“If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself” is an adage that certainly applies to a more healthful muffin. Whenever I’ve purchased one — as I have a multitude of times — all hopes of deliciousness were shot following that first rubbery, sawdusty bite. So, I took matters into my own hands, and the result is as close to muffin heaven as I can imagine.
A bite into one reveals a cinnamon-scented, moist, tender crumb that boasts the scrumptiousness of cake rather than a baked good that screams “healthy.” That quality is owed, in part, to the soft, fine texture of the whole wheat pastry flour, though a mix of all-purpose flour and regular whole wheat flour will give you a similar result.
These muffins also deliver a full “morning glory” flavor experience, with a compelling texture from shredded carrot, coconut and apple, plus sweet, plump raisins, a hint of pineapple and a crunch of walnuts. All that, and they are so much better for you — chock-full of produce, made with whole grain instead of refined, oil instead of butter, and a modest amount of added sugar. It’s the kind of recipe that reminds you of the rewards of home cooking, and because these muffins freeze well, you can bake them once and enjoy the payoff for months to come.
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From nutritionist and cookbook author Ellie Krieger.
½ cup canola oil or another neutrally flavored oil, plus more for the pan
⅓ cup raisins
¾ cup walnut pieces
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1¾ cups whole-wheat pastry flour (may substitute 1 cup regular whole-wheat flour plus ¾ cup all-purpose flour)
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
A generous ¾ cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
One 8 ounces can crushed pineapple with juice (1 cup)
2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded (1 cup)
½ cup peeled, shredded green/tart apple
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the wells of a regular muffin pan with oil.
Place the raisins in a small bowl and pour hot water over them to cover. Allow the raisins to soak as you prepare the remaining ingredients.
Arrange the walnuts and coconut on a baking sheet in a single layer; toast them for about 4 minutes, until they are fragrant and lightly browned. Let cool.
Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ginger in a medium bowl. Whisk together the ½ cup of oil, the brown sugar and eggs in a separate mixing bowl until creamy and well combined, then whisk in the pineapple and its juice.
Drain the raisins, discarding the liquid. Stir them into the pineapple mixture; then stir in the carrot, apple, vanilla extract and the toasted coconut and walnuts. Add the flour mixture, stirring just until it is incorporated, to form a batter.
Divide the batter evenly among the wells of the muffin pan; bake (middle rack) for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan, placing them directly on the rack to cool completely.
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