Thursday, September 11, 2014

Multigrain Walnut Banana Muffins

You all probably know: I LOOOVVEEE baking. It is a truly active activity with results that you can both eat and share with others. How awesome is that? What I don't like about baking is that the results can be bad for you, with all the sugar and butter. My family is generally really healthy, my mom especially. She eats loads of fruit and nuts, has cut out pastries and chips except for very rare occasions when she'll eat a few, and is always active. My mom is one of my strongest motivators to be healthy, strong, active, and more.

Balancing healthy and my love for baking is challenging. Most of my friends know I bake relatively low-sugar and low-fat desserts, with occasional splurges when attempting to impress others. For myself, I can't stand desserts that are too sweet. I seek out a wholesome balance of sweet and salty. Grains have a natural nuttiness and subtle sweetness that I have come to love. Nuts have a lot of fat, but these are healthy fats and good for you if eaten in moderation. Sugar is now emerging as the main culprit in rising rates of obesity, diabetes, and other health problems. It may seem like all sugar is bad, except for natural sources like stevia, agave, and erythriol. Those sources sound great and natural and all, but they are still added sugars. Maybe they don't cause spikes in your insulin but they are not an excuse to eat as much of these sugar sources as you want. Sugar from fruits, eaten naturally and not removed and processed, is the best way to take in your sugar.

Taking what I've learned from a variety of health resources, I attempted to make a banana nut muffin that would appeal to my mom and me: healthy yet tasty, without added sugars, full of grains and omega-3 walnuts. This muffin would be something you could eat and feel good about. Definitely not a dessert muffin, but something to enjoy in the morning with milk or an afternoon or after dinner snack.

Multigrain Walnut Banana Muffins
1 cup white whole wheat flour (or unbleached all purpose flour)
1 cup multigrain hot cereal (I used 7-grain hot cereal from Bob's Red Mill, or you can use 1 cup oats that have been processed in a food processor)
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 egg
1/4 cup oil (olive or vegetable oil both work fine)
3/4 cup 2% organic milk
1 tsp vanilla
3 mashed over-ripe bananas (~1.5 cups)
1/2-3/4 cup cinnamon chips or dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Mix the flour, hot cereal (uncooked), rolled oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, beat the egg, oil, milk, and vanilla.
  3. Make a well in the dry mixture and pour in the wet mixture. Mix just until combined.
  4. Add the mashed bananas. Mix just until combined.
  5. Add the cinnamon chips and chopped walnuts. Mix just until combined.
  6. Preheat the oven to 400 deg F and line 12-16 muffin cups.
  7. Fill the muffin cups 2/3 of the way up with the batter. (optional) Top each with a full walnut piece.
  8. Bake 12-15 minutes until a toothpick inserted the center of a muffin comes out clean. 
  9. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then finish cooling on a rack.

A caution is that this is healthy and you know it while eating it. To make it more appealing for the general public without adding spoons of sugar, I added in some mini cinnamon chips. Yes, this is processed sugar and I just lectured against it above, but you can't persuade others to eat healthy if it's unappetizing. Therefore, I added 1/2 cup of cinnamon chips. Next time, though, I'll add 3/4 cup of cinnamon chips to bring out the cinnamon and sweetness just a tad bit more. I also think the dark chocolate would be better than the cinnamon chips.

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