Great Muffin Makeovers

A grab-and-go favorite, store bought muffins can average 400 to 500 calories each. Instead, make your own healthier version with same delicious ingredients for about half the calories.
Apple Muffins

Apple Muffins; Ellie Krieger

Photo by: Tara Donne

Tara Donne

Store-bought muffins, a grab-and-go favorite, can average a hefty 400 to 500 calories each. Make your own healthier version and you'll get the same delicious flavor for about half the calories.

Size Matters

Muffins come in all sizes from mini to jumbo. Not surprisingly, the larger the muffin, the more calories you'll be chomping on.

For perfectly portioned muffins, choose a standard muffin tin and fill the holes three-fourths of the way up before baking. Mini muffins offer another way to help control calories. Have one or two with a glass of fat-free milk for a snack or two to three mini muffins for breakfast with a cup of low-fat yogurt topped with fresh fruit.

The Wet Ingredients

There are several swaps you can make in order to lighten up the wet ingredients.

  • Replace half the oil with unsweetened apple sauce, mashed bananas or apple butter
  • Replace buttermilk with low-fat buttermilk
  • Replace 1 cup of buttermilk with 2/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt plus 1/3 cup low-fat milk
  • Replace 1 cup of oil with ¾ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
The Dry Ingredients

The basic dry ingredients are flour, baking soda, and salt. One easy swap is to replace half the all-purpose flour for whole-grain pastry flour.


Nuts, seeds, chocolate chips, and dried fruit can jazz up any muffin, but too much of a good thing can also bust your waistline. Using multiple high-calorie ingredients can easily skyrocket the calories, so use just enough to get the flavor you want without overdoing it.

Topping your muffins with sugar, nuts and other goodies can also tack on extra calories. If you choose to do so, use about ½ teaspoon of sugar or 1 teaspoon of nuts per serving. Enhance the flavor by mixing the toppers with lower calorie mix-ins like cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon or orange zest or vanilla extract.

Lighter recipes to try:

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby's full bio »

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