So, I love muffins for breakfast. To me, there is no more ideal breakfast than waking up to warm, fresh-from-the-oven, homemade muffins. Muffins feel like lazy, cozy, Sunday morning perfection when paired with fresh OJ and a cup of coffee. And, of course, muffins are basically cupcakes disguised as breakfast food. Since I love anything sweet that even partially resembles dessert, it makes sense that muffins are my breakfast favorite. Oh, and add a pat of creamy, melty butter and you have a morning mouthful of heaven.
Now, some people have tried to make muffins healthy … a truly nutritious version of the original… so you could actually eat a muffin for breakfast and not feel secretly guilty that you actually just ate your dessert at 9 AM. I have tried some of these muffins in the past and I am usually sorely disappointed. They are usually dry, crumbly, lack flavor, and have a characteristic chewy toughness to the crumb. By the next day, leftovers are about as tasty and useful as a hockey puck, and warming them in the microwave helps, but only enough to choke them down with large patfuls of butter (thereby obliterating your attempts at a healthful start to your day!).
Then several years ago, in the search for a “healthy” muffin that I could love forever, I discovered these delicious beauties. Well, OK, they’re not exactly beautiful muffins (I probably wouldn’t have even tried them based on looks alone), but maybe I feel a little more beautiful when I eat them, because they are both healthy AND delicious. I’m talking a tender, light and moist crumb that is packed with hearty, complex flavor. They are lightly sweet, but not overly so and the top bakes up with the perfect crunch to contrast with the soft interior. I added a few walnuts to the recipe for additional crunchy texture, because lets face it, walnuts and muffins are like peanut butter and jelly. They just go together.
These muffins have not a trace of white flour. They do have some sugar, because all those whole grains just need it to round out the flavors. But other than that they are filled with pure goodness: 100% whole wheat flour, oatmeal, wheat bran, wheat germ, and flaxseed provide lots of whole grains and fiber; dates and cranberries give natural sweet-tart flavor and fiber; low-fat buttermilk keeps these muffins tender while keeping the oil requirement to a minimum; and walnuts and a bit of canola oil provide some heart healthy fats.
These treats have become a regular in my morning muffin routine for the last several years, and I still love them. They fulfill my yearning for a delicious, warm, weekend morning muffin, while offering some nutrition in a form I actually want to eat. And, during the week, when I can’t seem to get out of bed in time to actually eat anything before work, they make the perfect grab-n-go breakfast.
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
- 2 tbsp wheat germ
- 2 tbsp wheat bran
- 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 1½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1½ cups quick cooking oats
- ⅓ cup pitted dates, chopped
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries
- ⅓ cup walnuts, chopped
- 1 cup 1% low-fat buttermilk
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- ½ cup boiling water
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Combine the flour and the next 8 ingredients in a large bowl (through salt). Stir with a whisk until well mixed. Mix in the oats, dates, cranberries, and walnuts to the dry ingredients.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, canola oil, vanilla extract, and egg. Add to the flour mixture and stir, just until combined (batter will still be lumpy). Add the boiling water and stir lightly, just until incorporated. Let batter sit for 15 minutes.
- Scoop batter into muffin tins prepared with liners or sprayed with cooking spray. Bake muffins at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until tops spring back when touched lightly. Remove muffins to a wire cooling rack.
- Muffins will keep in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator for several days. Just reheat for about 10 seconds in the microwave before eating.
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light’s Whole Wheat, Oatmeal, and Raisin Muffins