I’m partnering with Stonyfield® to bring you today’s recipe! I absolutely love their dairy products, especially their Greek yogurt. It’s so thick and creamy—and perfect for baking!
The summer I turned ten years old, my family moved across town to an older yet larger home. Although situated in the city suburbs and nowhere near rural farmland, there was still a small pasture that bordered one side of our yard, and the man who owned it and lived on the pasture’s other side let a few cows roam around the field.
We quickly learned how to attract the cows over to our yard, and after checking with our grandfather who grew up on a dairy farm, we usually brought out celery and carrots to feed them. Their long tongues often brushed our fingers as they reached through the chain link fence, and it always made us giggle!
Towards the end of high school, the elderly gentleman decided to move his cows to a larger pasture in another town, and we missed them as much as if they had been our own pets. After watching certain calves grow from birth into strong, beautiful cows, it was really hard to see them leave.
So when Stonyfield invited me to visit some of their organic dairy farms, I immediately said yes! I was so excited to spend time with cows again, and touring their gorgeous green farms brought back so many childhood memories.
Before I flew to New England to visit the High Meadows of Hoosick Falls Farm in upstate New York and the Miller Farm in Vermont, I knew to expect gigantic animals with extra long tongues and very loud moo’s… But I never expected to learn so much and fall in love with the organic philosophy.
Before, I thought “organic” simply met crops and animals raised without pesticides or antibiotics. That’s the sound byte definition that you usually hear “organic” reduced to, right?
Yet after talking with the Stonyfield team and the incredibly knowledgeable farmers, they explained that their organic dairy farms entail of so much more. Their philosophy revolves around healthy cows, healthy soil, healthy ecosystems, healthy humans, and a healthy atmosphere… Not just antibiotic-free cows!
As we walked around and met the Holstein and Jersey cows, they explained order to be successful in all of those areas, they followed certain regulations, including a three year conversion process for the land to go from “conventional” (aka pesticides and antibiotics are allowed!) to “organic” (aka those aren’t!), as well as 12 months for the cow to make that same organic transition; putting the cows in pastures to graze and eat grass for at least 120 days of the year; using a preventative health approach and vaccinating their cows with safe, natural options (instead of antibiotics!); and routine inspections on every drop of milk they shipped to the Stonyfield headquarters.
The Miller Farm took us on a tractor-pulled hayride directly into their pasture of cows, and as we hopped out, the cows literally ran over to us. They love humans… And also assumed our hay bale seats were their breakfast!
As we snapped photos of the cows, Pete (one of the three owners) shared that after converting from “conventional” dairy farming to organic, they actually noticed just as big of changes in their pastures as in their cows. Just from eliminating pesticides, earthworms returned to the soil and meadowlarks reappeared in their fields. Both of those, as well as other indigenous animals, had disappeared earlier simply due to the pesticides they had previously applied to the soil.
Pete also revealed that they spent $15,000 per year on vet bills during their “conventional” time… But as soon as they switched to an organic farm, their yearly vet bill dropped to $1,500—and most of that was just for paperwork for bringing the cows to county fairs!
That definitely sounds like stress-free, healthier, happier cows… And it was so obvious just from petting them in person!
But of course, we didn’t just scratch behind their ears and under their chins… These were dairy farms after all, so some of my blogger friends actually milked a cow by hand! (The farmers almost always use a machine for efficiency and cleanliness!)
We also met a calf only hours old, who was just learning to stand on her own four feet and run around… Let some older calves suck on our fingers (Eric’s son at the High Meadows Farm taught me how to do that!)… And saw a fly vacuum at the Miller Farm that literally looked like a miniature car wash that the cows walk through to get rid of the flies clustered on their skin and make them more comfortable. So cool!
Gary, the Stonyfield co-founder, shared even more with us about the costs of transitioning to organic farming, and one of his most important goals is to pay Stonyfield’s organic dairy farmers fairly. It takes a lot of money to convert to organic from conventional (to the tune of $500 to $700 per cow, and that’s just for the last 12 months!), and Stonyfield actually helps farmers offset some of those costs by offering monetary assistance and grants. Certain Stonyfield team members like Kyle (an ex-dairy farmer himself!) also make regular visits to each of the organic dairy farms, and those team members are always available by phone at any hour of the day to ensure the farmers can get immediate answers and solutions to any of their questions. (And since farmers usually wake up by 4 am, that’s definitely saying something!)
Even though it costs 100% more to produce a gallon of organic milk compared to conventional, Gary insists on paying his farmers accordingly—and he also insists on reducing the price of Stonyfield’s organic dairy products in grocery stores for consumers (so we don’t have to pay 100% more at the grocery store!). Stonyfield does this a variety of ways, including minimizing transportation costs and using the lightest possible (yet still high quality!) packaging materials.
All of this—and more!—leads to healthy cows, happy farmers, and well-fed consumers… Like you and me!
See? Look at how happy those cows and people are!
Psst number two… Stonyfield shares SO much more mind-blowing information here! I couldn’t believe what they shared about organic dairy’s impact on climate change and how much more profitable organic dairy farms are!
Yet one of the things that surprised me the most was how the farmers truly welcomed us with open arms and loving hearts. By the time our tours ended, they treated us just like family… They hugged us, fed us homemade chocolate chip pumpkin bread, shared their favorite family recipes, offered to send us our own farm t-shirts, and extended personal invitations to each of us (and our own families!) to come back and visit them again at any time. Their hearts are bigger than anyone’s I’ve ever met, and they care about their cows and farms and customers’ well-being just as much as they care about each other.
And since these people have been farming for three or four generations side-by-side with their parents, siblings, and kids… And since this wonderful elderly lady carries around a laminated photo of her farmer husband in her back pocket so he still goes everywhere on the farm with her… You can guess just how much they love and care about each other… And therefore the cows and us, too!
Those organic dairy farmers’ passion and compassion was truly inspiring, so I wanted to bake something that reflected that with their amazing yogurt. On my flight home, a thought popped into my head…
Healthy Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal Muffins! Just like the farmers and their families, the apple bits in these muffins are really sweet, and they also have a hint of crispness like the cool fall weather we experienced in New England. The muffins are full of cozy spices too, just like I felt when wrapped in a fuzzy blanket while walking around the Miller Farm looking at their calves, and these healthy oatmeal muffins are perfect for quick grab-and-go breakfasts—which I’m sure would be pretty useful when you’re waking up at 3:30 am to milk cows!
HOW TO MAKE HEALTHY APPLE OATMEAL MUFFINS
So let’s go over how to make these healthy cinnamon apple oatmeal muffins!
You’ll start with instant oats (this kind!). Instant oats are also called “quick cooking” or “one minute” oats. They’re not the same thing as those flavored individual brown paper packets! Instant oats are smaller and thinner than traditional old-fashioned rolled oats, so they soften more while baking. That helps give these healthy cinnamon apple oatmeal muffins the most moist and tender texture possible!
Remember, it’s extremely important to measure the oats (and flour!) correctly, using this method or a kitchen scale. (← That’s the one I own!) Too much of either ingredient will dry out the batter and make your muffins turn out crumbly or dry, instead of moist and tender. This is especially true of the oats because they act like little sponges and soak up as much moisture as possible!
You’ll mix your instant oats with Stonyfield organic plain nonfat Greek yogurt, Stonyfield organic nonfat milk, and vanilla extract. Both of these Stonyfield products are certified organic, non-GMO project verified, and come from pasture raised cows. Plus they taste absolutely incredible!
The Greek yogurt is thick and creamy, just the way I like it, and the instant oats in these healthy cinnamon apple oatmeal muffins like it too. They soak up the Greek yogurt and milk while you mix together the rest of the ingredients, so your muffins turn out extra moist and soft!
Hint: Stonyfield has a really handy store locator here. You can actually pick out the exact products that you want to buy, and it shows you which stores near you sell those exact items!
Next, you’ll mix together white whole wheat flour (like this!) with cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Yes, I know the recipe title just says “cinnamon”… But I’ve found that adding a teeny amount of a couple other spices really rounds out the spice flavor and makes these healthy cinnamon apple oatmeal muffins taste even cozier!
To keep these healthy cinnamon apple oatmeal muffins low calorie, you’re just using ½ tablespoon of butter. Yup—that’s it! Then the Stonyfield organic nonfat Greek yogurt provides the rest of the muffins’ super soft and tender texture. The Greek yogurt adds the same moisture to your batter as extra butter or oil, but for a fraction of the calories, and it gives your muffins a protein boost, too!
Time for the finely diced apple! I prefer Fuji apples because they’re naturally sweet and have a great firm texture for baking. Make sure you cut them to be no larger than the size of chocolate chips so your healthy cinnamon apple oatmeal muffins bake evenly!
One last thing! If you’re using muffin liners like I did in these photos, then you must coat the liners with cooking spray before adding in the batter. Low fat batters, like with these healthy cinnamon apple oatmeal muffins, tend to stick to paper and foil liners like superglue… But coating them with cooking spray first helps the liners peel away much more easily!
How tempting do these look?? It was nearly impossible to stop myself from reaching for moo-re… 😉 They’re just that good!
And when you make your own, remember to snap a picture and share it on Instagram using #amyshealthybaking and tagging @amyshealthybaking IN the photo itself! (That guarantees I’ll see your picture! 🙂 ) I’d love to see your healthy cinnamon apple oatmeal muffins!
Healthy Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal Muffins
- ¾ cup (75g) instant oats (gluten-free if necessary and measured like this)
- ½ cup (120g) Stonyfield organic plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp (270mL) Stonyfield organic nonfat milk, divided
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups (240g) white whole wheat flour or gluten-free* flour (measured like this)
- 1 tbsp (8g) ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tbsp (7g) unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 large egg whites, room temperature room temperature
- 1 ½ tsp liquid stevia
- 1 ½ cups (187g) finely diced Fuji apple (see Notes!)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F, and coat 12 muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray. (If using liners, then line 12 muffins cups with liners and coat them with cooking spray.)
- In a medium bowl, stir together the oats, Greek yogurt, 6 tablespoons of milk, and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a third bowl, whisk together the butter, egg whites, and liquid stevia. Stir in the oat mixture, mixing until no large lumps remain. Alternate between adding the flour mixture and remaining ¾ cup of milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, and stirring just until incorporated. (For best results, add the flour mixture in 4 equal parts.) Gently fold in the apples.
- Divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups. Bake at 350°F for 22-25 minutes or until the top feels firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
This post was sponsored by Stonyfield®. As always, all opinions, text, photographs, and recipe are my own.
You may also like Amy’s other recipes…
♡ The Ultimate Healthy Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins
♡ Healthy Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal Snack Cake
♡ Healthy Apple Pie Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
♡ Healthy Cinnamon Apple Mini Muffins
♡ Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Quick Bread