During the first trial of this recipe, I had the muffins cooling upside down on a dish towel on the kitchen counter. I was typing away on my computer in the living room as my husband did some evening yard work and Nolan happily toddled around the house. I wasn’t paying much attention since he seemed pretty content, but I didn’t hear any commotion from the kitchen. Moments later, Nolan trotted into the living room, grinning from ear to ear, holding one muffin in each hand. Somehow, he had silently tugged the corner of the dish towel just enough to get two of the muffins to tumble to the ground, where he happily scooped them up and took a bite from each. Like some kind of muffin ninja. I bursted out laughing and was thrilled that my healthy muffins were toddler-approved.
Yes, I went there. I put “healthy” in the title, even. It makes me a little nervous. A lot nervous. Because for every person who is like, “Yeah, seems legit,” there will be another 3 people who are like “This cannot be healthy because all sugar except honey is the devil!” and “Olive oil is sooo fattening,” and “OMG you eat wheat?” But I’m like, lighten up, dude. It’s healthier than most muffins you find in the bakery or grocery store, which are really just frosting-less cupcakes if they’re really being honest with themselves. These muffins have a couple secret ingredients that I think boost the health factor.
First, you’ve got my old health standby: yogurt. I opted for Stonyfield’s low fat plain yogurt here. I normally use their full fat yogurt in baking, but by making that simple switch, I already reduced the fat by almost 80%. Plus the yogurt is a good source of protein, and I’m all about protein in the morning, especially now that I am attempting to learn to run. Waking up at 6 AM to go to the gym is a thing I do now, apparently.
Speaking of protein, lentils have a lot of it. I’ve mentioned before that I had sworn off lentils for a while due to a traumatic high school diet, but they have worked their way back to my dinner plate thanks to my legume-loving husband. Now I can say they’ve worked their way back into my heart, also, because if lentils can go into muffins, they must be doing something right. I used Bob’s Red Mill red lentils because they’ve got even more protein, phosphorous, and zinc than their green counterparts. In addition to providing those important nutrients, the lentils replace a portion of the fat in the muffins. Kind of like how box-mix cakes tell you to use applesauce to reduce the fat, you can do the same thing with lentil puree. I didn’t take out all the fat, though, because I didn’t want the muffins to be too tough.
Part of the flour is whole wheat. Not all. I used about half whole wheat flour, because 100% whole wheat makes the muffins too dense for my liking, but you can experiment with the ratio of whole wheat to all-purpose flour to suit it to your health needs/desires and tastes. I like the nuttiness of whole wheat flour, too.
And apples, duh. Apples are fruit. Fruit is healthy. Don’t argue with me on this. I will not listen to you.
At the end of the day, these muffins are under 200 calories each, and they’re lower in fat and higher in protein than other apple cinnamon muffins. That makes them healthy in my book. I think they’re delicious, and I don’t feel bad giving one to Nolan for breakfast or a snack, and he friggin’ loves them. We’re working to build his tolerance for eggs and get rid of his egg allergy, and these fit the bill perfectly. I popped them in the freezer so I can defrost them whenever I need a morning muffin after my semi-masochistic running efforts. I’m no expert, but I think muffins are an essential part of muscle recovery.
- ¼ cup (52 grams) Bob’s Red Mill red lentils
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 large eggs (100 grams)
- 1¼ cups (285 grams) Stonyfield low fat plain yogurt
- 1½ cups (180 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (115 grams) whole wheat flour
- ¾ cup (160 grams) light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- 1 cup (120 grams) peeled, finely chopped apples (I used half a large Granny Smith apple)
- 3 tablespoons rolled oats
- Preheat oven to 400°F, line two muffin tins with paper cups, if desired, or spray the muffin tins with cooking spray. (The second muffin tin will only need 3 lined cups).
- Rinse the lentils in a fine mesh strainer, then transfer to a small saucepan. Add ¾ cup of water to the lentils. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the lentils have absorbed all the water and are very soft, 10-15 minutes.
- Transfer the lentils to a food processor. Add 1 tablespoon of water and process until smooth (it’s okay if there are a few lentils that aren’t processed). Transfer lentil puree to a large mixing bowl.
- In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together both flours, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and allspice and set aside.
- Whisk olive oil into the lentil puree until smooth. Add the eggs and yogurt and whisk to thoroughly combine.
- Pour nearly all of the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, leaving about 2 tablespoons in the bowl (it doesn’t need to be precise). Use a wooden spoon or spatula to mix the batter for about ten strokes. There should still be quite a bit of flour showing. Toss the apples in the remaining flour mixture to coat them with flour, then add them and any remaining flour to the muffin batter. Stir for just another 2-3 strokes. It’s totally fine that there’s still some flour not incorporated. Overmixing is the enemy of muffins!
- Fill each muffin cup about three-quarters full and sprinkle the tops of each muffin with oats. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 15-20 minutes. Cool on wire rack for five minutes, then turn out the muffins upside-down onto a dishtowel to cool completely.
- You can toy with the ratio of white to wheat flour, if you want. The more whole wheat flour you use, the denser the muffins will be, but whole wheat flour has lots of health benefits.