There’s nothing like a warm batch of muffins, freshly baked to welcome you into the kitchen, especially when you know you made them yourself. Muffins make the perfect breakfast food, snack food, and even the perfect after dinner treat. And the possibilities for muffin flavors are absolutely endless! From the basic banana nut and blueberry, to more seasonal varieties like pumpkin spice, or just good even good old raisin oat bran, muffins are one of the most versatile, delicious baked goods you can make.
Most people know how to replace eggs in a recipe to make them vegan, but there are some other important tips to take into account if you want maximum flavor, the right texture, and if you want to make your muffins a bit healthier.
From savory to sweet, to everything in between, check out these tips and recipe ideas to not only make your muffins vegan, but also healthy and delicious!
Tip # 1: Start With a Flavor-Rich Flour Base
Since flour will make up a large part of your muffin recipe, it’s a great idea to choose a really flavorful flour to use. Most recipes call for all-purpose flour (which is highly refined wheat), and while you can use that if you like, I’m a fan of more flavorsome flours that also pack in more nutrition. Some great ideas are: coconut flour, almond flour, hazelnut flour, and oat flour (or oat fiber). Rolled oats and quinoa flakes can also be used, along with ground flax, hemp protein powder, cocoa, powder, and ground chia seeds, all in place of flour. I suggest using a mix of a few of these to substitute a one to one ratio for all-purpose, instead of using just one flour alone. You’ll have to use more liquid, but the results are impeccable. These flour choice are all closer to whole foods, since they’re only slightly processed during the grinding process and contain nothing but the whole food they’re made from.
All purpose flour contains gluten, which makes the muffins rise and puff up, but you can essentially get by without using it at all and still get great results. To make your recipe “work”, without all-purpose flour, you’ll just need to add a little baking soda to your muffin recipe so the muffins will rise the same way. Easy, healthy, and done!
Try out my favorite flavor-rich flour muffin recipe- Coco-nutty Flax Muffins (Gluten-Free):
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, mix the following in a medium sized bowl: 1/3 cup coconut flour, 1/3 cup ground flax seed, and 1/3 cup of oat flour (or rolled oats.) Sift together with 2 teaspoons baking soda, a teaspoon of cinnamon, 1 tablespoon of ground chia seeds, 1/4 cup shredded coconut (optional but I enjoy.) Set aside. In a small bowl, mix 2/3 unsweetened almond milk, 2 tablespoons liquid stevia, and a dash of vanilla extract. Mix with the flour and stir well to thicken. The coconut and flax will cause it to thicken quickly, so keep stirring until you see no more flour. Grease a muffin pan with some coconut oil, and scoop the batter into the each of the muffin cups. Bake 12 minutes (or until fragrant), remove from the oven, and let the muffins cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes. Remove by using a gentle casing knife to pry the muffins out and serve warm.
These make delicious breakfast muffins and can also be eaten as an afternoon treat or after dinner dessert. They’re great when refrigerated since they sweeten up as they chill down. I also like spreading some almond butter on top for even more flavor. They’re also gluten-free if you buy gluten-free oat flour!
Tip # 2: Add Some Moisture with Some Fruits and Veggies
I also love adding moisture to my recipes by using foods like pumpkin, banana, pureed blueberries or raspberries, pureed prunes or carrots, applesauce or apple butter, pureed pears and even pureed butternut squash. Usually, around a cup is all you need per dozen muffin recipe.
These don’t just add flavor and nutrition, but they also help add a binding feature, which helps when you’re not using eggs in your recipe. Though flax and chia will suffice as egg alternatives, it never hurts to have another ingredient to aid in firming up your muffins even further.
Add any pureed veggies or fruits you want to try to the recipe above, or feel free to try out some of these recipes: Vegan Butternut Squash Muffins, Creepy Crawly Vegan Pumpkin Muffins, and Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins.
Tip #3: Branch Out and Try New Flavor Combinations
Some of the best flavor combinations are those you dream up yourself! Some of my favorites I’ve created have been: Coffee and Coconut (using ground coffee and ground coconut), Chocolate Apple Pumpkin (using cocoa powder in place of 1/3 of the flour and using apple butter and pumpkin in place of eggs), and Lemon Ginger Blueberry Coconut (using a little lemon juice, blueberries, fresh ginger, and ground coconut.)
You can even go savory-style and try out things like sage and black pepper for a holiday-like flavor, turmeric, cayenne, cumin, and garlic for a curry-style muffin, or tomato, basil, and black pepper for a savory brunch option.
Never be afraid to try new flavors out and mix and match different flavors until you find one you enjoy. Some to try are: Carrot Gingerbread Muffins (a great seasonal choice!), Roasted Rhubarb Granola Muffins, Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins, Apple Sultana Gingerbread Muffins, Apple Cider Muffins, and Savory Whole Grain Spinach Biscuit Muffins.
Tip #4 Don’t Overbake!
One tip I learned as a former cake decorator was to always underbake versus overbake. Pull your muffins out before they look completely brown on top because they will need to sit in the pan to cool, and will continue to cook in the pan as they cool. Generally speaking, as soon as they become very fragrant (around the 10-12 minute mark), they’re usually safe to pull out. You can always bake them longer, but burnt muffins are no to eat or to force yourself to toss away!
Tip #5: Use Oil Alternatives
Egg replacements aren’t the only way to make your muffins healthier; oil alternatives can also help make your muffins healthier too. I like to use healthy oils like coconut oil to coat my pans with, but I’d much rather use moisture-inducing oil alternatives in my recipes themselves, such as applesauce, apple butter (which adds a delightful sweetness as a bonus) , pureed bananas, pumpkin, or just unsweetened non-dairy milk. You can use any of these as a one to one replacement for oil.
This tip doesn’t just cut out the excess calories oil contains (around 120 calories in one tablespoon!) but also adds more fiber, but also vitamins and minerals from the alternative themselves. Almond butter, though still high in calories, can even be used to replace oil since it retains all the fiber and nutrients in almond, though it tends to make the muffins really dense. I generally find non-dairy milks or pureed fruits to work the best, but nut butters will suffice if you want a heartier flavor without the flavor of fruit or veggies.
Tip #6: Use a Healthy Sweetener
It’s a great idea to use a healthier sweetener when you can to eliminate the intake of sugar. While a healthy treat is fine occasionally, muffins don’t have to be nutritionally equal to a cupcake to be enjoyed. Most muffins at your typical coffee house have more sugar than a donut or soda, which is kind of crazy. So when baking your own muffins, go for a healthier sweetener; your blood sugar will thank you later!
I’m a huge fan of stevia because it’s sugar-free, and is not artificial. It also has no glycemic index and works perfectly in baking. I prefer liquid stevia or pure white stevia powder, which is easy to find at any health food store or online. You’ll also need much less stevia in your recipe than you will other sweeteners since it’s much stronger in flavor per serving. Your recipes won’t brown the same way they do with sugar, but will still taste sweet, which is the whole point. Check out some easy tips for baking with stevia so you get the best results, or use my recipe above.
Muffins are one of the best foods to share with your friends, family, and co-workers too. I can promise you’ll they’ll be well-received and will also give you something healthy to much on throughout the day. Be sure you also put your muffin to good use by trying out these 10 savory things to make in a muffin tin!
What’s your favorite muffin flavor?
Image Source: Oatmeal Muffins
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