Lemond Nutrition Articles

Banana Muffins and Increasing Nutrient Density

By Charanya Sundar, MS, RDN, LD // Jan 08, 2018

Happy New Year! I know we’re all making those new year resolutions this time of year. My resolution is to further increase the nutrient density of my diet by eating more variety of fruits and vegetables, herbs, grain and protein sources throughout the day. A really good way to do that is to find fun new recipes to try that incorporate healthy fats, fiber, fruits, veggies, and other nutrient dense foods.

When people make resolutions, it is often to aim to lose weight or get healthier and their focus is caloric restriction and depriving themselves of nutrients. Instead, the focus should be on ADDING nutrient rich foods to a diet or what simple switches can be made to increase the nutrient density.

Think of fueling your body, not depriving your body! While calorie and nutrient deprivation may work short term, it will never work long term. Our bodies need these nutrients and while we may live without getting obvious manifestations of nutrient deficiencies (like scurvy, etc) the nutrient deficiencies start to take away lifespan and quality of life. You may find this by experiencing fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, inability to focus, digestive issues, getting sick often, chronic pain, chronic illnesses, and metabolic diseases. But once you get enough nutrients in your diet, you will feel a HUGE difference - and probably not even care about the number on the scale.

 Here are some switches you can make while baking!

1 cup White Flour

1 cup black bean puree (15oz can) – use in brownies

Almond Flour + ½ tsp baking powder or soda

1/3 – ½ cup Coconut Flour + ½ tsp baking powder or soda

Oat Flour

1 cup sugar

1 cup unsweetened applesauce (reduce liquid in recipe by ¼ cup)

1 cup oil, butter or shortening

½ cup unsweetened applesauce + ½ cup fat

1 cup butter

1 cup pureed avocado

1 cup (100% pure) Pumpkin Puree

1 cup mashed banana

1 cup nonfat Greek Yogurt

2-3 TBSP Chia Seeds + 1 cup water (after sitting for 15 min)

 (see more at: https://gethealthyu.com/your-guide-to-healthy-cooking-baking-substitutions/ and http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/planning-and-prep/cooking-tips-and-trends/healthy-baking-alternatives

I found a muffin recipe on the Tasty app (this app makes recipes seem very doable and fun since you can see how to do it) and made a couple modifications, which is something you can do too to increase the nutrient density of any recipe!

 Banana Muffin

The Recipe:

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 cup quick oat
  • 1 cup wheat flour (I used coconut flour instead and ½ tsp baking soda)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips
  • *added 1oz walnuts

Directions:

1)      Preheat the oven to 350 F

2)      In a blender, combine all ingredients except chocolate chips. Blend thoroughly, mixing up with a spoon if needed.

3)      Divide mixture among 12 lined muffin tins.

4)      Sprinkle chocolate chips on top of the muffins.

5)      Bake 20 minutes and Enjoy!

Really delicious muffins! I made a couple modifications such as instead of wheat flour, I used coconut flour, which is higher in fiber and MUFA, and added 1 ounce of walnuts. Coconut flour does, however, contain inulin, which is a FODMAP, and may set off digestive symptoms in people who are sensitive to it.

Let’s compare this to a typical chocolate chip muffin recipe:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tbsp white sugar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar

Nutrient Facts:

 

Regular Muffin

Tasty Muffin (with coconut flour, walnuts)

Kcal:

262

178

Fat:

Saturated

Polyunsaturated

Monounsaturated

11.2 grams;

Saturated (3.6g),

Polyunsaturated (4.1g); Monounsaturated (1.5g)

6.3 grams;

Saturated (2.8g)

Polyunsaturated (1.9g)

Monounsaturated (0.9g)

Potassium

35.5 mg

168 mg

Carbohydrates

38 grams

23.4 grams

Fiber

0.8 grams

5.1 grams

Sugars

22.3 grams

10 grams

Protein

4 grams

7.2 grams

Vitamin A

0.6%

1.9%

Vitamin C

0%

3.4%

Calcium

3.3%

3.8%

Iron

2.7%

11.8%

 

While the caloric difference (~100 kcal) does not seem very large, the nutrient difference is significant. Not only that, but our body processes these nutrients and calories differently. For example, a high fiber food has less effect on blood sugar compared to one that lacks fiber (i.e. the regular muffin recipe). The tasty muffin with the coconut flour provides 5x more fiber, ½ less added sugars, 3g more protein and 6x more iron. With increased fiber in our diets, we can feed our gut bacteria, which feeds from fiber and if it doesn’t get fed starts to eat mucin, the lining of our intestines, or start invading the small intestine, leading to intestinal permeability and chronic inflammation. Additionally, the nutrient dense muffins also provide selenium, iron, manganese, copper and other minerals.

Give these muffins and other fun recipes a try! Enjoy!


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