Betty Crocker Revisited: Healthier Blueberry Muffins (and Tips)

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My mother was an old-fashioned cook.  She carried around a Betty Crocker cookbook, full of every kind of recipe from muffins to meatloaf.  I couldn’t have been happier when, out of her three kids, I scored that prize.

Betty Crocker Cookbook

Betty Crocker Cookbook

Unfortunately, the old style cooking doesn’t always fit the nutrition conscious lifestyle that we try to practice today.  And so I (slightly) adapted Betty’s Blueberry Muffin.

Healthier comfort food—mmm.

Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Muffins

 Healthier (Old Fashioned) Blueberry Muffins

Ingredients

  • 3/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 c unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c butter, melted
  • 1 c (or a bit more) blueberries

Directions

1.  Beat egg with a fork, then combine with milk.

2.  Add melted butter to egg/milk mixture, stirring (to avoid cooking the egg)

3.  Mix the flour, sugar and baking powder together.

4.  Combine wet and dry ingredients, then fold in the blueberries

5.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Baking Muffins

Baking Muffins

If you have recipes you’d like to adapt, here are some general tips that can improve your nutrition–while keeping much of the original character of your recipes intact.

Substitute whole wheat flour (or oat bran) for some or all of the white. Whole wheat flour can change both the texture and flavor of foods; this will be more impactful to delicately flavored, airy, baked goods than heavier items.  Starting with a half substitution is usually safe.  If your recipe calls for 2 cups of all purpose flour, try it with 1 cup of whole wheat and 1 cup of all purpose. If that works, you can gradually increase the whole grain as you try it again.

In our testing, half whole wheat was successful even in “light” yeast breads.  100% whole wheat made delicious biscotti and even chocolate chip & peanut butter cookies!  My kids once grabbed seven grain flour for chocolate chip cookies—it was a crunch-fest but amazingly tasty!

Reduce the fat.  Although some people recommend substituting applesauce for the fat in baked goods, I am not usually been happy with the results.  But 1/4 c of butter or oil (half of the standard 1/2 cup) is plenty for 12 muffins or a full size loaf of sweet bread.  This comes to only about 1 t per muffin (or slice) and hasn’t failed me yet.  Be prepared to add a little extra milk or water if the batter seems too thick.

Decrease the “bad stuff” – If you are in the mood for a fruit pie, remember that most of the calories and fat are in the crust.  Why not make a crisp or cobbler instead?  You get sweetness & crunch with no bottom crust!  You can also consider gradually decreasing the sugar—sometimes the other flavors come through even better.

For a variation on this, consider pumpkin custard—bake the pie without the crust (and use evaporated skim milk instead of full fat).

Increase the “good stuff” – Fruit is healthy; why not add more?  I put extra blueberries in the muffins above–no more fighting over who gets the muffin with the most blueberries! For crisps & cobblers, I make sure my fruit to topping ratio favors the fruit.  I have even been known to add a pureed bell better to taco seasoning.

When I bite into a hot muffin with the berries still soft, I am glad I like to cook—and there is no better way to get food that is healthy, economical and delicious!

Tips:  Don’t forget to write down your changes, so you can repeat them or adjust next time.  (Note my mother’s big “x” over the version of muffin she preferred!)

Recipe Photo

Recipe Photo

Are there special recipes from your childhood that you’d like to indulge in—made healthier?

7 Comments

  1. Hmm, I’ve never thought about messing around with a childhood recipe. I’m always thinking it would result in a different taste that wouldn’t be as authentic. I’ll have to give it a try sometime though!

    • Sometimes you can mess with them without too much problem–and then you can avoid the guilt. Now for my grandma’s homemade egg noodles, boiled in really fatty chicken broth–there really is no substitute, although I do use organic chicken fat now ;-)

  2. Oh I LOVE your blog, Inger! I no longer have a copy of that book. Would you believe I had a brand new original still in perfect condition that someone saved and never used? I donated it to a library.

    There are so many recipes I would love to redo I wouldn’t even know where to begin. I only wish I had the time. Doesn’t much matter I guess, I rarely “really” cook or bake anymore:(

    Thank you so much for these valuable tips and for updating Betty’s recipe. I do adore home made blueberry muffins…

    • I absolutely thought of you when I took the pictures of the old cookbook! I am sure the library appreciated your donation–I use our library for so many reference books. If you ever want me to copy something in there, just let me know.

  3. Pingback: Healthier Blueberry Muffins | North Carolina Food Photographer & Blogger | Jeanette Gruszczynski | The FOOD Blog

  4. Thank you so much it was kind of you to stop by. I also would like to thank you for posting this recipe my family really enjoyed it. I look forward to stopping by again.

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