Grab hold of a healthier muffin

Whole-wheat pastry flour and low-fat buttermilk are among the ingredients that make these...
KEITH FERRIS/CUlinary Institute of America
(Standard-Examiner staff)
Mon, Feb 27, 2012
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A low-fat muffin isn’t necessarily a healthy muffin, according to the Culinary Institute of America.

Some fats, like liquid plant oils, are actually healthy, according to the CIA, an independent, not-for-profit culinary college.

The CIA chefs reworked a blueberry muffin recipe to incorporate healthy fats and whole grains, and going easy on the salt and sugar.

A regular blueberry muffin from a national coffee shop, they say, has on average about 450 calories, most of those calories coming from carbohydrates in white flour and sugar. A low-fat muffin has about the same calories, but contains more carbohydrates and sugar and about 60 percent more sodium than a regular muffin.

CIA’s makeover resulted in this recipe, which is less than half the size of a coffee-shop muffin and contains 130 calories. It is made with a mixture of whole-wheat and white and almond flour, and uses canola oil, a healthy fat.

Blueberry Muffins

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup almond flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon orange zest

2 cups fresh blueberries

2 eggs, large

1 1/4 cups low-fat (1 percent) buttermilk

1/2 cup brown sugar

6 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoon orange juice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Place the rack in the top third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and orange zest. Add the fresh blueberries and toss gently to coat the blueberries in flour. This will help keep the blueberries suspended in the batter instead of falling to the bottom.

In a medium mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then whisk in the buttermilk, brown sugar, canola oil, orange juice, and vanilla. Don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled or lumpy.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until most of the flour is incorporated. The mixture can be slightly lumpy; don’t overmix. Divide the batter among the 18 muffin cups.

Bake 12 to 14 minutes, until the muffins are golden brown around the edges.

Nutrition analysis per 6-ounce muffin: 270 calories, 12 grams protein, 5 grams carbohydrates, 21 grams fat, 1,050 milligrams sodium, 50 milligrams cholesterol, 2 grams fiber.

Cranberry Orange Muffins

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup boiling water

1 1/4 cups white whole-wheat flour

1 tablespoon cornstarch

3/4 cup almond flour

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons agave nectar (or honey)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg yolk

2 egg whites

2/3 cup canola oil

1/2 cup low-fat (1 percent) Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons orange zest

1 1/2 tablespoons decorative white sugar crystals (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners.

Pour boiling water over the dried cranberries and allow them to soak for 10 minutes.

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together all the dry ingredients.

In the bowl of a stand mixer that is outfitted with a paddle attachment, place the egg yolk, oil, agave and yogurt, and mix for two minutes until combined.

Add the dry ingredients in three stages, mixing on low speed and scraping the sides of the bowl with each addition.

Drain the cranberries, discard the water and add the cranberries to the batter along with the orange zest. Mix to combine.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg white to medium peaks. Add a small amount of the egg whites to the batter and stir to combine (this will lighten the batter a bit). Fold the remaining egg whites into the batter, carefully so as to not deflate the whites.

Scoop into muffin tins. Fill the tins three-quarters full. If desired, sprinkle sugar crystals on the top of muffins. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes.

Makes 18 muffins.

Nutritional information per serving (one muffin): 205 calories, 3.5 grams protein, 25 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 100 milligrams sodium, 1 gram saturated fat, 2.5 grams polyunsaturated fat, 5.5 grams monounsaturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 11 milligrams cholesterol.

Whole-Wheat Banana Nut Muffins

1 1/2 cups walnuts, toasted and chopped

5 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoon walnut oil

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

5 ripe bananas, mashed

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners. When the oven temperature reaches 350, place walnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and chop.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the canola oil, walnut oil, brown sugar, egg, and yogurt. Whisk to combine, and then stir in the mashed banana and the toasted, chopped walnuts. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to portion out the batter into the 18 lined muffin cups.

Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins are nicely browned. Cool in a wire rack.

Nutritional information per serving (one muffin) : 190 calories, 4 grams protein, 20 grams carbohydrates, 2.5 grams fiber, 95 milligrams sodium, 1 gram saturated fat, 6 grams polyunsaturated fat, 4 grams monounsaturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 10 milligrams cholesterol.

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