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Is it possible to transform this popular breakfast staple?

We were recently presented with a challenge...


DONUTS, made with REAL ingredients!

They needed to be delicious enough to satisfy a sweet tooth, yet healthy enough to enjoy without feeling guilty...and, of course easy to prepare!

One of our beloved Eat REAL America members gave us a recipe for inspiration, saying "these are delicious, but can you make them even healthier and easier?"

After all, if we can tackle Rice Krispie Treats, Cool Whip, ice cream, popcicles, pancakes, cookie dough and granola, we can "healthify" donuts, right?!


Let's begin by saying we are not recommending to swear off all donuts for the rest of your life...there are certain special occasions where enjoying a donut is perfectly fine.

But, if making a donut run every Saturday morning is your family's routine, it may be worth considering how to transform this habit into something healthier (which will also make the occasional donut more "special").




What is so unhealthy about donuts?

Well, we all intuitively know this, but donuts are one of the ultimate ultra-processed foods.

For example, just look at the ingredients in a simple Apple Crumb Donut from a popular donut chain:

Donut: Enriched Wheat Flour (Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Palm Oil, Yeast Donut Concentrate [Soy Flour, Salt, Leavening (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Baking Soda), Wheat Starch, Whey (a milk derivative), Nonfat Dry Milk, Gum Blend (Cellulose Gum, Guar Gum, Acacia Gum, Carrageenan, Xanthan Gum), Sodium Caseinate (a milk derivative), Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Contains 2% or less of: Soybean Oil, Soy Lecithin, Whole Egg, Natural Flavor, Turmeric Extract (Color)], Enzymes, Annatto Extract (Color), Yeast, Dextrose, Soybean Oil, Mono and Diglycerides; Apple Filling: Water, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Evaporated Apples, Modified Food Starch, Contains 2% or less of: Natural Flavor, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate (Preservatives), Salt, Cinnamon, Malic Acid, Nutmeg; White Icing: Sugar, Water, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Starch, Palm Oil, Contains 2% or less of: Maltodextrin, Dextrose, Soybean Oil, Artificial Flavor, Salt, Sodium Propionate and Potassium Sorbate (Preservatives), Citric Acid, Polyglycerol Esters of Fatty Acids, Agar, Soy Lecithin; Buttercrunch Topping: Sugar, Coconut, Yellow Corn Flour, Caramel Color.

And, this doesn't even compare to the ingredients in some of the other donuts...we don't have enough room in this coaching tip to show you all THOSE ingredients!


So, what about the "healthified" version?

Check out our Apple Cider Baked Donuts!

Of course, donuts are not vegetables, so any donut will have sugar and flour, but our version is healthified with whole wheat flour, apple cider (or apple juice), applesauce and eggs...and, of course, they are baked (not fried!).  Plus, you can use Swerve Brown Sugar replacer as a substitute for the brown sugar.




As with all our recipes, these also needed to be easy to prepare.

As you can probably imagine, donuts are not something we frequently make.  So, we don't own a donut pan.

Sure, we could have ordered one online, but we decided to ask around to try to find one to borrow.  After consulting more than six friends and neighbors, we came up empty.

(This made us wonder, "how many people out there actually own a donut pan?!?").

One dear friend pointed us to a donut mold foil tip...maybe our problem was solved?


So we dove in, attempting to create foil molds in a muffin pan to give us the donut shape.  The result?

Well, on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being "awesome," the flavor was great, but the appearance scored somewhere around a "5."  We achieved a donut shape, but they weren't the prettiest in the world!

To be honest, it was a time-consuming pain to shape the molds, carefully pour the batter around them, and then remove them from the foil without the bottom of the donut looking...shall we say "a little rough."

To make it easier, we decided to try them in a mini muffin pan to create "donut holes" and these were a huge win! -- much better and actually the ideal size to get a delicious, portion-controlled donut!  (One serving is 2 donut holes, so even if you have 4 or 6, it's OK!)

If you are blessed to already own a donut pan, then "bonus!" are on your way to creating fantastic perfectly shaped donuts!  If you don't own a donut pan, then no problem, you can create donut holes that will have the same delicious cinnamon sugar topping and apple cinnamon flavor that is sure to satisfy a craving!


A few tips to keep in mind:

  • These donuts or donut holes freeze beautifully!  Just thaw, warm them up if desired, and add the melted butter and cinnamon sugar just before serving.
  • We tried omitting the melted butter topping, but the cinnamon sugar sticks much better if you brush with a little melted butter first.
  • They store great in the refrigerator and are delicious if warmed up in the microwave for a few seconds before serving.  (Making them just as convenient for kids as many processed breakfast options!)


If sweet breakfasts are your favorite, here are a few other Eat REAL America breakfast ideas to try!

Neapolitan Overnight Oats (or other overnight oats -- we just added Pumpkin Tiramisu Overnight Oats!)

Chunky Monkey or Chocolate Bliss Breakfast Cookies

Power Pancakes

Baked Pineapple Oatmeal

Baked Oatmeal Cups

Fruit-Topped Dutch Baby

Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie

Overnight Cinnamon Raisin French Toast Bake


Keep in mind, breakfast can be savory too!  There is a wonderful world of savory breakfast options that go way beyond scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and toast.  Just a few great examples include the Butternut Squash Shakshuka, the Savory Steel Cut Oats and the Brussels Sprouts Hash.  Check out all our ideas to keep your breakfast routine interesting and delicious!


So...the overall verdict?

It can be done -- healthier donuts can be made at home, deliciously!  And, can be a super fun autumn tradition with your family!

Thank you, Paula Daoust of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas, for the challenge, recommendation, and encouragement!

We hope this helps inspire you to enjoy donuts - in a healthier way!  Please share your successes, tips and challenges with us -- we would love to hear from you!






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2 Responses to Is it possible to transform this popular breakfast staple?

  1. I am always impressed that you will accept this challenge and carry it out.
    I just have never been a donut person and I think I can live without them, but I know plenty of people who really like them!
    Great job, as always!

  2. THANKS Leigh Ann! I decided to spend the $10 to buy donut pans (silicon set of 3 x 6 = 18) so I can make these all the more special for my son. They are sooooo delicious. They are an awesome healthy treat! And my son will LOVE that they are “DONUTS” (He’ll think his mom lost her mind!) lol!

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