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Family Matters Newsletter – March 2018   arrow

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March Muffin Makeover

Sheila Gains, Family & Consumer Science Extension Agent, Arapahoe County
Depending on the ingredients, muffins can be a healthy mini-meal or a between-meal snack. When  we buy muffins at the store or bakery, they are often a dense cupcake without frosting, high in fat and sugar and low in fiber, protein and nutrition. Homemade muffins, however, can provide family members with a healthy and tasty food choice. Muffins made the day or night before provide a nutritious and convenient breakfast for those busy mornings.Children will be happy with a yummy, grab-and-go muffin breakfast. Muffins can also be enjoyed with a beverage for a relaxed and easy breakfast or snack on days when you have more time.

Muffins are easy to make, carry and eat.

Depending on the size pans you use to bake them in; standard, mini or jumbo, you can control portion size and calories.

Strategies for making healthy muffins

Size of Pan – Use standard (½cup) or mini (1/8 cup) pans to control portion size. Avoid jumbo, muffin pans.

Whole Grains – Substitute up to ½ of the all-purpose flour called for in the recipe with whole grain flour (whole wheat flour, sprouted whole grain flour, oat flour, corn meal, quinoa flour, etc.)

Fruit – stir into the batter one of the following:

Dried Fruit: ½ cup to 1 cup (raisins, cran-raisins, chopped apricots, dates or figs)

Fresh Fruit:1 cup to 1½cups of chopped fresh fruit (berries, apples, peaches, mango or mashed banana)

Vegetables – stir into the batter one of the following:

Grated Fresh Vegetables: ½cup to 1 cup (carrots or zucchini)

Cooked, Mashed or Canned Vegetables:½cup to 1 cup (sweet potato, green peas or pumpkin)

Finely chopped Fresh vegetables: Add a total of 1 cup of a mixed variety of vegetables Quiche type or eggy muffins: Add a total of 1 cup finely chopped vegetables (onion,cauliflower, bell pepper, chili pepper, spinach or broccoli).Quiche type muffins need to be refrigerated if not eaten right away.

Reduce Fat – Use no more than ½ cup oil or other fat per 12  regular size or 40 mini size muffins. If  the recipe calls for more fat, substitute apple sauce or mashed cooked vegetables for the rest of the fat.Note: Completely fat free muffins can stick to paper liners making them hard to eat.

Reduce Sugar – Use no more than 2/3 cup added sugar (brown sugar, honey, maple syrup or agave)  per 12 regular size muffins.Spices and flavorings like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, grated orange rind and vanilla add a sweet flavor without adding sugar.

For More Protein: Add an extra egg, substitute ½ cup of the flour with nut flour, stir in ½ cup  nuts, or substitute up to ¼cup non-fat dry milk for ¼cup sugar.

Let’s Talk

Discuss with children the need to eat a healthy breakfast before school so that they can listen and learn their best. Tell family members that one of their choices for breakfast or an after school snack this week is going to be a homemade muffin. Ask them if they have suggestions for any fruits, vegetable or nuts they would like in their muffin, or better yet, get family members involved in making the muffins. As long as the kitchen is dirty and the oven is on why not bake-up more than one batch of muffins with different combinations of fruits or vegetables? Write down any changes you made to the recipe you used so that you can repeat your family’s favorite recipe. Extra muffins? No problem,

Recipes for Health

Morning Muffins
Makes 12 standard size muffins

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup sugar, white or brown, or honey
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup grated carrots
  • ½ cup raisins, cran-raisins or finely chopped dried fruit
  • ½ cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups flour (up to ¾ cup could be substituted with whole wheat four)
  • ½ cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat muffin tin with cooking spray or oil.
  2. In a large bowl mix eggs, milk, sugar, oil, carrots, dried fruit, nuts and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl mix flour, oatmeal, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir gently until flour is just moistened. Gently fill muffin cups ¾ full (which is about ¼cup of batter per muffin tin).
  5. Bake for 15 minutes or until edges start to brown.
  6. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Food Hero, Oregon State University Extension Service