Low Fat Gluten Free Orange Creamsicle Muffins
Saturday, January 25, 2014
I’m pretty sure that timing citrus season in the dead of winter is nature’s way of reminding us that longer, warmer, sunnier days are on the horizon. I mean, how can you look at a fresh orange, smell its sweet and tart aroma as you peel it and not, at least for a moment, find yourself someplace warmer?
Truth be told that, were it not for the fact that it’s probably not the best idea I’ve ever had, I would eat a muffin every day for breakfast.
A big, sweet, crumbly (so not the breakfast of champions) muffin
My Achilles heel when it comes to healthy eating is (hands down) baked goods. I don’t care how committed someone is to eating no-sugar, unprocessed, picked-fresh-from-the-earth foods, even the most virtuous eater among us has a weakness…and I don’t believe them when they say it’s kale chips.
So, when I recently found myself contending with a 3-day hankering for a muffin, I decided to take a little stroll through my favorite local grocer to see what they had for “healthy” muffins. Oh, and they had to be gluten free too. Preferably not scary in the sugar content.
If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself…
…this couldn’t be more true than when it comes to cooking
I happened upon a gigantic crate of fresh oranges and my mind instantly wandered to orange creamsicles. You know, that childhood treat that you’d chase the neighborhood ice cream truck down for? (what ever happened to ice cream trucks? as a chubby little kid, hearing the familiar tunes ringing out around mid-day in the summer was about the only thing that prompted me to run my heart out. Thank goodness a bought of exercise no longer requires the promise of ice cream on wheels for me).
With some fresh oranges in hand, and a recipe in mind, I headed home to whip up a batch of muffins that had to be better than the packaged stuff I was seeing at the store.
Turns out, they were 🙂
I used a gluten free baking mix (my current favorite is Pamela’s–the baking & pancake mix for this recipe), and a blend of coconut sugar and stevia to reduce the amount of refined sugar in the recipe. If you’re not familiar with coconut sugar, add it to your healthy baking list. Made from the sap of the coconut palm tree, it’s minimally processed, which means it retains many of the nutrients from the plant its derived from including zinc, potassium, iron and calcium whereas regular white table sugar, of course, has no nutrients at all. Due to the inulin it contains, coconut sugar is also purported to be much lower on the glycemic index than traditional sweeteners (sugar, honey, agave, etc.). Now, don’t get too carried away with the stuff–it still has the same amount of calories as sugar, so be mindful (this is why I replaced some of the coconut sugar with stevia for this recipe). I used just one egg and 2 egg whites and a minimal amount of added oil. Lastly, the secret ingredient is tangerine seltzer water, which helps to lighten the batter a bit (which is, in my opinion, key in gluten-free baking). Lastly, a generous amount of vanilla helped create that distinctive creamsicle flavor.
These muffins would be delightful with a little orange marmalade, though I just ate them plain with a cup of chai and a dream of warm sunny days ahead.
Low Fat Gluten Free Orange Creamsicle Muffins
servings: 9 regular-sized muffins | time: about 30 minutes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line nine cups of a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Spray with non-stick cooking spray and set aside
1 large naval orange
1 egg + 2 egg whites
3 TBSP. grapeseed oil (olive oil would also work)
3 TBSP. stevia
1/3 cup coconut sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2-3 drops orange blossom water (optional)
2 cups gluten-free baking flour mix (or use the same amount of regular flour)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. dried ginger powder
1/2 cup seltzer water (preferably tangerine)
1. Grate the rind of the orange, making sure not to grate to the point that you hit the white pithy part of the peel)
2. Peel the orange, making sure to remove the pith (best to use a sharp knife for this). Cut into large chunks
3. Place the grated rind, orange, egg and egg whites, grapeseed oil, stevia, coconut sugar, vanilla, and orange blossom water (if using) in the container of a blender or food processor. Set aside while you blend the dry ingredients
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the baking flour mix, baking powder, salt, and ginger. Whisk to combine
5. Blend the wet ingredients on low for a few seconds. Gradually increase the speed to high and blend for 1 minute, until all of the ingredients are well combined
6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and beat on low for a minute. Increase the speed to medium-high and blend for 2 minutes. Add the seltzer and fold in by hand until well combined
7. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each to the top (this is a pretty thin batter, so it’s easier to pour it into a large glass measuring cup first)
8. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with wet crumbs