Dr. Alex Chan N.D. Integrative Naturopathic Medical Centre Naturopath YVR
3 min|Dr. Alex Chan

Gluten-Free Baking: Chocolate Coconut Mandarin Muffins


I've been experimenting lately with gluten-free baking

In particular, aiming for a good morning muffin that is gluten, dairy and sugar free but still delicious. Many people grab muffins for breakfast without realizing that they are usually packed with sugar, unhealthy fat, simple carbohydrates and little protein. This turns into a spike in blood sugar that can begin a cycle of dysglycemia throughout the day.

For example a Starbucks Zucchini Walnut Muffin (it must be healthy it has veggies in it!!) has 490 calories and 28g of fat and sugar-this is almost 25% of the total daily calories most adults need and exceeds the day's recommended amount of added sugar.

This becomes less surprising when you look at most muffin recipes and see a combination of white wheat flour, 1/2 cup of butter and 1/2-1 cup of sugar. Wow -and your morning just got started!

So my goal is to make a healthy option that skips the sugar, saturated fat and wheat. Before you begin your gluten-free baking experience remember a couple things:

  1. Gluten-free flour does not behave the same
  2. Stick with a recipe if you're unsure (hint: if you need suggestions Integrative's nutritionist Rhiannon Lytle is great!)
  3. Sometimes you have to try, try again!

Personally I'm terrible at listening to my own advice #2 as I love creating my own recipes based upon what I have available or am craving. So tonight with a box of mandarin oranges needing to be used it was Chocolate Coconut Mandarin Muffin time. Post-baking I'm pleased with my results so you'll find all the yummy details below.


Dry Ingredients

  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/3 cup amaranth flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp xanthum gum
  • 1/4 cup cocoa nibs or chopped unsweetened dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup coconut ribbon or flakes

Wet Ingredients

  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup almond-coconut milk (or other alternative dairy)
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • Juice from 3-4 average sized mandarin oranges
  • 1 tsp mandarin zest


  • Pre-heat the oven to 355 degrees F
  • Mix all dry ingredients except the cocoa nibs and coconut ribbons.
  • Mix all wet ingredients in one bowl. Best if they are all at room temperature to prevent the coconut oil from hardening.
  • Gradually whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients mixture. Once well mixed fold in the cocoa nibs and coconut ribbons.
  • Spoon into pre-lined muffin tray (will make 12 small muffins).
  • Sprinkle a small amount of cocoa nibs and coconut ribbons onto the top of each muffin.
  • Bake for ~20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean
  • Turn the oven off and leave muffins resting inside the oven with the door closed for 15 minutes (this prevents the muffins from falling)


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