The Healthy Blueberry Muffin Recipe this Nutritionist Swears By
Registered dietitian and plant-based diet specialist Cynthia Sass shares the mini blueberry muffins recipe she uses to start her mornings and the food swaps that make it healthy. Bonus: They're vegan, gluten free, low in sugar, and delicious.
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A healthy blueberry muffin recipe
You don’t have to skip all baked goods in order to eat healthfully. In fact, a muffin (or in this case three mini muffins) can be a simple and satisfying way to fit in nutrient-rich fruit, fiber, plant protein, whole grains, and plenty of antioxidants.
I’m particularly partial to blueberry muffins. But as a registered dietitian, I like to maximize the nutritional value of any treat as much as possible, without compromising flavor, taste, and texture. After tinkering with my healthy blueberry muffins recipe using various ingredient combos, I’m thrilled with the final version below.
The central ingredient, blueberries, are often referred to as the king of antioxidants. Among commonly consumed fruits and vegetables, blueberries rank as one of the highest in antioxidant activity. The petite wild blueberries I used are particularly antioxidant-rich, packing up to twice the antioxidant potency as their traditional counterparts. Their pebble-like size is also a perfect fit for mini muffins.
This recipe is vegan, gluten free, relatively low in sugar, and delicious.
Health benefits of blueberries
The protective compounds found in blueberries have been shown to reduce inflammation and lower chronic disease risk, including heart disease, the No. 1 killer of both men and women in the U.S.
Blueberries are also tops for brain health, as a study in the Annals of Neurology shows they protect against age-related cognitive decline.
To take advantage of blueberry nutrition year-round, stock up on frozen berries. They’re just as nutritious as fresh and wild options and readily available.
Healthy swaps, same taste
In order to make the recipe fully plant-based and boost the fiber and nutrient content, I opted for soaked chia seeds as an egg replacement. One tablespoon of chia seeds provides 16 percent of your daily need for fiber, which supports good digestive health.
These mighty seeds also contain a wide range of nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, B vitamins, potassium, zinc, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory fat.
Rather than butter, I included heart-healthy extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), and in place of refined flour, I chose almond and brown rice flour for a mixture of plant protein and whole grains. While I did use cane sugar, I included just 1/4 cup or 12 teaspoons total.
That equates to just one teaspoon worth per muffin, well within the American Heart Association’s recommended daily limit of six teaspoons worth of added sugar per day for women and nine for men.
The combo 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, make these goodies difficult to distinguish from traditional muffins. In other words, their nutrition upgrades don’t sacrifice a morsel of satisfaction.
One serving is three mini muffins, which feels like a larger portion 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 to make a balanced breakfast
For a balanced breakfast, I like to combine three minis with a latte made with a higher protein plant milk. My favorite is Ripple, made from peas, which provides eight grams of protein per cup.
You can also serve them as a better-for-you dessert. Crumble one or two muffins over a scoop of plant-based vanilla ice cream.
Or drizzle them with warmed-up almond butter seasoned with cinnamon or melted dark chocolate garnished with shredded coconut. Check out these other healthy muffin recipes to switch up the flavor too.
Courtesy Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD
Wild Blueberry Chia Mini Muffins
1 tablespoon chia seeds
3 tablespoons water
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup mild flavored extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup frozen wild blueberries, not thawed
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a small bowl, combine the chia seeds and water and let sit for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, combine brown rice and almond flours, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt, 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 to create a uniform batter. Add the frozen blueberries. Evenly spoon the batter into 12 paper cup-lined mini muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean.
- International Journal of Molecular Sciences: "Molecular Mechanism and Health Role of Functional Ingredients in Blueberry for Chronic Disease in Human Beings"
- Annals of Neurology: "Dietary intakes of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline"
- United States Department of Agriculture: "Chia Seeds"