Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Chocolate & Ginger Muffin

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that writing a blog takes time and dedication. The hours spent cooking and writing don’t magically appear out of nowhere, and some weeks that time is hard-won. But when friends and family come to me with tales of friends who are mysteriously ill whom doctors declare healthy, it makes me realize how lucky I am to have taken this journey to health. Using what I’ve learned to help others heal themselves with food is my mission in the Whole Kitchen. Food saved my life, and it can save yours, too.

Most recently, my sister-in-law, Jenn, wrote to me to see if I had any ideas for her friend who has had nearly daily migraines and a host of other issues that doctors could not figure out. Like me, her doctors just ratcheted up the doses on her medication, but the symptoms persisted. I recommended that she cut gluten and dairy from her diet, just for a few days, to see if there was improvement – there’s nothing to lose with a diet trial and everything to gain in learning how to nourish yourself.

Jenn’s friend took the challenge, and 4 days later, her migraines have vanished! It seems like gluten is one of the culprits that has been making her sick for a long time. It gives me such JOY to hear stories like this and to help wherever I can. And these muffins prove that a gluten-free life is not one of deprivation.

I’ve probably made a dozen batches of the pumpkin spice bars I posted back in October. We can’t get enough of them – they’re light and moist, and the batter comes together in a few moments. I’ve played with different spice combinations and tossed in small handfuls of dried cherries, hazelnuts, pepitas, pecans – whatever sounds good in the moment. Lately, I’ve been making them in a muffin pan, because everything tastes better in muffin form.

Sunday morning, I woke up with the idea of taking the muffins in a very chocolatey direction. And the result may be the best chocolate cake I have had in my gluten-free life. The pumpkin keeps the batter moist, and good quality cocoa powder and a tiny splash of coffee extract gives the cocoa a little extra depth. I tossed a handful of chopped crystallized ginger in at the end, just for fun. These muffins are good enough to serve for a birthday celebration, and healthy enough for breakfast on a cold, snowy morning. And who doesn’t want chocolate cake for breakfast?!

What’s your favorite sweet start to the day? Share your breakfast treats in the comments below…

Chocolate Ginger Pumpkin Muffins
Adapted from my pumpkin spice bar recipe
Makes 14 muffins.

2 large free-range organic eggs
1/3 cup extra light olive oil or vegetable oil
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup pumpkin puree (canned is fine)
1 T vanilla extract
1 and 3/4 cups gluten-free flour mix (Pamela’s mix is my favorite)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum (if already included in your flour blend, omit)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon coffee extract (optional)
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray a muffin pan with olive oil – you’ll need 14 cups. I only have 12, so I use a couple of large ramekins for the extra batter.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs till blended; add the oil and whisk to combine. Add the brown sugar and beat until smooth. Add the vanilla, coffee extract, pumpkin and stir till smooth. Add the baking mix, baking soda & powder, cocoa and spices; stir just until the batter is smooth. Add in the crystallized ginger and gently stir to combine.
  4. Scoop 1/3 cup batter into each muffin cup – filling each cup about halfway. Bake in the center of a preheated oven for about 25 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted into the center emerges clean. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then gently run a butter knife around the edges of each cup and lift out to fully cool on the wire rack. Store in a sealed container on the counter for a few days.

I couldn’t resist just a teensy mention of last week’s Snowpocalypse – here I am in a snow tunnel that  we dug with friends over the weekend. We’ve still got  2-3 feet of snow here, piles of snow six feet high, and uncleared streets and sidewalks. But even so, I love all this snow and the good cheer with which Chicagoans face this extreme weather.