Healthy Cacao Nib, Coffee, and Oatmeal Muffins

Who knew a muffin could be so healthy? The commonly grapefruit-sized baked goods at our coffee shops are far from healthy; at as much as 660 calories a pop, a daily habit  of these commercially-baked dense sugary treats could quickly make us look a bit muffin-like ourselves! Even a more normal apple-sized muffin is likely full of butter and refined flours and sugars – yummy, yes, but not the best way to start off your day. Not so with these muffins – not only do they contain no butter or flour, but they are packed with whole grains, fruit (yes fruit!), dairy, and cacao, which is full of vitamins and antioxidants. With all these healthy ingredients, one a day (or in my case two!) will keep you on track for your health goals, and make your taste buds happy! Whip up a batch on Sunday afternoon like I did and store in the fridge for a grab-and-go breakfast all week.

Healthy Cacao Nib, Coffee, and Oatmeal Muffins
adapted from Dashing Dish and similar to Chocolate Chunk VitaTop Muffins from Wholefoods

Total time: 25 minutes                      Servings: 12 large muffins or 24 mini-muffins
Nutrition information (1 large muffin): 149 calories; 27g carbs; 4g fat; 6g protein; 11g sugar

cacao nibsIngredients

  • 1 3/4 cup quick-cooking oats (very important to get the quick-cooking kind!)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (I use Nestle Toll House brand)
  • 1/2 tsp  cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 tsp  baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp  baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (you can use stevia, splenda or another no-calorie sweetener if you prefer)
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup  unsweetened applesauce (I just make my own from market fresh apples) or 1/2 cup mashed banana
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup  hot coffee (if you don’t like coffee you can use hot water)
  • 1/2 cup cacao nibs (at right) OR semi-sweet chocolate chips (for a sweeter muffin) [see below for a discussion on on cacao nibs vs. chocolate chips]
  • cupcake liners, or cooking spray and a silicone cupcake tray

photo 7Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whisk dry ingredients together (except cacao nibs/chocolate chips); set aside.

Whisk wet ingredients (except hot coffee/water) together, and mix in to dry ingredients; add hot water/coffee last.

Fold in cocoa nibs or chocolate chips. Batter will be very wet, and you will think “this is the runniest muffin batter I’ve ever made – no way will this cook up!” Don’t worry, it will – the oats absorb the liquid. The batter will even bubble a bit as the ingredients react with the warm coffee/water – this is good! (See awesome bubbles and yummy nibs at left.)

Use a 1/3 or 1/2 cup scoop to ladle batter into prepared muffin pan or cupcake liners; fill them right up to the top.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

photo 8 healthy

I was inspired by a recipe from Dashing Dish, which I’ve since adapted. The biggest difference is I’ve swapped hot water for hot coffee (such a perfect pairing with chocolate!) and semi-sweet chocolate chips for cacao nibs. Cacao nibs are harder to find (and often more expensive) than chocolate chips, but I found a 12 oz bag at Whole Foods for $8. Cacao nibs are, quite simply, roasted cacao beans that have been chopped up – no added ingredients and minimal processing. In contrast, chocolate chips contain cacao, along with varying amounts of milk, cocoa butter and sugar. (Read more on the different kinds of chocolate here.) In this recipe, I use 1/2 cup of cacao nibs or chocolate chips, and the nutrition information for that amount is compared here:

½ cup serving Calories Carbs Fat Protein Sugar
Cacao nibs 260 20 24 8 0
semi-sweet chocolate chips 560 72 32 4 64

As you can see, cacao nibs are the best choice in any category, so if you can get them, use them!

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