The Muffin Debate: Healthy or Not?

by Lauren on December 19, 2012

Good Morning!

Less than one week until Christmas and I’m still not really sure if I’m ready.  But then again, I feel like Christmas is one of those occasions where it doesn’t really matter if you’ve crossed all your t’s and dotted all of your i’s.  Everyone will naturally be happy and appreciative of each others love and company, no matter what you’ve done or didn’t do.

I mentioned in my last post that I’m making a strong effort to spend as much time with my family and friends in these next few weeks before I get ready to pack up my life and move to the city for half of the year and last night, I kicked things off with a fabulous mother-daughter dinner and shopping event.

It’s rare that the three of us ladies get to spend quality time together with such differentiating schedules, but we decided time is too short not to make a conscious point to do things more often.

We met for dinner at Panera before prancing the outlets to get some last minute Christmas shopping accomplished.

I hardly ever get sandwiches at Panera and I’m not really sure why.  Maybe I’m just not all that impressed with the sandwich selection, but last night, the Roasted Turkey and Cranberry Panini was calling my name, as was a cup of Broccoli Cheddar soup to dip it in.

Both were delicious!

It was fantastic to spend time with these two and I really can’t say this enough, but I’m so grateful to have such a supportive and loving family.  As sad as they are that I won’t be around for some time next year, they are so happy for the adventure my life is about to endure.

This morning, I woke up feeling grateful to have an entire day devoted to writing.  Other than some calls later this afternoon, my entire day will be spent in my office working on some freelance projects and other articles I have on deck.

Before I cracked down on my workload, I did what I do nearly every morning, started my day with a run, showered, and then made my way downstairs for breakfast.  Before breakfast though comes my vitamins!

I take a few vitamins + my digestive medication every single day.  A new vitamin has recently entered the lineup, to which I’m rather excited to share.

Epicor is an all-natural  dietary health supplement that supports a healthy immune system.  I was recently asked by the company if I would be interested in taking part in a 30 Day Health Challenge to help support a healthy immune system.  With my recent illness, I decided that I want to avoid getting sick again this year at all costs, so I figured a boost of immune fighting wellness couldn’t hurt.

I’ll be blogging about my overall thoughts once the challenge is over, but in the meantime, feel free to read up more on the program HERE.

All drugs aside, I still fully believe a healthy and balanced diet is the number one way to create a healthy immune system and keep you feeling your best.  Vitamins and supplements are great for added support, but the body is a natural functioning system, so natural ingredients will be your and my best bet.

Speaking of all-natural, how about another wholesome (delicious) recipe to get you motivated.

I just read that today is National Oatmeal Muffin Day.  Again, I’m not really sure who comes up with these food holidays, but lucky for me, I have a muffin recipe to share with you, so I guess it all works out.

I don’t have an oatmeal muffin per-say, but I do have an equally tasty alternative that I thought you might be interested to see.

You know how I feel about muffins, especially crumbled atop creamy yogurt in my breakfast bowls.  Unfortunately, most muffins are loaded with sugar.  So much in fact, that I would be better off eating a piece of birthday cake for breakfast.

Unless I know whats going into the recipe, I tend not to buy muffins from a conventional grocery store or bakery on an everyday account.  I know if I would, it would just lead to a complete sugar overload, which is probably not the best way to start my day each morning.

So what does that mean for my muffin affection?  Simply that if I want to enjoy a warm, crumbly, cake-like treat, I need to make my own.

Okay then.  I can do that.

Carrot cake is by far, my favorite flavor when it comes to a baked dessert.  One would think it would be super nutritious too, I mean it’s a vegetable, in a muffin form!

Not so fast.  Most carrot cake muffins are anything but wholesome.  Sure, there are a few shreds of carrots mixed into the batter, but the amount of oil and white refined sugar supersede  any ounce of vitamins that these little orange crudites give off.

So I needed to come up with a way to make a carrot cake muffin without the sugar and still have it taste worthy of my breakfast bowl.  Hmmm, seems difficult, but not impossible.

No Sugar Added Whole Grain Carrot Cake Muffins
Dessert, Baked Good
12
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • ½ tsps baking powder
  • 1 tsps cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 ozs unsalted butter (heated until just melted)
  • ½ cup dried dates (seeded and finely chopped into a paste)
  • 3 mashed bananas (ripe)
  • 1½ cups carrot (grated, 3 medium)
  • ½ cup nonfat yogurt plain
  • 4 egg whites (lightly whisked)
  • ½ cup raisins
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the raisins and set aside.
  3. Stir the dates into the melted butter, breaking up the dates a bit.
  4. In a separate bowl combine the bananas and carrots. Stir in the date-butter mixture, breaking up any date clumps as you go. Whisk in the yogurt and the eggs. Add the flour mixture and stir until everything just comes together.
  5. Spoon into the prepared muffin tins, filling about half way to the top. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick tests clean in the center of the muffin. Remove from oven and let cool.

 

These turned out better than I expected.  Natural sweeteners such as dates and bananas are truly a wonderful thing in the world of healthy baking.

I couldn’t wait to put these to use in today’s yogurt bowl.  It’s been so long since I’ve had a creamy bowl of yogurt, fruit, muffin and nut butter for breakfast, so this was a welcomed treat this morning.

  • 1/2 cup Plain Chobani
  • 1/2 of a Carrot Cake Muffin
  • 1 small banana
  • Blackberries + a few blueberries
  • Almond Butter
  • 3-4 crushed pecans
  • Chia

I can have my muffin and eat it too!

A few housekeeping items of note:

I’m running 2 Giveaways right now so be sure to check them out if you haven’t already.

The Sambazon Superfruit Smoothie Giveaway

The NuNaturals Giveaway

Both run until Friday so be sure to enter for a chance to win some really great prizes!

 

Question:

Do you take any immune fighting supplements or vitamins?  What do you think is the best way to keep your immune system healthy during the cold and flu season? 

 

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{ 18 comments }

Katie @ Talk Less, Say More December 19, 2012 at 9:43 am

Those muffins looks great! I love using natural sweeteners where possible or at least cutting back on added sugar. I often prefer the flavor the natural sweeteners provide so it all works out for me. :)

Lauren December 19, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Me too! Plus I’ve been overdoing it on the chocolate these days and now my skin is not liking me for it. :)

Erica December 19, 2012 at 10:05 am

What a fun ladies night!! I adore muffins too, but I usually only eat them if I make them at home (or if they look too amazing to pass up ;) . Great recipe!!

Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries December 19, 2012 at 10:23 am

Yum! The muffin looks so dense and sounds delicious!

I take a daily multi vitamin (currently a prenatal), drink lots of water throughout the day, get plenty of sleep, eat plenty of fruits & veggies, and take some extra Vitamin C if I’m feeling a sickness coming on or if I’ll be traveling, etc. I’ve really made a point of doing all of these things lately because ’tis the season for sickness, and I’d hate to be sick over the holidays and while I’m pregnant.

Lauren December 19, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Oh goodness, I can’t even imagine being so sick and pregnant! Wishing you continued wellness throughout the rest of your pregnancy my dear!

Erica { EricaDHouse.com } December 19, 2012 at 10:37 am

I’m usually very anti-muffin (for all the reasons you stated – they are just glorified cupcakes usually) but this recipe looks delicious and uber healthy!

I always take vitamin C and zinc to help boost my immune system. I’m currently sick now and have been making ginger lemon tea with honey a few times a day and it’s doing wonders for me!

Lauren December 19, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Yes, I totally agree that most muffins really are just glorified cupcakes (without the icing) BUT I still love them! Thank goodness there are healthy alternatives.

Lizzie December 19, 2012 at 11:10 am

Good thing I had one of my homemade whole wheat oatmeal muffins this morning :)

kim@hungryhealthygirl December 19, 2012 at 11:17 am

Your muffin looks delish! I love muffins too, but tend to only make them myself to avoid the high calories of most store bought muffins. That is so funny that today is national oatmeal muffin day because I posted a muffin recipe too. It doesn’t have oatmeal, but it’s still tasty and microwavable.

Lauren December 19, 2012 at 12:57 pm

It sounds great! Do you have the recipe?

Danielle @ clean food creative fitness December 19, 2012 at 12:45 pm

These look great! I’m a huge muffin fan but know that they’re not actually “healthy” so I don’t have them often. When I do I try to make them homemade and as healthy as possible but sometimes you just have to splurge.

Lauren December 19, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Agreed! There is a carrot cake muffin that I DIE over from The Hershey Pantry. There is nothing healthy about it but when I eat it, the world stops so it really doesn’t matter. :)

Kerry December 19, 2012 at 1:29 pm

That muffin looks amazing! I feel the same way – I do not purchase muffins from grocery stores, etc. because you’re right: they’re usually loaded with sugar and added fat. Muffins are thought to be “healthy” because they may have bran or blueberries in them but this is not the case! I love making my own at home to control what goes into them.

Tina @ Best Body Fitness December 19, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I am such a muffin lover, too! Although I will only eat them if I make them myself too. Although I will say the ones I made this weekend for the brunch were of the sugar laden variety.

Lauren December 19, 2012 at 2:27 pm

And they looked delicious!!

Claire @ Live and Love to Eat December 19, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Love the ingredients in that muffin – can’t wait to try the recipe!

Lauren December 20, 2012 at 6:08 am

Let me know if you do! They really are fantastic!

Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl December 19, 2012 at 8:43 pm

Those muffins sound delicious! I absolutely adore carrot cake, so I think that they are right up my alley! :)

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