The first muffin of 2013! It’s a healthy one, of course, because January is the month of eating right, to make up for post-holiday decadence and to preempt the fast-approaching Valentine’s binge.

These muffins are light and fluffy and the perfect way to start off a year of healthy eating. Who cares if you fall off the bandwagon around February and never get back on? What matters is that you tried.

Muffin batter

The most unexpectedly beautiful batter

Goji Berry Orange Muffins (28 of 750)

Adapted from 750 Best Muffin Recipes by Camilla Saulsbury
Makes 12 muffins (36 minis)

  • 1/2 cup dried goji berries, soaked in hot water
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2 tsp finely grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. In a small bowl, combine goji berries and enough hot water to cover. Let stand for 10 minutes, then drain.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, ginger, and salt.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, egg, oil, milk, orange zest, and orange juice until well blended.
  5. Add the egg mixture to the dry mixture and stir until just blended. Gently fold in berries.
  6. Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 18 minutes or until tops are just turning  golden. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack.

If you want to make these super healthy, the original recipe called for whole wheat pastry flour, so you can use that instead. Just don’t use regular whole wheat flour – it’s much too dense.

The batter itself is a really simple one, but the addition of orange juice and zest make these a great breakfast muffin. The citrus enhances the sweetness of the berries as well, without making it so sweet as to be a cupcake.

You can get the berries at any health foods store or ethnic grocery. They’re incredibly beautiful – a bright red  bright red color, which is pretty unexpected for a dried fruit. Most dried fruits (apricots, raisins, even cranberries) are pretty muted in terms of color, so it’s a nice surprise to see that these are still so vibrant. They also make the batter look really beautiful – bright red berries against the pale yellow batter. They almost look like flower petals. They’ve also got a whole slew of health benefits supposedly, though there’s just as much research on the opposite side debunking those claims as well.

My favorite thing about these berries is that they are also called wolfberries, and it’s a marketing tragedy – tragedy, I say! – that they didn’t capitalize on that. I can just picture energy drink cans emblazoned with the words “FORTIFIED WITH WOLFBERRIES” in big block letters, with flames in the background. Somebody dropped the ball on this, BIG TIME.

These muffins don’t drop the ball though. They’re lightly sweet, fluffy, and have a great burst of fruity flavor from the berries and oranges. Maybe they won’t make you want to go out and pump iron, but if you eat enough of them and call them wolfberries, maybe they will.

Goji Berry Orange Muffins

Goji berry orange muffins