How to Make Good Healthy Muffins

Healthy Muffins

I must admit to a lifelong love of the kind of breakfast pastries that could be classified as dessert. Nevertheless, it’s the warm baked good with a cup of coffee that I really crave. It doesn’t have to be decadent. With that as my premise, I started my quest to create light, tasty and healthy muffins.

Lemon Zest for Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
Lemon Zest for Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Baking Muffins

I had once spent a summer making muffins. This is an exaggeration. I was actually a prep cook and I made many other things.  Nevertheless, every day I made a different muffin. The basic recipe never changed; just the fillings. Although I never described myself as a baker, I have discovered how forgiving muffins are to alteration.

Poppy Seeds

Healthy Muffins Expert

For healthy food inspiration, I looked to California cuisine. I wanted something both whole grain and delicious. The breakfast pastries at Santa Monica bakery, Huckleberry are legendary. When I visited, the line was out the door. Owner and baker, Zoe Nathan trained at San Francisco’s famous Tartine Bakery, described by Bon Appetit as “America’s most influential bakery.” If anyone can make something healthy and delectable, she can. Hoping to replicate her luscious treats I bought her cookbook.

Healthy Muffins
Healthy Muffins

My Healthy Muffins

My recipe is inspired by Zoe Nathan’s lemon cornmeal muffins with lemon glaze from her cookbook, Huckleberry  I didn’t have cornmeal, so I substituted whole wheat pastry flour. To create a lower calorie snack I omitted the sugary lemon glaze. I didn’t I want to lose the additional lemon flavor imparted by the glaze, so I added more lemon juice to the batter.  I think the inclusion of ricotta cheese in this recipe is genius! See what you think.

Poppy Seeds

Healthy Meals

For other healthy recipe ideas try my smoothie bowl or peanut butter and jelly oatmeal.  Also, if you want to discover how to take advantage of seasonal citrus fruit read my post, What to Do When It’s Blood Orange Season.

Healthy Muffins Recipe

Ricotta Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
Serves: 24 small muffins

¾ cup room temperature butter
¾ cup + 3 Tablespoons sugar
1½ teaspoons sea salt
Zest of 2 lemons
Juice of 2 lemons
2 eggs
4½ tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1¾ whole – wheat pastry flour
2¼ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoons baking soda
1¾ cups skim ricotta cheese
¼ cup poppy seeds

Position two racks in the center of the oven and preheat it to 350F then line 2 12 –cup muffin tins with paper liners.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda and set aside. Remove the zest from the lemons before cutting and squeezing out the juice.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, salt and lemon zest on medium, until the butter looks fluffy. Slowly incorporate each egg, one at a time. Make sure to continuously scrape down the sides of the bowl into the batter.

Slowly add the lemon juice, olive oil, maple syrup and then the vanilla. When thoroughly incorporated, alternate the premixed dry ingredients and the ricotta. Be careful not to mix more than necessary. Then fold in the poppy seeds.

Fill the muffin cups until they are ¾ of the way full. Bake for approximately 18 minutes then rotate the muffin tins in the oven after 10 minutes, to ensure even baking. The muffins are ready when they just barely spring back.

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