Fit for the family: 10 sweet treats they'll never guess are whole grain

January.

It’s a month known for cold – ranging from way below zero for those of us up North, to the “chilly” 60s for those in more temperate climes. And hey, as much as I love New England – with the temperature hovering at 2°F right now, I’d take up temporary residence in Key West in a heartbeat!

January is also known for its New Year’s resolutions: quickly made, and often just as hastily broken.

The problem is, so often we set ourselves up to fail. Lose 20 pounds, when you struggle to see the scale inch down by even a pound or two? C’mon, get real!

Not eat your favorite doughnuts and muffins, cookies and cake and brownies – ever? Unless you’re empowered with superhuman will (or are facing serious health issues), you know that’s probably not going to happen.

So why not lower your expectations a bit, and set yourself a goal you can actually reach?

Like adding fiber and nutrition to your favorite sweet indulgences.

And I don’t mean just sprinkling a little bit of whole wheat flour into the bottom of your measuring cup, then filling it with all-purpose.

I mean going cold turkey with the AP flour, at least occasionally. And making 100% whole-grain treats that feel like a New Year’s celebration, rather than Lenten penance.

So here’s my suggestion for a January resolution that won’t be hard to stick to year-round: Since you know you’re going to indulge occasionally no matter what, vow to choose whole-grain treats.

And, to get you started down the right path, here are my top 10 100% whole-grain treats. By the way, be sure to read any accompanying blog posts; they’re a great supplemental show-and-tell.

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Recipe: Morning Glory Muffins
Blog post: Back to the Future  

Here’s a homemade muffin that was 100% whole wheat way before whole grains became nutritionally trendy. This iconic muffin was a darling of the ’60s and ’70s back-to-the-land movement, when seeds, nuts, dried fruit, and whole grains were suddenly on everyone’s lips – literally.

Dark and moist, packed with fruit and shredded carrots and nuts and seeds, this is a bran muffin on steroids. As I note in the recipe’s blog post, “Moist and just sweet enough, it’s a great ‘eat in the car’ treat – it needs the enhancement of neither butter nor jam (though either – or cream cheese – wouldn’t be out of place).”

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Recipe: Whole Wheat Waffles
Blog post: 100% Delicious  

Light, tender waffles. Crisp on the outside, soft within. Eggy and buttery and… wheaty? Not so much. If these waffles tasted strongly of whole wheat, trust me, they wouldn’t be so popular. Do our readers love these? Of the 228 whole grain recipes on our site, these waffles rank #1.

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Recipe: 100% Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins
Blog post: Beyond Greek Yogurt – a Baker’s Secret

Yes, these are a bit darker than your typical blueberry muffin. But don’t judge this book by its cover: they’re tender, moist, and packed with flavor. Here’s what one happy recipe reviewer wrote:

“Excellent, excellent, excellent! This muffin recipe is now my favorite. It has much more flavor than the typical white muffins. This is my new muffin recipe. I plan on trying additions like apples and blackberries, instead of blueberries. The whole wheat flour and brown sugar make all the difference. And there are no eggs! Thank you KAF. This is a fantastic muffin recipe.”

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Recipe: 100% Whole Wheat Apple Cider Baked Doughnuts with Maple Glaze
Blog post: Hitting the Sweet Spot   

Who doesn’t love old-fashioned cake doughnuts? You can get ’em at the doughnut shop. Or the supermarket, if you’re into pre-packaged Little Debbie or Hostess. Or you can make them yourself – and trust me, once you experience a homemade cake doughnut (baked, not fried), you’ll never go back to store-bought.

Key ingredient: a doughnut pan. Once you have that, your doughnut options are limited only by your imagination. Baked Pumpkin Cake Doughnuts are the most popular of our 3 dozen+ doughnut and fried bread recipes; but when you’re talking whole grains, turn to these whole wheat cider doughnuts. The creamy maple glaze takes them beyond good to GREAT.

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Recipe: Homemade Whole-Grain Pancake Mix
Blog: Hey, Do These Look Like Whole Grain Pancakes to You? Surprise… 

OK, I cheated a bit on this one; it’s only 87% whole grain. But honestly, I’m betting you could swap out the all-purpose flour for white whole wheat, and no one would be the wiser.

This is my go-to pancake recipe; nubbly/nutty from oats, it makes a soft, mildly “egg-y” pancake, one that’s substantial and moist rather than light and dry.

Keep the dry mix in your freezer; when you want pancakes, simply combine 1 cup mix with 1 egg and 1 cup buttermilk (or yogurt). Wait 20 minutes for the batter to thicken, and cook up a really enticing plateful of pancakes.

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Recipe: Heavenly Healthy Banana Bread
Blog post: The Most Sought-After Bread Recipe Online is [Fill in the Blank]  

Banana bread: it’s the most-searched bread recipe online, globally. And thankfully, it’s one of the easiest ways to up the fiber in your family’s diet.

This bread is craggy and moist, sweet from bananas and honey, studded with nuts and moist little pockets of banana – AND it’s 100% whole wheat.

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Recipe: Old-Fashioned Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

Oh, boy… That’s my reaction whenever I think of this cake. It’s so unprepossessing: brown, flattish cake, tan frosting. No, this isn’t your multi-layer, hand-decorated celebratory extravaganza. But celebration-worthy? You bet.

Kim from Las Vegas is one of the many readers who’ve reviewed and rated this cake; let’s read what she has to say:

“Love this cake! I made it for a pot luck at work and everyone loved it especially the frosting! I followed the recipe exactly and it turned out beautifully. I love how moist and dense the cake is. Great with a cup of coffee and it was even better the next day. Very easy recipe to follow. The frosting was to die for and perfect for this cake. There is nothing that I didn’t love about this cake… Thanks, King Arthur.”

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Recipe: Basic Whole Grain Cookies
Blog post: Whole Grains in Hiding: More Fiber in Every Sweet Bite  

Looking for a simple 100% whole-grain cookie, one that can be dressed up, fiddled with, added to, and made your own? Here ’tis. Wheat and oats combine to make a cookie that’s indistinguishable from one made with white flour, except in color.

Dried cranberries or raisins or candied ginger chips? Absolutely. Toasted walnuts, almonds, or pecans? For sure. Chocolate chips? Of course! ‘Fess up, you’re making cookies anyway; why not make ’em higher-fiber?

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Recipe: Tasting is Believing Whole-Grain Brownies
Blog post: The Little Black Dress of Baking  

Notice this recipe’s name: tasting IS believing.

If you mention to friends how much you’re enjoying your new whole-grain brownie recipe, they’ll scoff, right? “Yeah, because it’s January, and you’re on this health kick, and you’re adding `whole wheat to everything…” The unsaid conclusion being, “But that doesn’t mean it tastes good.”

Trust me: these brownies TASTE GOOD. Says Bev from Riverton, WY, “OOhhh mamma! Easy to make and heaven in your mouth. Who would have thought whole wheat and cocoa made this.”

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Recipe: Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

Look at this cookie. Does this look like a 100% whole wheat cookie? Is the first thought in your mind, “Man, that looks great – for whole grain.” I think not.

Let me put the words in your mouth: “This is one warm and melting, tender and tantalizing chocolate chip cookie.” But never mind the words: take a bite of this cookie. You’ll see, once and for all, why it makes total sense to put away the all-purpose flour every now and then, and break out the whole wheat (and white whole wheat, and oats).

Tasting IS believing. Or maybe not; because when your family and friends taste any of these treats – and you reveal they’re whole grain – their first words will be, “I don’t believe it!”

Which, in this case, is a very good thing indeed.

So, what have we missed? Is there a favorite 100% whole grain recipe you don’t see mentioned here? Please let us know in “comments,” below. The more great whole grain recipes we can all share, the better!

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Audrey

    After seeing this post this morning, I made the blueberry muffins. They’re perfect — beautifully domed, light crumb, delicious. Thank you! I love being able to read your recipes from the web site and click around between volume and weights. (I did think the batter seemed dry (too floury) when I first started to mix the wet and dry ingredients together but I added a small splash of milk and it came together.)

    Reply
  2. Monica

    I think you left one out! Of course, then the list would be “The Top Eleven”, but for my money the best whole grain treat recipe on your website is the one for “Oatmeal Jammy Bits Muffins”. Nothing but whole wheat flour and oats, and Oh! those lovely little jammy bits! I usually use the raspberry flavored ones, but when I run out of those I throw in some fresh or frozen raspberries, or even raisins. They also taste really delicious with a drop or two of Fiori di Sicilia. Thanks for a great, versatile recipe!

    Reply
  3. Carolyn

    KAF white whole wheat flour is a wonderful product and I wish it was available in Canada, so I didn’t have to ration it so much.

    I make a lot of sourdough bread, and even though I’m using AP flour for this I feel that it’s healthier than straight up white bread because of the fermentation and the very few ingredients (flour, water, salt).

    Reply
  4. Dianemw

    Great post! I had my doubts, but I started experimenting with KA white whole wheat flour about a year ago and have been subbing for AP in a number of recipes ever since. Works great in KA molasses cookies, chocolate zucchini bread, black and white biscotti, sweet and salty butter pecan cookies, bran muffins, pumpkin bread and English muffin toasting bread. Family and friends have no idea until I tell them. Went through 25+ pounds of KA flour just at the holidays alone! So many great products and my go to place for baking education Thanks! And your blogs are the BEST!

    Reply
  5. bampam1

    I agree with Monica…….you left out one, and then it would be the “Top Eleven”………any of your whole grain breads. We LOVE the Sourdough Boule, make it and share with friends, and the starter discard is seeing new life with many of my friends as well. One question, how much White Whole Wheat could I substitute for AP flour in the Sourdough Boule recipe? I would love to make it using ALL WWW, but don’t want to ruin a good thing either. Thanks for a great product, great recipes, a great website, and your terrific bakers!!!!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Generally we recommend starting with half and half when you substitute whole wheat flour into a recipe calling for all purpose flour. In this case, I think it would be fine to try all white whole wheat flour, as long as you don’t mind a denser bread. I would recommend adding an extra tablespoon of liquid per each cup of whole wheat flour substituted. And It is also helpful to let whole wheat dough sit for 30 minutes after you mix it, but before you start kneading. This pause allows the bran in the whole wheat flour to fully hydrate, and will lead to a more productive kneading process. Barb@KAF

  6. Chris D.

    I have been told I have diabetes and I need low carb baking help!
    I would love to see some recipies for diabetics,

    Reply

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