Eating for Life

Downsizing muffins ups nutrition content

Food styling by JILL WENDHOLT SILVA; photo by TAMMY LJUNGBLAD/The Kansas City Star
Right-sizing a muffin can reduce calories. Even more changes can produce a healthy treat.

Sure, lots of good things come in small packages, just usually not muffins.

In theory, a muffin should automatically promote portion control. But in recent years, the muffin has mushroomed into something approaching monstrous.

C’mon, even when you do grab a mini muffin, you usually eat more than one. Right?

The average commercially sold muffin is now several sizes too big for its crinkled paper cup and is loaded with excess goodies that add fat and calories to the American diet.

The Star’s Carrot-Raisin Muffins knock things back down to a realistic portion size. Figure a muffin should measure about the size of a tennis ball.

Studies have shown that cutting portions, rather than cutting out the foods you love, can help maintain a desirable weight.

At the same time we were right-sizing our muffin, we also found ways to pump up its nutritional profile.

To reduce the amount of fat, we used applesauce, egg whites and fat-free milk.

We stirred in whole-grain oats and carrots to pump up the fiber content.

We replaced some of the sugar with raisins, a sweet, low-fat, high-energy dried fruit containing plenty of phytonutrients as well as boron, a trace mineral that promotes bone health. In addition to adding fiber and sweetness, the carrots also offer impressive amounts of beta-carotene, a precursor for vitamin A.

Cooking tip: Lower-fat muffins often stick to the paper liners more than higher-fat muffins. Spraying the paper cups with nonstick spray coating makes it easier to peel off the papers. These muffins taste best when served warm.

Editor’s note: This week marks the one-year anniversary of The Star’s Eating for Life column! To let us know your thoughts, send e-mail to

To look up past columns and recipes, go to, click on FYI/Living, then click on Eating for Life.

Carrot-raisin muffins

Makes 12 muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup rolled oats

2/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup fat-free skim milk

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 egg whites

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup golden raisins

1  1/4 cups shredded carrot

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with baking papers. Lightly spray paper cups with nonstick spray coating. Combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a large mixing bowl. Combine milk, oil, egg whites and applesauce in a smaller bowl; blend into flour mixture, stirring just until moistened. Stir in raisins and carrots. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pans, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake 16 to 18 minutes or until golden. Serve warm.

Per muffin: 205 calories (18 percent from fat), 4 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), trace cholesterol, 38 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams protein, 188 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.

Recipes developed for The Star by professional home economists by Kathryn Moore and Roxanne Wyss

Food styling by JILL WENDHOLT SILVA/Photo by TAMMY LJUNGBLAD/The Kansas City Star