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Finally, healthy muffins that don’t taste rank

After biting into one of these tender, moist muffins, I couldn’t help but wonder why every better-for-you muffin I’ve bought at a shop has tasted so bad. I’ve all but given up on them because they have unfailingly been disappointing, heavy and dry, more penance than pleasure. I’m not exactly sure where they are going wrong, but I do know where this recipe goes right.

First, mixing regular whole-wheat flour with a more tender variety yields just the right texture, soft and cakelike, with a satisfying heartiness (for tender flour, I use whole-wheat pastry or white whole-wheat flour to keep the muffin 100 per cent whole grain, but all-purpose is fine, too).

Second, using enough healthy oil instead of butter keeps the saturated fat down without sacrificing the grain-coating tenderness fat provides. Adding less sweetener and more berries to the batter than is typical makes these better for you, too, without sacrificing taste.

Honey instead of refined sugar not only adds a lovely layer of flavour, it helps keep the crumb extra-moist (you could keep the muffins refined-sugar-free if you prefer, but I think it is worth the flourish to sprinkle the tops with a crunch of coarse sugar). I seasoned these with ground cardamom, which has a heady, fruity aroma that hits you before you even take a bite, and ultimately heightens the flavours of the honey and bursting baked blueberries. But if you want to switch things up, the muffins are also excellent with a teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest instead of the spice.

Either way, these muffins are a swoon-worthy experience that’s in a different class entirely from the healthful muffins you have probably tried before. If you know of a shop that makes them this good, please let me know. Until I find one, I’ll stick to baking my own.

Whole-wheat blueberry muffins with honey and cardamom

These muffins are not only tender and moist, bursting with berries and wafting with the fruity aroma of cardamom, they are better-for-you too, made with whole-grain flour, healthful oil and with less sweetener (in the form of honey) than most muffins have. You could keep them refined-sugar free, if you prefer, but a finishing sprinkle of coarse sugar is a worthy flourish delivering a delightful crunch.

Storage notes: The muffins can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or individually wrapped and frozen for up to 3 months.

Active time: 25 minutes | Total time: 1 hour

Serves: 12 (makes 12 muffins)


120ml neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola, plus more for brushing the pan

125g whole-wheat flour

94g whole-wheat pastry flour, white whole-wheat flour or all-purpose flour

212g fresh or frozen (unthawed) blueberries

1½ tsp baking powder

1¼ tsp ground cardamom

½ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp fine salt

2 large eggs, at room temperature

170g mild honey

123g plain full-fat or low-fat yoghurt

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 tsp demerara or turbinado sugar (optional)


Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 180C. Lightly brush a 12-cup muffin tin with oil.

In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours. Place the blueberries in a small bowl. Take 1 tsp of the flour mixture and sprinkle it over the berries, tossing to coat evenly.

Add the baking powder, cardamom, baking soda and salt to the bowl with the flours and whisk to combine.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, honey, yoghurt and vanilla until well combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just combined; do not overmix. Gently stir in the blueberries.

Evenly divide the batter into the prepared muffin pan. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Sprinkle the top of each with ¼ tsp of the sugar, if using.

Bake for about 17 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of one of the muffins comes out clean. Let cool in the tin on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then run a butter knife around the muffins to loosen them and unmold. Serve warm, or let cool completely.

Nutrition information per serving (1 muffin, using whole-wheat pastry flour and low-fat yoghurt) | Calories: 210; total fat: 10g; saturated fat: 1g; cholesterol: 36mg; sodium: 162mg; carbohydrates: 28g; dietary fibre: 3g; sugar: 14g; protein: 4g.

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

© The Washington Post

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