Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Healthy banana chai muffins

Made with no dairy or refined sugar, these banana chai muffins are a healthy choice for breakfast or an afternoon snack.

Healthy banana chai muffins with no dairy or sugar

I am lucky enough not to have many dietary restrictions in my life -- other than those that are self-imposed, of course (e.g., I gave up all fast food more than six years ago). But I appreciate that not all my readers are as lucky, so I try, whenever I can, to feature recipes that address some of your dietary concerns.

One of the concerns that comes up all the time is dairy -- and how to eat well without it, if you need to. Whether it's because of lactose intolerance or concern about dietary cholesterol and intake of fats, dairy isn't for everyone (although it would break my heart into pieces not to be able to eat my beloved cheese). Therefore, I'm happy to help by creating delicious dairy-free recipes for my readers, especially during February, which is American Heart Month. But that can prove challenging when it comes to baked goods.

Why? One word: Butter. Which begs one question: Is there really a butter substitute out ther that's good for baking? I say yes!

To help you figure out the best way to bake dairy-free, I created this recipe for healthy banana chai muffins and made it multiple times, not with butter but with two different spreads instead -- SmartBalance Buttery Spread and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! -- to see which one I liked best.

Healthy banana chai muffins with no dairy or sugar

While both spreads were a fine replacement for butter in the final product, I definitely preferred making the muffins with SmartBalance. Most importantly because, straight out of the tub, it tasted more like real butter (so much so that I happily smeared some on each muffin I ate!). SmartBalance also had a more natural butter color (I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! was an unnatural yellow) and melted more rapidly and evenly -- important to me since my recipe calls for it to be melted.

To complement the sweet banana flavor, I added some warm chai spice to the muffins -- perfect with a cup of tea. If you can't find an instant chai powder like the one I use, just finely grind, using an electric coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle, the contents of one chai tea bag.

In addition to being dairy-free, if you use the SmartBalance buttery spread, these banana chai muffins are also refined sugar-free, sweetened naturally with dates that are blended into a smooth puree in the first step in the recipe. I love a freshly baked muffin for breakfast or with my afternoon cup of tea, but I prefer them on the less-sweet side, as these are. I swear, some recipes for muffins are so sweet that they're practically cupcakes without frosting.

I also like muffins because they're basically instant portion control. Given that there's only two of us, I find that we often can't eat an entire loaf of quick bread before it starts to dry out or, frankly, we just get sick of it. Not so with muffins; whenever I make a batch, I pop half of them in the freezer so we can enjoy them another time, without waste.

Plus, muffins bake up faster than a traditional quick bread. And I'm all about getting that freshly baked muffin to my mouth in the shortest amount of time possible -- how about you?

Healthy banana chai muffins with no dairy or sugar

Healthy Banana Chai Muffins

If you don't like some chunks of banana in your muffins, thoroughly mash the bananas before adding them to the batter.

1 cup dried dates, finely chopped or snipped
2/3 cup boiling water
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons chai powder or finely ground chai tea
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons SmartBalance buttery spread, melted
2 eggs
3 ripe bananas

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place the dates in the bowl of a stand mixer and cover with the boiling water. Let stand 10-15 minutes to soften. While the dates are softening, whisk together the flour, chai, salt, baking soda and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside.

Once the dates have softened, beat them in the mixer until they turn into a smooth puree (about 5 minutes). Mix in the melted SmartBalance, then beat in the eggs. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Lastly, fold in the bananas at low speed.

Spoon the batter into prepared muffin tins (makes about 16 muffins) and bake for about 15 minutes or until the tops of the muffins spring back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.
-- print recipe --

Smart Balance buttery spreads support healthy cholesterol levels already in the normal range.  Clinical research has proven that the right blend of fats may improve your cholesterol ratio when:
- At least 2/3 of your fat intake comes from these products or the Smart Balance Food Plan
- You limit total fat to about 30% of calories (65g per day)
- You limit saturated fat to 10% of calories (20g per day)
- You limit dietary cholesterol to average 300mg or less per day
- You avoid trans fat
- You exercise regularly

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Smart Balance®. The opinions and text are all mine.

1 comment:

  1. i would like to see the total sugar and salt content per serving