Frosting Frenzy I: Lowfat, low sugar, whole wheat oatmeal raisin muffins with cream cheese frosting


I've got an ongoing experiment right now focused on frosting, and frankly, the search can be frustrating, not to mention just frantic enough to feel compelled towards unnecessary alliteration. Speaking of alliteration, "fun" and "friendly" seem more obvious descriptors, only the very nature of frosting balks at nutrition, making a frosting challenge feel a little ridiculous. Plus, I don't actually like frosting that much. There are exceptions, however. I like glazes, for instance, and I love chocolate ganache. And cream cheese frosting is a must have for carrot cake, as well as a great stand-in for other treats, too.  After several failed experiments in this area, I decided frosting is one of those things you may as well go all-in for if at all, most of the time. Still, there are options that will allow for flavor and decoration without dumping in lard and bags of powdered sugar. Although natural sweeteners like honey may be just as caloric as granulated sugar, the presence of trace minerals and nutrients stimulates digestive enzymes, and makes sweeteners like these much less taxing on the body overall. This week, making a birthday cake for a 9 year old musical prodigy named Jaden, I experimented with basic cream cheese and honey frosting. It's hardly stunningly creative, but I was really pleased with the results. Jaden, whose mother happens to be an ultra talented  highly health conscious runner, enjoys a clean diet, is a vegetarian, and does not consume granulated sugar.  In celebration of her 9th birthday, a friend asked me to make a healthy carrot cake to present following  her performance at a Haiti benefit. Giving up her birthday evening to work for a worthy cause, this poised little reggae rocker with a big voice and obvious X factor deserved something good. Here's the simple frosting that I ended up using, plus a recipe for low fat, low sugar whole wheat oatmeal raisin muffins that benefited from the extra! Cream Cheese Honey Frosting: Like I said, it's super simple. I tried a few versions, but the most successful so far does use about 1/4 cup of butter, softened. Mix in a medium bowl with 1 bar (8 ounces) cream cheese, 1/3 cup honey, and 1 teaspoon vanilla until smooth. I've also gone with no butter; just whip longer and consider adding a bit more honey.

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Raisin Muffins (recommended as mini-muffins, topped with a little frosting)

  • 1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup whole oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 egg (or 2 egg whites)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup plain or vanilla lowfat yogurt
  • 3/4 cup raisins

1. Prepare a regular or mini muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside.

2. In a mixing bowl, combing flour, oats, baking powder, and baking soda with a dash salt. Make a well in the center.

3. In another bowl combine the applesauce, milk, honey, egg, yogurt, and oil. Add to the dry mixture and stir to moisten. Fold in raisins.

4. Bake at 400 degrees approximately 12-15 minutes for mini-muffins, and about 20 minutes for regular muffins. Cool, and top with cream cheese honey frosting.

Photo credit: Flikr user Jensteele