Homemade cupcakes a healthier choice than coffee-shop fare

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Banana lentil muffins are delicious, moist muffins that are great as a snack or breakfast on the go.

The Canadian Press

Many store-bought or coffee-shop muffins are like cupcakes or dessert in disguise, loaded with sugar and fat and not a healthy snack, says registered dietitian Zannat Reza.

But you can make a healthier version at home that is tasty, moist and will keep you full with fibre from the addition of pureed lentils and fruit.

Commercial muffins are also usually quite large, whereas the pan size most people use at home is a better portion size, Reza says.

When lentil puree is called for in a recipe, it's easy to make. Rinse lentils to remove any dust or residue. They don't require soaking like other pulses such as dry beans, whole peas and chickpeas. Split red lentils can be cooked in about 10 minutes while whole lentils need about twice that long. Canned lentils are even more convenient - simply rinse and drain.

In a food processor, place cooked or canned lentils. For every 250 ml (1 cup) of cooked lentils, add 50 ml (1/4 cup) water. Blend until smooth. (Lentil puree has a similar consistency to canned pumpkin.) Add additional water, 15 ml (1 tbsp) at a time, if more moisture is needed. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Here are some baking recipes that are chock-full of healthy ingredients and easy to make.


These moist muffins are a great snack or breakfast on the go. "They have protein, staying power, keep you feeling full," Reza says.

Her children had no idea they contained lentils the first time she made them, she says. She put in extra mashed bananas and reduced the amount of canola called for in a recipe from Canadian Lentils.

Make a double batch and freeze one for up to a month.

1 egg, slightly beaten

50 mL (1/4 cup) canola oil

125 mL (1/2 cup) granulated sugar

375 mL (1 1/2 cups) bananas, mashed

250 mL (1 cup) lentil puree

5 mL (1 tsp) vanilla extract

325 mL (1 1/3 cups) whole-wheat flour

30 mL (2 tbsp) wheat germ

5 mL (1 tsp) baking soda

5 mL (1 tsp) baking powder

125 mL (1/2 cup) raisins

Preheat oven to 200 C (400 F).

In a bowl, combine egg, canola oil, sugar, bananas, lentil puree and vanilla. Mix well.

In another bowl, mix together flour, wheat germ, baking soda, baking powder and raisins. Stir into egg mixture until just combined.

Spoon batter into greased muffin pan, filling each cup about two-thirds full.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into centre of muffins comes out clean. Let cool and remove from pan.

Makes 12 muffins.

Source: Recipe adapted by registered dietitian Zannat Reza from Canadian Lentils.



This savoury bread is perfect for dunking into a nourishing winter soup. The soluble fibre in barley (beta-glucan) will help keep your cholesterol levels in check.

375 mL (1 1/2 cups) barley flour

125 mL (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour

15 mL (1 tbsp) baking powder

5 mL (1 tsp) salt

5 mL (1 tsp) dry mixed herbs (oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary)

1 container (250 g) 2 per cent cottage cheese

45 mL (3 tbsp) milk

75 mL (1/3 cup) canola oil

Preheat oven to 200 C (400 F).

In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking powder, salt and herbs.

In a food processor or blender, process cottage cheese, milk and oil and add to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.

With lightly floured hands, shape into a ball. Place on a greased baking sheet and gently pat into a 2-cm (3/4-inch) thick circle.

With a floured knife, cut circle into 10 wedges; separate each wedge slightly and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until browned and an inserted cake tester comes out clean.

Makes 10 pieces.

Source: Go Barley, gobarley.com.


Chocoholics will love these decadent-tasting muffins. They have a healthy spin with zucchini, whole-wheat flour, wheat germ and heart-healthy fats from the hemp seeds.

125 mL (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour

125 mL (1/2 cup) whole-wheat flour

125 mL (1/2 cup) cocoa powder

30 mL (2 tbsp) wheat germ

30 mL (2 tbsp) hemp hearts

5 mL (1 tsp) baking soda

2 mL (1/2 tsp) baking powder

50 mL (1/4 cup) canola oil

125 mL (1/2 cup) applesauce or other fruit puree

125 mL (1/2 cup) sugar

2 eggs

5 mL (1 tsp) vanilla

375 mL (1 1/2 cups) shredded zucchini (about 2 medium)

50 mL (1/4 cup) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F).

In a medium bowl, mix flours, cocoa powder, wheat germ, hemp hearts, baking soda and baking powder.

In another bowl, mix canola oil, applesauce, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add zucchini and chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into a greased muffin pan (or use muffin liners) filling each cup about two-thirds full.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into centre of muffin comes out clean. Remove from pan and let cool on rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

Source: Registered dietitian Zannat Reza, www.foodforhappiness.com.


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