What kind of muffins to make today? The actual muffin is a banana walnut made yesterday. This silicone muffin pan clearly gets a lot of use. The jar of salt (blue lid) is an old fresh salad dressing jar that I’ve had for so long that I think something bad will happen if it breaks. I’ve literally had it since before I got married in 1998. That has got to be some kind of record for recycling a jar!

My husband loves muffins. Pretty much any kind. Whenever I ask what he wants for breakfast, the answer is almost always muffins. I eat two or three. He finishes the rest throughout the day.

So I’m always on the lookout for a good muffin recipe. But for me, a good muffin recipe must be reasonably healthy. I define this as having no more than 1/4 cup fat and 1/2 cup sugar or less per dozen muffins. We’re not talking 400+ calorie a piece, bigger than your fist, covered with icing, coffee shop muffins here. 

Over the years, I’ve made many many muffins, carefully following the directions, as one should when baking (it’s chemistry, after all).  Then, one day I was leafing through an old extension office recipe book on high altitude baking and ran across a muffin recipe with many variations. One recipe, many options. I love it! I’ve been making them this way ever since. Below is my version, which has worked for me at both 7,000 and 2,000 ft.

I’m sure you could even mix together a big batch of the dry part of this recipe to keep on hand, cutting down your time spent in the kitchen on a Saturday morning. I’ve always intended to do that, but never quite get around to it. Experiment to your heart’s content.

Healthy Muffins – Creative Options

  • 2 cups flour (I always use whole wheat for the added fiber and nutrition. You could do all-purpose, or a mix of 1/2 all-purpose and 1/2 whole wheat, or add up to 2 tbsp ground flax seed, oat or wheat bran, or phylum husk for added fiber and then make up the rest with flour. Many possible variations here as long as you total 2 cups)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup sugar (I vary this depending upon how sweet my fruit is and what I’m in the mood for. With bananas you might be able to get away with 1/4 cup sugar, with blueberries you might want to go with 1/2 cup. You can also use “Splenda for Baking” here if you were really watching calories/simple carb intake. Follow package directions for amount)
  • 2 tsp baking powder (use baking powder without aluminum. I really notice the difference in taste. *For recipes made with buttermilk, yogurt, or a citrus juice, which are all somewhat acidic, change this to 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp baking soda)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup milk (If using whole wheat flour, add 1/4 cup extra liquid per cup of flour used. Whole wheat can soak up a lot of extra moisture. I use 1% milk or buttermilk. You could probably try plain yogurt, rice or soy milk as well)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (I use only canola for all of my baking, a great heart healthy oil)
  • Spices as desired – up to about 2 tsp
  • Extracts as desired – up to 1 tsp
  • 1/2 cup nuts and or 1 cup fresh fruit and or 1/2 cup dried fruit as desired

Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder (and baking soda if using), salt, any spices and or zests in large mixing bowl. Blend egg, milk, oil, and any extracts together in separate small bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Fold in fruit and nuts, if using. Portion into greased or paper lined muffin tins. Bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes or until muffins spring back when poked with a finger.

Additional Variations (* indicates an acid recipe – switch out your leavening. See explanation above.)

*Orange: Substitute 1/2 cup orange juice for 1/2 cup milk. Add orange zest and/or orange extract if desired.

Bran: Reduce flour to 1 cup. Soak 2 cups bran flakes with the milk for 1-2 minutes to soften. Mix bran/milk mixture into egg/oil mixture.

*Cornbread: Substitute 1 cup cornmeal for 1 cup flour and use buttermilk. For savory muffins, add chopped green chilies and corn rather than fruit, and a little chili powder or cumin.

Oatmeal: Presoak 1 cup rolled oats with milk for 15 minutes. Reduce flour to 1 cup. Blend oatmeal/milk mixture with egg/oil mixture.

You can mix and match variations. In other words, you might make orange dried cranberry walnut oatmeal muffins, or a fresh chopped apple, raisin and spice muffins).

Miles Away Farm Blog © 2010, where we’re miles away from calorie bomb sized monster muffins (never mind if you eat 8 or 9) and feeling rather pleased with our own creativity.