Good-for-you Oatmeal-Coconut-Cranberry Muffins

I love muffins.  They’re one of my favorite things to bake and one of my favorite things to eat.  I can remember one day in particular when I ate a muffin for breakfast, a muffin for lunch, and a muffin for an afternoon snack.  Don’t worry though, I’m pretty sure I ate a real dinner…but only because I was forced to!  Muffins from a mix were one of the first things I learned how to bake, and I especially loved opening that little can of blueberries or cranberries and orange zest that was tucked into the bottom of the box.  Now I try to stick to homemade as much as possible, but occasionally when I’m in a pinch I’ll let myself get a little help from my good friend Betty Crocker…..shhh don’t tell 🙂

Now I enjoy a fresh, moist muffin just as much as the next guy, but the problem is that muffins, which are generally labeled as a breakfast food, are often the equivalent of an unfrosted cupcake.  And when you throw in all the artificial coloring, flavoring, and preservatives found in muffin mix, all hopes of a nutritional breakfast fly out the window.  There’s nothing wrong with having a treat, but I while I used to love having a muffin for breakfast they now seem more like a dessert.

Enter these muffins, made with oatmeal, whole wheat flour, and no sugar!  A far cry from the butter-and-sugar-laden muffins found in most bakeries, stores, restaurants, and cookbooks, these Oatmeal-Coconut-Cranberry Muffins manage to simultaneously be good for you and still taste delicious!  Even though they contain no sugar, they still get a good dose of sweetness from pure maple syrup, applesauce, coconut, and dried cranberries.  Using applesauce instead of oil/butter results in a muffin that is still perfectly moist, and the whole wheat flour and oats give these muffins a great, hearty texture.  I’ve done a lot of experimenting with healthier muffins, and to be honest I’ve had some pretty cardboardy muffins along the way, but these are a perfect balance of tasting great while still measuring very low in the sugar, fat, and white flour departments.  You can eat these muffins for breakfast, a snack, or any time of day and still feel like you’re getting some real nutrition!  And they’re very adaptable…you can leave out the coconut or cranberries if you like, and can add in nuts, other dried fruit, or even chocolate chips…after all, since the rest of the muffin is so healthy it’s perfectly justifiable to load them up with chocolate!  Right? Right.

Oatmeal-Coconut-Cranberry Muffins

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup old-fashioned oats

1 Tbs baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup low-fat milk

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 large egg

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the milk, maple syrup, applesauce, egg, and vanilla.  Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients just until moistened.  Fold in the coconut and dried cranberries.

Scoop the batter into muffin tins and bake for 18-20 minutes or until tops bounce back when lightly pressed and a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then move to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Yield: 12 muffins

(Recipe adapted from Twin Tables)

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