How to make healthy choices every day

Black Quinoa Corn Muffins

Sometimes it’s so easy. Writing a recipe, that is.
I started meditating on cornbread months ago back in California, where I mowed down on my fair share of the golden goodness. Lucky enough to be in a place where people don’t believe in gluten, the goat milk is raw, the ghee is flowing, and the corn is grown 50 meters from the kitchen, I repeat: I ate a lot of cornbread. Inspiration ensued, especially upon returning to Denmark – land of no cornbread.

We all know that I am always looking for a challenge, a way to (foolishly?) take something that is already delicious and healthy and make it even better. This cornbread has gone through five, count ‘em FIVE incarnations. What kept me going you ask? Stubbornness? Stupidity? The projected moment of total bliss when I nibble that first bite of corny perfection? All of the above. I can’t quite believe how far I went for you cornbread, but now you are so high-vibe it was worth the fight. Gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, egg-free, wheat-free, soy-free – and after all that you are NOT flavour-free! I did it. Fist. Pump.

Corn: Your queries answered.
1. GMOs – Hot Topic! The first thing I gotta address with corn, is of course, GMOs. It is common knowledge and of wide concern that a large percentage of the conventionally grown corn in the United States and Canada come from genetically modified (GM) seeds. Boo. If you are looking your exposure to GM foods, choose organically grown corn, since the current USDA organic regulations prohibit the use of GM seeds for growing foods to be labeled as organically grown. Yay. Some conscious food manufacturers are now using non-GMO corn and labeling their products as such, which is also helpful for those of us who don’t want to be treated like a science project. I still feel that it is better to purchase organically, as this will also support healthier agricultural practices.
If you live in Europe, all GM products are labeled, including imported foodstuffs. Even if the product is not certified organic, it still must indicate if it contains more than 0.5% GM ingredients.

2. Allergies – Yes, corn is very allergenic, and sadly, increasingly difficult to avoid. If you chose to eat a whole-foods diet, you can steer clear of the incredible amount of corn-derived additives in everything from soft drinks to chicken-fried steak, but if you like your TV dinners, you can bet you’re getting a good dose of corn without ever nearing a single kernel. That being said, you can even gain exposure to corn through some envelopes and stamp glue, plastic food wrappers, bath soap, emollient cream, toothpaste, bath powder, mouthwash, liquid medication, and dietary supplements. Yikes!
To prevent developing an allergy or sensitivity to corn, or to manage an existing one, it is imperative to read the labels of everything you expose your body to, both internally and externally to prevent yourself from ingesting corn on a regular basis (i.e. every single day). Once in a while it is totally cool to eat corn – it is so darn tasty after all.
If you suspect you may have food allergies or insensitivities, pay close attention to how you feel after eating corn, or ingesting corn-containing products.
Sorry, was that scary? On to the good news!

3. Nutrition – Corn and milled cornmeal contain a whole host of vital nutrients such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, folate, vitamin C and vitamin B1 (thiamine). It is also a good source of dietary fiber.
New research published in October’s issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reveals significant health benefits in milled yellow corn products, such as corn meal, grits and corn flour. The study, authored by Mario Ferruzzi, Ph.D., associate professor, department of food science, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., demonstrates milled yellow corn products are rich in antioxidants, especially carotenoids, such as lutein. Carotenoids are yellow and orange plant pigments known for their association in the prevention of chronic diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease and macular degeneration.
Though high in protein, corn itself is not an adequate protein source. It lacks two essential amino acids required to be a complete protein: lysine and tryptophan. But don’t worry about that ya’ll – I actually made up for this amino acid deficiency by including quinoa for lysine and chia for tryptophan. You see? It may just seem like a run-of-the-mill recipe, but I am so behind-the-scenes making sure to cover all the bases. It’s not just about the taste, it’s about the nutrition.
You can also make up for the lysine and tryptophan by eating corn with legumes (hence the classic corn-and-beans combo) or rice.

As I have already mentioned, this recipe did not come together all that easily (understatement of the year), but I am quite pleased with the final result; a moist, rich, savory cake, beautifully golden and studded with black quinoa, green cilantro and red chilies. Soooo pretty. If you cannot find black quinoa, use whatever kind you have on hand – this recipe is actually the perfect way to use up leftover quinoa from last night’s dinner!
Don’t forgo the chia seeds – they are a key ingredient here, as they act as the binder in place of eggs. If you don’t have chia seeds on hand and you would like to use eggs instead, 2 would be sufficient. Happy baking…and please let me know how they turn out for you!

Black Quinoa Corn Muffins
1 cup organic corn meal
¼ cup organic corn flour
1 cup cooked black quinoa (any colour will work)
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1 cup almond milk (or any milk)
3 Tbsp. chia seeds + 9 Tbsp. water
1/4 up high oleic sunflower oil (or oil of your choice)
1 Tbsp. honey
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1 chili, minced or ½ tsp. ground chipotle (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Put 8 muffin liners in a cupcake pan.
1. Mix chia seeds and water in a small bowl and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, sift dry ingredients together. Add the cooked quinoa.
3. Check the chia gel to make sure it is thick a gloppy (it should take 15 minutes or so to obtain the right consistency). In a separate bowl, whisk wet ingredients together, including the chia gel.
4. Add the wet to the dry and combine in as few strokes as possible. Fold in the cilantro and minced chili.
5. Spoon batter in to muffins cups and bake until the edges are golden brown and they pass the toothpick test (approx. 25 minutes).

Remember last month when I posted that awesome black bean and sweet potato soup recipe? Yeah. I mentioned that it would taste really good alongside some cornbread, and this is the very recipe I was “working the kinks out of”. This means that you need to make black bean soup immediately. They are best friends. Please let them play together.

Copyright 2012 My New Roots at

96 thoughts on “Black Quinoa Corn Muffins”

  • I love this recipe. I cook it all the time. Usually I make my favourite vegan chili recipe, bang it into a baking/casserole dish, whack this corn bread batter on top of the whole thing and then bake it! It’s like the best dumplings ever invented. Nom nom nom. Thanks for the recipes! They are always great.

  • The recipe I use to use before I tasted your corn muffins tasted ok but they would be very dry and crumbly. Yours tasted GREAT! The texture was perfect – stayed together, not too dry and not too moist. I did follower the suggestion made by some people in the comments section to add 1/2 cup more of the quinoa. I used flaxmeal instead of chia seeds and all purpose gluten free flour instead of corn flour. I didn’t have muffin liners so I just oil the muffin pan. Some were hard to get out because they stuck a little to the bottom. Next time if I don’t have muffin liners I will use a brownie pan. That way I will be able to get under them with a spatula to remove them.

  • Sarah you are the stuff geniuses are made of – I’ve made many of your recipes but these were magical – ready to make some more and then keep saying ‘oh go on I’ll just eat one more’…..

  • Sorry, still cant figure this out?? By “corn flour” do you mean corn STARCH as we call it in the US, or the corn masa used for tortillas? Thank you!

  • Made these this morning and they did not disappoint!

    Had to do a couple substitutions based on what I had on hand: used corn grits and just ground them a bit finer in the blender for the corn meal. Substituted coconut flour for the corn flour and used coconut oil for the oil. Didn’t have a chili or cilantro so used a touch of red pepper flakes and some diced green onions.

    I didn’t have any muffin tins so I baked as a loaf in a silicone loaf pan for ~35 mins.

    Absolutely delish…as expected. I ate some with avocado and a soft boiled egg and am looking forward to pairing it with a couple soups over the next few days.

    Thank you!

  • I’ve made this recipe many times for muffins as well as as bread – it always turns out wonderful! I find that if I add an extra 1/2 cup or so of cooked quinoa, it makes the batter less runny and helps the muffins/bread firm up better. Thank you for such a creative recipe!

  • These are amazing. I forgot the honey the first time, but they still turned out fine. Today is my second time making them. My partner loved them, too, and he is VERY picky. This is now my favourite cornbread recipe. The quinoa makes it so interesting, plus I’m a huge cilantro lover.

  • My batter turned out extremely runny when I followed the recipe – is this normal? I ended up having to add almost 1/2 cup of cornmeal to make it less liquid-y 🙁

    • My batter is rather runny, too, but the muffins still turn out just fine. It’s got all that cooked quinoa in there, though, so it’s lumpy and runny at the same time.

  • I’ve made these twice now and they’re great. I add an extra tablespoon of honey, so they’re just right, and I love the chipotle spice. I’ve been using Bob’s Red Mill corn meal, but it’s a medium coarseness and I’d like something finer for sure. And I want it to be organic, but I don’t think his is! It was hard to find corn flour, but I think I was at an AJ’s when I found it, so I snagged right away.

    I have an important question, though. Because I am interested in the traditional method of preparing grains and legumes, I’d like to soak the batter over night to help with the breakdown of anti-nutrients of the grain/ aid in digestibility. Sara, why is it that you do not soak your grains/ grain-based batters?

  • D. E. L. I. C. I. O. U. S. L. Y. Crispy on the outside and moist inside!!! Thank you! Can’t wait for the family to taste them tonight!
    I hope one day you will visit us here in Australia!

  • Hi Sarah, Beautiful recipes and beautiful blog…I absolutely love it! I was just wondering if you could suggest any recipes for snacks or an idea of what you like to snack on during the day? Many Thanks 🙂 xx

  • “corn itself is not an adequate protein source. It lacks two essential amino acids required to be a complete protein: lysine and tryptophan. But don’t worry about that ya’ll – I actually made up for this amino acid deficiency by including quinoa for lysine and chia for tryptophan. You see? It may just seem like a run-of-the-mill recipe, but I am so behind-the-scenes making sure to cover all the bases. It’s not just about the taste, it’s about the nutrition.”

    Long quote, sorry. Buuuhhhht, I LOVE YOU.

  • Amazing…
    With the batter I made, I got 12 out of it easily! Spicccay. I used red quinoa and coconut flour and halved the honey with agave nectar. I needed extra almond milk by a good half cup probably, it was a little dry, but probably just because I used a bunch of quinoa. I also only cooked for 25 minutes.

  • Made these tonight. I don’t really like cornbread but I figured these must be good because all your recipes are delicious 🙂 Unfortunately I forgot to put the quinoa in! Grrrrr! Found the bowl on the counter after the muffins were in the oven – explaining why I thought the batter was on the watery side and also why I had 7 instead of 8! After having a little hissy fit in my kitchen I decided to wait and see what would happen… Well, it took forever (mind you my oven is on the slow side…) but they came out just fine! And they do taste delicious! I’ll try again with quinoa but at least I get to enjoy these.

  • These look delightful 🙂
    I’m not a fan of honey and sweetness, can the honey be eliminated, perhaps replaced with something neutral if it’s required for consistency? 🙂

  • I really love all of your recipes! As a girl from Georgia living in Belgium, I like to have a taste of home every now and then and was excited to try your corn muffins! I did make a few changes based on what I had on hand and the comments I read above. I used only corn flour, added one egg, and made minis, because it’s the only baking pan I have. I really loved the results! If you want to see how mine turned out, I shared it on my site:

  • I see that you live in Copenhagen! I have just recently moved here and I am having trouble finding lots of these ingredients that are so common place in American grocery stores, for the life of me I cannot find cornmeal, I can find some corn flour (or at least what I think is corn flour). Any suggestions on stores in the Copenhagen area that are good for finding these items? I love the Irma stores but the ones around me are very tiny and dont have much to offer. Thanks so much for your help!

  • Delicious, easy, healthy, and beautiful. A winning recipe! Made these per the recipe except substituted cow’s milk for almond milk and one Tbsp. of sugar for the honey, as I was out of honey.

  • Made these tonight to go with my bean chill…I didn’t have any corn flour on hand so I used whole wheat flour instead…they were amazing! Thanks!

  • So delicious! Just in case anyone wanted to know how they broke down for nutrition based on 9 muffins.

    Calories: 226 Carbs: 33 Fat: 10 Protein: 5 Sugar: 2

  • So, funny thing… I bought organic blue corn meal, not really even thinking, because I couldn’t find the regular kind at my farmers market and because it looked pretty much white to me. Nope it wasn’t, and you guessed it…. BLUE muffins. Still tasted great though! 😉

  • These look delicious and I’m so excited to make these but I have two questions for you first. 1) Do you know if Masa Harina is the same thing as corn flour and can they be used interchangeably? 2) Would love to make the Black Bean Sweet Potato soup as well but your link doesn’t seem to be working for me. Do you still have this recipe on your site? Thanks!

  • I made these tonight – the flavor is delicious. My batter was much too liquid, however, and had to be thickened. I am a very experienced cook and baker, so I was perplexed. At the last second, to save the batter, I added more cornmeal, which I am certain altered the delicacy, but fixed the consistency problem. I used 2 eggs, as recommended, as a substitute for the chia seeds, but can’t imagine that is what caused such a drastic alteration. Thoughts from the chef?

  • I love your blog and your photography is beautiful, but I don’t think you really understand what GMOs are, or at least it doesn’t seem that way from your description. Genetically modifying crops is exactly the same as selective breeding that was done for ages to try and achieve certain desirable traits, like resistance to infection etc. Except now we know how selective breeding actually worked and we can do it faster and more efficiently than by taking pollen from one plant and putting it in another. There is absolutely nothing dangerous about the finished products. They have different DNA, which will not impact anything in you as a person. Definitely not treating anyone like a science project. The ethics of certain GMO manufacturers is a different issue altogether, but has nothing to do with the science. Phew. Just had to get that out there.

  • I made these this afternoon. Honestly, I don’t think I would have cared if they didn’t taste good, because they are absolutely stunning to look at! They taste great, of course, so hooray 🙂 I didn’t want to run to the store for corn flour, so I just ran some corn meal through the food processor. I also replaced 2 tbs of the oil with applesauce. The batter seemed wetter than I thought it should be (maybe as a result of my makeshift corn flour?) so I added about 1.5 tbs of whole wheat pastry flour. They turned out just lovely. Thanks so much!

  • Just made these they are delicious!! will go perfect with my signature pumpkin and red quinoa soup!! from what i had available at home i altered the recipe slightly – instead of corn flour i used 1Cup almond meal and a little extra quinoa, instead of cilantro i used 1/2Cup grated zucchini and instead of chia seeds i used 2 eggs as suggested and added the chia seeds as a dry component, i also used plenty of dried chilli flakes, 1/8Cup linseed, added a pinch of nutmeg, 1 tsp of sweet Hungarian paprika and some ground pepper corns! i love the rich and crumbly texture!

  • I make these often and they are delish! Still can’t find black quinoa but they’re good with red and white. Thank you, Sarah!

  • I loved these muffins, and they were not dry, they were perfect. Corn muffins aren’t suppose to be super moist anyway. Good Job Sarah! Love your blog.

  • Hi rooneycj – yes, flax would work, but I would recommend grinding the seeds first. Keep in mind that the taste will be different, perhaps even “fishy” as flax can be!

    Best, Sarah B

  • I just made these and they turned out great! The quinoa I cooked in a homemade stock. Didn’t have corn flour, subbed teff. I also sauteed shallots in paprika, cumin, and cayenne! I love savory muffins. Thanks for sharing.

    Ally xo

  • These look amazing!! Can you tell me where masa falls into the corn meal/flour spectrum?? Is this something totally different than either of those? Thanks – can’t wait to try this recipe 🙂

  • I substituted millet for quinoa (had a ton cooked already) and used coconut oil.. pretty impressed!

  • Just made these for the second time and did not use paper muffin cups. They rose higher this time. I also added a generous scoop of Chipotle with adobo to the wet ingredients. Love it!

  • Just made these last night. Yum. This is the first baked item I have ever made without eggs and the chia seeds worked perfectly. The only change I made was to use chipotle in adobo. Tasty! This is a keeper!

  • Hello! I made a batch of these last minute and they were delicious! I substituted barley flour for corn flour and left out the cilantro but still was really pleased with the result! Thank you so much, Sarah for all of the fantastic reading, photographs and recipes!

  • Just made these, they taste delish! I think I didn’t leave my chia seeds long enough, or for some reason I had a lot of excess liquid :S but it all worked out in the end, only the bottoms were very moist. So not only do they taste great, they’re very forgiving!
    I added some chopped capsicum for a bit of extra veggies and some garlic as well. Next time (and there will definitely be a next time), I’ll cut down on the liquid and the salt and play with different flavours… I think chopped sundried tomatoes and basil would be great, no?

  • I adore these muffins! I had a substitution to offer to people who can’t find/wish to do without the chia seeds.

    I was all prepped to make this recipe, until I realized that my local co-op was completely out of chia seeds. So I added two eggs to the wet ingredients, and the muffins turned out lovely!

    Thanks a lot for your delicious recipes, Sarah!

  • Sarah, these passed the 6 year old neighbor test! Adults loved them too; they rock. I substituted sunflower for grapeseed and used eucalyptus honey. Added a little extra chipotle and served with an orange marmalade. The sweet savory worked out quite nicely.

  • Hey Michelle – polenta is more like cornmeal, whereas cornflour is finely ground. You should be able to find it at health food store, or shop where they sell gluten-free products.

    Good luck!
    Sarah B.

  • okay, it’s official… I love your blog. Subscribing! I’m so happy that I found it. I love your approach to healthy eating (it’s very similar to mine) and your recipes are fantastic. I love using black quinoa in recipes although my hubby hates the look of it haha.

  • Hi Jessica,

    yes, that seems to be the issue with these little guys. You can add more chia mixture for sure, but I would worry about them getting to “gummy”. I haven’t worked with Xantham gum before, so if you try that route let me know how it works.
    If you eat eggs, throw one in the batter – that would bind those suckers without a doubt 🙂

    Happy Baking,
    Sarah B

  • Just made this recipe: phenomenal. Mine were still a bit crumbly. Do you suggest adding a bit of xantham gum or more chia mixture?

    Thanks for the awesome idea!

  • I’m in Australia and am searching for “corn flour” to make these muffins! i’ve found something called “maize/corn flour” – milled organic white maize kernels… is this the right thing? If i can’t find it… can i use the Vitamix to really finely grind up polenta into flour? Thank you – i love your recipes!! Veronique

  • Made these last night in the cast iron skillet my mom used to make cornbread in! So good! Brought some to share with a friend at work 🙂

  • Hi Sarah

    I’ve been following your blog for a while now, but haven’t actually tried any of your recipes until now. These muffins came out AMAZING!!! We didn’t have cilantro on hand, but they came out tasty anyway. Plan on making them again today (this time with the cilantro)!

  • I made these yummy muffins and they were delicious. My only criticism is they tend to fall apart/crumble very easily but they were very delicious and filled with nutrition!
    Thanks for the great recipe.

  • Always looking for ways to incorporate more quinoa into our diet. Unfortunately, I nearly burned down our house when I last tried to make a batch of quinoa fritters so I’ve been banned from those for a while. Oh well, on to quinoa muffins!

  • I just made a batch of these yummy little treats! Instead of the quinoa I used teff, and flavored them with rosemary and garlic. Loving this recipe, so good!

  • Hi!
    I just wanted to say that I was hoping that you could post some more health/detoxing tips, that you easily can incorporate in your life. I would like that, thanks! 😀

  • Hey everyone!
    Thanks for all the great feedback – maybe it was worth it after all 😉

    To Tricia: cornmeal is roughly-ground corn, and corn flour is like wheat flour, very finely ground, only made from corn. No, cornstarch is NOT corn flour, but a processed product from the endosperm of the corn grain. The flour should be made from the whole grain.
    Hope that helps clear things up!

    All the best,
    Sarah B.

  • These look lovely, but I have a question…I’m not sure what the difference between corn meal and corn flour is? I’m assuming the flour is a finer grind – is it the same thing as corn starch?

  • These muffins look amazing! I’ve been on a bit of a quinoa bender recently but I haven’t tried using it in this way, thanks for posting this delicious recipe!

  • I love a healthy muffin; not to mention all the nutritional information!

    This recipe will work perfectly in my new “get healthy and fit for summer” regime!


  • These sound fantastic! And not only healthy they’re also one of the prettiest corn muffins I’ve ever seen too! I’m definitely going to have to give these a try.

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