A Healthier Muffin Recipe

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Muffin Makeovers Dispel the Low-Fat-is-Healthy Myth

One of the most romantic things you can do for your loved ones on Valentine’s Day is to bring them breakfast in bed. But if you’re thinking it’s not healthy to indulge in any sweets for a Valentine’s Day meal this year, think again. The chefs at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) have teamed up with researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) to dispel the low-fat-is-healthy myth and give you five delicious muffin-makeover recipes to serve to those you love.

HSPH research showed that low-fat diets are no better for health than moderate or high-fat diets—and for many people, maybe worse. To support these findings, nutrition experts at HSPH and chefs at the CIA developed five new muffin recipes that incorporate healthy fats and whole grains, and use a lighter hand on the salt and sugar. Their goal? To “makeover” the ever-present low-fat muffin touted as a “better-for-you” choice when in fact it often has reduced amounts of heart-healthy fats, such as liquid plant oils, but boasts plenty of harmful carbohydrates in the form of white flour and sugar.

Take a regular blueberry muffin from a national coffee shop, for example. It has 450 calories on average and most of those calories come from carbohydrates from white flour and sugar. However, now that national chains have eliminated trans fats, a regular muffin does have heart-healthy fat, usually from soybean or canola oil. A low-fat muffin still has about the same amount of calories but contains more carbohydrates and sugar and about 60% more sodium than a regular muffin.

The new made-over Blueberry Muffin recipe below is less than half the size of a coffee shop muffin and contains just 130 calories. It is made with a mixture of whole wheat and white and almond flour and uses canola oil, a healthy fat.

“There are so many ingredients available to home bakers who want to offer their families healthful, flavorful baked goods,” says CIA Chef Richard Coppedge, Jr. “The five recipes not only include a wide variety of whole grain and nut flours; they also demonstrate how more unusual ingredients like canned chickpeas and extra virgin olive oil can be used in baking.”

Show the ones you love how much you care. Bake up a batch of delicious “made-over” muffins, sure to become favorites, and let them indulge in a more healthful way.


Whole wheat pastry flour and low-fat buttermilk are among the ingredients that make CIA's Blueberry Muffins healthier.
Whole wheat pastry flour and low-fat buttermilk are among the ingredients that make CIA’s Blueberry Muffins healthier.

Blueberry Muffins

Makes 18 muffins

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 2 eggs, large
  • 1 1/4 cups low-fat (1%) buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Place the rack in the top third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and orange zest. Add the fresh blueberries and toss gently to coat the blueberries in flour. This will help keep the blueberries suspended in the batter instead of falling to the bottom.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then whisk in the buttermilk, brown sugar, canola oil, orange juice, and vanilla. Don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled or lumpy.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until most of the flour is incorporated. The mixture can be slightly lumpy; don’t over-mix. Divide the batter among the 18 prepared muffin cups.
  5. Bake 12 to 14 minutes, until the muffins, are golden brown around the edges.

Nutrition analysis per muffin: 130 calories, 3g protein, 16g carbohydrate, 1g saturated fat, 2g polyunsaturated fat, 3g monounsaturated fat, 140mg sodium, 21mg cholesterol, 1.5g fiber.

See also the recipes for Cranberry Orange Muffins, Jalapeño Cheddar Corn Muffins, Lemon Chickpea Breakfast Muffins, and Whole Wheat Banana Nut Muffins.