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5 Fall-Inspired Muffins That Are Actually Healthy

Your favorite autumn flavors—apple, pumpkin, cinnamon and more—baked into an easy and delicious morning meal.

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Fall is the season for scarves, evenings on the couch and muffins with your morning coffee. Instead of reaching for unhealthy ingredients like chocolate chips and granulated sugar, swap in seasonal foods, like apples, pumpkin and butternut squash.

“In your morning meal, you’ll want to get a balance of lean protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates,” says Jackie Newgent, RDN, culinary nutritionist and author of The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook from Brooklyn, New York. This combination will help keep you full and energized until lunchtime, she adds.

Put a healthy spin on your favorite muffin recipes by limiting processed ingredients, incorporating fruits and veggies and swapping refined sugar for natural sweeteners. Since most muffins have a high-carb and moderate-fat content, Newgent recommends pairing one with a protein-rich pick, like Greek yogurt, kefir, eggs or even hummus, to make it a more balanced morning meal.

Bonus: These pastries can be frozen and reheated in a toaster oven or microwave, so you always have a healthy treat on hand.

Medically reviewed in September 2018.

Pumpkin crunch muffins

2 / 6 Pumpkin crunch muffins

Pumpkin-flavored anything rules the fall season, but these muffins are a healthier take on a classic. They’re naturally sweetened with pure maple syrup and made with 100 percent pumpkin puree instead of canned pumpkin pie mix. The latter contains as many as 18 grams of sugar per one-third cup, some of which is added sugar.

Pumpkin also contains important nutrients, like vitamin C and potassium, which are necessary for healthy muscles and to help control blood pressure. Other standout ingredients include nut butter and chopped pecans, which Newgent says supply a mix of monounsaturated fat, plant protein and fiber.

Get the full recipe for these paleo pumpkin muffins.

Image credit: Kelsey Preciado via littlebitsof.com

Grain-free sweet potato muffins

3 / 6 Grain-free sweet potato muffins

Pumpkin isn’t the only orange-hued vegetable that works well in baked goods. Made with wholesome ingredients, like cooked sweet potato and coconut flour, these single-serve treats are light but filling.

Sweet potatoes are one of the richest sources of beta-carotene, a red, yellow or orange pigment found in fruits and veggies. The body converts this antioxidant into vitamin A, says Newgent, which is needed for vision, immune function and reproductive health.

These sweet spuds are also loaded with potassium, vitamin C and fiber. Snag sweet potatoes during the autumn and winter, while they're at their ripest and cheapest.

Can’t wait to give these colorful muffins a try? Get the full recipe here.

Image credit: Taesha Butler via thenaturalnurturer.com

Apple and cinnamon muffins

4 / 6 Apple and cinnamon muffins

This recipe combines two favorite fall flavors: apple and cinnamon. Newgent notes that apples, this recipe's star ingredient, deliver a punch of vitamin C. They also contain a fiber called pectin, which may help increase satiety, she adds.

The recipe has some standout swaps that can be used in other baked treats. Instead of using refined sugars, these muffins call for unsweetened applesauce, which adds sweetness and moisture. The muffins are also made with whole wheat flour, which is a good source of hearty complex carbs, and Greek yogurt, which adds some protein.

Snag the full recipe to get your apple fix.

Cinnamon crunch muffins

5 / 6 Cinnamon crunch muffins

These muffins are a cross between swirled cinnamon bread and crunchy coffee cake, without the sugary, processed ingredients. Made with nut flour, ripe bananas, grain-free granola and a generous helping of cinnamon, they are sweet, nutritious and filling.

Because cinnamon is considered a sweet spice, Newgent says, it can help you use a little less sugar without losing the recipe's sweet essence.

If you're looking to up your potassium intake, these muffins may be a good place to start. This recipe calls for two bananas, which can help you meet the daily recommendation of the essential nutrient. They're also a good source of fiber and pack a respectable amount of vitamin C and several B vitamins.

Snag a box of store-bought granola to save time, but check the ingredients for hidden sugars. Some brands contain more sweetness than you'd think. You can also make your own mix of oats, pumpkin seeds and almonds.

Get the full recipe and start baking.

Butternut squash muffins

6 / 6 Butternut squash muffins

Veggies in a breakfast muffin? It's not as crazy as it sounds. Just 10 percent of American adults get the daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. These muffins can help you eat the suggested 2 to 3 cups of veggies a day.

Butternut squash, another autumn delicacy, is packed with potassium, which Newgent says is great for your ticker and can help manage high blood pressure. There's more: This orange squash also contains fiber and vitamins C and A.

The best part? These muffins are sweetened with one ripe banana and just a touch of pure maple syrup, making them a low-sugar breakfast option.

Skip your typical coffee shop muffin and get the full recipe here.

Image credit: Chrissa Benson via physicalkitchness.com

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