I have always loved the word “muffin,” ever since we sang “Do You Know the Muffin Man?” in kindergarten. There’s something cozy and homey about muffins, yet for the most part I’ve avoided them because as an adult I feel that M-U-F-F-I-N is just another word for C-U-P-C-A-K-E, and that at one point I looked at the calorie count of a giant muffin from a local 7-11, and still haven’t recovered from the shock.
Still, for some reason, the baker in me is magnetically attracted to muffins, and I decided to see if I could bake one that is healthy, yet edible. I have a cookbook called “Macro Mellow: Recipes for Macrobiotic Cooking” by Shirley Gallinger & Sherry A. Rogers, M.D. On the cover, Sherry is shown with her stethoscope, and Shirley is in a frilly apron, and somehow this does not hold much promise for gastronomic delights within. But I forged ahead with a recipe for sweet potato muffins. Containing no sugar, and no butter, the recipe looked a bit grim. But I cooked up a sweet potato, gathered whole wheat pastry flour and soy milk and baked. First surprise–they rose magnificently, and did not suffer the dreaded muffin top slopover you find in some recipes. Second–the paper muffin cup peeled off cleanly, and did not tear the muffin apart. Then, to my surprise, I found that it was a good muffin. It was moist and fine textured, and mildly sweet. My apologies to Shirley and Sherry! They know their muffins. It was a very plain muffin, but strangely good, and I decided to tinker a bit. To the second batch I added a big handful each of dried cranberries and walnuts, and a splash of vanilla. (The dried cranberries had been sweetened, but in the scheme of things did not add much sugar.) This version was delish. But I have to caution, these are definitely a case of a “glass of water half full or half empty” muffins. If you are used to eating sweets every day, these might not seem sweet enough. But if you are trying to cut down on sugar in your diet, these are great–perfect for tossing into the lunch bag. I called these “Easy Sweet Potato Muffins,” instead of “Healthy Sweet Potato Muffins,” because healthy just sounds so dreary. And they are easy.
You could go even farther with these and still stay “healthy” by adding toasted hazelnuts, dried cherries, and slivers of bittersweet chocolate. If you do this, would you please invite me over?
Note: The original recipe called for one cup of unbleached white flour and one cup whole wheat pastry flour. So you could try that and they might rise even higher! I also upped the cinnamon from 1/2 teaspoon to one teaspoon. And I added the vanilla. This is an easy way to make something taste sweeter without adding sugar.
Sweet Potato Muffins2 cups whole wheat pastry flour 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 2 teaspoons baking powder one teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato (one average-sized sweet potato) 1/3 cup canola oil 1 cup soy milk 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (optional chopped walnuts, about 1/3 cup, and dried cranberries, about 1/3 cup) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine dry ingredients. Combine sweet potato with the rest of liquid ingredients. Combine wet ingredients with dry ingredients and add dried cranberries and walnuts, if used.
Spoon into prepared muffin pans and bake for about 25 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.