I felt like baking something healthy for a change, or at least try to. I usually sub a little whole wheat flour for all purpose flour when I bake - it may not make a big difference, but it makes me feel better. This time, I wanted to bake something that went a step beyond adding a few scoops of whole wheat flour. I wanted to use healthier fats and sugars too, which sounds a little oxymoronic now that I think about it.
This is the first time I baked without butter and sugar, two ingredients I can’t live without. I’ve never been a fan of butter and sugar substitutes so I used olive oil and agave nectar instead. Olive oil is still oil so the calories are still there but it's high in polyphenols and monounsaturated fats, both of which have heart healthy benefits. Choose a light, fruity olive oil so the flavor will not dominate. In the end, I couldn’t even taste the olive oil flavor in my muffins. I went to my local TJ's and picked up some agave syrup because I've heard how it’s natural and low glycemic. But I dug a little deeper and found some alarming information; while it’s true that agave syrup is low in glucose, which is responsible for it’s low glycemic properties, it is unusually high in fructose and overconsumption of fructose causes even more health problems than glucose. Hmm... maybe this stuff isn’t as good as I thought. The whole wheat flour and ground flax are probably the least controversial healthy ingredients. I think everyone can agree that whole grains and the omega-3s from the flax are good for you.
I’m still looking for a healthy sweetener so this is still a work in progress. Good news is that the muffins taste great, considering how much good-for-you stuff is in them, you’d think they would taste, you know... “healthy.” Granted, it’s hard to beat a Costco almond poppyseed muffin, one of my favorite guilty pleasures, but these muffins didn’t make me feel dirty after I ate one.
Disclaimer: this is the first time I tried to calculate the nutritional info for something homemade and it took way more time than I thought it would. Hopefully I didn’t fudge up my math... No guarantees. ;)
Each muffin has approximately 200 calories, 8 grams of good fat, 12 grams of sugar, 4 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber (from whole grain sources).
Healthy Whole Grain Almond Poppyseed Muffin
1 C unbleached all purpose flour
1 C whole wheat flour
1/4 C ground flax (store this in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer after opening)
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 C low fat buttermilk
1 large egg
6 Tbsp agave nectar or honey *work in progress
6 Tbsp olive oil *choose something light and fruity
2 tsp almond extract
Preheat the oven to 350ºF, adjust a rack to the middle position. Line a muffin tin with paper baking cups or spray the tin with nonstick spray.
Whisk all purpose flour, wheat flour, ground flax, poppy seeds, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Whisk egg and nectar until the egg is thoroughly beaten, then add the buttermilk, olive oil, and almond extract until combined.
Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour and fold to combine. There should be no large pockets of flour, a few small streaks are okay. Do not over mix. The batter will be fairly thick.
Divide the batter evenly into the tin, a 1/4 cup ice cream/cookie scoop is best. Optional: top the muffins with a light sprinkling of raw sugar and almond slices. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes at 350 degrees F on the middle rack or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool.