Sugar. It’s a major buzzword these days because so many of us eat too much of it. Generally speaking, I’m a healthy eater, yet I’m guilty of consuming more than the 25 gram/6 teaspoon daily limit recommended for women. (The lucky guys among us are afforded 37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons per day.) So a sweet-tasting recipe with no sugar (and that includes honey, maple syrup, stevia, agave, etc., but not the six or seven chocolate chips I dotted on top) definitely catches my eye.
Luckily, there is a distinction between added sugars and sugars that occur naturally in foods like fruits and vegetables. For example, you don’t have to count the naturally occurring sugars in the banana you eat every morning or dairy products like milk and unsweetened yogurt toward your added sugar total. In that vein, the following recipe relies on whole dates for sweetness, and they work beautifully.
I’ve made these muffins many times with lots of variations and, yes, in the pictured batch, I topped them with a modest amount of chocolate chips. Not sugar-free, I know. But I always fall back on what my mom taught me: everything in moderation. I also find that just a few chocolate chips on top–where you can see them and really taste them–go further than a larger quantity stirred it. And it’s often just enough to win over a skeptical child–or adult!
Two other big wins for these muffins include the short list of ingredients and the speedy prep. Pinch of Yum’s original recipe calls for just five ingredients, and the resulting muffins taste really good. But I have found that one extra ingredient–one with some fat in it–creates a better texture. Fat-free baked goods tend to be rubbery, for lack of a better description, and healthy fats help our bodies absorb important vitamins and minerals anyway. I have made this recipe with a variety of nut butters and full fat yogurt, all with great results. Full fat sour cream can be used, too. (My favorite is the version with double cream yogurt, straight out of the oven. YUM! Nut butters produce slightly denser muffins, which are still delicious.)
The blender prep is a breeze and offers an added mess-free benefit. After blending, simply pour the batter into the greased cups. No dripping all over the muffin pan!
Yield: 10-12 muffins
- 2 large eggs
- 3 over-ripe bananas (1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups mashed or 10-12 ounces)
- 3/4 cup pitted whole dates* (95-100 grams or 3.3-3.5 ounces once pitted)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups (180 grams) old-fashioned oats
- Optional but recommended: 1/4 cup sour cream or full fat Greek Yogurt (I like Stonyfield’s new Double Cream) OR 1/4 cup almond or peanut butter
- Other options: chocolate chips (I just dot a few on top before baking); a pinch oats for sprinkling on each muffin before baking; shredded coconut; raisins; chopped nuts, etc.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and grease a muffin tin.
- In the order listed, add all of the ingredients to a high-powered blender (could use food processor) and blend until smooth, scraping down the blender sides as needed. If you’d like to add raisins, nuts, or other mix-ins, stir them in after the batter has been blended smooth.1>
- Pour the batter into the muffin cups. (You should have enough for 10-12 standard size muffins—the pictured muffins are from a batch of 10.) Top with chocolate chips or a sprinkle of oats if desired.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until just cooked through the center. (Check on the early side so as not to over-bake.) Cool for 5-10 minutes before removing to a rack. Cool completely and store muffins, well wrapped, in the fridge for 3-4 days for maximum freshness.
- *Medjool or other soft dates work best in this recipe. If you need to soften the dates a bit, soak them in some warm water and then drain before putting in the blender.
- Also, when preparing with the basic 5 ingredients, I've added 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon for a little extra flavor.