I don’t bake muffins often, but when I do, I try to make them healthy and have them on hand for an easy breakfast or a snack. My issue with muffins is that they often resemble mini-cakes, packed with sugar and fat. To some extent, this can’t be avoided if you wish to eat a muffin that doesn’t resemble a hockey puck or bird food.

But I adjust, reducing some of the sugar and fat and adding healthy grains or cereals, fruit and nuts to the batter. I also add grated fruit, which is a key ingredient for natural sweetness and moisture. 

Grated apple is the star of this recipe, which also includes raisins, chopped nuts and oats for extra fiber. As muffins go, they are reasonably healthy, while sufficiently naughty to indulge a craving for something moist and sweet. You can tweak this recipe if you like — just make sure to follow the ratios. In place of apple, try adding grated carrot, zucchini or pear; and bran can be substituted for the oats. There’s no need to peel the fruit. The nutrients in the skin add a little extra healthy boost — I’ll take my small victories where I can.

Apple Oat Muffins

Active Time: 10 

minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: Makes 12 (2 1/2-inch) muffins 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs, room temperature

1/4 cup unsulphured molasses

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup old-fashioned oats

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup raisins

1 medium sweet and crisp apple, such as Honey Crisp, grated, about 1 cup

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 12-muffin tin (or line with paper liners). 

Mix the sugar and oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the molasses and vanilla, and then mix in the buttermilk. 

Whisk the flour, oats, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a bowl. Add to the sugar mixture and mix on low speed until just combined, without overmixing. Stir in the raisins, apple and walnuts, if using. 

Spoon the batter into the muffin tin or paper liners, filling them. Transfer to the oven and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in the pan, then remove and cool the muffins completely on a rack. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days.

Lynda Balslev is a cookbook author, food and travel writer, and recipe developer based in the San Francisco Bay area, where she lives with her Danish husband, two children, a cat and a dog. She studied cooking at Le Cordon Bleu Ecole de Cuisine in Paris and worked as a personal chef, culinary instructor, and food writer in Switzerland and Denmark. Her favorite activities include hiking, cooking dinners for her friends and family, and planning her next travel destination.

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