Posted by: Hallie | April 18, 2009

The Healthy Twists Muffin Experiment

First off, if anyone read my last post, remember how I said that I hoped there wasn’t 3 other kinds of pasta salad at the potluck? Well, there TOTALLY was! And they even all used elbow macaroni like I did! I actually didn’t care, and plenty of people ate my salad, but I think I need to step it up a notch last time we have a potluck at work. Any ideas for easy, healthy, potluck items?

Ok, moving on. The nice (and brilliant, I might add) people at Stonyfield Farm sent me some coupons for their awesome Greek yogurts (review to come) and along with it came a magnet that compared the calorie and fat content of sour cream, mayo, oil, and yogurt. Obviously, yogurt comes out the winner in that battle. For example, one cup of sour cream has 480 calories and one cup of Stonyfield Farm Lowfat Yogurt is only 120…how crazy is that? Ever since I saw those stats side-by-side, I really wanted to experiment with yogurt in cooking.

Enter this weekend’s project. Mitch and I were invited to a brunch, and I wanted to contribute something that would taste fancy enough to be served alongside the typical brunch fare (and by that I mean…mimosas) but still be semi-healthy. I consulted the recipe bible The Joy of Cooking, and found a recipe for sour cream muffins. Perfect! I swapped out yogurt for sour cream, and made quite a few other changes to the point where I think I can legitimately call it “my” recipe.

Lemon Yogurt Muffins


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg plus two egg whites, beaten
  • 6 oz lowfat lemon yogurt (recommended: Stonyfield Farms brand)
  • 1/4 cup nonfat milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest


  1. Whisk the first 5 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray, with or without paper liners.
  3. Mix the rest of the ingredients in another bowl until well blended.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients in with the dry. Lightly mix until everything’s just combined. Don’t overmix! Batter will be lumpy.
  5. Divide the batter equally among the muffin cups. Mine filled about 3/4 of each cup.
  6. Bake for about 17 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the muffins comes out clean or nearly clean. Let cool for a few minutes in the pan, then transfer to a rack until serving.
  7. Serve as soon as possible, and stick leftovers in the freezer to keep them fresh. Makes 12 muffins.

lemon muffins

Healthy Twists:

  • Mix of AP and WW flour (yes, I’m down with the flour abbreviations)
  • Egg whites instead of one of the eggs
  • Used less oil and added some applesauce for moisture.
  • Used lowfat yogurt/nonfat milk instead of whole milk, cream, or sour cream.
  • Cut the sugar in half. There was plenty of sweetness between the yogurt and the applesauce that I didn’t think I’d need more. And I was right!

Folks, these were really good. I’m pretty proud of myself. I am still really new to baking, so I was nervous about changing a recipe so much. They say you should try a recipe the original way once before you start making substitutions. Well in this case, “they” are wrong! These muffins were moist and sweet but not overly so. The mix of whole-wheat and all-purpose flour gave them a bit of texture and flavor so that I didn’t feel like I was eating a cupcake, but nor did it taste like “health food” (not that health food is bad of course, just not what I was going for today).

The guests at the brunch liked the muffins a lot. I didn’t even tell anyone they were semi-healthy. As Mitch and I left, my friend’s boyfriend told me, “you’re going to have to make those muffins again sometime.” Not going to lie—that made my little heart go pitter-patter when he said that. I am definitely going to make these again, and play around a little more with the recipe. I’m learning more and more that home baking is so much more rewarding, not to mention cheaper and healthier (depending, of course) than picking up something at the store.

Anyone else had/having a kitchen adventure this weekend? Tomorrow night we’re going to Mitch’s dad’s house and Mitch is making his famous guacamole. If I can convince him to share I might post his recipe. It’s a bit more complicated than your average guac, but it’s DAMN GOOD.

“See” ya’ll later!



  1. Ooh, those muffins look great! I’ve got a muffin experiment planned for later today. I’m not much of a baker either, so hopefully it’s as successful as yours!

  2. I love baking and your muffins sound fantastic!! A few healthy potluck ideas that come to mind: Veggie and hummus; spinach salad with fruit and nuts; those fantastic muffins 😉

  3. YUM!!! Hallie I’m so proud!!!
    Baking adventure: making challah to send to bake sale winners…
    Potlucks are easy for me: I always bring buffalo chicken dip!!! No matter how much I bring, its always GONE!

  4. What great muffins!
    I love using yogurt in baking or to replace sourcream and mayo.

  5. Yum, those look great. I LOVE lemon muffins and cookies!

    You know, I love to cook and I can never think of anything good to bring to potlucks! We have them at work once in awhile so I usually make homemade ice cream or bake – not exactly healthy, but I work with all guys! As summer gets closer, I’m thinking a fresh fruit salad with mint and maybe a dash of lemon curd!

  6. Oh wow, totally love those muffins!

  7. Lemon in muffins is a sure winner to me!

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