A breakfast or anytime muffin filled with apples, carrots, pecans and whole grains making this my most nutritious and healthy muffin recipe. Maple syrup, reduced apple cider, unsweetened applesauce, and warm fall spices offer natural sweetness without the need for refined sugars. Olive oil and Greek yogurt create a light, tender and tasty crumb. These muffins are packed with good nutrition, are easy to make, and can provide a healthy start to your day.
Healthy Ingredients and Baking Tips
Apples A variety of apples can be used in this recipe. I used a combination of 2 types of baking apples, a Northwestern Greening apple and a Wealthy apple. Honey Crisp or Granny Smith apples work well to. The apples can be peeled or grated with the skin on. Grating the apples right before adding to the batter helps to prevent over-browning before baking.
Reduced apple cider : In a medium deep saucepan, bring 3 cups of high quality, no added sugar apple cider to a gentle boil and simmer for approximately 25 minutes or until slightly thickened and reduced to 1/2 cup. Remove the cider from the stove top and allow to cool completely in the refrigerator to a light syrup-like consistency before adding to the muffin batter. Apple butter (1/3 cup) may be used in place of the apple cider syrup.
Carrots: The original morning glory muffin recipe was created by Chef Pam Mc Kinstry in 1978 for her restaurant on Nantucket Island. It became popular as was one of the first healthy muffin recipes to include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Like the original recipe carrots is one of the main ingredients in this variation of the morning glory muffin.
Olive oil: With nutrition in mind I used olive oil in this recipe. Other neutral oils such as canola, and grape seed oil may be used in place of the olive oil.
Maple syrup: Adds a natural sweetness keeping this muffin free of refined sugars.
Whole wheat pastry flour: A whole grain flour milled from low protein soft spring grains creating a tender crumb that is ideal for cookies, muffins, and sweet loaf recipes. Substituting part of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour adds to the whole grain nutrition of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Ground flax seed: A nutrition super food containing fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and lignans.
Warm fall spices: Cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and all-spice compliment well with the apples making this the perfect autumn recipe.
Greek yogurt: An excellent source of protein, contributes to a moist and tender crumb, and activates the baking soda helping the muffins to rise during baking.
Pecans: Add a light sweet buttery flavor and elevate the nutrition factor providing a good source of protein, fiber, monounsaturated fats, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals . Walnuts can also be used in place of the pecans.
Baking Equipment : A food processor or hand grater, standard size 12 cup muffin pan, hand electric mixer, whisk, standard size ice cream scoop, mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons, and parchment cup cake liners.
A recent visit to a local apple orchard offered a variety of apples to choose from.
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup reduced apple cider (see notes)
1/2 cup plain 2% Greek yogurt
1 1/4 cup finely grated apple (peeled or with the skin)
1 1/4 cup shredded carrot
1 1/2 cup sifted all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground all-spice or nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons of ground flax seed
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with parchment paper cupcake liners.
In a large mixing bowl whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, allspice, and chopped pecans.
In a medium size bowl on low speed using a hand mixer blend the olive oil and maple syrup together until well incorporated. Add eggs one at a time mixing well between additions.
Stir in the applesauce, reduced apple cider and Greek yogurt.
Add shredded carrots and apples and mix well.
Gently fold in mixed dry ingredients just until combined.
Using a standard ice cream scoop fill each lined muffin cup evenly over 12 muffins.
To decorate sprinkle each muffin with a little chopped pecans and small thinly chopped apple slices.
Bake on the middle rack of oven for 7 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees F continue baking for 15 to 18 minutes until baked through and muffins lightly spring back.
Cool in muffin pan for 5 minutes then remove from pan to a cooling rack.
Fresh strawberries are in season and compliment well with cardamom spice allowing each to shine in this recipe, creating a muffin that is lightly sweet, fragrant and flavorful. This muffin is also topped with a streusel of oatmeal and maple sugar, and is finished with a vanilla glaze. This recipe is very versatile and when fresh strawberries are not available, other fresh fruits in season can be substituted such as blueberries, cranberries, apples, and peaches. I think this may become my most favorite muffin recipe for summer. Many store bought muffins are overly sweet, lacking in flavor and contain unhealthy ingredients. These muffins are easy to make, contain high quality ingredients and taste amazing.
Keyingredients and Baking Tips
Fresh Strawberries: Choosing fresh fruits in season ensures the best quality and flavor. Conventionally grown strawberries are part of the “Dirty Dozen” 2021 produce list, when possible try to choose organically grown strawberries to avoid potentially harmful levels of pesticide residue. Strawberries are very nutritious, high in vitamin C, and a good source of potassium and fiber. Strawberries contain healthy phytochemicals and are rich in antioxidants protecting the immune system from the negative effects of free radicals that lead to heart disease and cancer.
Ground Cardamom is a very distinctive spice with origins in the ginger family. Cardamom is highly fragrant and has a unique minty and slightly sweet citrus-like flavor. It is used in both sweet and savory recipes. Clinical studies suggest cardamom may have many potential health benefits, is antibacterial, high in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. Cardamom has also shown to help relieve digestive problems. The amount of cardamom in this recipe can be adjusted to your taste and preference.
Organic Maple Syrup and Maple Sugar contributes to the natural sweetness and flavor, limiting the amount of added sugar needed. Organic maple sugar contains vitamins and minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Maple sugar also has healing and immune boosting properties.
Olive oil: These muffins have the flavor of real butter and the healthy goodness of olive oil. Substituting part of the butter with olive oil adds a warm rich flavor along with increasing healthy monounsaturated fats. Grapeseed oil, canola oil, or melted coconut oil can be used in place of the olive oil.
Greek yogurt and Buttermilk keeps these muffins fluffy, moist and tender .
Oatmeal Maple Sugar Streusel Topping: Oatmeal is included in the list of healthy ingredients in this muffin recipe, supporting your whole grain and fiber goals for the day.
Equipment : I used a standup mixer to blend the ingredients, a 12- cup standard size muffin pan, parchment paper cupcake liners, and a ice cream scoop to portion and distribute the batter evenly in the muffin pan.
To create perfectly domed muffin tops, first bake the muffins at a higher temperature for 7-8 minutes then lower the temperature for the remaining baking time.
Strawberry and Cardamom Spice Streusel Muffins
4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cup fresh strawberries rinsed and cut into small pieces
2 cups all purpose flour sifted
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
Oatmeal Streusel Maple Sugar Streusel Topping
1/2 cup old fashioned oatmeal
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
1/4 cup maple sugar
Directions: in a small bowl mix together all the ingredients with a fork to create a crumb-like topping.
Vanilla glaze (optional) : in a small bowl measure 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, gradually whisk in one to two teaspoons of heavy cream to create a glaze consistency.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with parchment paper cupcake liners.
In a medium bowl whisk together, sifted flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cardamom and set aside.
On medium speed with an electric or standup mixer beat butter and sugar until smooth, add olive oil and maple syrup and continue to beat until light and fluffy, approximately 3-4 minutes.
Add vanilla, then eggs one at a time until well blended.
Add Greek yogurt and mix well.
On slow speed of electric or standup mixer, starting and ending with flour mixture alternate with buttermilk just until blended. Try not to over mix.
Gently fold in strawberries.
Using a ice cream scoop evenly distribute batter among a 12-cup prepared muffin tin. Sprinkle with streusel topping.
Bake in center rack of oven for 7-8 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes. Bake until tops are lightly brown and muffins spring back with a light touch.
Allow to cool in muffin tin for 15 minutes, and then remove to a cooling rack.
Once cooled drizzle with the vanilla glaze if desired.
Store muffins at room temperature for 1-2 days or freeze for a later date.