Tips for making healthy muffins

healthy muffins plantbased pantry

Muffins have always been my go-to snack option. I love that you can be creative and even a little weird in your combinations – cheese and cranberry, anyone ? If you can dream it, you can make a muffin out of it.

I tend towards not following a recipe for my muffin mixes, mainly because I always think that I can a) do it better and b) make it healthier. I’m always right about the latter, 50/50 on the former. But I don’t post those, because that content belongs on and who am I to plagiarise!

Here my top tips for making muffins healthier.

  1. Use apple sauce instead of sweetener. Not the kind in the Koo jar, it’s loaded with sugar. Make your own by simmering peeled apples in water for 5-10 minutes and blending them. This contributes to your liquid content, so either reduce the amount of liquid added or up your flour volume to compensate.
  2. Add mashed banana to any recipe. This works the same way as apple sauce. If your bananas are very ripe, which is best for baking, you may not need to add additional sweetener at all.
  3. If you must add sweetener, use a small amount of honey or maple syrup – 1-2 tablespoons should be enough (I use honey because maple syrup in SA is too expensive for baking). You won’t need much because of the natural sweetness of the fruit.
  4. Change any refined flour for a healthy flour combo. I like to use 50% nut flour (almond, macadamia) and 50% oat flour, which I make by blending rolled oats to a fine powder. You can use just nut flour, but as nut flours are oilier than wheat , it can be hard to get the consistency right. Oat flour resembles wheat more closely so the results are less variable. Coconut flour is another good option, but if you use it make sure you add extra liquid. Coconut flour acts like a sponge and soaks up all the liquid in the mixture.
  5. Add chopped dried fruit and nuts. Recently I made date and coconut muffins – recipe below – and it’s the first time I’ve used chopped dates in a baking recipe. It worked out really well, as the dates give a hit of sweetness and also keep the muffin from drying out. Nuts of course are just super healthy.
  6. Use coconut oil instead of butter. Coconut oil helps to keep cholesterol levels balanced and also aids digestion, thereby reducing stress on the pancreas and increasing the body’s metabolism.
  7. Use chia eggs instead of chicken eggs. This isn’t to make your muffins healthier – eggs are healthy a long as they’re not eaten in large quantities. It’s a great substitute egg for vegans though, so if you’re thinking of giving veganism a try, this is an easy way to change up your recipes.

Hopefully you’re inspired to get baking! Here’s a date and coconut muffin recipe to get you started.

Date & Coconut Muffins


  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 heaped tbsp raw honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (can omit)
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • Handful of nuts (can omit)


  1. Add the eggs, coco oil, honey and vanilla to a small bowl and beat with a magic stick or electric mixer until fluffy (1-2 minutes).
  2. In a separate bowl, sift the coco flour, almond flour and baking powder. Add chopped dates and nuts if using.
  3. Add wet to dry ingredients and mix together.
  4. Spoon into muffin pan and bake for approximately 15 minutes on 180. Makes 6 muffins.

PS Always lick the spoon!

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