No-bake, grain & gluten free, sweet (and spicy) muffins

Dates at market in Kuwait

Dates at market in Kuwait

By Cat, March 13, 2016 (Photo, right, cropped from Wikimedia Commons)

See also: 1. Breads & Muffins Menu;

When I do a juice fast, the first week after the fast is a time to slowly reintroduce regular foods, beginning with fruits, then veggies, and finally adding fatty, grain, and protein foods later in the week. I will be doing another fast next week, and will definitely be wanting something chewy and filling when I break the fast. The ingredients in this recipe are perfect for early in “breaking the fast” – as soon as I can add nuts (3rd day of breaking the fast).

But of course, these muffins would be good anytime, especially for those who are gluten- and/or grain-free.  I’ve not yet tested this recipe.

No-bake, grain & gluten free, sweet (and spicy) muffins

This recipe is adapted form one from Mercola’s recipes blog (1), originally by one of his readers, Marla Hernandez. Because these do not bake and rise, they may not be as fluffy as regular muffins, but their taste and texture is sure to please. This recipe makes 6 servings (6 regular-size muffins or 12 mini-muffins).

Mercola provides information about the goodness of each of the ingredients (I provide the emphasis with bold text for each ingredient):

“Figs rose to popularity because of their biblical mentions, but they’re more than that. Compared to regular figs, dried figs have a higher nutritional value, and are loaded with antioxidants that counteract free radicals and combat diseases. Their dietary fiber helps regulate your digestion, which positively impacts weight management.

Just make sure to eat figs in moderation though, as they have high amounts of fructose. If you’re struggling with insulin and leptin resistance, overweight, or diabetic, I would not advise consuming this snack.

Watercress: While it’s known for its unique and pungent smell, watercress is loaded with vitamins and minerals that can provide health benefits. It’s also low in calories. Watercress has high amounts of vitamin K, with 312 percent of the recommended daily value. Vitamin K forms and strengthens bones and lessens brain damage, which can be helpful in treating Alzheimer’s disease.

The plant’s different phytonutrients are also good for you. Gluconasturtiin, the compound responsible for watercress’ peppery flavor may help fight carcinogens. Antioxidant flavonoids, meanwhile, lend a hand in protecting the body against mouth and lung cancers.

Lemon: One of the most recognizable citrus fruits in the world, the lemon is a good source of B-vitamins and minerals.  It has antioxidants that promote healthy mucus membranes, skin, and vision, and protect DNA cells. The vitamin C in these fruits fights infections effectively, and the citric acid helps with digestion and dissolves kidney stones.

Cayenne: There are many varieties of peppers all over the world, but the cayenne pepper has established its popularity because of its extreme heat and flavor. Chili peppers, like cayenne, are good for you because of capsaicin, a compound that can help relieve pain, lower cancer risk, improve heart health, and help you feel satiated or full for a longer period of time.”

Alternative ingredients

  • Instead of dried figs, use dried dates.
  • For watercress, substitute arugula (both have the same peppery bite), or nasturtium flowers/leaves; however, I don’t know if these are a 1:1 substitute, or otherwise.
  • For lemon juice, try orange juice.
  • For spice, try nutmeg instead of cayenne.
  • Instead of almond butter, you can try other nut butters such as cashew or peanut. Coconut oil is another option, but you have to keep the muffins refrigerated.


(numbers in parenthesis refer to the ‘references’ section, to learn more about each ingredient.

  • 3 dried figs (2)
  • Juice of 1 lemon (3)
  • 1 head of garlic (4)
  • Dash of cayenne pepper (6)
  • 5 watercress leaves (5)
  • ¼ cup almond butter (see below for how to make your own in a high-speed blender, like a Ninja or Vitamix)


  1. Chop the dried figs and place in food processor.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients.
  3. Process until blended, scraping down the sides as necessary.
  4. Press onto a muffin tin with 12 mini cups, or 6 regular cups.
  5. Pop in the fridge to harden for about 15 minutes.

Almond butter recipe:

See: Amy’s Healthy Baking blog (7). I don’t have the kind of blender or food processor to test this recipe, but it uses only whole roasted almonds and unrefined sea salt. Other recipes add other oils such as coconut oil, palm oil, or olive oil.

Another option is to use commercial almond butter. If you don’t use it often, consider Justin’s Almond Butter squeeze packs (1.15 oz per squeeze pack), available from iHerb, product code JNB-00021. It contains dry roasted almonds and organic palm fruit oil.


  1. Mercola
  2. Mercola on figs (
  3. Mercola on lemon (
  4. Mercola on garlic (
  5. Mercola on watercress (
  6. Cat on cayenne (
  7. Amy’s Healthy Baking, Almond Butter recipe:
  8. On watercress substitute, Chow Hound:; and Gourmet Sleuth:

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