In coffee shops and homes everywhere, there is an ongoing debate comparing savory vs. sweet muffins. Savory ones are saltier and may use vegetables. Many consider them a healthier option to sweet versions which often contain sugar. You may see some bordering a cupcake. But the fact of the matter is that they’re are delicious, healthy options for both kinds.
Muffins Can Be a Healthy Choice
Both savory and sweet muffins can be healthy and included as part of a balanced diet. Many recipes can help you satisfy cravings without wrecking your health goals. It can provide you with many things vital to your health, including
- Healthy Fats
- Complex Carbohydrates
- Vitamins and Minerals
A healthy muffin substitutes some ingredients when possible without sacrificing taste. For example, maple syrup and coconut oil can be used as natural sweeteners as they are less processed than other sugars. Also, some recipes use whole grains and all-purpose flour. They also contain many fruits and nuts which are a better substitute for chocolate chips.
As this Harvard Study describes, muffins should also contain fats that come from plant oils. They are good sources of mono and polyunsaturated fats necessary for optimal heart health. Consider using ingredients such as olive oil and sunflower oil in your recipes to help increase the health benefits they deliver. You can use oils instead of butter or shortening.
Muffins offer a gluten-free for those with Celiac disease or other gluten sensitivities. A study conducted by the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College showed that teff flour is a healthy, gluten-free alternative. These muffins were more nutritious than gluten versions with 27 percent more protein, 221 percent more fiber, and over 2,000 percent higher in iron.
How Muffins Can Be a Poor Health Option
As this New York Times article describes, muffins can also become health-traps very quickly, especially when eating out. No matter which you prefer, you’ll end up doing more harm than good if you’re not careful. Commercial bakeries use sugars and refined flours in their recipes, making them a terrible choice for your health.
A honey bran raisin muffin from Dunkin Donuts seems like a reasonable choice for breakfast on the go, right? Think again. A single serving has 40 grams of sugar. Believe it or not, that is three times more sugar than found in one of the company’s glazed donuts. Likewise, a Bountiful Blueberry muffin from Starbucks contains nearly 30 grams of sugar.
Muffins v. Cupcakes
There is often a bad stigma surrounding muffins because many people confuse them with cupcakes. But just because both are round and baked in a pan does not mean they are the same. There are a few key differences that help distinguish the two.
For one, muffins often contain healthier ingredients, such as whole wheat flour. You’ll also see fruits and vegetables instead of candy or processed sugar. Cupcakes, on the other hand, are loaded with eggs and butter. Second, the consistency between muffins and cupcakes differs. A muffin is denser and drier than a cupcake, which is very moist.
Another big difference between these options is the frosting. Frosting is exclusive to cupcakes. It is their defining feature. Muffins may have a drizzle or glaze, but they won’t have heaps of frosting on top.
Ultimately, the most distinguishable difference between the two boils down to when you would eat it. If you could eat it at breakfast with a side of eggs and bacon, it’s a muffin. Some even make the argument that it could be an entire meal. A cupcake most certainly could not. Most wouldn’t consider having one for dinner. Instead, most people see them as a rich dessert or treat.
My Favorite Muffins
I must admit, I too am a muffin lover. But I also must say that I have yet to render a decision on the savory vs. sweet debate. I enjoy both kinds. Below are some tips for baking healthy muffins along with some of my favorite recipes.
Tips for Healthy Muffins
No matter if you like your muffins savory or sweet, keep these tips in mind to ensure your recipes are healthy.
Feel free to get creative with fruits and vegetables in your recipes. They can add texture and character to your recipes, making your muffins more flavorful. You don’t necessarily have to use raw fruits and vegetables, either. Caramelized onions are a simple addition to a recipe, for example.
If you are looking for a healthy way to lighten your recipe, consider using whipped egg whites. They work best with whole grain muffins since their batters are typically denser than normal. You will likely need to use less baking powder as a result, which will help you cut the sodium content too.
When substituting white, all-purpose flour, I recommend using whole wheat pastry flour, white whole wheat flour, cornmeal, buckwheat flour and rolled oats. Also feel free to substitute another flour that you already have in your pantry. If you’re really looking to upgrade from all-purpose flour, consider using beans or bean flour.
Lastly, be mindful of portion control when baking muffins. Make sure you use a standard-sized muffin tin and fill them about halfway with batter.
Savory Muffin Recipes
Prefer savory muffins? Be sure to try one of these recipes.
Zucchini Cheddar Cheese Muffins
The ingredients you’ll need for these zucchini muffins are as follows:
- 3 cups of flour
- 2 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon of ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 220 ml of skim milk
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 large egg
- 130 grams of grated zucchini,
- 100 grams of reduced fat cheddar cheese
- 1 spring onion
- 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme.
Begin by finely chopping the spring onion and thyme. Then, preheat your oven to 325°F. Grease a standard-sized muffin tin. Combine the flour, baking powder, pepper and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate one, whisk the milk, oil and egg together. Then, pour the wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk until they are well-blended.
Next, mix the vegetables and cheese into his mixture, and scoop into the muffin tin. Bake them for approximately 30 minutes until the tops are golden. Allow the muffins to cool for ten minutes before enjoying. You can store them at room temperature for up to three days.
Feta, Roasted Pepper, and Basil Muffins
The ingredients for these feta muffins are as follows:
- 2 cups of flour
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- ½ teaspoon of baking soda
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 3 ounces of crumbled feta cheese
- 4 ounces of roasted red bell peppers
- 3 tablespoons of basil leaves.
Chop the peppers into approximately quarter-inch dices. The basil should be finely chopped. Then, you’ll need to add eight ounces of low-fat buttermilk, two ounces of olive oil and one large egg.
Begin by preheating the oven to 375°F. Then, blend the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder together in a large bowl. In a separate one combine the roasted pepper, feta and basil. Whisk the buttermilk, olive oil, and egg together.
Pour this combination into the bowl of dry ingredients. combine everything in the large mixing bowl. Scoop the mixture into the muffin tin and bake for approximately 20 minutes. You can store them at room temperature for up to two days.
Sweet Muffin Recipes
If you prefer sweet muffins, try one of these recipes.
Whole Wheat Banana Nut Muffins
These whole wheat muffins are quick and easy to make. You’ll need the following:
- 1 ½ cups of walnuts
- 5 tablespoons of canola oil
- 1 tablespoon of walnut oil
- 1 egg
- ½ tsp of vanilla extract
- ¼ cup of brown sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 ½ tsp of baking powder
- ½ non-fat plain Greek yogurt
- 5 mashed ripe bananas and
- 1 ½ cups of whole wheat pastry flour
Begin by preheating the oven to 350°F. Bake the walnuts for five minutes. The, chop them into coarse pieces. Combine the wet ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Then, add the walnuts and banana. Mix and add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes.
Cranberry Orange Muffins
For these cranberry muffins, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- ¾ cup boiling water
- 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
- 1 ½ cups of whole wheat flour
- ¾ cup of almond flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- ¾ cup canola oil
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 2 egg whites
- 1 egg yolk
Also, the recipe requires a ¾ cup of cranberries, four tablespoons of low-fat buttermilk, ½ tsp of vanilla extract, ½ cup low-fat Greek yogurt and two teaspoons of orange zest. Begin by preheating the oven to 375°F and then soaking the cranberries in the boiling water for ten minutes. Stir the dry ingredients together, and then blend the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl.
Then, drain the cranberries and add them to the wet mix along with the orange zest. After this, combine the dry ingredient mix and slowly combine. Add the egg whites to the batter. Bake the muffins for approximately 20 minutes.