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Cherry Almond Muffins (Dairy and Gluten-free) & 10 Facts about Sugar

Look what I’ve got for you today? Don’t these dairy and gluten-free Cherry Almond Muffins look amazing? Scroll down to the bottom if you want the recipe straight away.

My Cherry Almond Muffins are dairy-free, gluten-free, free from refined sugar, and so so yummy! Click for the recipe and to learn a bit more about sugar and 'free' sugars... My Cherry Almond Muffins are dairy-free, gluten-free, free from refined sugar, and so so yummy! Click for the recipe and to learn a bit more about sugar and 'free' sugars... 

Sugar is getting a lot of bad press at the moment, isn’t it? A few weeks ago, a collaboration with Splenda took me to ‘Sweet School’ (Isn’t that the best kind of schools?) to learn more about  about sugar, ‘free sugars’ and sweeteners. Before I delve into the content of the session I took part in, let me me 100% honest: it never ever crossed my mind to swap sugar for ‘fake’ sugar. Instead of using artificial sweeteners, my philosophy has always been: if you don’t want to use sugar, just don’t. If you don’t want sugar but want to sweeten your tea or natural yoghurt, why not just use honey?

I personally just stick to sugar in moderation. I can always tell if I’m drinking a ‘diet’ soft drink or having coffee in which someone dropped some sweetener instead of a sprinkle of sugar. I have my own views and misconceptions about sweeteners, and I definitely would never have anything that contains aspartame. Why did I accept to go to an event with Splenda, then? Well, I am curious by nature, and I always try things before I judge. Since the event was focused on bakes rather than drinks, I decided to go in with an open mind and see what the fuss was all about.

Expert nutritionist Helen Bond gave us a really thorough and fascinating introduction to sugar. I learnt so much on the day! It was all about ‘free sugars’ and busting some myths. Helen also focused on common confusions portrayed in the media around ‘healthy’ sugar swaps like honey or agave nectar.

Basically, ‘free sugar’ is another phrase for added sugar, and it is is hidden in a lot of processed food. ‘Free’ sugar affects your body in exactly the same way as refined sugar does. It’s important to try and cut down ‘free’ sugars in our diet. Good old plain refined sugar is a ‘free’ sugar, and so are ‘natural’ sweeteners like honey, coconut sugar, maple syrup and agave. I was actually surprised about unsweetened fruit juices and smoothies being classed as ‘free’ sugars as well. Lactose, the sugar that naturally occurs in milk, does not count as a ‘free’ sugar.

Are you ready for 10 facts about sugar?

1- We are all born with a sweet tooth.

2- ‘Free’ sugar can damage teeth and boost calorie intake. It could even lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes.

3- A teaspoon of sugar contains 16 calories.

4- Low calorie sweeteners were discovered in1879!

5- The government has set 7 teaspoons of sugar (including ‘free sugars’) as the acceptable amount for people over 11 to have per day. That’s 30g.

6- The average British person currently eats and drinks an average of 60g of ‘free sugar’ per day. That’s double the acceptable amount!

7- Most of the ‘free’ sugar in our diet comes from table sugar, sugary drinks, sweets, chocolate and alcohol.

8- ‘Free’ sugar is not always that easy to spot on labels. Look out for words ending in -ose as well as agave, molasses…

9- Here is how to recognise food and drinks that are high in sugar: anything over 22% per 100g (food) or 11% per 100ml (drinks).

10- As long as you avoid xylitol and aspartame, low calorie sweeteners are a safe substitute for sugar. They help cut down on ‘free sugars’ but still satisfy your sweet tooth. They help reduce the risk of dental problems and are low in calories. Sucralose, the sweetening agent in Splenda, is completely safe for consumption.

After the information-packed session, we tried lots of delicious bakes made with Splenda: Peanut Butter Jammy Dodgers, Dark Chocolate and Stem Ginger Cheesecake and Cherry Almond Crumble Muffins. As I left the building where the event was held, I knew I was going to reproduce one of the recipes (those muffins were to die for).

A couple of things to consider about Splenda when using for baking:

  • It bakes really well (up to 232ºC).
  • It’s slightly more absorbent than regular sugar so you might need more liquid.
  • It doesn’t brown in the same way as sugar would (hence the almond topping on my muffins).

When I got home, I set the children a challenge: I would make muffins using Splenda, and they’d make the same recipe using sugar. I’d misplaced the recipe for the Cherry Almond Crumble Muffins so my starting point was loosely based on the Raspberry Almond Cakes from the Splenda website, and I adapted it to create those Dairy & Gluten-free cherry Muffins.

My Cherry Almond Muffins are dairy-free, gluten-free, free from refined sugar, and so so yummy! Click for the recipe and to learn a bit more about sugar and 'free' sugars... 

 

My little man was the first one to join me in the kitchen.

My Cherry Almond Muffins are dairy-free, gluten-free, free from refined sugar, and so so yummy! Click for the recipe and to learn a bit more about sugar and 'free' sugars... 

His sister came along and they mostly argued about would be doing the next thing!

My Cherry Almond Muffins are dairy-free, gluten-free, free from refined sugar, and so so yummy! Click for the recipe and to learn a bit more about sugar and 'free' sugars... 

I don’t think Jumpy got her own way!

My Cherry Almond Muffins are dairy-free, gluten-free, free from refined sugar, and so so yummy! Click for the recipe and to learn a bit more about sugar and 'free' sugars... 

Wriggly was just happy to plop cherries over the mixture, bless her!

My Cherry Almond Muffins are dairy-free, gluten-free, free from refined sugar, and so so yummy! Click for the recipe and to learn a bit more about sugar and 'free' sugars... 

We then organised a blind taste testing session to see whether we could tell the difference between my cakes and theirs. We couldn’t! The ones with Splenda didn’t raise as much as the other ones, but they honestly tasted just as good.

My Cherry Almond Muffins are dairy-free, gluten-free, free from refined sugar, and so so yummy! Click for the recipe and to learn a bit more about sugar and 'free' sugars... 

How yummy do they look?

My Cherry Almond Muffins are dairy-free, gluten-free, free from refined sugar, and so so yummy! Click for the recipe and to learn a bit more about sugar and 'free' sugars... 

 

My Cherry Almond Muffins are dairy-free, gluten-free, free from refined sugar, and so so yummy! Click for the recipe and to learn a bit more about sugar and 'free' sugars... My Cherry Almond Muffins are dairy-free, gluten-free, free from refined sugar, and so so yummy! Click for the recipe and to learn a bit more about sugar and 'free' sugars... 
4.84 from 6 votes
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Cherry Almond Muffins (Dairy and Gluten-free)

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 12

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs free range
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200 g ground almonds
  • 50 g self-raising gluten-free flour ‘The Free From Fairy’ always gives the best results
  • 8 tablespoons SPLENDA® granulated or 120g sugar
  • 100 g dairy-free spread at room temperature I use Pure Sunflower
  • 200 g ripe cherries cut in half and stoned
  • A handful almonds about 30
  • A tablespoon ground almonds
  • a teaspoon Splenda Granulated

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 190°C (gas mark 5 / 375ºF).
  2. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with muffin cases.
  3. Separate the eggs. Place the egg whites in a bowl along with the vanilla and whisk until you get soft peaks.
  4. In a separate bowl stir together the almonds, flour and Splenda Granulated or caster sugar. Mix in the dairy-free butter and the egg yolks.
  5. Lastly, gently fold the whites in to the cake dough until fully combined.
  6. Spoon the mixture in to the tin then scatter over the cherry halves.
  7. Place the almond in a freezer bag and bash with a rolling pin. Mix the crumbled almonds with the tablespoon of ground almonds and teaspoon of Splenda Granulated. Sprinkle over the muffins dough.
  8. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until the muffins spring back when you press them lightly. To check they are fully cooked, you can insert a knife through the middle of one muffin. If it comes out dry, the muffins are ready. If not, just give them another few minutes.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, but all opinions and photos are my own.

 

28 Comments

  1. 13/02/2018 / 2:13 am

    These look delicious! These facts are really interesting too, I definitely eat way too much sugar. I used to have a serious addiction to full fat coke which I’ve now swapped for Pepsi Max – not good! I’m definitely going to have a go at swapping sugar for Splenda the next time I bake and see how it comes out!

    • Mel
      Author
      13/02/2018 / 2:17 am

      I’m the same: I probably have more sugar than I should, but I have a set tooth 🙂 Using Splenda as a substitute in those muffins just worked beautifully, and I find it quite reassuring it doesn’t affect teeth the way sugar does.

  2. Tina
    13/02/2018 / 2:49 am

    Thanks for the great info! I had no idea you could bake with Splenda. I’m not much of a baker, I’m still learning.

    • Mel
      Author
      13/02/2018 / 1:03 pm

      Me neither! You learn every day, don’t you?

  3. 13/02/2018 / 3:03 am

    I’ve never baked with Splenda but I am aware of the issues with too much sugar consumption and am always looking for ways to have a treat without all the sugars!

    • Mel
      Author
      13/02/2018 / 1:03 pm

      Me too! It really works. I was really impressed it didn’t affect the taste of the muffins too 🙂

  4. 13/02/2018 / 5:26 am


    This was a very interesting post! Sugar moderation is always a good idea!

    • Mel
      Author
      13/02/2018 / 1:05 pm

      Totally!

  5. 13/02/2018 / 7:15 am


    They look very good, like you I typically stick to sugar in moderation… Although I have to confess that I grew out of my sweet tooth many years ago and don’t eat sweet treats very often at all, but cherries are definitely one of my indulgences.

    • Mel
      Author
      13/02/2018 / 1:05 pm

      Cherries are so so delicious. In one of my pregnancies, I craved them so much I would eat them all day…

  6. 13/02/2018 / 7:38 am


    I have a sweet tooth. Mom always said my baby teeth never fell off because eating sugar out of the jar is still something I can do . But last four months I went on a sugar free journey and loved exploring other options to sweeten things. I’m saving this for later. Can’t wait to try it.

    • Mel
      Author
      13/02/2018 / 1:04 pm

      Going on a sugar-free journey is so so brave of you! I would be scared of missing it. x

  7. 13/02/2018 / 11:11 am

    ooh these look fab. Erin has been asking if we can bake this week. I think we will be trying these muffins.

    • Mel
      Author
      13/02/2018 / 1:03 pm

      Oh do let me know if you give them a go, Emma! I felt really naughty using cherries when they’re not in season at all. You can use any fruit you like in there. x

  8. 13/02/2018 / 2:16 pm

    How amazing do these look?! I want to try them myself now!

    • Mel
      Author
      14/02/2018 / 5:44 pm

      Thanks Lucy! They are scrummy!

  9. 13/02/2018 / 9:44 pm


    Oh my word they look amazing – I so want to eat them right now, got our pancakes to get through first!

    • Mel
      Author
      14/02/2018 / 5:44 pm

      We made them again with apple pieces a couple of days ago (a lot more seasonal than cherries!), and they turned out beautifully!

  10. 14/02/2018 / 10:14 pm


    Wow – I found this fascinating. I have always been unsure about using sweeteners…I am much more of a fan of using ‘natural’ sweeteners, such as fruit and dried fruit and just reducing sugar generally. I know full well that so called ‘natural’ sugars are just as sugary as sugar, but they often come wrapped around lots of vitamins and other nutrients, which to my mind is a good thing! I actually went sugar free for a while last year and I found when I came back to eating sugar my palate had changed enormously. Things which I enjoyed before I just found way too sweet and actually rather disgusting. I think for me I will persevere with just reducing the sugar in my diet. But I can see how sweeteners could really help those with a sweet tooth reduce their sugar consumption. Eb x

    • Mel
      Author
      14/02/2018 / 10:59 pm

      I agree with you re. changing the way I sweeten my bakes rather than doing a straight swap, and that’s definitely what I normally go for! Although I’ve never entirely gone off sugar (I just couldn’t), I’ve also found that since I started using more natural substitutes and enjoying things like Organix cereal bars (I eat the kids’ snacks, I know…), I’ve found commercially-made snacks horribly sweet. Same for old recipes I used to love! I now invariably reduce the quantity of sugar I use in my recipes. It’s all down to our palate, isn’t it? x

  11. 15/02/2018 / 3:23 pm

    A fabulous recipe! Being on keto I am trying my best to stay away from sugar, but this recipe looks very tempting! Sim x

    • Mel
      Author
      15/02/2018 / 10:55 pm

      Thanks Sim 🙂

  12. 17/02/2018 / 11:38 am


    Hi, I tend to have more of a savoury tooth but it is amazing how much sugar is hidden in our foods. After reading this I think I may have to try some baking with Splenda #freefromfridays

    • Mel
      Author
      17/02/2018 / 12:22 pm

      I’d definitely read your review 🙂

  13. 25/02/2018 / 9:40 pm

    Yes….. Those muffins do look lovely. And the topping looks to die for!
    Interesting information about sugar, but I have to say, I do struggle with the idea of using fake sweeteners. I have yet to find one that tastes truly natural and would rather use natural alternatives to bog-standard sugar in lesser quantities. x

    • Mel
      Author
      26/02/2018 / 12:41 am

      I’m exactly the same (hence my tirade about sweeteners), but I was pleased with the result when making these little muffins 🙂

  14. 26/02/2018 / 1:11 pm

    These look divine Mel. Your photography is just stunning as well x

    • Mel
      Author
      03/03/2018 / 3:32 pm

      Thanks sweetie 🙂

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