Cranberry, Orange and Chia Seed Muffins – FODMAP/Fructose Friendly, Dairy Free, Gluten Free & Grain Free

Cranberry, Orange & Chia Seed Muffins

Maybe two years ago Evgeny and I went on a low carb/grain free diet for 6 months and we felt good. We had extra energy, my skin cleared up and we even lost some weight but then slipped back into our old habits – I of course remained fructose friendly. A little while ago we were talking about how good we felt back then and we decided to give it another shot; this time, however, we can eat rice occasionally.

The main reason we reverted to old habits was not because we didn’t feel good – quite the opposite – but because the diet was too restrictive for us to maintain all the time and as soon as we had one treat, another one crept in and before we knew it we were eating carbs/grains full time again. Whoops! This time our emphasis is on unprocessed, rather than grains. We’re buying ingredients, rather than foods, as the saying goes. It’s much easier to stay on track and eat meals that don’t get boring and they’re probably definitely much better for us than the pre-packaged low carb desserts that we bought last time.

Aside from that, I don’t really like diets that encourage extremes – either all low/non fat, or super low carb etc. Balance is the key to health and while I do agree we rely too much on grains for today’s diet – I used to have porridge for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and pasta for dinner until I was diagnosed with FM – I’m sure that having a bowl of rice or a slice of FODMAP friendly bread on the weekend isn’t going to ruin all my good work. Besides, I enjoy baking and sharing the goodies that come out of the oven. It’s relaxing!

After a month of this diet – and feeling great, I might add – I think we will be able to maintain this long term. The one thing we miss, though, is a sweet treat during the week. Now I know it’s not good to have dessert every night but occasionally we need more than a banana or orange after dinner and these grain free muffins really hit the spot. As added insurance against splurging, I recommend freezing these so you can’t just guts them all at once.

I adapted this recipe from Delicious As It Looks, a fantastic website with FODMAP friendly recipes that I highly recommend visiting. The muffins are light, fluffy and delicately sweetened and inspired by the orange and poppy seed muffins I fell in love with at Melbourne Uni.

Notes:

  1. Cranberries are low FODMAP. Dried cranberries are tolerated by some fructose malabsorbers in small amounts – there should only be 5-6 dried cranberries per muffin and the dextrose (if you use it) will reduce the fructose load further. Also ensure your cranberries weren’t dried or mixed with any fruit juices or sugars that are not low FODMAP.
  2. Orange is low FODMAP, as is a little fresh squeezed juice. Bottled juice, however, is highly concentrated and very sugary, so has a higher fructose load.
  3. Almonds are low FODMAP in servings of 10 nuts. If you are concerned about the FOS/GOS of almonds in this recipe then you can sub in some buckwheat flour or my gluten free plain flour – just remember it will no longer be grain free.

Cranberry, Orange and Chia Seed Muffins

Makes 10 x 1/4 cup muffins.

  • 1/3 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup dextrose or 1/4 cup castor sugar – or more to your taste
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp. fresh squeezed orange juice
  • Zest of 1 orange (washed!)
  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup dried cranberries – depending on tolerance. If you’re unsure, stick to the 1/4 cup initially.
  • 1/8 cup chia seeds
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C. Note that you will reduce the heat to 300 F/150 C just before baking.

In a large bowl, cream the coconut oil and sugar together for 2-3 minutes, until they become smooth. Add in the eggs and OJ and continue mixing until combined.

Meanwhile, add the almond meal, chia seeds, orange zest, dried cranberries and salt together in a separate bowl and mix together roughly. When the wet ingredients are thoroughly combined, add in the dry ingredients little by little until you have a smooth mixture. Now combine the baking powder and white wine vinegar in a ramekin and mix quickly – it will foam. Pour it into the batter and keep mixing til combined.

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Spoon the mixture out between greased or lined muffin pans, reduce the oven’s heat to 300 F/150 C and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a centre muffin tests clean (with a skewer).

They won’t brown like a normal wheat – or even gluten free – muffin will, they stay a lighter white-ish yellow colour. This is normal, don’t leave them in the oven to brown, as they will just go dry and hard due to over-cooking.

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Let them sit for 10-15 minutes before turning them out onto a cooling rack to come to room temperature. Most importantly, enjoy!

These freeze well or keep in the pantry in an airtight container for a week.

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