Let's make muffins for science!

I don't really mention it much on my blog but my kid is in high school marching band and this is his senior year, which makes me #bandmom on steroids. 

marching band gauntlets drum major
My son, the drum major

This time of year is especially frenzied, what with football games, fundraisers, competitions and lighting a fire under the kid's butt to get the college applications going. 

I've also been stepping up my freelancing work and fighting a cold.

Which is to say, I haven't been blogging much.

I've been feuding with my beautiful new Withings Body Cardio scale because the poundage isn't budging no matter what I do, and that's been making me kinda frantic. But the one nice thing about the Body Cardio is that I can see even though the pounds aren't budging, my body fat is going down while my lean mass is going up. Still ...

So I made chocolate chip muffins.

Self-sabotaging, you say? Actually, these muffins are a nutritional experiment.

I had picked up a supermarket ladymag last month that featured a breathless cover line touting a muffin that "works like a tummy tuck!" 

Seriously, no. Muffins don't work like a tummy tuck.

But the story behind the muffin is pretty intriguing. 

 A University of Maryland School of Medicine study looked at a way to substitute animal-based saturated fats for plant-based unsaturated fats in muffins made for patients with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is the name for a cluster of symptoms that include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess abdominal obesity, and abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

The researchers made two batches of muffins -- one with monounsaturated fats (sunflower oil), the other with polyunsaturated (safflower oil) and had the study participants eat these muffins every day for 6 months, while also reducing their daily calories to make up for the calories in the muffins. 

The upshot: The PUFA muffin eaters lost more weight, had lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels, and increased dilation of blood vessels. Hooray! But one other effect piqued my interest even more. I'll quote it and then translate into normal speak.

A potential reason for the greater weight loss in PUFA than in MUFA subjects is suggested by greater increases in the anorexigenic hormone peptide YY after PUFA intake compared to MUFA or SFA.

Translation: the PUFA muffins triggered satiety compared with the other fats.

Want to try and decipher the entire study? Find it HERE.

Peptide YY, or PYY, is a gut hormone that may help regulate satiety. My guess is that my PYY hormone receptiveness is broken somehow from perhaps decades of dieting. Long story short -- I'm always hungry, but when I ate one of these tiny muffins at the end of a meal I felt a tangible switching on of my satiety, so much so that I was able to go 4 hours between meals yesterday.

So now I'm deep into research into what else can increase satiety. So far I've found that foods high in beta glucan also raise PYY. It's found in certain mushrooms, dates, oats and barley. 

Want the recipe? Here it is. It calls for brown sugar and regular sugar, but I substituted coconut sugar for both of them because that's all I've got in the house right now. I also used a 1-for-1 gluten-free flour instead of wheat flour. I figure it wasn't the sugar and flour but the oil in the recipe, so I wasn't worried about the substitutions.

University of Maryland Safflower Oil Muffins

  • 1 cup safflower oil Minimuffins
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup Egg Beaters
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts

Lightly coat two mini muffins pans with cooking spray or use mini muffin liners. (I used a silicone mini muffin pan and didn't use cooking spray or liners. The muffin batter has a lot of oil so nothing stuck.)

Mix all ingredients together.  Fill each muffin cup with 1 tablespoon batter.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until baked through.

Let cool. Makes approximately 48 mini muffins.

I only got 46 muffins out of the batter. What I did was after the muffins cooled, I put three muffins into individual sandwich bags and put those bags into two gallon-sized plastic bags, and everything went into the freezer. You end up with about two weeks' worth of muffins.