A Healthy Muffin Makeover

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"What's for breakfast?" Adelaide asks as she wanders into the kitchen. Before I can answer, she spots the cooling rack on the counter. "Muffins! My favorite!" she shouts, then runs to find her brother and share the good news.

She returns a moment later with Heath and they both scramble to the table. Soon they're both grinning at me through crumb-coated lips. You'd think I was serving cake for breakfast!

The truth is, most muffins are better suited for dessert than the most important meal of the day. Despite the addition of fruits and veggies, which boost their nutritional value, most are so full of fat and sugar that I can't justify serving them for breakfast.

My kids first discovered muffins at The Bunnery, a local diner and bakery that has become our family's favorite "out to breakfast" spot. Sharing a crumbly, cakey delight while waiting for the rest of our meal has become a weekend tradition. When the kids started requesting them at home, I knew I had to find a healthier version.

I started with recipes from a couple of favorite cookbooks and then began substituting ingredients and adjusting measurements in order to lighten them up. I began by replacing the white flour with whole wheat and reducing the sugar.

After some experimentation, I found I could reduce the fat content by completely eliminating the butter and oil. Applesauce, yogurt, and fruit puree (banana, pumpkin, sweet potato) have all proven to be great substitutions, each lending a slightly different texture and taste. Finally, I added oatmeal which boosts the fiber, making them more filling.

These muffins are best fresh from the oven, but they can also be frozen and reheated in the microwave for a quick weekday breakfast. The best part is, they still pass the kid test. When I take them to a preschool playdate, I always come back with an empty container.

Recipe Ingredients:

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup fat free milk
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Streusel Topping (optional):

  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats

Substitutions: Try replacing the applesauce with pumpkin or sweet potato puree, yogurt, or a mashed banana.

  1. Combine the oats and milk and let the mixture stand for about one hour. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray the muffin tin with cooking spray.
  2. Add the applesauce and egg to the oat mixture and stir until combined. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients with a whisk. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix just until combined. Spoon mixture into muffin tin.
  3. Combine streusel ingredients and sprinkle mixture over muffins. Bake muffins until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or 15 to 18 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

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What are some of the ways you modify recipes to make them healthy? Click the comments link below to find and share ideas.

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A Healthy Muffin Makeover

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