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  • Catherine Smith

Can a double chocolate muffin ever be healthy?

These days I don't crave sweet stuff like I did in the past and I no longer eat cake regularly. I save my indulgent moments for birthdays and special occasions, when I happily enjoy a slice of whatever cake is on offer! Sometimes though, I do fancy something chocolatey and my usual squares of quality dark chocolate just aren't enough. My kids love a chocolate muffin too, but I really want them to be eating something that will sustain them, instead of draining their energy. That is what led me to search for a recipe for a healthier version of a chocolate muffin.

So what is wrong with a typical double chocolate muffin that you would find in a coffee shop or supermarket, or even one that you would make at home? Well, they are made with refined sugars and flours, and this results in a quick release of glucose (sugar) into your bloodstream. This leads to a big spike in blood sugar levels, causing your body to produce large amounts of insulin to deal with the sugar in your blood. The insulin brings your blood sugar levels down but often leads to your blood sugar level dropping lower than it was before you ate the muffin. When this happens, a couple of hours after you ate the muffin, you start to feel tired, low in energy and motivation and frequently need some more sugar, some caffeine or both to get you through the rest of the day. You will no doubt have experienced a 'slump' like this at some point, typically either mid morning or mid afternoon. In addition to the immediate effects of a blood sugar spike and subsequent crash, if you eat this way regularly your body is more likely to eventually become insulin resistant. This means that your body will no longer be able to deal with the sugar in your blood effectively and this puts you at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as well as other lifestyle diseases.

So how do you avoid this large rise in blood sugar? The key thing is to reduce the amount of refined sugars and carbohydrates, and increase protein and healthy fats. It takes your body longer to digest protein and fats than carbohydrates. When you eat protein and/or fat with carbohydrates this has the effect of slowing down the release of the glucose into your blood, leading to less of a spike.

After searching around I found a great recipe for double chocolate muffins, with no refined carbohydrates, added healthy protein and fat, as well as two hidden vegetables! You can find the recipe for double chocolate carrot zucchini muffins here.

My double chocolate carrot zucchini muffins

What do I like about this recipe?

  • There is no refined flour. Instead of flour the recipe uses almond flour (I used ground almonds). This makes the recipe gluten free and it adds protein and healthy fat from the almonds. Replacing the carbohydrate (flour) with protein (almonds) is what will slow down the rise in blood sugar. Almonds are also a great source of fibre and vital nutrients, including vitamin E, calcium, zinc, magnesium and potassium.

  • There is extra veg grated into the mix, which once cooked is virtually invisible, except for the odd speck of green from the courgette (zucchini). This adds extra nutrients and fibre to the muffins.

  • There is no refined sugar. There is some maple syrup, and this will affect your blood sugar like any other type of sugar, but at least it is unrefined.

  • It contains cacao powder (I used cocoa powder, as it is all I had) and good quality 70% dark chocolate, which is a rich source of antioxidants and minerals and is good for your gut microbiome. This is much healthier than milk chocolate, which contains less cocoa and more fat and sugar.

But the real test of course is the taste! Are they as good as a blood sugar spiking double chocolate muffin? My muffins came out great, they baked perfectly and were super moist and light. They were less sweet and sickly than typical muffins, but that suits me, as I don't have the sweet tooth I used to and they were still sweet enough. And to quote my daughter, they were 'SO chocolatey'! I will definitely make these muffins again as a healthy snack that shouldn't cause any big energy slumps, and I'm happy knowing that I am giving my family something full of nutrients, with just a little sweetness added too.

I'd love to hear your views, so if you make the muffins, let me know what you think and how they went down with your family.

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