrong! I've updated the post with an 'inside' photo of the muffin, if that helps.

    Forestlily: Thank you! Yes, sure you can link.

    Kind regards,
    Maria
    xx

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  30. thanks for that 'inside' photo maria! i'm just wondering if it's because I substituted some hazelnut meal for almonds? in any case - my rhubarbs disintegrated a whole lot more than what i see in the picture. I'll try it again soon :D

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  31. I am always looking for healthy on-the-run breakfast ideas and this looks just perfect. What other fruit would you use instead of rhubarb?

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  32. i could give up a lot of things, even meat, but one thing i'll never live without is sugar. i'm addicted, hook, line, and sinker. these still look yummy, though i'd have mine with a big ol' plop of jam. :)

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  33. How long do these muffins keep for and how do you store them?

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  34. Hi 'The Yummyblogsisters',

    I am using rhubarb because I am not having any fruit at the moment. If you'd like, you could try using berries instead.


    Hi Angie,

    Thank you for your question. I've updated the information above. They keep in the fridge for up to 3 days or you can freeze them.

    Kind regards,
    Maria
    x

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  35. I agree eating healthy and moderation is the key. Avoiding processed foods and sugar is mostly the norm for our family now. I do have teenagers, so, there are some exceptions. I love your blog! I am a fellow finn, born in Helsinki, living in Canada.

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  36. Do u think I could sub pecans for hazlenuts?

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  37. Hi Kimmi,

    Yes, that would probably work just as well. If you're grinding the pecans yourself, just make sure they are fine enough (almost like flour).

    Maria

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  38. Oooooh! I will be making these for sure! I absolutely love that there's no added sugar in these. I think I'll give it a try with strawberries, though. I'm far from being sugar free and still need a little sweetness. And they're grain-free?! This is an amazing recipe. I can't to try it out!

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  39. Hi Maria

    I have been on the 'I quit sugar' program sice moving to London from Brisbane 3 weeks ago. Unlike some I have been getting all KINDS of cravings for sweet things. Stumbling across your blog has been the biggest help to me through this time. I have just made these muffins (with almond meal instead of hazelnut as that's what I could find) and they were wonderful!

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  40. A very silly question but do you cook the rhubarb first? Or does it cook as the muffins do?

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    1. No need to cook the rhubarb first :-)

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  41. Hello! I was just wondering if you have any thoughts on replacing the hazelnut flour with buckwheat? I have it on hand and it would go nicely with the rhubarb - and it usually behaves like a nut flour rather than a grain flour... but I'm nervous! :) - josie

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    1. Hi Josie,

      You can certainly give it a go. I haven't tried but if you think they behave similarly then it should work out ok.

      Maria

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    2. Just thought I would report back and mention that I tried it out tonight with half ground almonds and half buckwheat flour (and I used some summer berries that I had in the freezer, since rhubarb proved tough to track down). They rose beautifully and have a great texture, but I'd advise anybody going down the buckwheat route to consider increasing the salt/spice quantities slightly!

      josie

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  42. Hi Maria,

    Would I be able to use spelt flour instead of nut meal?
    And if so, what would be the correct quantity?

    Thanks!
    Sach

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    1. Hi Sach,


      You could use spelt flour, but unfortunately I don't know what the conversion would be.

      Maria

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  43. I just baked these this morning, with homegrown rhubarb, These muffins are not sweet at all, more savoury, but i love the tartness of the Rhubarb. I might add in a grated apple or two next time, and maybe try using almond flour, instead of hazelnut.

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