Cranberry Orange Mini Muffins

Most health professionals agree; the best way to start the day is with a good breakfast. For some, that means a bowl of cereal such as oatmeal or fresh fruit like a banana or strawberries.

I’m in the oatmeal camp. Each morning before going to the Altru Health System Fitness Center, I have a bowl of oatmeal that is supplemented with some ground flax. Occasionally, I top it with some sliced fruit. A couple of other options are low-fat mini-muffins or fruit smoothies.

I’m giving both a try. They’re what I’m bringing to the table early Thursday morning when the Fitness Center is having an open house to showcase its new exercise equipment. Rachel Aure, fitness expert at the center, asked for my help, and I gladly accepted her invitation.

Here are the recipes for the Cranberry Orange Mini Muffins and Sunrise Smoothies that I’ll be making. Fresh cranberries are low in saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium. They’re also high in fiber and phytochemicals. And the smoothies feature nutritious bananas, strawberries and orange juice.

Cranberry Orange Mini Muffins
1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
¼ cup boiling water
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
¼ cup canola oil
2/3 cup orange juice
Grated zest of 1 orange
¾ cup sugar
Place cranberries in a small, deep bowl; pour boiling water over cranberries and stir to coat. Set aside and allow cranberries to plump, about 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line miniature muffin pans with paper baking cups or spray cups with nonstick cooking spray.
Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
Combine egg whites, oil, juice and zest in a medium mixing bowl. Add sugar and stir until combined. Add dry ingredients and mix just until flour is moistened.
Drain cranberries and add, stirring just until blended. Do not overmix.
Fill miniature muffin cups about ¾ full of batter. Bake 10 to 11 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to stand 10 minutes, then remove to a rack. Serve warm.
Yield: 36 muffins.
Approximate nutritional analysis per muffin: 62 calories, 25 percent of calories from fat), 2 grams fat (trace saturated fat), no cholesterol, 10 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, 49 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.

Tahiti Sunrise
1½ cups orange juice
½ to 1 cup frozen whole strawberries
1½ frozen banana, cut into 8 pieces
Put all ingredients in a blender, beginning with the juice. Blend to desired consistency.
Yield: Serves 1.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 362 calories, 5 percent of calories from fat, 2 grams fat (0.4 grams saturated, 0.3 grams monounsaturated), no cholesterol, 5.1 grams protein, 87.7 grams carbohydrates, 7.5 grams fiber, 7 milligrams sodium.