This filling, gluten-free Low-Carb Blueberry Mug Muffin is perfect to whip up for breakfast or a sweet snack if you have almost zero time, but don’t want to compromise your low-carb lifestyle on-the-go.
I went to a festival in Brighton last weekend. And to make sure I arrived well on time for the start at 11am, I’d booked to travel on a super-early train.
That meant that I needed a portable breakfast for the train, as I knew that the coffee shops on my route would only have high-carb offerings.
So while the kettle was boiling for my first coffee of the day, I knocked up one of these super-quick Low-Carb Blueberry Microwave Mug Muffins to take with me. The night before, I’d even put all the dry ingredients ready for the morning in a mug (well, a tea cup actually, as they’re more muffin-shaped, but it just doesn’t have the same fabulous alliteration for the recipe title does it?!).
The Low-Carb Blueberry Mug Muffin was cooked by the time my coffee had filtered. And by the time I was ready to leave the house, it had cooled enough left in its tea cup to allow me to pop it into a small food-bag, and then into my handbag, as I ran out the door.
If you’re sticking to a super-low carb count, then the blueberries in this recipe are optional. Personally I prefer to include them as it makes this muffin seem more like a traditional one. But you could omit the blueberries if you prefer – and I do that sometimes anyway, if I don’t happen to have any kicking around. Or you could try substituting them with lower-carb raspberries (I haven’t tried this yet, but in principle I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Please do share with us here if you give it a try!).
This muffin recipe uses a little whey protein powder as one of the flour-substitutes in the ingredients. Since I like to include blueberries in the muffins, I usually choose to use blueberry flavour whey protein. But you could try using a different flavour that would go with blueberry, or whatever berries you are choosing to use, e.g. vanilla. And if you don’t include any berries, then that gives you freedom to be far more adventurous with the whey protein flavour that you pick e.g. if you buy online from MyProtein, who do a vast range of exotic flavours – e.g. sticky toffee pudding!
You could also try using plain whey protein instead of a flavoured one. Or if you wish to avoid dairy, you could try substituting a plant-based protein powder such as soya or hemp. I haven’t tried these options myself yet, but if you do, then you would need to sweeten your muffin mixture with whichever low-carb sugar alternative is your favourite, as the flavoured powders already contain Sucralose, which I find is all the sweetness you need. My go-to sugar substitute is erythritol, by the way
Texture-wise, you’ll find these muffins a little drier and chewier than high-carb ones. Personally I quite like that. It means they don’t crumb everywhere when I’m eating them on the train. And having to chew for longer gives your gut longer to send messages to your brain that you have eaten and that you are full, which helps with portion control. And that benefit is on top of the fuller-for-longer feeling you’re already getting from the lower-carb and higher-protein ingredients in these muffins, compared with regular muffins.
When serving these Low-Carb Blueberry Mug Muffins, I sometimes split them open while still warm and slather them with grass-fed butter. That gives me a small additional good fats boost, makes the muffin seem quite buttery and indulgent, and also helps with keeping me full.
I’ll be completely straight with you – these muffins are not haute cuisine. And with the inclusion of e.g. a small amount of artificial sweetener Sucralose in the flavoured whey protein, they’re not perfect clean eating either. But they’re perfectly pleasant and tasty, and they’re likely to do your health more good overall, than the high sugar and wheat flour alternative.
And crucially, whipping up one of these Low-Carb Blueberry Mug Muffins is extremely quick and convenient, and might save you – when you’re pushed for time and going to be out all day – from undoing all your hard low-carb work by buying something high-carb.
Nutrition count: Regular Blueberry Muffin vs. ‘Skinny’ Blueberry Muffin vs. Low-Carb Blueberry Mug Muffin
This gluten-free Low-Carb Blueberry Mug Muffin is enormously lower in carbs and calories than the alternatives e.g. from Starbucks. And it will be far more filling too.
You can see below that, over a regular blueberry muffin, with my Low-Carb Blueberry Mug Muffin you’re saving a whopping 52g of carbs and 310 calories. And you’d be saving 61g carbs, and around half the calories, over a skinny Starbucks blueberry muffin.
|Per Muffin||Starbucks Regular Blueberry Muffin||Starbucks Skinny Blueberry Muffin||5-Minute Blueberry Microwave Mug Muffin*|
* Figures calculated from verified product data on the MyFitness Pal app
Other Health Impacts
Let’s have a look at the health impact of the main ingredients of the Low-Carb Blueberry Mug Muffin.
The biggest constituent component of this muffin is an egg. Read here what I’ve said before about what perfect little nutrient bombs eggs are. But bottom line – they’re especially high in complete protein and vitamin D. And they also contain vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin B12, folate and iodine. I prefer to boost my omega 3 essential fatty acid intake by buying eggs like these. They’re laid by hens fed omega 3-rich feed.
For the almond milk, I’ve previously recommended that you always buy one which is both unsweetened and carrageenan-free.
Coconut flour is another go-to low-carb ingredient of mine, and I’ve mentioned before why it’s good for you in terms of healthy fats and fibre.
So let’s have a look at the small amount of whey protein in this recipe. It’s a high-protein ingredient and one that contains dairy, as it’s derived from milk. MyProtein say they use whey from grass-fed cows, which means the milk should have a fatty acid profile that includes more omega-3.
Since they will be included in such tiny amounts, I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about the other ingredients in the whey protein. But in case they are allergens for you, or you have concerns about them from a clean eating perspective (and I would in one or two cases if I were consuming a lot), here’s what they are:
- Soy lecithin – used as a natural emulsifier, and a source of the essential nutrient choline, which in general we don’t get enough of.
- Sulphites – used as a flavouring in the whey protein I’m using. They occur naturally in the human body and some foods, and can be an allergen for asthmatics.
- Colourings – in the blueberry whey I’ve been using these are from natural Beetroot Red (usually extracted from beetroot juice) and anthocyanins, usually extracted from many different fruit and vegetable juices e.g. grape juice, and which it is debated may have an antioxidant effect in the body.
- Sucralose – a calorie-free, artificial sweetener made from sugar, but around 600 times sweeter. A scientific review in July 2017 concluded that evidence does not clearly support what are known as ‘nonnutritive’ sweeteners, such as Sucralose, for managing weight. It also suggested that regular consumption may be associated with increased BMI and cardiometabolic risk. But I don’t consume sweeteners like this regularly, so I’m not concerned about the tiny amount here.
Finally, if you’ve included blueberries in your muffin, then I’m sure you know already that they are great nutritionally. There is no such thing as a ‘super-food’, despite all the sensationalisation you hear around these. But blueberries are a good source of vitamin K, and also contain fibre, vitamin C, manganese and anthocyanins, which may have an antioxidant effect.
Recipe: 5-Minute Blueberry Mug Muffin
Makes 1 Muffin
Prep: 2 mins
Cooking: 2-3 mins
- 10g/2 teaspoons blueberry flavour whey protein powder (or flavour of your choice)
- 10g/2g teaspoons coconut flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder (gluten-free if you like)
- 25ml/2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
- 1 large egg
- 25g/¼ cup fresh or frozen blueberries (optional, and you could try substituting e.g. raspberries too)
- With a fork or teaspoon, mix the whey protein powder, coconut flour and baking powder together in a mug or large tea cup.
- Add the almond milk and mix well until there are no lumps.
- Crack the egg into the mixture. Again, mix well until all is combined and there are no lumps.
- Stir in the blueberries if you are using them.
- Place in the microwave and cook on High for 2 minutes.
- Check if the muffin is done, first by ensuring there is no wet mixture left on the top. If there isn’t, then slide a knife around the edge of the muffin to loosen it, and turn it quickly out onto a plate to inspect the bottom. If there is no wet mixture left on the bottom either, then it’s done. If there’s still some wet mixture, then it needs cooking a little longer.
- Keep returning the muffin to the microwave, giving it an extra 30 seconds and repeating your inspections, until all the wet mixture has gone and it looks done.
- How long your specific muffin will take to cook will depend on whether or not you included blueberries, or different berries; whether or not the berries were fresh, frozen or defrosted; and the strength of your microwave oven.
- On average, in my 800W microwave, a muffin with no blueberries will be done at the 2 minute mark. A muffin with frozen blueberries usually takes 3 minutes, and one with fresh blueberries, somewhere in between.
- During cooking, the blueberries will have sunk to the bottom (which becomes the top once you turn the muffin out, if you see what I mean). And depending on their size, they may have burst. As long as all the mixture has set, don’t be alarmed if the muffin looks a bit ‘cratery’ and damp from the blueberries. Just leave the cooked muffin on a plate to cool down. Any wet blueberry juice will soak into the muffin, and after a short while it should be dry enough to be portable if you’re not eating it at home.