Think of these whole wheat muffins as a blank canvas. I do not want to call them “plain whole wheat muffins”, because they are magnificent all on their own with nothing more than a smear of fruit preserves. However, I also know that most people want a little more excitement in their morning meal or afternoon snack! Well, these muffins are a great base for any number of variations and healthy additions you could possibly think of. Make them savory with the addition of fresh chopped herbs and shredded cheese mixed right into the batter. You can even make them a complete breakfast meal by adding crumbled cooked sausage or bacon, diced cooked ham and shredded cheddar cheese, with a side of hash browns or scrambled eggs. Make them sweet with the addition of chopped dried fruit and nuts, fresh fruit, or a drizzle of maple syrup, honey, powdered sugar and cinnamon. They are the base for a number of healthy, delicious, sugar free breakfast or snack options – and can also be served plain as a great accompaniment to dinners, soups and salads. They freeze wonderfully, so why not make a double batch to have on hand whenever you want to add a delicious whole grain to any meal.

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup skim milk

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons apple juice concentrate

2 tablespoons canola or olive oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (omit if making a “savory” version).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly spray a 6 cup jumbo (or 12 cup standard) muffin tin with nonstick spray.

Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and stir well to combine. In a smaller, separate bowl combine the milk, oil, juice concentrate and vanilla extract (if making a sweet variation) and whisk well to blend. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Dive the batter evenly between the muffin cups and bake for about 20 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool for at least 10 minutes before removing them from the pan.

If you will be freezing a portion of the muffins, allow them to cool completely before wrapping them in plastic wrap, and then in foil.

Makes 6 jumbo (or 12 standard) muffins. Per jumbo muffin: 243 calories, 2 g total fat, less than 0.5 saturated, 0 g trans fat, 34 g carbohydrates, 7 g fiber, 0 g added sugar, 8 g protein, 184 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol.

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