01 January 2012

My Lucky New Year's Foods (part 1): Orange Muffins with Hibiscus Icing

Happy New Year! Buon Anno!
I'm not one for "New Year's Resolutions". I get the whole New Year, new beginnings, clearing out things that don't serve us, etc... although I like to think we can (and should) act on beneficial changes and intentions at any time. As soon as you recognize, act. Right?

That being said, I am sort of a sucker for traditions. Since it's New Year's Day, and this is a "foodie" sort of blog, I was thinking about lucky foods. Various cultures believe certain foods to be lucky and improve your odds of a great year. In Italy we eat lentils - they resemble coins and are symbolic of money. Other lucky vegan1 foods include: greens, cabbage/sauerkraut, grapes, other legumes, long noodles, and cakes & baked goods (typically round or ring-shaped).

Like these ring-shaped muffins. The "mimosa" is non-alcoholic :-)

Are you eating any lucky foods today? Greens are definitely on the menu here, but I also wanted to make a baked item. I did a little cross-blending of traditions with this recipe. Oranges are considered a lucky food during Chinese New Year; they represent wealth and good fortune. Oranges and foods made with oranges are traditionally shared and eaten at the New Year.

These should be very lucky.
While it is not the lunar new year, my father sent me a gift basket of straight-from-the-grove Florida oranges. The sweet juice and fresh orange zest were perfect for these Lucky New Year Muffins. Even though the vitamin C from the orange in the muffins was baked away, the Hibiscus Icing kicks back in a nice little boost of vitamin C.
I chose to make them ring-shaped, for some extra New Year luck. I simply used a straw to poke/carve out the center. I'm sure they're just as lucky muffin-shaped.

Low-Sugar Orange Muffins
(makes 6)
  • 1 1/4 Cup (160g) All Purpose Gluten-Free Flour
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp. Cream of Tartar
  • 1 tsp Orange Zest
  • scant 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 Chia Egg (1T Ground Chia + 3T Filtered Water)
  • 2 Tbsp (30g) Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp (30g) Earth Balance Coconut Spread (I was told this made the muffins richer/more buttery; if you're not into that, sub an equal amount of Applesauce)
  • 1/4 Cup Orange Juice
  • 1 Tbsp (10g) Coconut Sugar + 25-30 drops of Liquid Stevia (if you don't care for Stevia, omit and increase the Coconut Sugar to 3T (30g)
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Hibiscus Icing (see below)

Oven 350F/180C

Light grease a muffin tin with coconut oil or line with muffin cups. Prepare your chia egg in a small bowl or glass and set aside to thicken.
In a separate small glass, combine the orange juice,coconut sugar, stevia and vanilla extract, and stir until the coconut sugar dissolves. 

In a mixing bowl, combine the first five dry ingredients. Mix well. Add the olive oil and Earth Balance to the flour mixture and mix in, until the mixture becomes crumbly. Mix in the chia egg until it is fairly well distributed, then pour in the orange juice mixture and mix well.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and bake for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the muffins to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting with the Hibiscus Icing.

Hibiscus Icing
  • 2 Tbsp Dried Hibiscus Flowers*
  • 3 Tbsp Orange Juice
  • 1 Tbsp Hot Water
  • 1 Tbsp (14g) Coconut Nectar or Agave
  • 15 drops Liquid Stevia (or sub with 1T Coconut Nectar or Agave and omit water)
  • 1/4 Cup (56g) Earth Balance Coconut Spread - slightly softened (you can sub Coconut Oil, if you prefer)
  • 1/4 Cup (30g) Tapioca Starch
  • Pinch of salt
Soak the hibiscus flowers in the orange juice and water for 20-30 minutes. Add the sweetener and mix well. Stir in the tapioca starch until the mixture thickens, then mix in the Earth Balance and whisk together until uniform and even.
Feel free to chill the icing for a few minutes before frosting over completely cooled muffins.

*The icing is somewhat tart. Feel free to experiment with a lesser amount of hibiscus, if you'd like a mellower flavor.

1. Pork and Fish are other "lucky" (and I say that hesitantly, seeing as how it's not so lucky for the pigs or the fish) New Year foods, in case you were interested.


  1. Visiting from #citrus bloghop! Mmm, these muffins look good and love the color of the hibiscus icing! Love your choice of ingredients, very clean and wholesome. I'll have to bake these up for my GF sister! Buon Anno to you too!

  2. @Smart Food and Fit; Thank You! :-)

    The color really is amazing, isn't it? And it's 100% from the hibiscus flowers! I was prepared for a red-colored icing (like hibiscus teas); the vibrant magenta color was a pleasant surprise.

    I hope your sister enjoys them!

  3. I love these Orange Muffins! Amazing colors! Thanks for sharing the citrus-love with us!

  4. Adorable and great presentation. Your muffins look so good! I couldn't eat just one.

  5. @Elizabeth; @Georgie: Thank you! Thank you!

  6. They sound great, and look so nice, I love the colour!

  7. Love muffins but haven't baked them in awhile. I should now. Thanks for inspiration. Hibiscus and coconut?! very original.

  8. @Sue: Thanks! They're vibrant, aren't they?

    @ Shulie: You should :-) If you try them, let me know!

  9. I just love the color of those icing & hibiscus. Your recipe sounds great with amazing combinations. Well done :)

  10. Oh these have to be lucky! What a fun idea, and love the beautiful pink frosting:-) They sound delicious! Take care,Terra

    1. Thank You!! They're yummy! I'm still amazed at the icing color myself; it helped brighten a dreary winter morning :-)

  11. I am sure they're as delicious as they're good looking!!

  12. I have to try your chia egg. Most of the time I make flax egg or use applesauce, never thought of chia. Thanks!

    1. Thank YOU :-)
      I love chia eggs; I certainly haven't abandoned flax and applesauce, but I use chia for most of my baked goods; it works beautifully as a binder but doesn't impart any flavor (the way flax can), so it's perfect for items with more delicate flavors.