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Give your muffin and coffee a makeover!

The one upside to the recent roach invasion is that in the process of emptying the entire kitchen for the fogging, I threw away bags and bags of Useless Things. Out went the fish poacher and the orange press. No doubt I will need them next week, but given that they have been at the back of the cupboard for seven years, they had to go. I even attacked the Drawer of Doom, which housed everything from hair bands to screwdrivers. Every item now has a place and every item has a Ziplock bag into which it must go. I have surprised myself a little with this turnaround. Given my extreme lack of domestic talent I am left wondering if I have been subjected to some kind of Men-in-Black style brainwashing. Did this also happen with the gym? Because I am still exercising. What on earth is going on?

But if I thought I was confused, my mother is more so. She flew in last night for her quarterly granny-fix and was a little taken aback by this turn of events. It seems I have blinded her so much with my sparking surfaces and tidy drawers that she didn't even notice I'd redecorated the bathroom. I thought she might notice the new colour, new window and new pictures ... but no. She's too busy opening cupboards and saying “Well I never!”

Seeing as we're in makeover mode this week, I thought I'd continue with the theme and revise another popular breakfast option.

Breakfast is still my most challenging time of the day, mainly because no matter how well I prepare, the morning is usually a mad rush. It's also a challenging time for my clients, who most often resort to a muffin and a cup of coffee. Tasty it may be, but the combination is bad news for blood sugar.

The combination of sugar and caffeine, and the absence of much protein or fibre can cause blood sugar levels to peak and then dip repeatedly, resulting in corresponding amounts of energy. Those dips in energy are precisely why people top up their coffee mid-morning, eat mountains of carbs at lunch and snack on candy in the afternoon we're all looking for quick fixes for dips in blood sugar levels.

However, the beauty of choosing a healthier breakfast is that it starts you out on the right note for the day. If you eat something rich in fibre and lower in refined sugars, you will have a more sustained energy release and be in a much better position to make good decisions the rest of the day too.

So if you regularly have a muffin and coffee in the morning, why not try giving your breakfast a makeover? Take the time to bake your own healthier muffins once a week, so that you have a better option to grab on the go.

I've been experimenting for a while with muffin recipes that are lower in sugar and bad fats, and contain a decent amount of fibre and protein.

These Banana Berry Muffins are not super sweet like a cake, but are still fruity and a little sugary. They include wholewheat flour and oats for fibre, and blueberries and raspberries for their antioxidant content.

The sugar content is lower than in mainstream recipes utilising the sweetness of ripe bananas instead. I make these with coconut milk to give them an interesting twist and to keep them dairy-free. However it can be switched out with buttermilk or plain bio-yoghurt instead if you wish.

Instead of a coffee, try these with a cup of the Mighty Leaf African Nectar Tea. It's a naturally caffeine-free, antioxidant-rich, rooibos tea flavoured with real mango and vanilla.

At approximately $10 for a box of 15 tea bags, it's on the pricey side, but it's a lot easier on your pocket than 15 lattes from your local coffee shop. It's also positively healthy so a great way to start the day!

Banana Berry Muffins (makes 12-16):


150g wholewheat flour

150g self-raising flour

50g porridge oats, plus 1 tbs for topping

1tsp baking powder

100g fine brown sugar, plus 1 tbsp for topping

2 medium bananas, extra ripe

284ml light coconut milk (well stirred)

5 tbs light olive oil or canola oil

1 tsp lemon juice

2 egg whites

85g blueberries

85g raspberries


1. Heat oven to 365F and line your muffin tins with paper cases.

2. Mix the flours, oats, baking powder and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre.

3. In a separate bowl, mash the bananas until nearly smooth. Stir in the coconut milk, oil, lemon juice and egg whites until evenly combined.

4. Pour the liquid mixture into the well and stir quickly and briefly with a wooden spoon. The mix will look lumpy and may have the odd trace of flour visible, but don't be tempted to over-mix.

5. Tip in the berries and give it just one more stir.

6. Divide the mix between the muffin cases.

7. Sprinkle the tops with the final tbsp of the oats and sugar.

8. Bake for 22 mins until they have risen and are golden.

Note that if you eat these when they are still warm, they will stick to the wrappers a little. Once they are cool they come out of the wrappers more completely. Great for breakfasts but also good as mini-muffins for lunch boxes!

The advice given in this article is not intended to replace medical advice, but to complement it. Always consult your GP if you have any health concerns. Catherine Burns BA Hons, Dip ION is a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. Please note that she is not a registered dietitian. She can be contacted at nourishbda[AT]gmail.com ,

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Published September 23, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated September 23, 2011 at 9:14 am)

Give your muffin and coffee a makeover!

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