Muffins are the perfect, portable, no-fuss breakfast food or snack. But some muffins can be chock full of fat, sugar, refined flour and other unhealthy substances. There's no reason to settle for a less than wholesome muffin when you can easily make healthy muffins at home if you chose the right ingredients.
One of the easiest ways to make healthy muffins is to use whole grain flour instead of refined white flour. Whole grain has more fiber, vitamins and minerals than refined flour. You can substitute all or part of the white flour called for in a recipe with whole wheat flour. Consider using kamut or spelt flour, which some people find more digestible than wheat flour. Experiment with other healthy whole grains, substituting up to one-fourth of the flour with millet, quinoa, oat, buckwheat, amaranth or brown rice flour. You can boost the fiber in your muffins by adding a few tablespoons of wheat germ, bran or rolled oats.
You can decrease the fat in your muffin recipe by using low-fat liquids such as skim milk, nonfat yogurt or buttermilk. Substitute up to one-half of the fat called for in the recipe with applesauce, or use a healthy type of fat such as olive oil or sunflower oil. You can use egg whites instead of whole eggs to make your muffins lower in fat and calories.
You can reduce the amount of sugar called for in most muffin recipes by half and not notice a huge difference. Consider substituting healthier natural sweeteners such as honey, pure maple syrup, brown rice syrup or agave nectar for the refined sugar or corn syrup in a recipe. Adding sweet spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and vanilla will make the muffin taste sweeter than it actually is.
There are many other healthy ingredients you can add to your muffins to increase the vitamin, mineral and fiber content. Nuts and seeds will add healthy fats, protein and fiber to muffins. You can grind nuts in a food processor or blender and substitute up to one-fourth of the flour with nut flour, or add a handful of chopped nuts or seeds to the recipe. Choose from walnuts, almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds and ground flax seeds.
Fruit can add flavor to muffins and make them healthier. Choose fresh, thawed and drained frozen or dried fruit without added sugar. Berries, grated apple, chopped pear, mashed banana, dried cranberries or blueberries, diced peaches and raisins are some choices to consider.