'Healthy' Apple and Cinnamon Muffins
We all know the times in which we cut back on our guilty pleasures, AKA chocolate and sugars, to achieve a certain health goal. But eating kale and celery daily is never fun and it becomes quite boring after a few days. However, with some knowledge, I've created a muffin recipe that includes great health foods while keeping the flavour of the tasty treat.
To be completely honest, muffins have always been a stable in my diet, I just simply love muffins. However, they can not always be healthy to have, especially when they involve crazy amounts of sugar and fat and unnecessary calories. This definitely sucks! But through taking a basic muffin recipe, I've done some changes to the ingredients to increase the health benefits of a muffin while keeping the delicious taste.
Whats Wrong with Muffins?
Basically, muffins include lots of carbs, some good and some bad. The 'bad' carbs are the sugars (white sugar, icing sugar ...eg). What makes these sugars bad are the health risks associated with it: such as increased chance of diabetes, obesity and heart disease. However, what is even more alarming with 'bad' sugar is how most of us eat over the recommended daily intake of sugar. Generically, we should aim to have around 20g of sugar a day, this will obviously differ from person to person due to factors like age. To put things in perspective: Two oreo original cookies have 14g of sugar, in ordinary granola about 30% is just pure sugar and in a serve (170g) of Yoplait vanilla yoghurt there is a surprising 26g of sugar. Throughout the day we accumulate A LOT of sugar without even realising.
Not all Carbs are Bad!!!
We need carbs to survive, carbs are one of the essential food groups we need to function, along with fats and protein. There are good carbs, such as bread, pasta, rice, fruit and vegetable. These carbs help us to have energy as they can raise our blood sugar levels. It is also our predominant food fuel during physical activity. Carbs can be classified into three groups:
- Low glycemic index (whole grain pasta, apples, lentils)
- Moderate glycemic index (banana, rye bread)
- High glycemic index (white bread, honey)
Glycemic index refers to how fast carbs increase our glucose in our blood. Low-GI foods are slow to digest and absorb the nutrition from the food, this means it will slowing increase our glucose in the blood. Foods that are low in the glycemic index will allow us to use our energy more slowly so we will have more energy for longer. High-GI foods do the opposite, so it increases the chance for the health risks such as obesity and heart disease.
Wholemeal flour VS White flour
White flour is a High-GI carb and it's a common ingredient used in all sorts of muffins, cakes and bread. However, it's a high-GI food - meaning that it will give you a boost in blood sugar levels but it will not last for long and in addition, it lacks dietary fibre. One great alternative to white flour is Wholemeal flour. Wholemeal flour is a low-GI food and it has a greater amount of fibre. This is because the flour is a blend of the endosperm and the bran (parts of a cereal grain). The bran is what contains high amounts of fibre.
In my recipe, I have substituted wholemeal flour for white flour. This does not change the texture of the muffin, however, it does add some extra flavour which is not noticeable with the other tasty ingredients. Wholemeal flour can now be found at a large range of stores in Australia, I've successfully found it at Coles and Woolworths for the same price as white flour. Take note: Due to the added bran, the bran will not sift through a sieve but the flour will. To solve this, I will still add the flour to the sieve and I'll allow the flour to go through but then I'll tip the bran into the mixture. This ensures the flour to be fine, without clumps.
As I mentioned before, white sugar is not the greatest for us to eat. So, in my muffin recipe, I've swapped out white sugar for a sugar alternative. With there being many types of sugar alternatives available at the shops, I've mentioned a few of my favourites that will work fantastically in this recipe:
- Agar syrup
These alternatives are healthier for you than sugar but it still isn't great for your health, some do have a have a lower calorie intake and have a lower GI. To make these muffins even healthier, I've cut back on the amount of sugar added. This may adjust the taste of the muffins, but in my opinion, the amount of sugar I've added makes the muffins not overly sweet, creating a nice balance of flavours.
Fats are another essential food group required for our survival as they are the predominant food fuel for the production of energy during rest. There are three types of fats:
- Saturated fats
- Unsaturated fats (polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats)
- Trans fats.
Basically, unsaturated fats are the healthiest fats and can usually be found in natural foods (avocado and nuts). Then comes saturated fats which are not healthy to eat often (cheese, pizza, butter). And the worst type of fat is the trans fats (mainly found in cakes and other baked goods). As this recipe is about Muffins, the fats that are commonly found in is trans fats. Trans fats are associated with a few health risks - Increased risk of cholesterol which leads to heart-related conditions like heart attacks. However, these health risks only occur when eating excess amounts of fats. To decrease these fats in our diet- I've added coconut oil as a replacement. Coconut oil has been proven to prevent health related diseases and can improve overall wellbeing and health. Coconut oil can be quite pricey and is found in a variety of stores, so look out for a great bargain. In my opinion, it's definitely worth the cost as it can be used for many functions around the house, not just for baking.
'Healthy' Apple and Cinnamon Muffins
- 1 cup Self-raising wholemeal flour
- 1 teaspoon Baking soda
- 1 tablespoon Ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon Allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 Roughly chopped walnuts
- 2 Large eggs
- 1/3 cup Sugar Alternative, (I used honey)
- 1/3 cup Coconut oil, (melted)
- 1 medium or 1/2 large Green apple, finely diced, (I find Granny Smith works best)
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 cup Boiling Water
- 1 teaspoon Caster sugar
- 1/2 cup and 1/4 Rolled oats, (save some for the top)
- 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 220℃ and line the muffin pan with cupcake liners. Don't forget some extra in case you make more.
- Place the diced apple into a bowl and pour boiled water over. Microwave for 2 minutes or until the apples are soft.
- In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, salt, 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon and allspice. Then add 1/2 cup of oats and walnuts and whisk all together.
- In a sperate bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, sugar substitute and vanilla until all ingredients are well combined. Then add the wet ingredients in with the dry. Whisk to fully combined.
- Divide mixture evenly between all the cupcake liners, then add the cooked apples to the top of the mix. To incorporate the apples with the batter use a toothpick to push them into the batter.
- In a small bowl add the remaining oats, cinnamon and caster sugar. Stir to combined. Then sprinkle the mixture on top of the muffins.
- Place in the oven for 5 minutes before turning the temperature down to 180℃ and allow to cook for around 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
Nutritional Information (Sugar alternative: Honey)
|Serving size: 1 muffin|
|Calories from Fat||72|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 8 g||12%|
|Saturated fat 5 g||25%|
|Unsaturated fat 3 g|
|Carbohydrates 40 g||13%|
|Sugar 14 g|
|Fiber 5 g||20%|
|Protein 7 g||14%|
|Cholesterol 47 mg||16%|
|Sodium 252 mg||11%|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
Please note: These nutrition facts will change with what sugar alternative is used and there are 0 grammes of trans fats.