Beets and oranges are a brilliant combination in muffin form. Beets become naturally sweet when cooked, so this recipe relies on that natural sweetness (and a bit of brown sugar) to turn a basic poppy seed muffin into a truly flavorful snack.
Credit: Sara Tane

I don't know about you, but I love muffins. They're the holy trinity of snacking: portion-controlled, flavor-packed, and super convenient. Lately, I've been in the habit of making a dozen muffins on Sunday and using them throughout the week as my go-to snack or a grab-and-go breakfast when I'm too busy to stand over a bowl of cereal or blend together a smoothie.

A few weeks ago, however, I faced a (farmers' market-induced) conundrum. I had a whole batch of beets I needed to use up before I went out of town, and I was running low on ideas. I already knew I would use some of the small beets in Farro Salad with Roasted Beets, Watercress, and Poppy Seed Dressing, one of my favorite salads. The greens were destined for a quiche. But that left me with one really big beet and no breakfasts.

Naturally, I went to my go-to source for discovering recipes I can trust: There, I found a promising option from sister publication Southern Living. It didn't meet Cooking Light's nutrition equirements in a few categories, so I played around with the recipe and created what is now my go-to muffin recipe. After sharing my Instagram photo on Cooking Light's Instagram, it seemed many other folks were just as interested in that recipe as I was. So, here it is, my new go-to muffin recipe.

Credit: Sara Tane

Hands-on: 10 minutes
Total: 35 minutes

The shredded beets are brilliantly ruby red when mixed into the batter, but after baking, the muffins are a warm golden yellow. Consider this color change permission to sneak these tasty muffins into your kids' snack rotation for a quick bit of added nutrition.

6 3/4 ounces unbleached white whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 eggs
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
1 1/2 cups shredded beets

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Weigh or spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, poppy seeds, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

3. Combine eggs, olive oil, and buttermilk in a medium bowl. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Fold in orange peel and beets. Divide batter among 12 paper-lined muffin cups. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely.

SERVES 12 (serving size: 1 muffin)
CALORIES 165; FAT 7g (sat 1.1g, mono 4.5g, poly 1g); PROTEIN 4g; CARB 21g; FIBER 2g; SUGAR 11g (est. added sugars 9g); CHOL: 31mg; IRON 1mg; SODIUM 238mg; CALC 73mg