Recipe: Blueberry Muffins

by Brad Nelson   1/17/15

I made it through the holidays mostly intact. My last weigh-in was 195 lbs. The five different types of Christmas cookies that I baked didn’t help. They were high-calorie all the way.

But baking the cookies did stoke at least a short-term interest in seeing what else I could bake. I ran across a book at the second-hand store: Secrets of Fat-Free Baking. In it were some fairly easy recipes for muffins, including those of the blueberry kind.

You don’t usually think of bread or baked goods in terms of low-cal food. But these muffins are about 100 calories or so. That’s the good news. The bad news is that you can expect that this is a different kind of muffin than the ones smothered in butter and sugar. Oh, I think they’re very good. But I think many people’s expectations (and tastes) will be challenged by something this low-cal in a muffin.

For those who don’t need muffins that come out of the School of Slobocracy, then this could be for you. With the addition of blueberries, you get a finished product that is moist and sweet. For me it’s been a nice snack in place of higher-calories and less healthy desserts. In fact, I had two of them this morning for breakfast. I make them and freeze them and they’re then only a couple microwave minutes away. Here’s the recipe:

Dry ingredients:
1-1/2 cups flower (use whole wheat pastry flour)
3/4 cup oat bran (a finely-milled variety if you can)
3 tbsp Truvia sweetener 4 tbsp brown sugar
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of clove (a new addition)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt (a new addition)
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder

Wet ingredients:
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup low-fat (or no-fat) milk
1/2 ripe banana (liquified or at least mushed up pretty good)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg

Other ingredients:
1 cup blueberries (frozen is okay)
5 pieces dried apricot chopped coarse
1/4 cup pecans or walnuts chopped coarse (pecans are preferred)

Directions: Mix the dry ingredients together. Add to this the wet ingredients and stir until mixed. Fold in the blueberries and pecans (or walnuts).

Spoon into muffin cups coated with nonstick cooking spray and fill almost to the top. Bake at 350ºF 16 to 18 minutes (as short as you can get away with…a wooden toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean). Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

Note: You will get a nicer muffin if you use the whole wheat pastry flour. Regular whole wheat flour will work, but they bake up a little rougher. I’d go with the pastry kind.

You can use a little more brown sugar if you like. The original recipe called for 1 cup vanilla yogurt. But I just found it easier to use a 1/2 banana for some of the sweetness. And these in no way taste like banana muffins. If you want to get creative, you can substitute other things (such as apple butter or honey) for the brown sugar. But using the brown sugar in place of regular granulated sugar (the original recipe called for 1/3 cup of granulated sugar) allows you to use less sugar. Brown sugar (coated as it is with molasses) is sweeter.

The walnuts and apricots are to add a little oomph to the muffins and keep them from being boring. One could also add a pinch of salt to this. But I’ve tried to refrain from junking these up (plus I often have just a bit of margarine on them when I eat them which certainly does add some salt).

I usually use frozen blueberries so I can have them on hand. And I freeze the dried apricot pieces as well in order to make them easier to chop. This is a minimalist recipe and can certainly be added to. But I think it works on its own. And it is certainly low-cal and actually not bad for you as well.

Also, the original recipe called for using 2 egg whites. But I just found that a pain in the ass to do and hating wasting the yokes. But you could certainly do that. And muffins are a nice thing to make because, relatively speaking, there isn’t that much clean-up work to do.

Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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4 Responses to Recipe: Blueberry Muffins

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    I’ll mention this to Elizabeth, though I’ve never managed to get her to look at this website yet. But she does make blueberry pancakes, we do like the blueberry muffins from Perkin’s (a restaurant that no longer exists in Louisville, though there are some elsewhere), and the bagels we have for Sunday breakfast are usually blueberry.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I was just thinking the other day of making pancakes. Please do give us Elizabeth’s recipe…unless, of course, it’s a trade secret.

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    On the muffin front, I’ve been receiving a lot of compliments on these muffins. I’ve tweaked the ingredients just a bit, both for reducing calories (and increasing healthfulness) and speed of preparation. These muffins now come together in about 15 minutes plus baking time.

    Dry ingredients:
    1-1/2 cups flower (use whole wheat pastry flour)
    3/4 cup oat bran (a finely-milled variety if you can)
    4 tbsp brown sugar 3 tablespoons truvia baking blend natural sweetener
    Big Pinch of nutmeg
    Small Pinch of ground clove
    1/4 tsp cinnamon
    1 tsp baking soda
    2 tsp baking powder

    Wet ingredients:
    1/2 cup low-fat (or no-fat if you can find it) buttermilk
    1/2 cup low-fat (or no-fat) milk (I used 1% for this latest version)
    1/2 tsp vanilla
    1 egg (2 if they are small eggs)

    Other ingredients:
    1 heaping cup blueberries
    1/4 cut medium-cut pecan pieces

    (the directions remain the same as above)

    I’ve taken out the banana as a sweetener just to reduce sugar and increase the speed of preparation. The same with the apricot pieces.

    The truvia sweetener (this is a special baking variety) isn’t cheap, but a little goes a long ways. This is a true baking sugar substitute because it will brown and it doesn’t (as apparently other sugar substitutes do) take on a aluminum or bitter taste. These honestly don’t taste like artificially-sweetened muffins, but surely it helps to have those sweet blueberries in it to hide any off taste that may linger.

    And I added the pinch of clove just because. It seems to work. I had that left over from making gingerbread cookies. It’s by no means crucial. But I think you get just a hint of nose-appeal with it, barely noticeable in the background.

    These muffins were already healthy, but now they are even more so.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I’ve edited the original recipe. Time, tasting, and experience has led me to pare a few things out, both for ease of making these muffins and for further health benefits.

    What has surprised me is how much people who have tried them like these muffins. So if you haven’t done them yet, give them a go. These are very easy and there is relatively little cleanup afterwards.

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