Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mini Muffins Are Huge.

ban cran mini muffins

Americans love all things mini. There are Mini Coopers, mini burgers, mini skirts, mini appliances, mini fragrances, and with the dismal economy, even mini-vacations (which is a euphemism for staying home and renting movies).

Next time you're at the supermarket, take note of how many mini items are available: There are mini water bottles, mini yogurts, mini candy bars, mini buns, and the list goes on. Good luck escaping the ubiquitous mini "100 calorie" snack packs.

So what makes mini so big? My theory is the cuteness factor. I mean, come on, can you get much cuter than a Mini Cooper? And no one would deny that a mini tartlette is cuter than a large one. And think about the first time you saw a mini lipstick tube. You probably said, "Oh, it's so cute!"

(Photo courtesy of autopictures on Flickr creative commons)

There's also a common belief that mini foods are better for you. With portion control built it, most people feel like they're consuming fewer calories and being healthier. Of course, as marketers and most of us already know, that doesn't always work so well.

The reality for many of us is that mini sized foods often translates to: Great! Now I can eat more of them! There was even a study published in The Journal of Consumer Research that showed people tend to consume more food that is packaged in mini sizes since they view it as diet food, and consume less food in traditional large packages because they're concerned about overeating.

ripe bananas 2

So today I've got some Low-Fat Banana, Cranberry, and Honey Mini Muffins, which really are cute and healthy (provided you don't eat six of them in one sitting).

This is also the third recipe in my series on how to use up ripe bananas. Check out the first and second recipes too: Mini Banana Bundt Cakes with Sticky Maple Syrup Glaze and Banana, Oatmeal, and Raisin Cookies. Plus I'll have a final banana recipe next week.

Here's to thinking big by going mini.

ban cran mini muffins pink

Low Fat Banana, Cranberry, and Honey Mini Muffins

Makes 36 mini muffins or 12 regular size muffins
Print recipe only here.

By using half whole wheat flour and mostly egg whites, the fat and cholesterol in these muffins is reduced, while the fiber is increased. Plus antioxidant-rich cranberries and high potassium bananas make these muffins subtly sweet and tangy.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons Smart Balance butter substitute, melted
1 large egg and 4 egg whites
2 small very ripe bananas (about 1 cup)
the zest of one large orange (about 1-2 teaspoons)
1/3 cup (or up to 1/2 cup if you really like cranberry flavor) fresh or frozen, unthawed cranberries
1/4 cup pecans, finely chopped

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

Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl and stir well.

In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, honey, vanilla, Smart Balance, and eggs; beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add the bananas and orange zest and lightly beat until blended (it's okay if it's a little bumpy from the bananas). Add to the flour mixture, mixing on medium-low speed until just combined. Avoid over mixing the batter as it will become heavy. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the cranberries and pecans.

Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cups. If using a mini muffin pan, then bake 13-15 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. If using a regular size muffin tin, then 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: Mini muffin tins come in different sizes; if you have any empty muffin cups once you have poured all of the batter, then just fill them half-way with some water.)

You might also like:

Low-Fat Lemony Medjool Date and Pomegranate Scones

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

Healthy Muffins

OK, these aren't low-fat, but they're worth the splurge:

Michelle's Banana and Nutella Cake
Peter's Banana Muffins with Greek Yogurt Topping and Toasted Coconut
Snooky Doodle's Banana Bread Cupcakes
My Crunchy Peanut Butter, Banana, and Chocolate Chunk Muffins

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