Diet and Recipe: Mind Your Muffins! Try This Low-Calorie Date and Oat Muffin Instead

Lifescript’s wise words on the surprisingly unhealthy breakfast food:

There’s nothing quite like a warm, “fresh out of the oven” muffin. But if you’re regularly picking up baked goods for breakfast, it’s time to rethink your strategy. While eating a fresh blueberry muffin might seem like a healthy way to start your day (it’s fruit, right?), there are loads of calories and fat lurking within.

Depending on the brand, a single muffin can set you back 600-700 calories and more than 10 grams of fat. And don’t even think about biting into one of those oversized Costco/Sam’s Club brand monstrosities; each of these gargantuan pastries can easily pack up to 900 calories and more than 40 grams of fat. 

Even low-fat muffins can deliver a substantial caloric wallop with an average of 400 calories each. Why? Because they’re made with more sugar than regular muffins to improve the taste. And don’t be fooled by muffins that claim to be low-fat or reduced-fat, or by those that contain healthy-sounding ingredients, such as apples, bananas, blueberries, carrots, or wheat germ. One healthy ingredient doesn’t make the whole food diet-friendly. 

For a guilt-free, delicious breakfast muffin that won’t break the calorie bank, whip up a batch of low-calorie Date-Oat Muffins and eat one straight out of the oven. If you do want to treat yourself to a once-in-awhile store-bought muffin, then go ahead and enjoy yourself. But don’t grab one of these fat-fests every morning, or you’ll just make it that much more difficult for yourself to lose weight. So, if the muffin man comes knocking, tell him you’re minding your muffins.

Don’t be fooled by perceived nutritional value of a food or false advertising claiming healthiness! Here’s the recipe for their date and oat muffins you can try to satisfy that craving instead:

Date and Oat Muffins

Date and Oat Muffins


Toasting the oats for this hearty muffin enhances their nutty flavor; orange zest contributes a citrus fragrance that plays well with the sweet dates.


  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, (optional)
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup whole flaxseeds, ground (see Ingredient notes)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, (see Tip)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup chopped pitted dates, (see Ingredient notes)


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.
  2. Spread 1 cup oats and the walnuts, if using, in 2 separate small baking pans. Bake, stirring once or twice, until light golden and fragrant, 4 to 6 minutes for the nuts and 8 to 10 minutes for the oats. Transfer to a plate to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, flaxseeds, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. Whisk eggs and brown sugar in a medium bowl until smooth. Whisk in buttermilk, orange juice, oil, orange zest and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula just until moistened. Fold in dates, the toasted oats and nuts, if using. Scoop batter into the prepared muffin cups (they’ll be quite full). Sprinkle the tops with the remaining 2 tablespoons oats.
  5. Bake the muffins until the tops are golden brown and spring back when touched lightly, 15 to 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Loosen edges and turn muffins out onto a wire rack to cool slightly before serving.

Ingredient Notes:

Flaxseeds are one of the best plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. They provide both soluble fiber, linked to reduced risk of heart disease, and insoluble fiber, which provides valuable roughage. Flaxseeds are perishable, so purchase whole seeds (instead of ground flaxmeal), store in the refrigerator and grind in a clean coffee grinder or dry blender just before using.

Look for packages of chopped pitted dates in the dried fruit section of your supermarket. Whole dates are sticky and cumbersome to chop.

Tip: You can use buttermilk powder in place of fresh buttermilk. Or make “sour milk”: mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup milk.