December 5, 2007

Maple Bran Chia Muffins With Raisins - Gluten Free

One of my favorite muffins, prior to becoming gluten free, was the humble bran muffin. I used to make the bran muffin recipe off the box of the Kellogg's All Bran Cereal. We would enjoy these hearty muffins for breakfast or I would pack them up and take them to work to have for a mid-afternoon snack. They were satisfying enough to keep you going until supper time.

I wanted to add this nourishing and fiber filled quick bread to my list of favorite gluten free foods. It was time for baking and experimenting. Using the recipe from the Kellogg's All Bran box as my source of inspiration, I added my own touches and made it gluten free. Instead of wheat bran, I used rice bran from Bob's Red Mill. I used maple syrup instead of sugar and gluten free oat milk in place of milk. Then I experimented with adding a larger quantity of ground chia meal, not only for it's ability to act as a binder, but for it's healthy Omega-3 oils.

Maple syrup has long been used by the Native Americans for sweetening food. According to an Iroquois legend, Chief Woksis one evening, had set his tomahawk into a maple tree. When he needed it the next day, he removed it and the sap from the tree started flow into a container laying at the base of the tree. Chief Woksis' wife used this watery liquid to cook their meat which then had a sweet maple flavor. Colonists who came to North America followed the Native American tribes example and began to harvest the sap from the maple trees. They made maple sugar and later made maple syrup.

"Native Harvest" by Barrie Kavash, uses maple syrup to sweeten stewed wild cherries and elder blossom fritters. Siksika Boy from the blog, Native American Recipes notes that maple syrup was commonly used in Native American recipes. Siksika Boy has a recipe for Native Holiday Cake that uses maple sugar for the cake and maple syrup in the frosting.

The muffins turned out beautifully. They tasted like the hearty bran muffins I remembered. The chia seed meal added an extra layer of flavor to the muffins and the dough wasn't gummy at all. The chia seed meal experiment was a success.


1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup + 2 Tb sweet rice flour
1/4 cup + 2 Tb arrowroot starch
1/4 cup rice bran
1/4 cup chia seed meal*
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup + 2 Tb oat milk**
1 egg, beaten
2 Tb melted vegetable shortening
Optional: Turbinado sugar or maple sugar to sprinkle over the tops of the muffins

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place 1 dozen silicone muffin cups on a cookie sheet.

2. In a medium sized bowl, dump in the flours, chia meal, baking powder, baking soda, raisins and salt. Then stir to blend the ingredients together.

3. In another medium sized bowl, pour in the maple syrup, oat milk, beaten egg and melted shortening. Then stir to combine the liquids.

4. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and quickly stir them together. Stir just until blended.

5. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, sprinkle with Turbinado sugar or maple sugar and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Cool and serve. Makes 1 dozen muffins.

What did my family think of my Maple Bran Chia Muffins? Everyone thought they tasted wonderful. Although they were the best when warmed and served with butter. This one is a keeper.

* Chia Seed Meal: I purchased my chia seeds from Native Seeds/SEARCH. I ground them in my Braun coffee grinder that I use only to grind spices. Chia seed meal will act as a gluten free binder just like chia seed gel (made with chia seed and water).

** Oat Milk: I used 1/2 cup of cooked certified gluten free oats, 1 Tb agave syrup and 2 cups of water. Dump the oats into your food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Then add the agave syrup and pulse. Pour in the water and pulse to blend. Be careful not to pulse too long as the water might/will leak out from under the lid of your food processor and onto the counter. Store oat milk in the refrigerator.


Carrie said...

I will definitely have to pick up rice bran the next time I hit whole foods so I can make these muffins! I miss bran muffins too!! Is chia meal similar to flax seeds??

Mary Frances said...

Carrie beat me to my question! I too was wondering if flax seeds would work as a substitute for the chia seeds.

The muffins look lovely! I can't wait to try them once I get some rice bran. I'm really really tired of eating fiberless baked goods for breakfast!

Sheltie Girl said...

Hi Carrie & Mary Frances - If you want to substitute flax seed meal for chia seed meal that would be okay, but you might need an additional binder to hold them together.

Chia seed meal makes a gel of medium firmness like hair gel. Flax seed meal makes a very soft gel that is still viscous or slightly runny.

You might have better luck with using only flax seed meal if you add it to the liquids rather than the dry ingredients. Then stir to blend them together and allow to sit for about 5 minutes. That would give the flax seed meal a chance to gel. Then mix the liquid and dry ingredients together.

This might be enough to hold the muffins together, but you would need to try baking it once like this to see if it would work. If it doesn't you will need to add a small amount of another binder like xanthan gum, guar gum, pectin, gelatin, agar agar, kudzu/kuzu powder to help the batter hold together. I'd add between 1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp of any of these other binders if the flax seed meal alone didn't work.

Does that help?

Sheltie Girl

Sheltie Girl said...

Carrie & Mary Frances - I just thought of something else. You can also use psyllium seeds as your binder. You can substitute psyllium seed meal for the chia meal. Psyllium seed meal makes a firm gel. You can also use flax seed meal and then add 1 tsp of psyllium seed meal to be the extra binder if you need it.

Sheltie Girl

cris said...

I was just telling someone the other day one of the things I'll miss most are bran muffins. I'll have to try these. And I learned something new today, too, since I had no clue the chia seed existed. Thanks for this great looking recipe.

Gluti Girl said...

I have enjoyed your last couple post and reading about the chia seed. There are so many other grains and seeds out there to learn about. Have you used this in baking bread? I'm wondering how that would turn out. v

Sheltie Girl said...

I have used chia seed gel and chia seed meal as a binder in bread. They work great as a binder either as a gel or meal.

This was my first try at using larger quantities of chia meal in a quick bread. Next thing I want to try is using it in a yeast bread.

Sheltie Girl @ Gluten A Go Go

Nick, Marg & Liv said...

Wow! I am really impressed by your blog and must thank you so much for sharing your expertise in Gluten Free cooking. Your recipes sound amazing and look absolutely delicious. Thanks also for your suggestions re: my daughter's eczema and her potential allergies - your advice is greatly appreciated. It's wonderful to hear from someone who has turned their own experience with it, into something really positive!

VeggieGirl said...

what a fabulous bran-muffin recipe!! I'm so intrigued by the chia-seed meal... yum!

Kim said...

I also share your longing for bran muffins, and haven't tried making any yet myself - thanks for sharing your recipe! I use chia a lot, both the whole seed and ground - I love it! I may try baking these tonight, since I have all the ingredients I need in my pantry. : ) I have some cooked quinoa, so I might make quinoa milk instead, and will be using additional chia gel to replace egg. Thanks again for sharing!

Kim at

Anonymous said...

I've been using chia seeds for about 2 years now....but only in my shakes and to make chia fresca with almond milk...I've never had the courage to bake with it. This recipe sounds very solid and delish. BTW...i get my chia seeds at Vitacost....but they sell them in the nuts/seed section at my wholefoods. I'm going to bake these next week. Thanx for the recipe.