Photo by Katie Wilkens
Sumptuous muffins start every morning off right.

You Are What You Eat: Try muffins for a quick breakfast

By Katy Wilkens, MS, RD

Rushed mornings? Muffins make a great bake-ahead breakfast. While muffins sold at coffee shops can pack a caloric wallop, making your own muffins lets you control the fat, sodium content and portion sizes. To cut calories, reduce the fat in a recipe and substitute mashed or pureed fruit or vegetables, like bananas, apples, pineapple, carrots or onions. To cut down on sodium and keep your heart and kidneys happy, use low-sodium baking powder or baking soda and substitute oil or unsalted butter for salted butter.

Make your muffins on the weekend, then freeze them in zip-close bags, so when the work week starts, a quick breakfast is ready to grab and go. Top muffins with a cream cheese icing for not-too-sweet cupcakes.

Cheesy corn muffins
2 ½ cups yellow cornmeal
1 ½ cups flour
5 teaspoons low-sodium baking powder
¼ cup sugar
2 eggs

1/3 cup oil

2 cups nonfat milk
1 large onion, grated
3 jalapeno peppers, seeded, chopped fine (optional)
¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In large bowl, mix cornmeal, flour, baking powder and sugar. In a separate bowl mix eggs, oil and milk. Add grated onion and peppers if desired. Make a well in center of dry ingredients, add liquid ingredients. Mix with a few rapid strokes until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon into greased or paper-lined muffin cups, filling each three-quarters full. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes, remove from pans.
Makes one dozen.

Nutritional information (per serving, one muffin):
Calories: 318, Carbohydrates: 50 grams, Protein: 10 grams, Sodium: 98 milligrams

Chocolate chip banana muffins
3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons low-sodium baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups nonfat milk
1 cup mashed banana
½ cup oil
2 eggs
½ cup chocolate chips
¾ cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon. Make well in center. In small bowl, combine milk, banana, oil and eggs, then add to dry ingredients. Stir until just moistened. Mix in chocolate and nuts. Spoon into greased or paper-lined muffin cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes, remove from pans. Makes one dozen.

Nutritional information (per serving, one muffin):
Calories: 425, Carbohydrates: 58 grams, Protein: 10 grams, Sodium: 77 milligrams

Rich’s triple ginger muffins
½ cup sugar
½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup dark molasses

2 ¼ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
½ cup candied ginger, chopped
1 cup boiling water or ginger tea

2 beaten eggs
1 tablespoon candied ginger for topping, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sugar, butter and molasses in large bowl. In separate bowl, mix dry ingredients. Add to molasses mixture, alternating with boiling water. Add eggs last. Spoon into greased or paper-lined muffin cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes, remove from pans. For cupcakes, frost with cream cheese icing (recipe below), and sprinkle with 4-5 diced pieces of candied ginger. Makes one dozen.

Nutritional information (per serving, one muffin):
Calories: 268, Carbohydrates: 46 grams, Protein: 4 grams, Sodium: 238 millligrams

Cream cheese frosting
½ cup unsalted butter
1 pound powdered sugar
1 package cream cheese

2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup coconut (optional)
Cream butter and sugar; add cream cheese and vanilla; stir in coconut last. This makes a lot of frosting you can freeze for future muffins.

Nutritional information:
With coconut:
Calories: 99, Carbohydrates: 14 grams, Protein: 1 gram, Sodium: 27 milligrams
Without coconut:
Calories: 89, Carbohydrates: 13 grams, Protein: 0 gram, Sodium: 27 milligrams

The recipes in this column are meant for people who want to keep their kidneys healthy and blood pressure down by following a low-sodium diet. In most cases, except for dialysis patients, a diet high in potassium is thought to help lower high blood pressure. These recipes are not intended for people on dialysis without the supervision of a registered dietitian.

[Katy G. Wilkens is a registered dietitian and department head at Northwest Kidney Centers. She has a Master of Science degree in nutritional sciences from the University of Washington. See more of her recipes at www.nwkidney.org.]

We encourage our readers to comment. No registration is required. We ask that you keep your comments free of profanity and keep them civil. They are moderated and objectionable comments will be removed.