Wheat-Free Morning Joy Muffins

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morning joy muffins

What's the upside of the gluten-free, wheat-free craze? Diversity in flour! Finally, other healthful whole grains, from oats and rice to barley and kamut, are getting kitchen time and shelf space, elbowing out the tried-and-true bags of all-purpose white and whole wheat. Even if gluten and/or wheat sensitivity isn't your issue, the sudden rush to put new flours in the spotlight (and into the Bob's Red Mill product line) is a long-overdue way to get the health benefits, fiber, and nutrients of a wider variety of grains into your diet.

Oat and barley flours, I've discovered, have a pleasant, mild flavor with a hint of sweet nuttiness, and can be easily substituted into just about any quick bread or cookie recipe. I've used them for muffins, cookies, doughnuts, pancakes, and more, with great results.

I first had a version of these muffins at the Morning Glory Cafe on Nantucket Island, off the coast of Massachusetts. This popular cafe and breakfast spot was a fixture on Straight Wharf throughout the late 70s and 80s. Sadly, the cafe closed in 1994, but its muffin went on to bakery fame and fortune after founding chef Pam McKinstry published her Morning Glory muffin recipe in Gourmet magazine in 1981.

Shredded coconut, pineapple, and carrots are the glory in the original muffins, along with apples, raisins, and sweet spices. It's a healthy-sounding muffin that's really a sneaky way to eat carrot cake for breakfast. Not that there's anything wrong with that, unless, like me, you have a deep and unwavering aversion to shredded coconut in any and all forms. Even without coconut, there's still a cup of oil and a cup and a quarter of sugar in the original recipe, which makes them too cupcake-y for my first-thing-in-the-morning eye-opener. So, it was back to the kitchen drawing board, to make a less sweet, less oil-heavy muffin with all the appealing flavors of the original. Here, I drew on another excellent carrot-muffin island memory, that of the Carrot Spice muffins served at the Streamliner Diner on Bainbridge Island near Seattle, the recipe for which is given in their charming Streamliner Diner Cookbook.


And so here they are, Morning Joy Muffins, made with oat and barley flours, honey instead of sugar, not too much fat, and no shredded coconut! You can, of course, put the coconut back in, as long as I'm not invited for breakfast.

Wheat-Free Morning Joy Muffins
You can substitute whole-wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour for the oat and barley flours, if desired; you can also add 1/2 cup of shredded, unsweetened coconut to the mix. These muffins are best fresh out of the oven.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 12 muffins

1 cup oat flour
1 cup barley flour or brown rice flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp powdered ginger, or 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 eggs
6 tbsp butter or coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup, or a combination
1 1/2 cups grated carrot
1 large apple, grated
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds or toasted walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin pan, or line with paper liners.
  2. Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, melted butter, and honey together.
  3. Stir egg mixture gently into flour. Add carrots, apple, raisins, and sunflower seeds, and stir swiftly but gently until mixture is just combined. No beating!
  4. Spoon into muffin cups, filling about 3/4 full. Bake until just golden, about 20 minutes. A tester should come out clean when poked in the middle of a muffin.
  5. Cool on a rack. Serve warm.