Muffins are an excellent portable snack that can fill you up any time of the day. However, if you have been following a low-carbohydrate diet, aiming to control your blood sugar level, or lose weight, you’ve probably quit the muffins. Fortunately, there are now healthy muffin recipes so you can still enjoy those sumptuous goodies minus the guilt.
For a muffin recipe to be healthy, it should be packed with vitamins and minerals, low in fat, and less than 250 calories each. The following healthy muffin recipes are packed with fruit and fiber and fit the bill:
- Blueberry muffins are among the healthiest muffin recipes around. Blueberries have B complex vitamins, Vitamin C, niacin, and riboflavin. Other nutrients include sodium, selenium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and manganese. (You can also try subbing in cranberries, or even cranberry sauce!)
- Pumpkin muffins are ideal as breakfast on chilly mornings. Pumpkins are high in many anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamins A, C and E. They are a storehouse of B-complex group of vitamins like folate, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid. They are also an excellent source of many natural poly-phenolic flavonoid compounds such as cryptoxanthin, α and ß carotenes, lutein and zeaxanthin.
- Strawberry-orange muffin recipe – Everyone will love the unique combination of vitamin-rich strawberries and oranges. Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese. Oranges are a good source of vitamin C and thiamine.
How do I make them healthy?
- Use whole wheat flour – Whole wheat contains not just calcium but also protein. It is also higher in fiber.
- Add flax seeds – Flax seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, lignans, dietary fibers, and numerous nutrients, photochemicals called lignans, and anti-oxidants. Studies show that the seeds are beneficial to several inflammatory health concerns, including heart disease and arthritis.
- Use egg whites instead of whole eggs– Egg whites can lower the cholesterol level of the recipes without compromising the protein content. If you are vegan, you can use Ener-G Egg Replacer.
- Use low-fat buttermilk instead of full fat – The low fat variety can help reduce cholesterol and fat while at the same time maintaining ideal moistness.
- Use skimmed instead of whole milk – The American Heart Association recommends skim or low-fat dairy products because they are lower in the saturated fat, cholesterol and calories that can threaten your cardiovascular health. Skimmed milk doesn’t skim on the protein – it contains about equal amounts of protein to whole milk, about 8 oz per cup.
- Add healthy ingredients – Additional optional ingredients like walnuts, sunflower seeds, and raisins can also provide calcium, protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids.
A word of caution
Some healthy muffin recipes use sugar alcohols like maltitol or sorbitol as alternative sweeteners that replace confectioner or regular sugar. Such sweeteners have fewer or calories and don’t cause any spike in blood sugar levels. However, one common side effect of using such special sweeteners is that they have a mild laxative effect and can lead to diarrhea. Also, one should refrain from using partially hydrogenated oil in the ingredients as it contains cholesterol-increasing trans fats.
Salt content is another concern. Typically, a single serving of muffin may contain more than a gram of sodium or salt. Thus, choose a low-salt variety, or when making your own, watch the salt content. However, total elimination of salt from the ingredients may affect overall taste because, as we all know, salt helps accentuate sweetness and the flavor of other ingredients.
Adding candy pieces, such as M&M’S, more sugar, and chocolate chips can be an option to make your muffin recipes more to your liking. However, remember that these usually have both saturated and trans fats, which can lead to elevated cholesterol levels, increased risks of heart disease, and possible obesity.
Lastly, muffins are high in carbohydrates and usually have gluten. A small serving can provide up to 138 calories, while a regular-sized serving may contain up to 162 calories. Try to eat them in moderation, no matter how delicious!
A few easy substitutes can muffin recipe into a positive commitment towards great health. By being more conscious about specific ingredients used, you can actually make your favorite muffins healthier and more nutritious. By adding ingredients such as flax seeds, skimmed milk, pumpkin, oranges or other fruit, and whole wheat, you can turn this snack into a slow-burning food that keep you full for several hours. Muffins keep their texture and taste when frozen, and so are an excellent food to make in bulk and defrost for a snack later in the day, or for a quick healthy breakfast on-the-go!