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5 Healthy Muffin Recipes to Replace Your Old Favorites

Health + Wellness
StephanieFrey / iStock / Getty Images

By Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD

Muffins are a popular, sweet treat.


Though many people find them delicious, they're often full of added sugar and other unhealthy ingredients.

Plus, due to dietary restrictions, many people need alternatives to traditional muffin recipes to avoid eggs, dairy products, or grains.

Here are 5 healthy, low-calorie muffin recipes, including ways to make them vegan, paleo, or gluten-free.

1. Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry muffins are a classic favorite that many people enjoy for breakfast or an afternoon snack.

You can make them even healthier by going heavy on the blueberries and light on any sweeteners. Plus, using unsweetened applesauce instead of oil can further reduce the calorie count.

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups, plus 1 teaspoon (210 grams total) of white or whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) of olive oil or applesauce
  • 1/2 cup (170 grams) of honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup (227 grams) of plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (140 grams) of blueberries

Directions

Mix together the dry ingredients, except for the extra teaspoon of flour. In a separate bowl, combine the oil (or applesauce), eggs, honey, yogurt, and vanilla.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently stir. Toss the blueberries with the remaining teaspoon of flour and fold them into the batter.

Divide the batter into 12 muffin tins and bake at 400°F (250°C) for 16–19 minutes.

One muffin has 200 calories, 8 grams of total fat, 200 mg of sodium, 27 grams of carbs, 1 gram of fiber, 14 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein (1).

Possible substitutions

You can make a gluten-free flour blend at home by mixing 1 1/4 cups (180 grams) of white rice flour, 3/4 cup (120 grams) of brown rice flour, 2/3 cup (112 grams) of potato starch, and 1/3 cup (42 grams) of tapioca starch. This can replace wheat flour in muffins in a one-to-one ratio.

  • To make vegan. Instead of honey, you can substitute agave nectar or maple syrup. To replace one egg, you can mix 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds with 3 tablespoons (20 ml) of water. Nondairy plain yogurt can replace Greek yogurt.
  • To make paleo. Use a grain-free flour blend and replace 1 teaspoon of baking powder by using a mixture of 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon of cornstarch, and 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar.
  • To make gluten-free. In place of wheat flour, try a one-to-one gluten-free flour blend, which you can either make at home (see above) or purchase premade.

View the full recipe here.

2. Chocolate Muffins

Chocolate muffins may sound like dessert, but they don't have to be just a special treat. Chocolate can be a great vehicle for nutritious ingredients like puréed fruits and vegetables.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (250 grams) of a puréed fruit and vegetable mixture (homemade)
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) of vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup (32 grams) of sugar
  • 2 cups (240 grams) of white or whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (42 grams) of cocoa powder
  • Mini chocolate chips (optional)

Directions

Purée a combination of your choice of cooked vegetables and fruits, such as apples, zucchini, or sweet potato, in a blender until smooth.

Mix the egg, oil, and sugar in a large bowl and add 1 cup (250 grams) of purée. Stir in the dry ingredients until incorporated.

Divide the batter into 12 muffin tins and bake at 400°F (205°C) for 15 minutes.

One muffin has 195 calories, 6 grams of total fat, 190 mg of sodium, 32 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein (1).

Possible Substitutions

  • To make vegan. Replace the egg by mixing 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds with 3 tablespoons (20 ml) of water. Choose raw or coconut sugar, as refined white sugar is often processed with bone char (2).
  • To make paleo. Use a paleo flour blend in place of regular flour. Instead of 1 tablespoon of baking powder, use a mix of 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar, and 1/4 teaspoon of cornstarch.
  • To make gluten-free. Instead of wheat flour, use a one-to-one gluten-free flour blend, which you can either make at home (see Chapter 1) or purchase premade.

View the full recipe here.

3. Zucchini Muffins

Zucchini muffins are known for being moist and healthy. Whether you prefer yours sweet or hearty, there are plenty of scrumptious versions that incorporate whole grains and even other veggies like carrots.

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups (200 grams) of white or whole-wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) of maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) of milk
  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) of melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (200 grams) of grated zucchini
  • 1/3 cup (30 grams) of old-fashioned oats

Directions

Mix together the dry ingredients, minus the oats. In a separate bowl, combine the egg, maple syrup, milk, coconut oil, and vanilla.

Gently mix the wet ingredients into the dry mixture. Add the grated zucchini and oats and stir until just combined.

Divide the batter among 12 muffin tins and bake for 18–20 minutes at 350°F (175°C).

One muffin provides 165 calories, 6 grams of total fat, 340 mg of sodium, 25 grams of carbs, 1 gram of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein (1).

Possible Substitutions

  • To make vegan. Replace the egg by mixing 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds with 3 tablespoons (20 ml) of water. Use plain, unsweetened, nondairy milk like almond, cashew, hemp, or soy milk.
  • To make paleo. Omit the oats and use nondairy milk. Replace wheat flour with grain-free flour. In place of 1 teaspoon of baking powder, use a mixture of 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon of cornstarch, and 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar.
  • To make gluten-free. Be sure to choose certified gluten-free oats. In place of wheat flour, use a one-to-one gluten-free flour blend, which you can either make at home (see Chapter 1) or purchase premade.

View the full recipe here.

4. Banana Muffins

Banana muffins are another classic that many people enjoy. You can add more nutrients by including raw walnuts or peanut butter.

Ingredients

  • 4 bananas, mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons (36 grams) of brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (24 grams) of white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (180 grams) of white or whole-wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) of butter, melted

Directions

In a mixing bowl, combine the mashed bananas with the egg, vanilla, cinnamon, and brown and white sugar. Mix the dry ingredients in another bowl and then add them to the wet mixture. Gently stir in the melted butter.

Divide the batter into 12 muffin cups and bake at 350°F (175°C) for 18–25 minutes.

One muffin has 140 calories, 3 grams of total fat, 250 mg of sodium, 25 grams of carbs, 1 gram of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein (1).

Possible Substitutions

  • To make vegan. Replace the egg by mixing 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds with 3 tablespoons (20 ml) of water and use a vegan-friendly sweetener like coconut sugar or maple syrup.
  • To make paleo. Replace flour with spelt flour or a gluten-free flour blend. In place of 1 teaspoon of baking powder, use a mixture of 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon of cornstarch, and 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar.
  • To make gluten-free. Replace wheat flour with a one-to-one gluten-free flour blend, which you can either make at home (see Chapter 1) or purchase premade.

View the full recipe here.

5. Corn Muffins

Corn muffins don't have to imitate sweet cornbread drizzled with honey. The following recipe uses actual corn and cornmeal, along with other simple ingredients that result in a healthy snack.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) of milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (45 grams) of applesauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 2/3 cup (167 grams) of canned, frozen, or fresh corn
  • 1/2 cup (90 grams) of fine cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) of white or whole-wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt

Directions

Mix the milk, applesauce, vinegar, and corn. In another bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients. Gently stir together the wet and dry ingredients.

Divide the batter into 8 muffin cups and bake at 350°F (175°C) for 17 minutes.

One muffin provides 115 calories, 3 grams of total fat, 160 mg of sodium, 18 grams of carbs, 1 gram of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein (1).

Possible Substitutions

  • To make vegan. Choose a plain, unsweetened, nondairy milk like almond, cashew, soy, or hemp and use a vegan-friendly sweetener.
  • To make paleo. Use almond flour and full-fat coconut milk. In place of the 2 teaspoons of baking powder, use a mixture of 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch, and 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar.
  • To make gluten-free. Replace wheat flour with a one-to-one gluten-free flour blend, which you can either make at home (see Chapter 1) or purchase premade.

View the full recipe here.

The Bottom Line

You can alter traditional muffin recipes in a variety of ways to make them healthier and accommodate your personal dietary needs and preferences.

Use the above recipes and suggested substitutions if you're avoiding gluten, dairy, or eggs and still want a healthy, sweet treat to enjoy.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.

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