Chocolate Chia Seed Puddings – FODMAP/Fructose Friendly, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan & Paleo

Chocolate Chia Seed Puddings - Low FODMAP, Fructose Friendly and Gluten Free

A few months ago I shared with you my recipe for Coconut Chia Seed Puddings. They are my go-to for a pre-made, nutritious breakfast or snack that I can take with me on the go. How could I possibly top that?

Uhh, duh. CHOCOLATE!

As if there was any other way?! This variation on the original recipe is just as simple and delicious but has the added benefit of tasting like a chocolate mousse – making it perfect to serve as a healthy dessert. Or dessert for breakfast… I don’t judge.

Notes:

  1. Chia seeds are low FODMAP but high fibre. They are safe for FM but can trigger separate IBS issues. Read here for a full article about chia seeds and fructose malabsorption.
  2. Cacao powder is a contentious issue. Due to it being unprocessed – and thus more nutritious than cocoa powder – it contains nutrients which some with sensitive guts react to. If in doubt, use unsweetened cocoa powder.
  3. Coconut cream – full fat tastes better but fatty foods can be an IBS trigger (separate to FM). I would recommend full fat for nutrition and taste/texture but if you have to use light coconut cream, as I did until a few months ago, it will still taste good.

Chocolate Chia Seed Puddings

  • 400 ml tin of full fat or light coconut cream
  • 1/3-1/2 cup chia seeds – add more for a firmer pudding
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder or cacao powder – depending on tolerance
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Berries/fruits of your choice to top.

Whip the coconut cream (this will only work with full cream) for a good few minutes, until it lightens up. Add in the maple syrup, vanilla extract and cocoa powder and continue to whip until combined.

Add in the chia seeds and stir through gently, then share the mixture evenly between 4 ramekins/jars and place (covered) in the fridge to set for at least 2-3 hours. The chia seeds need time to develop a mucilaginous lining, which aids digestion and of course turns the mixture into a pudding.

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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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Strawberry Pepita Muesli Bars – FODMAPs, Fructose Friendly, Paleo & Gluten Free

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At the request of someone who cannot eat almonds – hence the last muesli bars I made were unsuitable – I promised to attempt an almond free version.

Well, here it is… and isn’t. I submitted the recipe to Yummly, a recipe/food/cooking website that I absolutely love for the reasons I listed here. It is like a big community of professional food writers, chefs, cooks and the likes of us. If you make your own account, you can start searching for delicious recipes with ingredient filters and saving them to try later… because of course you’ll be making these beauties first!

These are lower GI than your store bought muesli bars, and wont have any nasty preservatives in them. I kept mine in the fridge, in a sealed container and they lasted one month until I had finished them without spoiling.

As I mentioned in my last post about muesli bars, low GI is important not only when you’re not doing anything – to avoid a blood sugar spike, years of which can lead to insulin resistance and put you at risk of Type II Diabetes – but to help you maintain energy levels while you’re exercising, or even during the day if you eat one of these as a breakfast bar. Once reason I don’t eat any cereal other than whole oat porridge is because I was tired and hungry within an hour or two. Just ask Ev what I get like when my blood sugar drops… very grumpy 🙂

Notes:

  1. Use pure maple syrup, which shouldn’t have any extra sugars or sweeteners in there that could potentially elicit a FM reaction.
  2. I used raw nuts and seeds but you could use roasted for a little extra crunch.
  3. Strawberries are a FODMAP suitable fruit, with fructose concentration of 3.0g/100g and a glucose concentration of 3.1g/100g. Monash University lists them as safe.
  4. Most seeds are safe in moderate amounts, however they can affect some people because they are high in fibre. These bars will pack a caloric punch – they are intended for workout/hiking food, not for dieters – so you won’t need more than a single serving, anyway.
  5. Almonds have been listed by some as higher in FODMAPs, so to play it safe I excluded them.
  6. You could add in a quarter cup of dried cranberries if you can tolerate them – just watch for any juices used to sweeten them.
  7. Nuts are not safe for dogs, so please don’t share them with your furry hiking buddies.
  8. If you want a nut free version, simply remove the nuts and then add in the same volume of seeds. I still wouldn’t be sharing them with your dogs, though. We normally take chicken jerky for the dogs when we go hiking, as well as extra water.

The recipe is over on Yummly’s blog, please head over and have a look! I like to eat these as a breakfast bar with plain yoghurt and some berries. They are quite filling and keep me going until lunch time. Enjoy! Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

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Fruit Free Paleo Muesli Bars – Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

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After getting fed up with the lack of fructose friendly and healthy options for scroggin (trail mix for you non-Aussies) and muesli bars, I decided to look into making my own. I didn’t know that “candy” even went into trail mix until I moved to Seattle and all of a sudden M&Ms etc. were in the bags as well! Delicious but really only necessary for LONG hikes.

I find muesli bars to be preferable to a pack of trail mix for a couple of reasons:

  1. They are easier to eat and you’re much less likely to split the bag of trail mix and lose it all over the forest floor.
  2. I find it easier to portion them, so I don’t end up scoffing too much too soon. They are also more filling for me, for some reason. I’m not sure why.

The problem is, most muesli bar recipes floating around the net use honey or agave syrup and lots and lots of dried fruits. Which is great if you don’t have FM… not so good if you do. I can’t think of anything worse than getting “fructosed” on a long hike and reacting – we don’t need more info, do we? – half way up a mountain with nothing but trees to hide behind. It would be, to say the least, “unpleasant.”

Would you want to get stuck up here after being fructosed? I wouldn't! The nearest drop toilet was almost 10km away.

Bails and me above Snow Lake in WA, USA. Would you want to get stuck up here after being fructosed? I wouldn’t! The nearest “restroom,” if you could call it that, was almost 10km away.

I decided that the following recipe would be grain free, because even though a little blood sugar spike while exercising isn’t the end of the world – compared to, say, if you were just sitting on your behind watching the telly – it is always better to have a nice, even supply of blood glucose, which is easier to provide with lower GI foods. There will be some syrup involved here for flavour – as I said, exercise will control the potential blood sugar spike – but it’s only 1/2 cup spread out over the entire recipe, rather than the syrup and over a cup of grains. Plus, I know a lot of you also eat gluten free and hey, I aim to please.

Notes:

  1. I found it hard to find solid information on pumpkin and sunflower seeds – I never want to tell you guys anything that might make you sick – but I finally found dry roasted, unsalted pumpkin seeds on the USDA’s nutrition website and the Monash App states that both pumpkin and dry roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds are safe.
  2. Sunflower seeds are a great source of nutrition: linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid), dietary fibre, vitamins E/B group, phytosterols (to lower cholesterol) and protein. Protein is important, especially right after exercising, to help repair muscle damage caused by exertion. You can eat the hulls if you wish but they are “roughage,” so don’t eat too much. There is only a quarter cup in this entire recipe so it shouldn’t cause any issues if you leave the hulls on but you can buy a hulled version and use those instead if you wish.
  3. As far as almonds are concerned, the USDA’s website states that they have a glucose concentration of 0.17g/100g and a fructose concentration of 0.11g/100g – and sucrose present in a concentration of 3.95g/100g. However, they do appear to contain oligosaccharides – fructans or GOS’s aren’t specified – but a serving of > 20 almonds might become problematic. Each bar shouldn’t contain more than that but if you know you are sensitive to almonds then sub in a different flour or meal in its place. Rice flour or corn meal would work well but they are not Paleo, if that matters to you.
  4. Make sure you use pure maple syrup, which doesn’t have any other sugars or sweeteners added in, which will both cook differently and potentially cause a reaction. Again, reactions are not good when you’re over 10km from the nearest loo and there isn’t much in the way of safe space to the side of the trail.
  5. I know that real maple syrup can be very expensive in Australia – lucky me, living 3 hours from the border with Canada! Golden syrup – made from cane sugar, so f=g – would replicate the flavours and texture best but rice syrup might also work. If you can, add in a drop of maple syrup. Also, I’m assuming rice syrup would make it un-paleo.
  6. Nuts are bad for dogs, so please don’t share these with your four-legged hiking buddies.

Fruit Free Paleo “Muesli” Bars

Makes 15 bars, at approximately 215 calories each.

  • 1 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut – shredded
  • 1/2 cup dry roasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup dry roasted sunflower seeds – hulled or unhulled is your choice, see above
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts – or almonds, pecans etc
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup almond/peanut/coconut butter – or some sort of lipid-based ingredient; the amount will depend on which you choose but start small
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. baking powder

Line a square, oven safe dish with baking paper. I use my 9″ x 9″ cake tin. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F.

Combine the almond meal, desiccated coconut shreds, baking powder, nut butter, maple syrup and vanilla extract in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.

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Next, add in the chunkier ingredients – pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and chopped walnuts – and mix until well combined. The mixture should be moist enough to retain a hand print but not dripping with syrup. You will most likely need to get your hands dirty here to mix the seeds through thoroughly – it’s like making mud pies for adults… that are edible.

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Pour the mixture into your lined baking dish and press it into the corners until its level is even across its surface. Wet your hands so the mixture doesn’t stick to you like glue. Flatten out the surface with the back of a spoon or spatula that you ran under water for a second – again to stop sticking.

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Bake for 20 minutes at 180 C, then turn the oven off and leave them in for a further 5-10 minutes. Remove them, then let cool completely – for a few hours – before you slice it or it might crumble. I sliced it into 15 bars but you could do more or less if you wanted.

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These would also be great as a breakfast bar for busy weekday mornings, or school lunches for both little and big kids; they are sweet enough to taste the flavour from the maple syrup but without giving you a sugar headache. Wack some plain yoghurt on the plate next to it and a fructose friendly fruit serving and voila – nutrition with a low GI.

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They passed the hand-held test, so you can walk and eat if necessary without these tasty bars crumbling everywhere.

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They look like they’re made for hiking. Well, they kind of were! Pity I don’t have a back yard to take some “hiking” photos in.

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My next muesli bar attempt – who knows if it will be successful – will aim to use white rice flour in place of almonds, for those of you who can’t tolerate them. I will probably add some dried cranberries into this one, as well.