Low-fat, whole wheat banana bread muffins with apples and pecans
The Holidays are over, and I am having a little bit of a hard time getting back into my routines. You see, I am a person of habit, and when my daily habits get temporarily broken even by such joyful events as the Holidays , I can become overly tired and ineffective. In other words, I feel like I am off my rhythm lately. Don’t you? I feel like I need a vacation after the Holidays. Which is why good old banana bread (even in the form of muffins) becomes a really good and familiar friend that I want to cling on to right now:
I experimented a bit with my regular banana bread recipe and made these muffins a bit healthier by using whole wheat flour along with 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt and only 5 tablespoons of butter for a whole tray of muffins! Let me remind you that whole wheat flour is a very good source of dietary fiber and nutrients. Here is a very interesting article on the benefits of whole wheat flour. I personally love the taste of whole wheat, especially in a muffin for breakfast – it tastes very wholesome to me. And, bananas + apples make these muffins almost cake-like, even moister the next day!
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Because these muffins are “banana bread” muffins (that is, made with 2 very ripe bananas), and because I am stuffing them with a whole bunch of apples – I guarantee you won’t feel that “dry” taste of whole wheat flour at all! It’s all covered up and disguised by the moistness and flavor-fulness of bananas and apples.
Don’t forget to measure the flour properly, by sifting it or aerating it and fluffing it up instead of just packing it into the measuring cup – otherwise you will pack way too much flour, which could be dangerous for a whole wheat flour recipe! (SEE MY VERY IMPORTANT NOTE UNDER THE RECIPE INSTRUCTIONS.)
As you see, I am using only 1 and 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour for a recipe that would usually demand 2 full cups of regular all-purpose flour. Because 100% whole wheat flour is so much drier than all-purpose flour, the proportion of flour to liquid ingredients should be significantly decreased when using whole wheat flour. When you will be mixing in 1 and 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour into liquid ingredients in this recipe, you will notice how fast the flour absorbs the liquid.
If you’re still hesitant to use a whole wheat flour, you can use an alternative I provide in a recipe (using half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat flour) for starters and then, after you like that, you can go from there. After all, it’s a banana bread muffin – it’s supposed to be somewhat dense, but with the moistness coming from bananas and Greek yogurt and apples, you won’t even feel the denseness!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter on high speed for 1.5 minutes. The consistency will be somewhat crumbly. Add egg and continue beating for several more minutes until the mixture becomes fluffy and lighter in color.
Add mashed bananas, Green yogurt, and vanilla extract and continue beating until all ingredients are well incorporated.
In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not over-mix. Fold in chopped apples.
Grease muffin pan. Fill each muffin cup almost to the top (about 3/4) - DO NOT FILL MUFFIN CUPS TO THE VERY TOP otherwise they overflow. In fact, with this recipe, I am usually able to fill regular 12 muffin pan plus 2 or 3 separate extra muffin cups. Bake for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Watch baking times closely: do not overbake and keep in mind that the "actual" individual oven temperatures might vary. When inserted toothpick comes out clean - the muffins are ready! It could be 20 minutes for your oven, or 30 minutes!
OPTIONAL. Warm the caramel sauce in a microwave for 5-10 seconds. Using small spoon, drizzle some caramel over the top of each muffin. Sprinkle with chopped pecans.
Important note about properly measuring flour using measuring cups:
The proper way to measure flour using measuring cups is to aerate it first. This is done either by sifting flour, or aerating it by fluffing it up and whisking it well, then spooning it into the measuring cup, then carefully removing any excess flour with a knife. If you just stick that measuring cup in the bag of flour and scoop some out, you will get a lot more flour than what the recipe calls for. Do aerate the flour, or you will end up with dry dough!
If you don't want to use whole wheat flour, here are the substitutions:
Use 1 cup all-purpose flour and 3/4 cup whole wheat flour. Or if you wish to forgo whole wheat flour altogether, just use 2 cups all purpose white flour *(SIFTED! - see my note above!)*