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Extreme muffin makeover

» Blueberry banana muffins

» Whole-wheat muffins

» Cornbread applesauce muffins

Muffins with muscle

Make over your favorite muffin recipe with these easy tips:

  • Vary the add-ins. Sprinkle in a variety of chopped fruit, berries, shredded vegetables like carrots or zucchini, nuts like walnuts and almonds, seeds like caraway and sunflower, and spices.
  • Slash the fat. Use a healthy monounsaturated or polyunsaturated oil such as olive, canola, corn or sunflower. Substitute yogurt or applesauce for any or all of the oils or butters.
  • Power the flour. Add more fiber by using whole-wheat flour or a combination of whole-wheat and all-purpose flour.
  • Choose stone-ground cornmeal. Stone-ground cornmeal—dried corn that has been ground into grain—includes the bran and hull, adding more fiber, vitamin C and potassium.
  • Reduce cholesterol. Use cholesterol-free egg substitute instead of eggs.
  • Freeze leftovers. This keeps muffins fresher longer, so you’ll have healthy options for an on-the-go breakfast or snack.

Although a big blueberry muffin may seem like a wholesome breakfast, consider what’s in it before you take a bite.

Like other baked goods such as croissants and cakes, it probably contains a hefty dose of saturated fats and trans fats—both of which raise your total cholesterol and your LDL (bad) cholesterol level. Trans fats go a step further by reducing HDL (good) cholesterol, which increases your risk for heart disease, stroke and atherosclerosis. What’s more, today’s softball-sized muffins can be the equivalent of three servings and weigh in with more than 400 calories each.

To choose healthier options, avoid muffins that list partially hydrogenated oils on their nutrition labels, which indicate trans fats are present. Or you can whip up a batch of home-baked muffins that pack less fat and cholesterol—and more healthful ingredients like whole grains, fruit and nuts (which not only have less fat but also heart-healthy nutrients and vitamins).

Blueberry banana muffins

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole-wheat flour
  • ½ cup wheat germ
  • ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 medium banana
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice (1 to 2 medium oranges)
  • ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • egg substitute equivalent to 1 egg, or 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (safflower, sunflower, corn, soybean, olive or canola)
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries, stems removed

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Lightly spray a standard 12-cup muffin tin with vegetable oil spray. In a large bowl, combine flours, wheat germ, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg, stirring well. In a small bowl, mash banana. Add the remaining ingredients, except blueberries. Whisk until well blended. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour banana mixture into the well and stir just until moistened; mixture should be lumpy. With rubber scraper, carefully fold blueberries into batter. Pour batter into muffin cups. Bake for 15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean. Makes 1 dozen.

Per muffin: 127 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated, 1 g polyunsaturated, 0 g monounsaturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 232 mg sodium, 26 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 3 g protein

Whole-wheat muffins

  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ wheat germ
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • ½ cup grated zucchini
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • egg substitute equivalent to 1 egg, or 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (safflower, sunflower, corn, soybean, olive or canola)
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Lightly spray a standard 12-cup muffin tin with vegetable oil spray. In a large bowl, combine flours, wheat germ, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and cloves, stirring well. In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour milk mixture into the well and stir just enough to moisten flour; batter should be lumpy. Pour batter evenly into muffin cups. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until muffins are firm. Remove from the oven and let muffins rest for a few minutes in pan before serving. Makes 1 dozen.

Per muffin: 110 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated, 1 g polyunsaturated, 0 g monounsaturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 171 mg sodium, 21 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 4 g protein

Cornbread applesauce muffins

  • Vegetable oil spray
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup coarse yellow cornmeal
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup fat-free milk
  • egg substitute equivalent to 1 egg, or 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce

Preheat oven to 425° F. Lightly spray eight cups in a standard muffin tin with vegetable oil spray.* Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a large bowl, stirring well. Beat remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Make a well in the cornmeal mixture. Pour milk mixture into the well, stirring just until moistened. Fill muffin cups two-thirds full with batter. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

* To prevent pan warping, put 2 tablespoons of water in each muffin cup you aren’t filling with batter.

Per muffin: 86 calories, 1 g fat (0 saturated, 0 g polyunsaturated, 0 g monounsaturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 189 mg sodium, 18 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 3 g protein

Recipes reprinted with permission from The New American Heart Association Cookbook Copyright © 2001. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc. Available from booksellers everywhere.


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