Saturday, February 1, 2020

Recipe Development: 23 Batches of Low-Calorie, High-Protein Oat Fiber Muffins


A few months ago, I decided to try eating more protein to help with building muscle.

To avoid significantly increasing my total calories, I first tried just adding protein powder to my breakfast and lunch shakes. That got me the protein I wanted, but it diluted the flavor of the shakes, which I didn't like.

Next, I tried searching around for a solid low-calorie, high-protein food. Not finding anything, I decided to make my own (still looking, so please comment if you have any suggestions). I started off with a recipe for oat-fiber bread from The Fruit of Her Hands. The oat-fiber, egg white, and glucomannan combination gave me the bulk and texture I wanted with almost no calories.

INITIAL ADAPTATION
To add protein, I substituted whey protein isolate for 36% of the oat-fiber and dropped the cooking time to 18 min. I also swapped cinnamon and liquid sucralose for the onion and garlic powder to make a slightly sweet instead of savory version.

The resulting muffins tasted decent, but the texture was always either a bit too dry or (if I lowered the cooking time) the top center of the muffin was undercooked.


This is what they look like after cooling down. When they were pulled from the oven, they had the normal muffin shape, but the tops deflated during cooling.
To fixe these problems, I tried:

  • Increasing cooking time (went from 14 to 19 min. and the muffins went from underdone in the center to too dry, with no happy medium.
  • Removed water (much drier).
Other observations:
  • The tops of the muffins deflate when they cool. Not a big deal to me, but seemed like a symptom of the texture problem.
  • The batter was extremely thin and bubbled more vigorously than a normal muffin batter. Again, not a problem in-and-of-itself, but it made the recipe more time sensitive and made me think something was not quite right.

INGREDIENTS

  • Base:
    • 72 g oat fiber
    • 40 g whey protein isolate
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1 tbsp. glucomannan
    • 1½ tsp. baking powder
    • 324 g egg whites
    • 180 g water
  • Sweet flavoring:
  • Savory flavoring:
    •  tsp. garlic powder
    •  tsp. onion powder
    • ½ tsp. chili powder (optional)
    • 7.5 g nutritional yeast (optional)
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F.
  2. Whisk together wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls, then combine and mix until fully incorporated.
  3. Transfer to parchment-lined muffin pans (12 muffins) and bake for 18 min.
  4. Cool completely before eating. Can be stored in a sealed container for at least 4 days (haven't tried longer.


ROUND 1: FINDING THE RIGHT INGREDIENTS
At this point, I decided to ask for advice on r/ketorecipes. From that post, I got a number of good suggestions, all in the vein of adding an ingredient that either better retains moisture (allulose, gelatin) or one that would coat the oat-fiber to mitigate drying (oil, egg yolk). From these ideas I tried the following experiments:
  • All: For all experiments, I removed the water from the recipe, as that made the muffins drier and (I hoped) would make it easier to taste the difference made by the substitutions. I also wanted to increase the density of the muffins.
  • Replaced liquid sucralose with 6 tsp. allulose mixed with dry ingredients (suggested by u/NSGod as allulose should retain water and is bulkier)
    • Batter: No change in consistency or taste
    • Deflation: No change
    • Moisture & texture: Perceptibly softer and more moist, but still too dry. Was slightly undercooked in the center of the top.
    • Taste: No change
  • Added two packets of knox gelatin mixed with dry ingredients (suggested by u/Samr1221 to retain water)
    • Batter: Much thicker, similar to a quick-bread batter
    • Deflation: Almost none
    • Moisture & texture: Even softer and more moist than allulose, but still a bit drier than I'd like. Top was less dry than the bottom.
    • Taste: No change
  • Added 1 tbsp. commercial ice cream stabilizer mixed with dry ingredients. Same concept as gelatin, but it's a mix of different thickeners and moisture absorbers, so I thought it'd be interesting to compare.
    • Batter: Much thicker, similar to a quick-bread batter
    • Deflation: None
    • Moisture & texture: Similar moisture to gelatin, but denser and a bit tougher texture.
    • Taste: No change
  • Added 2 egg yolks (suggested by u/Samr1221 to reduce dry taste, presumably by coating other ingredients)
    • Batter: A little thicker, but closer to the original than the gelatin or ice-cream stabilizer
    • Deflation: Almost none
    • Moisture & texture: Not softer but more moist (in between allulose and gelatin).
    • Taste: Subtle improvement in taste (creamier?), but might be in my imagination.
All-in-all, a big improvement. All five changes increased moisture and reduced deflation. If I had to pick one, I'd go with the gelatin, but I figured it could be even further improved.




ROUND 2: FURTHER INGREDIENT SCREENING
With these initial results, I went back to r/ketorecipes for more advice. From that post, the main feedback was to try gluten as a replacement for gelatin or oil/butter instead of or in addition to the egg yolk, so I gave those a shot.

  • Added 14 g vital wheat gluten mixed with dry ingredients. Same concept as the gelatin.
    • Batter: Slightly thicker
    • Deflation: Almost none
    • Moisture & texture: In-between allulose and gelatin in moisture, but texture was more bread like. 
    • Taste: A subtle savory taste that I liked.
  • Added 20 g vegetable oil
    • Batter: no change
    • Deflation: Almost none
    • Moisture & texture: In-between allulose and gelatin in moisture, less dry feeling when eating 
    • Taste: no change
  • Added 20 g melted butter
    • Batter: much thicker, seemed like the butter may have solidified (egg whites were cold)
    • Deflation: Almost none
    • Moisture & texture: Much less dry feeling, but the muffins were smaller and too dense. If these had been the same size/texture as the rest, they'd have been great.
    • Taste: no change



ROUND 3: COMBINING CHANGES
From rounds 1 & 2, I was getting significant improvements from allulose, gelatin, egg yolk, gluten, and vegetable oil, but I thought I could do even better by combining them. I didn't want to add the additional calories from the oil (15 calories/muffin), so I didn't include that in the combinations.


  • 6 tsp. allulose + 2 egg yolk + 2 packets gelatin
    • Batter: Slightly thicker, same as just gelatin
    • Deflation: Same as just gelatin
    • Moisture & texture: Slightly moister than just gelatin.
    • Taste: Same subtle creamy texture as when adding egg yolk to the base recipe
  • 2 egg yolk + 2 packets gelatin
    • Batter: Same as above
    • Deflation: Same as above
    • Moisture & texture: Slightly less moist than above, but still moister than just gelatin or egg yolk by themselves.
    • Taste: Same as above
Based on these results, combining the egg yolk and gelatin seemed worthwhile, but I wasn't getting much milage out of the allulose. Since I get stomach issues when I eat more than 20-30 g of allulose per day, I decided to keep the liquid sucralose.





ROUND 4: OPTIMIZING FOR TASTE AND CONVENIENCE
Now that I had the basic ingredients figured out, I did a couple rounds of optimization of quantities. Specifically, I tried to figure out the right amount of gelatin/gluten, water, and seasonings (changes in bold).

  • 2 egg yolk + 4 packets gelatin
    • Very thick batter, less deflated than 2 packets gelatin, soft & moist, but only slightly more than 2 packets
  • 2 egg yolk + 2 packets gelatin + 60 g water
    • Thin batter with some deflation. Much more moist and soft. Huge improvement.
  • 2 egg yolk + 4 packets gelatin + 120 g water
    • Slightly more dense and a bit less "wet" than 2 packets + 60 g water. Very good, but I slightly prefer 2 packets + 60 g water.
    • Texture is near perfect, but taste is a bit bland. Needs more seasoning.
  • 2 egg yolk + 2 packets gelatin + 60 g water + 1.5 tsp. cinnamon + 2 tbsp. vanilla
    • Flavor improved a bit. Still not perfect, but I'm happy with it and don't want to add more ingredients. 
  • 2 egg yolk + 2 packets gelatin + 90 g water + 1.5 tsp. cinnamon + 2 tbsp. vanilla
    • Slightly thinner batter and more deflation, but moister. I prefer this to the 60 g water.
  • 2 egg yolk + 14 g gluten + 60 g water + 1.5 tsp. cinnamon + 2 tbsp. vanilla
    • Much thinner batter, more bread-like texture, less "dry" taste, and less wet than gelatin. I prefer the gluten to the gelatin, but it's a little less convenient and adds a slight amount of carbs (0.15 g/muffin or ~0.5 g per meal for me)
  • 0 egg yolk + 2 packets gelatin + 90 g water + 1.5 tsp. cinnamon + 2 tbsp. vanilla
    • A little more wet and less creamy/drying vs. with the egg yolk, but it removes an ingredient.
  • 0 egg yolk + 2 packets gelatin + 80 g water + 10 g apple cider vinegar + 1.5 tsp. cinnamon + 2 tbsp. vanilla 
    • This was an attempt to improve the flavor, but ended up with a very interesting effect.
    • The muffin had holes riddled throughout the structure (gas generated from vinegar reacting rapidly with baking powder).
    • I couldn't taste the vinegar, but the slight bitter and dry tastes from the oat fiber were completely gone.
  • 2 egg yolk + 2 packets gelatin + 80 g water + 10 g apple cider vinegar + 1.5 tsp. cinnamon + 2 tbsp. vanilla 
    • Indistinguishable from above, so with the apple cider vinegar, the egg yolk no longer has an effect.
  • 2 egg yolk + 2 packets gelatin + 50 g water + 40 g apple cider vinegar + 1.5 tsp. cinnamon + 2 tbsp. vanilla 
    • Slightly denser and chewier than 10 g vinegar. Still no vinegar taste, but I could detect a slight vinegar smell.
  • 2 egg yolk + 14 g gluten + 70 g water + 20 g apple cider vinegar + 1.5 tsp. cinnamon + 2 tbsp. vanilla 
    • Very good taste & texture, but not as large a vinegar effect as with gelatin, probably because the gluten already reduced the bitter and dry tastes.
  • 0 egg yolk + 14 g gluten + 70 g water + 20 g apple cider vinegar + 1.5 tsp. cinnamon + 2 tbsp. vanilla 
    • Slightly more drying than with yolk.
The effect of the apple cider vinegar is extremely interesting, however, I noticed a greater rise in my blood sugar on the days when I ate muffins containing it. That could be a coincidence (it doesn't contain any carbohydrates), but I need to experiment more before I start using it on a regular basis.

Based on all these experiments my final set of changes from the original recipe are:
  • Add 2 packets of gelatin or 14 g gluten
  • Reduce water from 180 to 90 g
  • Increase cinnamon by 50% and vanilla by 33%
  • Add 2 whole eggs & reduce egg whites by 60 g (equivalent to adding 2 egg yolks)



Low-Calorie, High-Protein Oat Fiber Muffin

Yield: 8-12 muffins
Author:
prep time: 10 Mcook time: 18 Mtotal time: 28 M
A low-calorie, shelf-stable protein supplement

ingredients:

Base
  • 72 g oat fiber
  • 40 g whey protein isolate
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. glucomannan
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • 2 packets knox gelatin or 14 g vital wheat gluten 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 264 g egg whites
  • 90 g water
Sweet flavoring
Savory flavoring
  • 1½ tsp. garlic powder
  • 1½ tsp. onion powder
  • ½ tsp. chili powder (optional)
  • 7.5 g nutritional yeast (optional)

instructions:

How to cook Low-Calorie, High-Protein Oat Fiber Muffins

  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F.
  2. Whisk together wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls, then combine and mix until fully incorporated.
  3. Transfer to parchment-lined muffin pans (8-12 muffins) and bake for 18 min.
  4. Cool completely before eating. Can be stored in a sealed container for at least 4 days (haven't tried longer.
Calories
48.8
Fat (grams)
0.75
Carbs (grams)
5.8
Fiber (grams)
5.4
Net carbs
0.4
Protein (grams)
6.5
Calculated per muffin for a 12 muffin batch with gelatin by adding up macros of the individual ingredients.
Created using The Recipes Generator

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