Fruit Free Quinoa Muesli Slice (fructose friendly, low FODMAP, gluten free)

Hey YOU!
If you made this recipe prior to 2018, you may notice it’s a little different now. I’ve been doing some pretty extensive research over the last few years (thanks to findings and publications by a bunch of mega brainy gut experts), and I’ve recently decided to join the glutard (AKA gluten free) crusade. As such, this recipe is now gluten free. It’s still FODMAP friendly, low in fructose and tastes the same as before, but now calls for gut-friendlier alternatives to the gluten. Your belly will thank you for it, and I hope your tastebuds still do, too! Ax

Photo: Fruit free muesli bar slice

It’s probably not news to you that most muesli bars on supermarket shelves -and even some in the “health food” aisle- are not that great for you.

Many of them belong in the confectionary aisle right next to the beloved Cadbury Black Forest block. If you’re reading this, you’re probably also a label reader accustomed to doing a quick scan of sugar contents when deciding between pre-packaged muesli bars. But how much notice do you pay to where that sugar is coming from? The majority of muesli/snack bars out there are absolutely LOADED with added sugars, whether it’s refined in the form of white/brown sugar or horrible processed syrups, unrefined in the form of raw cane sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, coconut sugar, rice malt syrup etc., or sneakily disguised as being the most ‘natural’ –yet actually the most concentrated– forms of fructose of all: dried fruit and fruit juice concentrates.

As I write this, I’m analysing the labels of 2 different muesli bar boxes by a popular ‘real food’ brand sold at supermarkets. Their products are marketed as, and widely believed to be, a much healthier alternative to their processed counterparts. Yes, they use mainly whole food ingredients and don’t contain any nasty preservatives or additives which is great, but the sugar content is simply way too high to be promoted as healthy.
One of the aforementioned labels reads SIX DIFFERENT SOURCES OF SUGAR: cranberries, sugar, glucose, honey, rice syrup and apple. The other contains FIVE different sources: glucose, honey, sugar, cranberries and sultanas.
Ruuuuuude.

Photo: Fruit Free Muesli Bar Slice

Sure, these bars make our taste buds happy because we’re hard-wired to gorge on anything sweet as it was once so rarely available (it’s no secret that the food industry capitalises on this biological fact), but the bottom line is that large amounts of sugar, regardless of where it’s coming from, wreaks havoc on your brain and organs, promotes systemic inflammation throughout your body, and provides a feeding frenzy to the pathogenic bacteria in your gut, making any intestine-related digestive issues you may have a whole lot worse in the long-run.

The main point of this argument isn’t to put you off eating any form of sugar for the rest of your life (how terribly sad would that be?!). I’m just saying that if you’re going to tuck into six different forms of sugar in one snack sized portion, it should be a mega decadent treat, like a double-fudge-peanut-butter-brownie-with-maple-frosting-and-butterscotch-macadamias for instance, not your mid-morning snack. 

Photo: Fruit free muesli bar slice

You might be thinking, “how the hell do I know what muesli bars to choose, then?!”

And rightfully so.
Finding pre-packaged snacks that are low FODMAP, gut-friendly and genuinely healthy can seem impossible, and sometimes it is. Thankfully, more and more options are becoming available in supermarkets all the time. Here’s what I look out for:

1. Excess fructose and overall sugar content

If you have fructose malabsorption or IBS, be mindful of ingredients that contain excess fructose such as dates, dried fruits, concentrated fruit juices and agave syrup, as these could leave you bowed over with mega food regret. With that said, don’t be fooled into choosing a product just because it contains predominately glucose, and is thus low fructose (i.e. glucose syrup, rice malt syrup etc.). Just because it’s low in fructose and won’t promote gastrointestinal symptoms immediately, does not mean it’s good for your gut in the long term! I’ll say it again and again, if you’ve got digestive issues, there’s a good chance your intestinal ecosystem is out of whack, and any bad bugs in your belly love to feed –and multiply like evil gremlins– on glucose, leading to the worsening of intestinal flora imbalances.
As a general rule of thumb, avoid snacks that have a sugar source as one of the first three listed ingredients, and opt for products that contain no more than 3-4g total sugars per 100g. That way you’re minimising exposure to excess fructose whilst keeping overall sugar consumption relatively low.

2. Fibre content and source

Fibre is one of our best friends for a multitude of reasons, but unfortunately sometimes manufacturers like to bulk health food products with plant-extracted fibres such as inulin and chicory root, which can be troublesome for people with FM/IBS due to their fermentable oligosaccharide (GOS) content. Avoid any products containing these particular fibres while your gut is hyper sensitive.

3. Gluten

Research is pointing more and more towards all gluten promoting inflammation in the intestines, and far beyond. I’ve recently decided to cut gluten out as much as possible, with the odd slip-up. And by “odd slip-up”, I mean every day whilst #vacaying in Italy, or when drunk.

4. Inflammatory fats

I’m totally pro-fat, and eat a lot of it, but not all fat is created equally. It’s important to opt for ingredients lists that contain truly healthful fatty acids (such as nuts, seeds, coconut, avocado and pressed olives), and not refined pro-inflammatory “vegetable fats”, such as canola oil, sunflower oil, vegetable oil etc. Oh and it goes without saying that laboratory-made trans fats should be avoided at all costs – never touch anything that reads “hydrogenated-” as a prefix before any oil or fat. Bad bad bad.

5. Other troublesome additives

As if you didn’t have enough criteria already, make sure you’re also weary of troublesome high FODMAP sweeteners such as sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol etc. Protein bars are common culprits of this! Lastly, if it’s marketed as a health food then it shouldn’t contain artificial additives anyway, but just to be safe, watch out for nasty sulphites (numbers 220-228), which are commonly found in commercially dried fruits.

Granted, it’s a lot easier to narrow the process down when you’re at a health food store as they’re already a lot stricter on what products they stock, but then I’m always conflicted by paying up to $5 for a single snack when I can make a week’s worth of my own muesli slice for the same price…

Photo: Fruit free muesli bar slice

This Fruit Free Quinoa Muesli Slice is super easy to whip up and the recipe is very forgiving. If you don’t have a particular ingredient just use something else that’s similar in density, being mindful of wet to dry ratios. This is designed to be a base recipe, so feel free to jazz things up! Try adding things like goji berries (dark choc-coated gojis would be delicious for a more decadent treat), or a little unsweetened and sulphite-free dried fruit, like cranberries or blueberries.

High in fibre, healthy fats, protein, antioxidants, and low in sugars (just 3g per snack-sized square), this muesli slice makes a perfect on-the-go breakfast or snack any time of day. I love to serve mine spread with natural salted peanut butter and a little homemade strawberry jam – delish. 

Fruit Free Quinoa Muesli Bar Slice

Makes 24 snack squares, or 12 bars

FODMAP friendly serving size: one snack sized square

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (160g) quinoa flakes
  • ½ cup (30g) unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup (30g) brown rice flour
  • 1½ cups (180g) mixed seeds (I use pepitas & sunflower kernels)
  • ½ cup (60g) nuts of choice, such as walnuts and pecans (activated if possible), roughly chopped
  • 1 tbs (10g) chia seeds
  • 1-2 tsp (3-6g) ground cinnamon (depending on your taste preferences)
  • ½ tsp (2g) ground cardamom (reduce this to ¼ tsp if you don’t want the cardamom to be pronounced)
  • ¼ tsp (1g) ground dried ginger
  • ¼ tsp (1g) Himalayan sea salt
  • 3 large free range eggs (approx 65g each & organic if possible), lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup (80g) pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup (60g) natural nut butter of choice (I use peanut)
  • 2 tbs (26g) melted coconut oil
  • 2 tbs (30mL) warm filtered water (can be boiled and then cooled slightly)
  • 1 tsp (4.5g) pure vanilla extract

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180*C and line a slice tray or square cake tin with baking paper
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl with a wooden spoon
  3. In another bowl, add the beaten eggs and whisk in the remaining ingredients. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and combine well
  4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and use your fingers to press it in firmly. Sprinkle the top with some pepitas and linseeds, if desired. Bake for 30 minutes or until firm and golden brown.
  5. Remove from oven allow to stand for 10 minutes, before removing and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack
  6. Cut the slice into 12 bars or 24 squares (I often do half and half), and store in an airtight container away from direct sunlight for up to one week.

Ax

Photo: Fruit free muesli bar slice

 

 

31 thoughts on “Fruit Free Quinoa Muesli Slice (fructose friendly, low FODMAP, gluten free)

  1. Hello!
    Do you still have the previous recipe available? I loved it but can’t seem to find it anymore…
    Thanks 🙂

  2. Hey Gina! Hmmmm I’m always hesitant to use quinoa in sweet baked recipes because they can give off a strange flavour. You’re more than welcome to try it – might be worth a shot if it turns out well! Please let me know how you go 🙂
    And thank you! Yup you’ve nailed it – each individual gut is sooo different when it comes to intolerances/malabsorption (purely because the reason they’ve developed it in the first place are different and reflective of different issues), so that’s why I can never guarrantee that what works for me will work for others. Mint? Really?! Golly that’s a shame. I’m going to look into that for you, but I’m going to say that it’s not the mint in itself that you’re reacting to, its purely the sensitivity and unhappiness of your gut that’s reacting to the MINT, if you get me? X

  3. Hi Ashlyn, I find I am intolerant to Oats could you substitute these with anything else? Quinoa maybe? I saw a recipe for Anzac biscuits recently ( IQS- Sarah Wilson) that said for a paeleo version you could swap the oats for Quinoa. Do you think it would work in this recipe?

    Absolutely love your site by the way. I think the biggest “takeout” for me is that everyone’s tolerances are different and you have to listen to your body. I am still struggling to workout what I can and can’t tolerate even though I have been diagnosed with IBS. I do know that unfortunately I can’t tolerate bananas or mint! ( hopefully one day I’ll be able to introduce them back in to my diet and try some of your delicious looking recipes that call for these). And I didn’t realise nuts such as almonds and hazelnuts could also cause load issues! I look forward to reading more. Thanks for taking the time to share your personal knowledge and experience. 👍🏻😀

  4. hi Ashlyn,
    my sister has to go sugar free completely because of some health problems and was trying to find more recipes for her and i saw your site… i might even try some of the recipes that look really good

  5. Hi Mary, yes you could definitely try this, I used to use apple sauce all the time. Just bear in mind that it won’t be as sweet, and obviously won’t have aas much flavour is you also leave out the stevia but it depends on your preferences – the less sweet you can have it, the better!

  6. Hello! Hmmm you could try doing this however you might need more of the wet ingredients (i.e coconut oil) as ground nuts and seeds will absorb a lot more liquid than the chunkier ones will and the slice might turn out a bit dry. Let me know how you go if you try it 🙂

  7. Hi Ashlyn,
    I was just wondering if I could substitute half of the syrup for unsweetened applesauce? Also I don’t use stevia would it be ok to omit or would it not be sweet enough?
    Thanks!

  8. Catherine and Ashlyn, I have very successfully frozen this recipe. And then I just let them thaw in the fridge over night. But, you’ve probable tried this yourself by now 😉

  9. Thanks for the great recipe. I made these this morning, (accidentally) forgetting to add the coconut oil and adding protein powder as I’m always running low on protein. I loved the spices, the cardamom and ginger make such a difference to my possibly overused cinnamon! The bars were so tasty I ate two… and my tummy got rather peeved (nothing terrible, just noisily doing what I call “dancing the rumba”). So I am cutting them in half and I’m going to try and make sure I manage the portion control carefully! I’m trying to prepare a stash of foods as I’m about to go on yet another long flight/work trip to China and the plane never has anything edible for me. Any other suggestions for portable snacks?

  10. My daughter doesn’t like the texture of nuts and seeds. Could I grind up the pepitas, sunflower kernels and nuts or would the different texture stuff up the rest of the recipe…? Thanks 🙂

  11. Pingback: Honestly Healthy Muesli Bars (fruit free, fructose friendly & dairy free) | 50% Punk, 50% Rock

  12. Hi Catherine, I’m pretty sure I already replied to this comment but can’t see it there so just in case…
    I’m always reluctant to encourage freezing baked goods, only because I worry that they might lose texture and get that ‘frozen’ flavour once thawed, but you could definitely give it a try! X

  13. Hi Ashlyn this recipe looks amazing I’m going to make them for my toddler who is on a low FODMAP diet. It is so handy having a recipe i don’t need to adjust for once! Just wondering do you know if the muesli bars can be frozen once cooked?

  14. Hi Sarina,
    To be honest, I do not provide the macro/micro nutrient counts on my recipes yet, purely for the fact that I am very time poor at the moment. I’ll be doing a site makeover in the near future, and I will be providing all nutritional information on my recipes when I do. KJ count on its own isn’t as important as the INGREDIENTS from which those KJs are coming from, but if you wanted to make these bars lower energy, lower the quantities of nuts and seeds. This will reduce the KJs significantly. Also, if it’s for a snack, I eat these bars as ‘squares’ (half a bar). This offers a filling, low-cal, nutritious and well-portioned snack between large meals. Hope this helps! X

  15. Hi Ashlyn, do you have the nutritional information for this recipe (specifically the kilojoule count) as I am watching my kJ intake at the moment and would love to try these bars. Thanks!

  16. Perhaps try cacao butter. I had no peanut butter so I used an organic peanut & cacao made by Mayvers. My local health food store stocks it, so does Coles.

  17. Hey Kat! Hmmm does that policy include seeds? If not, you could use a pumpkin seed butter or tahini (sesame butter). If you’re not allowed to use seeds either, let me know and I’ll think of something else! X

  18. Looking forward to trying this recipe. I have to make it for school, could you recommend a substitute for the nut butter? the school has a no nut policy due to allergies! cheers

  19. Hey Zoe!

    Thanks for the gorgeous feedback, I’m glad you found my site! At the start of my FM (nearly 2 years ago), eating low FODMAP/fructose friendly foods was the difference between what felt like life and death haha! Within a few weeks of going low FODMAP, every single one of my symptoms calmed down. I’ve slowly introduced some FODMAPs back in, but I won’t be satisfied until I can eat whatever I want again (what is life without onion and garlic?!). I believe there’s certain reasons (very individual ones) as to why people develop digestive issues such as FM. I hope one day I can figure it out and reverse it for people. Although going low FODMAP will ease your symptoms, it’s still not fixing what’s wrong with you – it’s just keeping it at bay. We “developed” this, so we can get rid of it. It’s going to be a tricky road figuring out how though! One day 🙂

    Thanks again Zoe! Xxxxxx

  20. Hi Ashlyn,
    Love the recipes! I have recently been diagnosed with FM and have fallen in love with your blog! Cant wait to test this recipe tonight.
    Just wanted to know how much of a difference eating low fodmap/fructose friendly foods has had for you? Do you still experience some of the symptoms you used to before being diagnosed?
    Would love to hear your experiences.
    Many thanks for the recipes – you are amazing!!

  21. I should also note that since spelt is related to wheat and they therefore contain a very similar gluten, people with an actual allergy to wheat or an intolerance to gluten specifically, will not be able to eat spelt.

  22. Hi Sam, spelt is a species of wheat, but doesn’t have the same molecular composition of modern wheat. It’s more like wheat’s cousin, if you like, which can get confusing. So where I state “wheat free”, I’m referring to modern wheat, the wheat which many people have problems digesting. People with fructose malabsorption or IBS can generally tolerate spelt quite well, whereas they cannot digest large amounts of common/modern wheat. Hope that helps… X

  23. Great recipe – I love making my own muesli bars too, it’s a joke what they market as “healthy” these days!! Can’t wait to try this one 🙂

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