Gluten-Free Cherry Almond Muffins
Cherry Cherry Bo Berry...
It hit me today as I was walking my morning walk. I've been sugar-free for two months (I even looked it up, just be sure). Eight weeks without sugar. Eight! Ocho. Huit. Osiem. The first week was the toughest. Sugar detox is not for wimps, darling.
First, there is the headache. The roughshod gallop pummeling the interior of your tender, childlike skull, leaving you feeling cracked, and squinting, dodging sunlight like the unholy spawn of Dracula, begging for mercy.
Or at least a tiny, hummingbird nibble of chocolate.
Then there is The Craving. The Craving outlasts the headache (which finally bids you vaya con Dios at the end of day four). The Craving lasts for a week. Maybe two. Or three, now that I think of it. I'm not exactly sure. I stopped counting the days when it all became one big itchy wall-climbing pantry-rifling prowl for something to fill the hole. The hole that is one big long gnawing hunger for something sweet.
Then one blue-sky day I tasted almond butter right out of the jar.
And it knocked my fuzzy pink socks off.
And I knew I was home free.
My taste buds had changed. And everything from bananas to cherry tomatoes tasted intensely, deliciously new.
So if you are tempted to try a sugar detox, I am here to encourage you. I did it. I survived. And I even lost a few pounds (I also gave up white starches, like white rice, tapioca starch, and white potatoes). Tenacious Doris is eight pounds lighter. And more importantly, my disagreeable tummy has settled into a more friendly relationship with yours truly.
Sugar Detox Tips: Fats can save your butt, honey. When giving up white starches and sugar, healthy fats can rescue you from intense cravings and general, no good, low sugar feebleness. Whenever I felt hungry and shaky I ate a handful of almonds or pecans, or dabbed almond butter on banana slices. I munched on olives. Avocado spritzed with lime juice was a rich and silky treat. I hard-boiled organic free-range eggs to have on hand for high protein snacks.
Now that my cravings have stabilized, I don't eat as many pick-me-ups.
As you may have noticed with my Blueberry Scone recipe, I've started to bake without sugar, using the same powdered stevia I add to my morning chai, and my ginger root tea. A tiny little bit of stevia goes a long way. (Read more about stevia and other sugar substitutes here.)
I'm pleasantly surprised at how downright killer my sugar-free treats are! Even the sugar indulging men in the house agree. These are darn tasty.
Today's baking adventure involves cherries (why not?). And I did add two tablespoons of pure maple syrup to the batter this time, for taste, texture and sweetness. But if you need (or want) to avoid maple syrup, just sub almond milk instead.
Gluten-Free Cherry Almond Muffins Recipe
Cherries and almonds are a match made in heaven. So fragrant and naturally sweet. I used only a touch of stevia and a small amount of pure maple syrup to sweeten these lovely breakfast treats. If you prefer a traditionally sweeter muffin, feel free to add sugar. A half cup should do it.
1 1/3 cups almond flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup GF millet flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon powdered stevia, to taste* see notes
3 large organic free-range eggs
2 tablespoons light olive oil
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, as needed
1 cup packed pitted, chopped sweet cherries
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line a twelve-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (almond flour through stevia).
Add in the eggs, oil, maple syrup, and almond extract, beating until the ingredients stick together. Continue to beat as you add the almond milk, a little at a time, beating until the batter loosens and becomes smooth and slightly sticky. It should look like a thick- but smooth- muffin batter. I added a half cup of almond milk to mine.
Add in the chopped cherries by hand and stir to distribute, saving a few to add to the muffin tops.
Set the batter aside to rest for a few minutes. I like to do this with gluten-free batters. It seems to help the rise.
Spoon the batter evenly into the twelve muffin cups. Stud the tops with a few cherry pieces.
Bake in the center of a pre-heated oven for 20 minutes or so, until domed and golden. The muffins should be firm to the touch.
Set the muffin pan on a cooling rack for five minutes. Then gently remove the muffins and place them directly on the rack to cool (this keeps the bottoms from getting soggy), or serve immediately.
These cherry almond gems are heavenly warm and tender from the oven.
Cook time: 20 minutes
Yield: 12 muffins
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The stevia I used is concentrated, and a little goes a long way. Taste test and judge for yourself how much you'd prefer to add to the batter. Remember that too much powdered stevia can taste bitter in baked goods. I plan on trying some of the stevia that is crystallized for baking purposes.
As mentioned above, if you prefer using sugar in your gluten-free baking, by all means use a half cup of sugar and skip the stevia.
For those baking vegan, I have made wonderful almond flour muffins without eggs. Check my Blueberry Almond Flour Muffins recipe and replace the blueberries with chopped sweet cherries, and the vanilla powder with two teaspoons almond extract. Or follow this recipe above using your favorite egg replacer.
As always, I urge you to add the liquid slowly as you beat the batter, using only the amount you need to achieve a smooth, slightly sticky batter- not too thick, not too thin. You may need slightly less (or slightly more) liquid, depending upon your climate. Humidity influences flours and their moisture content.
For easy on-the-go treats, wrap leftover muffins in foil, bag, and freeze.