Walk into your local Starbucks or Peet’s and you’ll see a case filled with muffins marketed as breakfast options. Some of them even pretend to be healthy, but we all know that your average muffin is just cake in sheep’s clothing. My feeling is, if it’s cake you want, eat cake! But if you’re looking for a real breakfast option, it’s best to turn to your own kitchen. I recently wrote about quick and healthy breakfast recipe ideas, but I saved my #1 Z-bar-alternative for this post—the homemade muffin!
I try to bake a batch of uber-healthy muffins once every two weeks and throw them in the freezer once they’ve cooled. I always use mini muffin tins so there’s lower potential for half-eaten muffins that end up either as unnecessary calories for the waste-hating-baker or expensive compost.
My kids actually love to eat these puppies straight from the freezer (weirdos). But they also thaw in about a minute in the toaster oven. Freezing soon after baking preserves the moistness, which minimizes crumbs. So whether your children are sitting at the breakfast table waving their muffins maddeningly nowhere near their plates or holding them in their car seats on the way to school, the mess will be less.
That’s my mess-mitigating trick. For the wizardry of boosting the health-factor of your everyday muffin, I looked to the many masterful bakers who happen to be bloggers too. These five recipes take classic muffin and update them with the healthiest possible whole grains, good fats, and minimal sweets for grab-and-go breakfasts that actually fuel your morning.
1. Modern-Day Morning Glory Muffins
The classic everything-but-the-kitchen-sink muffin now includes the kitchen sink. Emptying half the contents of your fresh produce drawer, then shredding all that goodness, baking it up into a delicious muffin, watching your children mow down on it, and loving them yourself is a thing of beauty. I’ve always relied on the classic King Arthur recipe, but I’m flirting with A Teenage Gourmet’s amped-up version of the awesome original. She has somehow managed to work millet, quinoa, flaxseed, and cornmeal into this already-chock-full recipe.
2. Supercharged Blueberry Muffins
I’m always looking for ways to get more Omega-3s into my diet and that of my kids’, so I love the addition of fine milled blueberry flaxseed in Food 52's recipe. Plus, blueberries are a Super Food with plenty of cancer-fighting antioxidants of their own to brag about. So bake up a batch of supercharged blueberry muffins that offer far more nutrition than the sugar-topped cake that used to pass for breakfast food.
3. Bumped-Up Bran Muffins
I think most would agree that bran is to be credited with giving birth to the healthy-baking revolution. We may have moved on to quinoa and millet, but there’s no need to ditch our beloved bran. The original bran muffin turned out to be something of a butter bomb, but Heidi Swanson’s Baby Bran Muffins recipe makes brilliant use of full-fat yogurt for taste and texture kids will like. The best part is that this bran muffin is evolved enough from the ubiquitous 90s-style bricks that we parents can avoid falling into a spiral of daydreaming about the baked-good case at Grunge-era campus coffee shops. We’ll cheers to that!
4. Banana Oat Muffins
This recipe is a real revelation. If you thought that the healthiest ingredient in banana muffins was the banana, think again. Sheena of The Little Red House has brilliantly managed to make the banana component almost an aside, while still bringing out its great flavor (and making use of overripe fruit). She packs flaxseed, almond meal, coconut, rolled oats, whole wheat, and maple syrup into this inspired little powerhouse of a muffin.
5. Green Monster Muffins
Whether you call them Green Monsters or Hulk Food, this recipe for Spinach Quinoa Muffins makes sneaky use of—you guessed it—spinach and quinoa. The recipe was originally posted by Diana at The Chic Life and then adapted to be even healthier by Lisa at Dandy Sugar. We’re grateful for this accidental collaboration, and we heart them both for their role in creating a spinach muffin that nourishes our little super heroes.
Do you have a favorite ultra-healthy muffin recipe? Is there one of these you’re going to try? Let us know!
image via Flickr user Sarah Cady