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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!

Should I Choose the Muffin?

Muffins are one of those breakfast foods that seem like the healthy choice. It's surely better than a doughnut or a bagel with cream cheese, right? Not so fast. A muffin found at a bakery can clock in around 550 calories and over 20 grams of fat. An original glazed doughnut, on the other hand, is 190 calories, and a bakery bagel with cream cheese is around 400 calories (less if it's plain). So basically none are great options! However, with a little modification, muffins can easily be made healthier.

Most muffins are made with oil, rather than butter, which decreases the amount of unhealthy saturated fats. However, a lot of oil is typically used, undoubtedly causing the calorie count to go up. Try substituting half the oil with unsweetened applesauce, which also sweetens it, allowing you to decrease the amount of sugars. Replace half the flour with whole wheat flour to offer more nutrients and dietary fiber, and decrease or omit the salt altogether.

There are some tricks to creating tasty but healthy muffins. First, don't over mix the ingredients or you'll create a heavy muffin. Second, add vinegar where there's baking soda. The acid reacts with baking soda producing carbon dioxide helping to give those muffins a lift. Lastly, let them cool out of the pan completely before storing in an airtight container or you'll have soggy muffins. Practice your muffin-making skills using this incredibly moist carrot pineapple muffin recipe!

Carrot Pineapple Muffins

⅔ cup shredded carrot (about 1 medium carrot)

1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple, with juice

3 Tablespoons canola oil

2 Tablespoons unsweetened applesauce

¼ cup cold water

1 Tablespoon white vinegar

¾ cup all-purpose flour

¾ cup whole wheat flour

¾ cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, add shredded carrot, pineapple with juice, oil, applesauce, water and vinegar. Mix with a fork to combine. In a large bowl, mix flours, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.

Coat muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray. Fill each muffin cup about ¾ full with batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.

Yield: 14 muffins

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 120 calories, 3.5 grams fat, 140 milligrams sodium, 21 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 2 grams protein

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