The simple answer: Yes. Well...Um... sometimes. (But keep trying.)
As a Registered Dietitian, I always encourage 100% whole grains, when possible. Fiber-filled and nutrient-rich, whole grains (think 100% whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, etc.) clearly have a leg up nutritionally on their processed, refined counterparts.
That said, this is a taste-first blog. I believe in the deepest parts of my little dietitian heart that if food doesn't taste good, no matter how healthy it is, most people won't eat it... or at least not for the rest of their lives.
And frankly, I haven’t as of yet mastered the 100% whole wheat muffin to the point that I feel is worthy of inclusion to my recipe collection. Whole wheat flours have come a long way, and I do sincerely believe that a lot of the process in converting your diet is just refining your own tastes to appreciate the subtle differences in whole wheat versus traditional all-purpose flour.
However, this family of “tasters” has agreed that my version of Whole Grain Lemon-Blueberry Muffins is where we want to be for now. A nutritional improvement on a traditional muffin (which many of my peers classify in the same category as “cake”... and rightfully so if you check the calorie and fat content), it still meets my family’s stringent standards of early morning tasty treats.
But there's always room for improvement. I have been recently inspired by my friend Gretchen to employ the assistance of a scale to improve my baking (a concept that I have known for years was the way to go but have just been reluctant to make the move. Old habits die hard). Unfortunately, this recipe did not get the luxury of that new inspiration, but I’m in search of the perfect scale even as I write.
If you’d like to read more about what she’s doing with her scale in baking gluten-free, make the jump. Come back when you’re ready to try your hand at these muffins. This is one time when the dietitian is saying it’s okay to go with a little less than 100% whole grain. (But keep trying).
-This is not an exceptionally sweet muffin by commercial muffin standards. But that’s a good thing. Not only for the calorie count of the muffin, but in helping to train your taste-buds to enjoy a little less sugar at every meal. It also allows for the flavor of the lemon zest & the blueberries to shine through.
-I bumped up the leavening just a touch at the instruction of the all knowing chefs of the Culinary Institute of America - Greystone. While in attendance at a recent symposium there, I learned that because whole wheat flours have slightly less gluten ounce for ounce, when you replace a portion of the all-purpose flour in a recipe with whole wheat, you lose some gluten. Gluten gives a baked good it’s structure, so adding a little extra leavening helps to bolster that structure building process. Don’t ask me to explain the science. I took my last Food Science class somewhere circa 1997. But I do know this - tinkering with leavening, especially baking soda and baking powder can leave you with a metallic muffin if you over-add. So tread lightly.
-I said that this is less sweet, but I will add that I love the addition of either post-baking sprinkled powdered sugar or a pre-baking sprinkled turbinado over the tops of muffins. It looks nice and gives your palate just that little bit of extra sweetness without adding a ton of sugar to the batter. If you like a “sugary crust” to your muffins, turbinado is the way to go without making the rest of your muffin too sweet.
-I based my version on this recipe from My Recipes. If you haven't checked out their recipes, you must. They are all kitchen-tested and are guaranteed to work. Enough said.