This family of mine loves a good muffin. And I love tinkering with muffin recipes, trying again and again to pull back on the sugar, sub in whole grains for refined flours, and replace butter with more nutrient dense fats like avocado or nut butter. (Let’s be clear: I love butter! But I’d rather slather it on half of a fresh-baked muffin right before eating, where I can really taste and appreciate it). So I get to work in the kitchen, where I sub and replace and trade and try, try, try again. My extremely honest critics (a 2, 5, and 6-year-old) never pull their punches, so I know immediately when I’ve gone too far and need to add some of the good stuff back into the recipe.
I’m proud of this muffin recipe, because it checks many of the boxes for what I want my kids to put into their bodies at breakfast (vegetables, fiber, whole grains, healthy fats), while satisfying their demand for something delicious. First of all, it’s based around sweet potatoes, which are a nutrient powerhouse: potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6… the list goes on. Another benefit: using sweet potatoes in this recipe, rather than something a little more savory like pumpkin, increases the natural sugars and allows me to add just a little maple syrup rather than the usual cup of sugar. So the next time you bake sweet potatoes for dinner, throw an extra potato into the oven. Refrigerate it once it’s cooled and use it within the next few days to make these muffins.
The majority of added fats here come from eggs and almond butter (aside from the walnuts added for crunch), but the muffin is still tender even without the usual butter or oil. If you don’t have almond butter you can use another nut butter instead (but beware that using sunflower butter combined with baking powder/soda will turn your muffins green! Fun trick for St. Patty’s Day, but not very appetizing the rest of the year).
Finally, in lieu of the usual all-purpose flour, I use a combination of oats and spelt flour. I like using these two together, because they provide two different nutrient profiles as well as two different textures for the muffins. Spelt, a variety of wheat that is a little sweet and a little nutty, provides a really nice texture in baked goods. So I try to keep it on hand and often sub it in for all-purpose flour in recipes for things like muffins and pancakes. You can find spelt flour in most markets next to other types of flours. And in this recipe, you can absolutely use whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour in its place; if you’d like a gluten-free alternative, you can use ground oats, by simply using a blender to grind the oats into flour.
Sweet Potato Muffins with Apples, Cranberries and Walnuts
These muffins are wholesome and delicious, perfect for a well-rounded breakfast.
- 1 large sweet potato will yield about one cup mashed
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 2 eggs
- 2 TB vanilla
- ¼ cup almond milk
- ¼ cup almond butter
- 1 cup rolled oats
- ¾ cup spelt flour oat flour, whole wheat flour, or all-purpose flour are all acceptable substitutes
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice or a second tsp cinnamon if you don’t have pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 small apple chopped into small pieces (about a half cup of chopped apple)
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries
- ⅓ cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 425. Pierce sweet potato in a few places with a fork. Place sweet potato on foil lined baking pan and place in oven. Bake for 45-60 minutes, until sweet potato is very soft. Remove from oven and allow it to cool.
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a muffin tin or fill with cupcake liners.
Measure out one cup of sweet potato and mash well with a fork. Make sure it’s smooth and no lumps remain.
Add syrup, eggs, vanilla, almond milk, and almond butter. Mix well to thoroughly incorporate.
Stir in oats. Let sit for 15 minutes while oats soften.
In the meantime, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in a separate bowl.
Once oats have softened, pour the dry ingredients into the sweet potato oat mixture. Mix to incorporate. Fold in chopped apple, cranberries, and walnuts.
Scoop into muffin pan, filling each cup almost to the top (they won’t overflow because the batter is pretty stiff).
Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the middle of the muffin comes out clean.