These nutritionally dense cranberry orange muffins use some healthy swaps to create a healthier muffin with hearty whole grain flavor punctuated with citrus and fresh cranberries.
Need a healthier alternative to a traditional muffin for your breakfast or snacking needs? Try these healthy cranberry orange muffins! With primary flavors like fresh cranberries, orange zest, orange juice, and cinnamon, these are a great choice for the holiday and winter months.
These muffins are made using a few healthy swaps:
- Applesauce instead of oil/butter
- Whole wheat flour in place of all-purpose
- Nonfat yogurt in place of other dairy (for richness and moisture)
Using these swaps, each muffin is only 144 calories and 1.3g of fat. Each one offers up 3.2g of fiber as well!
How Do I Serve These Muffins?
Serve healthy cranberry orange muffins in many different ways! You can eat them room temperature or slightly warmed. They are great plain or smeared with a small amount of butter, fresh jam, or honey.
My personal favorite is eating them warmed up (just a few seconds in the microwave), sliced open, and spread with butter. Yum!
Tips For Working With Whole Wheat Flour
Whole wheat flour gets a bad rap for being tough or dry, but there's a nuance to using this type of flour to ensure your baked goods turn out soft and tender. Here are my two top tips:
- Rest The Batter: After your batter is mixed, let it sit in the bowl for a solid 10-15 minutes before scooping into the muffin tins and baking. This gives the flour time to soak in the liquids in the recipe and for the whole grains to become fully hydrated, resulting in moister and more tender baked goods.
- Better The Next Day: I don't know if there's any science-y science behind this, but I've always noticed that when I bake with whole wheat flour, they go from good to amazing if you wait until the day after you bake them to eat them. I realize this isn't always a convenient option, but I just wanted to put it out there if you're trying to ease your way into whole wheat baking... let 'em sit (in an airtight container) for a day!
Can I Use Dried Cranberries Instead?
This recipe was tested using fresh cranberries to make healthy cranberry orange muffins, but you can use dried cranberries (Craisins, etc) if that's all you can grab.
Because dried cranberries are dehydrated and will soak up the liquid from the batter, you'll need to make some minor adjustments to the recipe.
- Use Less: Instead of 1 ¾ cups of fresh cranberries, use 1 ¼ cups of dried cranberries.
- Soak Them: You'll want to soak and rehydrate the dried cranberries before adding them to the batter. To do this, add the dried cranberries to a bowl and cover with water (or if you're feeling sassy, add a tasty liquor to the water). Let sit for 20-30 minutes, and then drain out the water before using.
Can I Make These Sugar Free?
There will always be some form of sugar in these muffins due to the naturally occurring sugars in the applesauce, orange, and cranberries. If you want to cut down on the added sugars, however, you can do that.
Make sure to use a sugar substitute that is a cup-for-cup equivalent to real sugar. That way you can use the same amount of substitute that is called for in the recipe. Products like Swerve measure just like sugar. You can use this in place of both of the white and brown sugars in this recipe, or you can use a brown sugar replacement such as Swerve Brown.
Are These Freezer Friendly?
Yes, these healthy cranberry orange muffins can be made ahead and then frozen.
To Freeze: allow the muffins to cool completely and then wrap each one in plastic wrap. Place the wrapped muffins inside of a large freezer-safe zip top bag and freeze for up to 3 months for best quality and texture. Muffins will still be safe to eat after that time if frozen properly.
To Thaw: Take muffins out of the freezer and allow to thaw on the counter - it won't take long! You can also zap them in the microwave, use a low power - 30% or so - and heat in 20 second increments, checking after each one.
Need a quick breakfast? Take one out of the freezer when you go into the kitchen to get your morning coffee. By the time you're dressed and ready to go, the muffin will be thawed. Give it an 8 second zap in the microwave, smear with butter, and enjoy!Print
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