Who doesn't love muffins? What makes them so great? The name muffin must help. It's a nice word, right? Like mittens or melons or muppets. Nice to say, nice to hear.

Or maybe it's their unique shape. I reckon a muffin without its distinctive dome wouldn't be anywhere near as enjoyable. Just like a bagel without the hole would be as bad as a pretzel in the shape of.. a muffin.

As a child, muffins were often my treat of choice. I'd clip-clop to a café in my muddy football boots on a Saturday morning, and mum or dad would buy me an enormous — or what I remember as enormous but in hindsight was probably normal-size — double choc-chip muffin. And can you guess how I'd eat it? Bottom first, top last. Because the top is the best part, right? Deferred gratification has always been a part of me.

Anyway, I've found a way to make delicious muffins that are healthy enough for breakfast — or any time for that matter. Not that it was straightforward: I had to run 4 tests, each with multiple variations, totally 48 muffins. I can't eat 48 muffins. I've been giving them away left, right and centre. Do you know the Muffin Man? He lives on Drury Lane...

But 48 muffins later, I've cracked it. They're naturally sweetened with apples and carrot, courgette, beetroot or sweet potato, and held together by mashed banana. No refined flour here either; only ground oats and whole-wheat flour. A touch of ground ginger adds a little spice and a pinch of salt brings out all the flavours.

I like having a couple of these for breakfast or with a coffee at my desk. And to add to their versatility, I've discovered that with a generous serving of vegan custard, they make a marvellous dessert!

Healthy Vegan Muffins

Makes 12
Prep time:
25 mins
Cook time:
30 mins


(see optional substitutions below, too)

  for the dry ingredients
90g/1 cuprolled oats
250g/2 cupswholewheat flour
¼ tspfine salt
½ tspground ginger
1½ tspbaking powder
  for the wet ingredients
2 medium or largeapples, preferably sweet e.g. pink lady
2 mediumripe bananas
240ml/1 cupplant-based milk e.g. soy
120ml/½ cupneutral oil e.g. groundnut
180g/6ozsweet potato, carrot, courgette (zucchini) or beetroot


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/360F. Line a 12-hole muffin tray with muffin cases.
  2. Blitz the oats in a food processor or blender to make a flour.
  3. Mix the oats with the other dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  4. Chop the apples in half and cut out the cores. Finely chop or grate the cored apples using a food processor or grater (you don’t need to peel them). Transfer to a medium mixing bowl.
  5. Mash the bananas into the grated apples, then whisk in the plant-based milk and oil.
  6. Use the food processor or a fine grater to finely grate the sweet potato, carrot, courgette or beetroot and set aside.
  7. Stir the apple-banana mixture into the dry ingredients until all the flour is hydrated. Try to mix as little as possible.
  8. Fold the sweet potato, carrot, courgette or beetroot into the mixture, again trying not to over-mix.
  9. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tray holes and smooth out with the back of the spoon.
  10. Bake any extra batter on another tray rather than overfilling the muffin tray.
  11. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating the trays halfway if the muffins are unevenly browning. Cover loosely with aluminium foil if they are browning too quickly.
  12. Test with a skewer to see that the muffins are cooked. If the skewer comes out clean, they are done.
  13. Let the muffins cool in their tray for 5-10 minutes then carefully remove them to a wired rack and leave until completely cold. Store in an airtight container and transfer any that aren't eaten to the fridge the next day. Alternatively you can freeze them.

Optional substitutions:

listed ingredient can be swapped for
whole-wheat flour plain/all-purpose or spelt flour, should work but I haven't tested it
buckwheat flour, unsure if it will work but would make recipe gluten free
ground ginger ground cinnamon