If you are looking for something tasty but healthy to serve for breakfast this fall, these banana cranberry muffins will do the trick. Fresh cranberries bring bursts of tart, fruity flavor to these healthy muffins that are a perfect snack for anytime.
When you like semi-sweet baked goods for breakfast, there is no such thing as too many muffin recipes. And my family loves our fruit breads and muffins. But most of those recipes are loaded with processed sugars and fats. And I don’t want to feed my family all of that on a regular basis (once in a while is ok though).
So, I have been expanding my collection of healthy muffins and breads packed full of fresh fruits, natural sweeteners, and whole grains. There are already a few on this site, but I had to make sure there was something for every season. Perhaps I will one day have something for every type of fruit. After all, there is already blueberry and zucchini, rhubarb, and banana and date.
This recipe is based directly off my banana rhubarb muffins, which are based off my healthy, sugar-free banana date bread. But I just loved the base mixture so much that I had to keep expanding on it. In this case, fresh, raw cranberries are added to the batter instead of rhubarb. Both fruit flavors are very tart, keeping the sweetness of the muffins down.
Health benefits of cranberries
Cranberries are known as a superfood. The small berries are packed with so many vital nutrients that these muffins might make you think your daily multi-vitamin is redundant. First and most importantly during the colder months, cranberries are full of immune boosting vitamin C. They also have vitamin K, an important factor in blood clotting (and the immune system in general).
These tart little berries are also known for being full of antioxidants. Antioxidants are a crucial factor in heart health and cancer prevention. This, in addition to all the other nutrients like calcium, iron, manganese, vitamin E, and even some B vitamins, are what make cranberries a superfood.
Cooking with fresh cranberries
If you have never cooked with fresh cranberries before, you might be a bit put off if you just bite into one. Eaten raw, they are very tart and sometimes even a bit bitter. But there is some natural sweetness under there. You just need to bring it out properly. Cooking or drying cranberries concentrates them and results in the iconic flavor.
I find the tart flavor of fresh cranberries is best paired with starchy fruits or vegetables, hearty grains, and a bit of extra sugar. They do really well in things like banana oatmeal pancakes or my cranberry pumpkin muffins. But you don’t need to load them down with sugar. A bit of date syrup or coconut sugar will enhance the natural sugars and leave you with a perfect pastry that is just sweet enough, while still feeling perfectly healthy for breakfast or an anytime snack.
Healthy Banana Cranberry Muffins
- 1 cup (150g) whole wheat flour
- 1 cup (130g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter , softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup coconut sugar
- 2 large eggs , at room temperature
- 4 ripe bananas , mashed with a fork
- 1/4 cup buttermilk , at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries , halved, divided
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a muffin pan with paper liners.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
- Cream the butter and coconut sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well in between each addition.
- With a wooden spoon, stir in the mashed bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla. Slowly stir in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Do not over stir. Gently stir in the halved cranberries (about 1 ½ cups) leaving some for dotting on top later.
- Spoon the batter into the liners filling each cup 3/4 of the way full. Dot the tops with more halved cranberries.
- Bake the muffins for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes in the pan. Then transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.