Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Healthy Muffins That Taste Good. Really.

healthy muffins tin close up

The problem with "healthy" muffins is that they're usually bland, rubbery, or dry. I wanted to make a healthy muffin that actually tasted great. One you would want to eat. Turns out, that isn't so easy.

Healthy Muffins Take 1:

I hand Jeff a muffin to taste.

Me: "So what do you think?"

Jeff: Chewing, with a furrowed brow. "Well, they're a little bland. How much sugar did you put?"

Me: "Oh, no! I forgot to add the sugar!"

Healthy Muffins Take 2:

I hand Jeff a muffin to taste.

Me: "Are these better? I didn't forget the sugar this time."

Jeff: Chewing a lot and very, very slowly. "Well, they taste like they're good for you."

Healthy Muffins Take 3:

I hand Jeff a muffin to taste.

Me: With fingers crossed. "Well?"

Jeff: "These are healthy? Wow! They don't taste like it."

Me: "Yes!"

The third time really is the charmer.

healthy muffins plate and tin

After much experimentation, these "healthy" muffins really are winners. They get their nutritional kick from a few sources: whole wheat flour has extra calcium and protein; flax seeds are high in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. Egg whites lower the cholesterol in the recipe without lowering the protein; and low-fat buttermilk and Smart Balance reduce fat and cholesterol while helping maintain moistness. Raisins, walnuts, and sunflower seeds provide fiber, omega-3's, calcium, and protein.

Just to be sure it wasn't me, I sent a batch to Jeff's office. The plate came back empty, except for a thank you note with a smiley face. See, they really do taste good.

healthy muffins tin centered

Healthy Muffins

Makes 12 regular size muffins.
Print recipe only here.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons flax seed (or flaxseed meal)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup light brown sugar
4 tablespoons smart balance butter substitute, melted
1 large egg and 2 egg whites
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, divided

Place rack in center of oven, and preheat to 375 degrees F. Spray a 12 mold regular size muffin pan with cooking spray.

Combine flours, flax seeds, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl, and stir well.

In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, honey, sugar, smart balance, and eggs, and whisk well. Add to the flour mixture, stirring until just combined. Fold in raisins, walnuts, and half of the sunflower seeds.

Spoon the batter evenly into the into 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle remaining sunflower seeds on top of muffins. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for 5 minutes before removing each muffin and placing on a wire rack to cool.

Note: I tried variations with less sugar and found them to be too bland. However, if you'd like to reduce the sugar in these, feel free. They're still packed with lots of good-for-you ingredients.

You might also like these low-fat breakfast dishes:

Fresh Apricot Muffins

Ginger-y Cranberry Walnut Scones (Heart Healthy & Low Fat!)

Pancakes with Fresh Raspberry-Strawberry Sauce

I'm sending lovely Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen some muffins since she has chose whole grains for this month's Weekend Breakfast Blogging created by Nandita of Saffron Trail.

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