Three months ago, my friend Brittany shared the story behind her latest half-marathon running race, including how she carbo-loaded on healthy options the day before. When I scrolled down to the first photo in her blog post, I nearly closed my laptop and dashed straight out to Trader Joe’s.
The whole grain mixed berry muffin sitting on her plate, with juicy red raspberries poking out of every inch of the pastry, completely tempted me for a taste!
Later that afternoon, once I scribbled down a grocery list as a guise, I headed across town to check out the TJ’s bakery. I picked up my usual six bananas and Brussels sprouts to avoid appearing too suspicious, then slowly wandered over to the shelves in the back of the store.
Prominently displayed front and center, and the perfect eye level, sat those muffins. I reached for the four-pack, staring at those bright berries, and then glanced at the price tag. Ohmygosh… That much for four muffins??
I always love supporting TJ’s, but as a blogger, I feel intense baker’s guilt bringing home store-bought pastries instead of making them myself. (But six-layer chocolate cake slices are an entirely different story!)
So I carefully put the muffins back on the shelf, but I completely forgot to add “mixed berry muffins” to my baking list when I arrived back at home… Oops!
When I stopped by TJ’s last week in search of tortillas, I spotted those muffins again, practically smacked my forehead in the middle of the store, and strode straight over to the frozen aisle to pick up a bag of their mixed berries.
A few hours later, these Maple Mixed Berry Muffins sat cooling on my countertop! Soft, tender, and full of juicy fruit, these healthy pastries are still a sweet way to start your day. Unlike other low-calorie muffins, these don’t taste a thing like cardboard, so it can be our little secret that they’re low fat and completely clean-eating friendly!
Just like with my recent brownies and coffee cake, I decided to branch out and try incorporating gluten-free flour into these skinny muffins. I created my own blend with four different types: brown rice, millet, almond, and tapioca. Since gluten-free flours almost never have the same texture as all-purpose or whole wheat, it’s much better to combine multiple varieties to come closer to imitating that same flavor and mouth-feel.
Because any type of berry breakfast reminds me of my childhood weekends where Mom made herself blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup (my brother and I demanded plain with the artificial stuff), I wanted to sweeten these with that same natural flavor. You’ll just detect a hint of that warm taste: not enough to overpower the berries, but the perfect amount to trigger those tender memories of the maple scent wafting through the house as you devoured hot pancakes fresh off the griddle at the kitchen table.
When it comes to baking with berries, I prefer to use frozen and save the fresh for snacking. I picked TJ’s Fancy Berry Medley, a mix of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. However, the latter two were ginormous compared to the blueberries, so I chopped them into smaller pieces before folding them into the batter.
Frozen berries generally release a little more moisture as they bake compared to their fresh counterparts, so I left my muffins in the oven for a full 30 minutes. When they’re finished, the tops should look golden and feel fairly firm when you gently tap your finger in the center. If you’re using fresh berries, start checking for doneness about 5 minutes early just to be on the safe side. Nobody likes burnt, dry muffins!
As soon as I popped these healthy Maple Mixed Berry Muffins from the tin, I sliced one in half and stuck a sliver of butter on each half, watching as it slowly melted into the cracks before I took my first bite… Pure breakfast bliss!
But if you manage to save a few and seal them up overnight, they develop that soft sugary coating on their tops that banana bread usually does. It’s absolutely irresistible! I’ve already gone through five muffins in one day…
I might need to bake more tomorrow!
If you like this recipe, be sure to follow my Healthy Baking board on Pinterest!