March 27, 2010

Heart(y) Healthy Blueberry Muffins

Wanting to make some healthy-but-still-tasty blueberry muffins, I designed this recipe with ideas culled from various muffins and breads I'd made before. I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only did the recipe work (muffins were made), but the resulting pastries (if they qualify as that) tasted really good.

This recipe makes one dozen muffins. I hesitated to call them "pastries" because pastries typically involve the use of an oil of some sort. These muffins, however, use neither egg nor oil; I've substituted baking soda and applesauce for those typical muffin must-haves.

The fiber in these muffins comes from whole wheat flour and milled flax seed. I like how the flax seed adds a slight (almost indiscernible) crunch.

My recipe calls for soy milk, but you can use regular milk of any variety to suit your taste. If you use soy milk, I recommend you use the kind that has no sugar added. The applesauce should also be of the original, no-sugar-added type. The idea is to cut back the sugar (and cut out the oil and egg) and revel in the oft-overlooked taste of whole wheat, with a gentle kick of lemon and the sweetness of plump blueberries.

My recipe calls for just 1/4 cup of granulated sugar. I wasn't confident that such a smallish amount of sugar would make the muffins sweet enough (non-bland), so I also used a packet of Splenda no-calorie sweetener. Aside: If I sweeten my coffee, I like to use a (very) small amount of Splenda instead of regular granulated sugar. I need to use so little of it to get my desired sweetness, so I always have plenty of Splenda around. If you have none, you could either go with just the 1/4 cup of sugar the recipe calls for, or you could use 1/4 cup plus a tablespoon or so of granulated sugar and no Splenda. Or you could probably use sugar-added soy milk instead.

I bet you could use fresh cranberries instead of blueberries, but I haven't tried it yet. If you try, let me know how it turns out. (Note: I don't recommend using store-bought frozen blueberries. A batch I made using those resulted in muffins that looked oddly purple-black and tasted less-than-desirable. Use the real thing.)

Kitchen tip: A my-kitchen-to-your-kitchen tip I'd like to share is on the subject of oven thermometers: buy one. Investing a few bucks in an oven thermometer is a great idea. I was doubtful about their necessity for years, but after I found myself with an electric oven which was well-cared for but yet elderly and...electric (I'm a fan of gas ovens, I must say)...I began to notice that things just didn't cook right, or they took seemingly random amounts of time TO cook/bake. So, I got an oven thermometer at Wal-Mart. No surprise: I found that the oven sometimes (but more often than not) runs at least 25 degrees too hot. If you have trouble with baking times—if you notice that some dishes take significantly more or less time to bake than stipulated by the recipe (or if you're disappointed with burned baked goods), you may want to try out an oven thermometer that will tell you just how hot that oven is. The numbers on the oven might be fibbing.

Anyway, without further ado, here is the recipe.

Heart(y) Healthy Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins
Estimated preparation time: 15 minutes
Estimated baking time: 15 - 20 minutes
Makes 12 muffins 

  • 1-3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 packet Splenda no-calorie sweetener
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup applesauce (no sugar added)
  • 5 tablespoons applesauce (no sugar added)
  • 1/2 cup soy milk (no sugar added)
  • 2 teaspoons milled flax seed
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1. Place oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Grease a 12-muffin pan.
3. In a medium or large bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, flax seed, granulated sugar, Splenda, baking powder, and salt.
4. Stir in lemon zest.
5. In another bowl, use a fork to stir together baking soda and 1/4 cup of applesauce. Allow to sit for a minute or so. This is the egg substitute.
6. Stir in the other 5 tablespoons of applesauce. This acts as a substitute for oil. 
7. Add the soy milk to the bowl with the applesauce and baking soda mixture.
8. Pour the liquid mixture into the bowl with the flour mixture. Combine well (but don't over-stir) with a spatula.
9. Carefully fold in the blueberries.
10. Evenly portion the batter into the greased muffin cups.
11. Pop the pan into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.
12. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of a muffin (I used a chopstick, in the absence of any toothpick)--if it comes out clean, they're done! Of course, you don't need to worry about undercooked eggs since the recipe uses none. Super!
13. Let the muffin pan cool for a few minutes. Serve them warm (beware: the blueberries will remain extra hot inside longer than the rest of the muffin) or cooled.
14. Allow leftover muffins to cool thoroughly on a wire cooling rack, then store them in an airtight bag or container.



Brian said...


Karen said...

Working to get my high cholesterol down, it's always great to find low fat, heart healthy recipes! Thanks for sharing!

Amy said...

Yum! I will definitely be trying this recipe, Abigail! I like how you are substituting applesauce for the oil...That is such a great trade-off. :-) A friend of mine and I just went in on a bag of wheat berries, so that we can begin grinding our own least try it (another friend has a mill we can use). I'll let you know how the muffins turn out for me!

abigail said...

Karen - Glad you can add this recipe to your list! :)

Amy - Let me know how they turn out! :)

David said...

What temperature do you bake these? And when do you throw in the flaxseed?

abigail said...

The instructions contain that info, but perhaps I should have listed the temperature and time separately.
#1 - preheat oven to 375
#11 - bake for 15-20 minutes
And for the flax seed (I left that out of my instructions--good eye!)
Add with #3 (add to the flour, sugar, etc.)

sarah jo said...

It's quite possible that I have the weirdest husband in the world :) He doesn't like cheese, corn, potatoes, pineapple, coconut..etc. But he eats blueberries every single day and loves whole wheat bread. Unfortunately our success with blueberry muffin recipes has been: zero.

SO! to accomodate him, I'm going to try this recipe with less applesauce (he dislikes it) and an egg instead; real sugar (he hates splenda) and real milk (soy is on his never-consume-list)!

HA! I'll let you know how it turns out :)