Healthy Muffin Recipes That Don't Skimp on Flavor
Yes, good-for-you muffins exist! Easily make them at home, or use these expert tips on how to choose store-bought muffins so they'll fit into your healthy eating plan.
Muffins have a bad reputation of being very high in calories, fat and sugar. It’s true that many store-bought muffins carry a hefty amount of calories — typically around 400 or more each. But you can easily fit them into a healthy eating plan. With a little planning and a good recipe, muffins can also bring together highly nutritious ingredients like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
What Makes a Healthy Muffin?
Signs of a healthy muffin recipe are whole-food ingredients like fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds, eggs, and low-fat milk and yogurt (or a dairy-free alternative). Fats from plant-based oils or moderate amounts of butter can be incorporated into a muffin recipe — remember, you are making 12 servings. When it comes to sweeteners, it’s OK to have some added sugar in your muffin, from granulated sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup or agave. Adding a bit of applesauce to your batter can also help cut the sugar and replace some of the oil or other fat used. For some recipes, chocolate is a must; consider reducing the amount of chocolate chips or replacing a few tablespoons of flour with cocoa powder to get the chocolatey goodness without going overboard on calories.
How to Buy Healthy Muffins
Seeking out healthy muffins in the “wild” poses additional challenges, as you may not know exactly what’s in them. If there is an ingredient list or nutrition facts, give them a read. If you don’t know the specifics, choose muffins with visible grains, fruit or nuts, and opt for muffins that are the size of a tennis ball — not a softball! If supersized muffins are the only option, share one with a buddy or save some for later.
Healthy Muffin Recipes
Whether you opt for muffins at breakfast or for a snack, these eight healthy recipes will help fuel your day.
You'll find a magical combo of juicy strawberries and mini chocolate chips in these muffins (pictured above). And the kids will love helping out with this simple muffin recipe.
Fall in love with Ellie Krieger's easy muffins, which call for applesauce to replace some of the fat. Plus, you'll get a taste of fresh apple chunks in every bite.
You'll get three food groups in these muffins, made with whole-wheat flour, wheat germ, carrots and pineapple — all for fewer than 180 calories each.
The pure pumpkin puree in these muffins adds a healthy dose of beta-carotene. As a bonus, the combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves will fill your kitchen with the aroma of steeping apple cider.
Adding mashed bananas allows for less added fat and sugar in this muffin recipe. Egg whites, walnuts and coconut oil make these muffins fluffy, with just the right amount of crunch.
Whole-grain pastry flour and rolled oats boost the fiber in these delicious muffins. Use frozen blueberries when fresh are out of season.
Give blueberry muffins a vegan spin with soy yogurt, almond milk and applesauce
There's triple almond power in these muffins, from almond extract, almond flour and toasted almonds. Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E and magnesium, and they are a good source of riboflavin, copper and phosphorus.
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. She is the author of four cookbooks First Bites: Superfoods for Babies and Toddlers, The Healthy Air Fryer Cookbook, The Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook and Healthy Quick and Easy Smoothies.
*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.