A muffin can be nothing more than a sweet treat, but if you create your own from scratch you have the luxury of making them as healthy -- and as flavorful -- as you choose. Ingredients such as flaxseed can lend substantial quantities of fiber and nutrition to your morning muffin, even when used in modest amounts. There are many ways you can turn your current favorite into a flaxseed muffin, or you may want to choose a recipe that's built around the healthful seed.
What You Get
Ground flaxseed meal is one of the richest plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids, with up to 40 percent of its weight coming in the form of healthy oils. The remainder consists largely of both insoluble and soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is the familiar "roughage" that helps keep your digestion in order, while soluble fiber is the kind that helps keep your bad cholesterol in check. Just as important, the ground seed gives your muffins a pleasantly nutty flavor. You'll find it in brown and golden varieties, which are similar in flavor and nutrition. The golden variety has less impact on the color of your muffins, so it's a good choice for lighter, cake-like blueberry or lemon muffins. Brown flax is better in bran or multigrain muffins, where it's less noticeable.
A Simple Upgrade
The most straightforward way to make flaxseed muffins is simply to add the ground seeds to one of your existing favorites. Mix 1/4 to 1/2 cup of ground flax in with the other dry ingredients in your recipe, and then add the liquid ingredients as you normally would. Feel free to add a few tablespoons of liquid to the batter if it's stiffer than usual. Scoop the batter into paper-lined muffin pans, and bake the muffins according to your recipe. Muffins containing flax will tend to brown a little more quickly than usual, so you might need to cover them loosely with foil during the last few minutes of baking.
Go for the Gusto
If you're serious about turning your breakfast-time muffin into a nutritional powerhouse, start with a recipe that's already rich in healthy, high-fiber ingredients. A bran muffin or oatmeal-based muffin is a fine choice. Whole-grain oats and fiber-rich bran give you similar health benefits, and the flavor and texture of ground flaxseeds are less noticeable when they're incorporated into a sturdy bran or oat muffin. Round out the muffin's ingredients with other healthy add-ins, such as seeds, nuts or antioxidant-rich blueberries, and you'll have a treat you can feel genuinely good about.
Table for One
If there's a downside to delicious flaxseed muffins, it's that stopping after just one can be a challenge to your willpower. A microwave muffin-in-a-mug is the perfect solution to that dilemma. Not only does it eliminate the temptation to overindulge, the quick preparation -- usually 5 minutes or less -- can help you avoid less-virtuous options. Healthy microwave muffin recipes typically use one egg and half a mashed banana, along with a few tablespoons of whole-grain flour or oats. Just choose a recipe that appeals to you, and replace up to half of the dry ingredients with flax meal. The muffin will take up to 2 minutes to cook, depending on the size of your mug, and should cool for 3 to 5 minutes before you dig in.
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