Registered dietitian and plant-based dietitian Cynthia Sass shares the recipe for mini blueberry muffins that start her mornings and the food changes that make it healthy. Bonus: They’re vegan, gluten-free, low-sugar, and delicious.
A recipe for healthy blueberry muffins
You don’t have to skip all baked goods to eat healthy. In fact, a muffin (or in this case, three mini muffins) can be an easy and satisfying way to fit in nutrient-rich fruits, fiber, plant-based protein, whole grains, and plenty of antioxidants.
I especially love blueberry muffins. But as a registered dietitian, I want to maximize the nutritional value of each treat as much as possible, without compromising flavor, taste and texture. After tinkering with my recipe for healthy blueberry muffins with different ingredient combinations, I’m thrilled with the final version below.
The central ingredient, blueberries, is often referred to as the king of antioxidants. Of the commonly consumed fruits and vegetables, blueberries are among the highest in antioxidant activity. The small wild blueberries I used are particularly rich in antioxidants and contain up to twice the antioxidant power of their traditional counterparts. Their pebbly size is also perfect for mini muffins.
This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, relatively low in sugar and delicious.
Health Benefits of Blueberries
The protective compounds in blueberries have been shown to reduce inflammation and lower the risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease, the No. 1 killer of both men and women in the U.S.
Blueberries are also tops for brain health, according to a study in the Annals of Neurology shows that they protect against age-related cognitive decline.
To benefit from blueberry nutrition year-round, stock up on frozen berries. They are just as nutritious as fresh and wild options and readily available.
Healthy swaps, same taste
To make the recipe completely plant-based and boost the fiber and nutrient content, I chose soaked chia seeds as an egg substitute. One tablespoon of chia seeds provides 16 percent of your daily fiber requirement, which supports good digestion.
These mighty seeds also contain a wide variety of nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, B vitamins, potassium, zinc, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory fat.
Instead of butter, I used heart-healthy extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), and instead of refined flours, I chose almond and brown rice flours for a blend of plant-based protein and whole grains. Although I used cane sugar, I only included a total of 1/4 cup or 12 teaspoons.
That works out to just one teaspoon per muffin, well within the American Heart Association’s recommended daily limit of six teaspoons of added sugar per day for women and nine for men.
The combination of soaked chia seeds and EVOO gives the muffins their moisture. The light texture of the brown rice flour, which mimics all-purpose flour, combined with real sugar and vanilla, makes these treats hard to distinguish from traditional muffins. In other words, their nutritional upgrades don’t sacrifice an ounce of satisfaction.
One serving is three mini muffins, which feels like a larger serving than one muffin made from the same amount of batter. I like that you can also eat one or two as a quick snack or treat.
How do you make a balanced breakfast?
For a balanced breakfast, I like to combine three minis with a latte made with a more protein-rich plant-based milk. My favorite is Ripple, made from peas, which provides eight grams of protein per cup.
You can also serve them as a tastier dessert. Crumble one or two muffins over a scoop of plant-based vanilla ice cream.
Or drizzle them with warmed almond butter spiced with cinnamon or melted dark chocolate topped with shredded coconut. Check out these other healthy muffin recipes to change up the flavor too.
Thanks to Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD
Wild Blueberry Chia Mini Muffins
1 tablespoon chia seeds
3 tablespoons of water
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil with mild flavor
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup frozen wild blueberries, not thawed
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Combine the chia seeds and water in a small bowl and let stand 10 minutes. Combine brown rice and almond flour, sugar, baking soda, baking soda, and sea salt in a large bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the soaked chia seeds, vanilla, and oil.
Fold the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until uniform. Add the frozen blueberries. Spoon batter evenly into 12 paper cup-lined mini muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.