I have high cholesterol, can I have muffins?

*Continue reading for the recipe below*

Do you stay away from muffins thinking they are high in calories, sugar and fat? Or do you think blueberry muffin is so healthy and it’s good for breakfast? According to Harvard School of Public Health,

“the average coffee shop blueberry muffin got almost 470 calories—nearly double what you’d get from a chocolate frosted donut—and most of those calories come from refined carb – white flour and sugar. Perhaps the healthiest thing about these muffins is the fat —19 grams worth, largely from soybean oil—a heart-healthy source. (Only one of the three national chains reviewed used butter as a fat source in its muffins.)”

How much sugar in a blueberry muffin then?

Dietary information from Costa’s website revealed one blueberry muffin contains 27 gram sugar, that is 90% of our daily allowance! Do you think that’s a good choice for breakfast?

Nutrition information of a Blueberry Muffin based on UK Colour-coded nutrition labels:

per portionper 100g
Energy407 kcal370 kcal
Fat19 g17.4 gHighred*
Saturated fat1.6 g1.5 gMediumamber
Sugar27 g24.3 gHigh red*
Salt0.6 g0.5 gMediumamber
Information obtained from Costa website [Accessed 10 Mar 2021]

So you are right, the calories, fat and sugar are quite high in this innocent-looking muffin.

But I like muffins. Is it easy to make a healthier version?

Sure is. Let’s try to tweak the recipe from BBC Good Food Banana & Blueberry Muffins as it said a muffin that tastes as good as it looks. So here’s my modified version: Apple Banana Blueberry Walnuts Oat Muffins, quite a long name isn’t it? That’s only because I had a bottle of apple sauce I wanted to use up but there’s a benefit of using it, see below. I also added walnuts on top of porridge oats to increase a mix sources of fiber which help to lower cholesterol.

Among all the ingredients, apple sauce perhaps is the one we need to worry about due to its sugar content. So, let’s find out how much sugar in applesauce.

per 100 ml
Sainsbury31.8gHigh (red)
Coleman26gHigh (red)
ASDA23gHigh (red)
Tesco23gHigh (red)
Morrisons(Shop)21.5 gMedium (amber)
Morrisons(online)17.6gMedium (amber)
Waitrose16.9gMedium (amber)
Above information were obtained from their websites on 10 Mar 2021. Subject to change.

I was surprised to find out that there’s such a huge difference in sugar content among different brands. Thanks to online shopping, all these information are readily available for us on their website to study and compare – shop smart, eat wise.

Benefits of using apple sauce:

  1. Since I’m using apple sauce, I can skip the oil in the recipe – substituted 5 tablespoons of applesauce for 5 tablespoons of oil – saved 69 g fat and 617 calories – that’s quite a lot, isn’t it? No wonder the nutrition label of Total Fat on the traditional muffin came out red!
  2. Since applesauce contains sugar, using overripe banana means the sugar can be cut back by 60% in this recipe. That’s a good trade.

Eggs: Even if you have high cholesterol, you can still enjoy the eggs, as the most important thing is cut down on saturated fat instead, such as butter. But this time, I used two egg whites so that the batter won’t be so dense. The muffin indeed came out very light and fluffy – I really enjoyed it. I saved the yolks for dinner.

So, here’s the great muffin makeover! These muffins had been shared among my friends and family, and received high praise, so sharing it with confidence.

Apple Banana Blueberry Walnuts Oat Muffins

Prep: 10 mins. Cook: 20 mins. Serves: 16

?‍? Ingredients:

  • Dry ingredients:
  • 300g self-raising flour (2 cups)
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 40g light muscovado sugar (1/4 cup or 4 tablespoons) – Can omit for diabetic
  • 50g porridge oat (1/2 cup) plus 2 tbsp for topping
  • 355g Banana (Four 6″ size), the riper the better
  • Wet ingredients:
  • 280 ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 5 tablespoons Bramley apple sauce (85g)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 125g punnet blueberries
  • 25g walnuts (1/4 cup)

    ?‍? Methods:
  1. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4 and line a 16-hole muffin tin with paper muffin cases, or use cooking spray on muffin tins.
  2. Tip the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl.
  3. Use 1 tbsp of flour to coat the walnuts and set it aside.
  4. Mix sugar with the flour and 50g oats.
  5. In a separate bowl, mash the bananas lightly. Better to be lumpy than over mashed.
  6. Stir the milk, applesauce and egg whites into the mashed banana until evenly combined.
  7. Pour the liquid mixture into the well and stir quickly and sparingly with a wooden spoon. The mix will look lumpy, and may have the odd fleck of flour still visible, but don’t be tempted to over-mix.
  8. Tip in the blueberries and coated walnuts then give it just one more stir.
  9. Divide the mix between the muffin cases – they will be quite full – then sprinkle the top with the final tbsp of the oats.
  10. Bake for 18 -20 mins until risen and dark golden.
  11. Cool for 5 mins in the tray before lifting out onto a rack to cool completely.

Note: This batter yielded more than 12 muffins, that’s why I adjusted it to “Serves 16”. I used two 6-hole normal size muffin tins to start and poured the leftovers to 12-hole mini-size muffin tin. At the end, I still got an extra heart-shaped muffin, so better to have some spare tins to standby just in case.

Have a go and let me know how it comes out. Remember to take a photo and share with me too.

This recipe was modified from BBC Good Food Banana & Blueberry Muffins: “A muffin that tastes as good as it looks – they’ll keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to a month.”

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