I have always been much more of a "muffin person" as opposed to being a "bagel person". Perhaps this is because the first bagels that I ever tried were New York City bagels, the best in the world, and all of the other regional versions just didn't compare. Although there are many establishments with names like "Big Apple Bagel", "Manhattan Bagel", or "Meat Packing District Bagel" (O.K., I made that one up) across the country, their product rarely holds a candle to the real deal off of Joey's Midtown Bagel Cart. Another deciding factor in my preference for muffins is my strong dislike of cream cheese, a bagel's partner in crime. I'm really sorry to tell you that you will never see a posting for cheesecake, rugelach, or onion dip on this site. I also like the fact that muffins incorporate so much variety. From apple spice to zucchini carrot, the moist cake-like treats are a tasty way to start the day.
Have you noticed how enormous muffins have become over the years? Suddenly, our standard muffin tins look like mini muffin tins, and recipes that are supposed to yield one dozen only make half that much. The average bakery muffin today can contain nearly 500 calories and is too large to fit into those small, single-serving pastry bags. Fortunately, through fresh and high-quality ingredient substitutions, most muffins recipes are easy to make healthy and low-fat while still maintaining a delicious flavor. I suggest saving those extra calories and extra cash and instead making a batch of these moist, low calorie, and reasonably sized Cranberry-Orange Muffins. They're nutritious, filling, and would make a great breakfast alongside a bowl of fresh fruit. Here are my tips for this healthy morning meal:
- Muffins will keep for 3-4 days, tightly covered at room temperature. You can also freeze the muffins in a zip-top bag for up to 2 weeks. Defrost at room temperature and then reheat, if desired.
- Some suggestions for additional "mix-ins" for this muffin batter include: diced bananas, shredded unsweetened coconut, golden raisins, or flax seeds.
- Instead of making muffins, pour the batter into a large loaf pan that has been sprayed with non-stick baking spray and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center emerges clean.
Healthy Cranberry-Orange Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
½ cup raw wheat germ
½ cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup sunflower, safflower, or canola oil
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
½ cup fresh orange juice
2 large eggs
½ cup sliced almonds
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, wheat germ, cranberries, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Make a well in the center.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, oil, zest, juice, and eggs. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Gently stir in the almonds.
Divide the batter among 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle the tops with almonds or turbinado sugar, if desired. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until muffins are golden brown and spring back when touched in the center.