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 their benefits 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.

healthy blueberry minimuffinsCourtesy Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD

Wild Blueberry Chia Mini Muffins

Serves 4

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

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.

Sources

Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD
Cynthia Sass is a three-time New York Times best-selling author, writer, recipe developer, and practitioner, with master's degrees in both nutrition science and public health. One of the first registered dietitians to become a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, she has consulted for five professional sports teams in the NBA, NHL, and MLB. In her private practice Sass counsels a wide range of clients. She has worked with Oscar, Grammy, and Emmy winners, professional athletes across a variety of sports, Fortune 500 CEOs, executives, entrepreneurs, and many other high-performance people. She is also the nutrition consultant for UCLA's Executive Health Program. Sass has appeared on numerous national TV shows, including The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Rachael Ray Show, The Martha Stewart Show, The Dr. Oz. Show, The Biggest Loser, Nightline, and many others. In addition to her degrees, Sass has formal training in plant-based, organic culinary arts and mindfulness meditation. She is also a Certified LEAP Therapist and is working toward certification through the Integrative and Functional Nutrition Academy. She specializes in high performance nutrition and plant-based eating, and is based in Los Angeles.