It’s a very rare and magical thing to find someone you connect with, especially about food! But I think I may have found my healthy food soulmate in Laura Grinstead at Merry Muffins!
I had the great privilege of sitting down with Laura to talk about our love of healthy food, inspiration, business and how this health muffin mogul got her start.
Like most parents, Laura wanted her kids to eat more vegetables. I know I have been there with my own kids.. And my husband, to be honest! So Laura started making healthy alternatives for common comfort foods. Not all her healthy endeavors paid off (spinach brownies anyone?) but the one food that was requested over and over again by her kids, were her healthy muffins.
Soon, healthy muffin mania was taking over Laura’s house. She started selling her healthy muffins from her home to a community of loyal customers. She even had a muffin special every week. Not only were the muffins good and good for you, they could also be kept in the freezer, then heated up for a quick and easy meal or snack. I love it when healthy food is not only delicious, but also convenient!
Laura decided it was time to expand her business to a store front. The process of building her business to a brick and mortar store was greatly helped by her business advisor. “I felt like I was in class every time we met”, shared Laura. There were also many hurdles during this journey. “Permits. So many permits!” In addition, the latest regulations from the City of Houston had to be studied and complied with. But after many months of work, build outs and delays, the Merry Muffins store opened in August 2017.
Laura’s Favorite Healthy Ingredients
Merry Muffins specialize in healthier versions of your favorite muffins. This is done by swapping some ingredients to more nutritious alternatives. Here are a few of Laura’s favorite ingredients:
- Monkfruit: Eating a low sugar diet is important for not only diabetics, but all people. High sugar intake has been linked to many ailments and diseases. To lower the sugar content, Laura uses monkfruit, a small sub-tropical melon first found in the mountainous regions of South China. It was first cultivated by monks, hence the name. Monkfruit is actually 20 times sweeter than sugar, but it stabilizes blood sugar. It’s also high in antioxidants and tastes the most like sugar, versus other sugar substitutes.
- Vitafiber: is a plant based, prebiotic sweetener. It tastes sweet and syrupy and since it’s a prebiotic, it helps with gut help too! Not only used in the muffins, Vitafiber is used in their granola too.
- Gluten Free flour: Laura and I have a favorite gluten free flour… Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten Free flour. It can be hard to have a non-gummy texture in GF treats but this brand is excellent.
- Kerry Gold Butter: high quality, healthy fats are a must for Laura. Great tasting butter and nutrient rich.
- And of course, fresh fruits and vegetables!
All the Flavors
The muffin flavors that Laura offers come from food that she wants to eat. There are healthier versions of pizza, tacos, and even lasagna, made into muffins! “All the flavors are really things that I want or my family really wanted”. Laura and her family taste test each muffin flavor and tweak the recipe until it is perfect.
But what is Laura’s favorite flavor? Well that depends on the day! Right now, their newest muffin, the GF Mac and Cheese with Jalapenos, is her favorite. This muffin is not only cheesy and spicy from the jalapenos, it is also packed with cauliflower! I love the idea of secretly amping up the nutritional content of muffins but not having it interfere with the flavor.
Laura’s Philosophy for Food and Business
This ties in perfectly with Laura’s food philosophy: where healthy meets delicious. She believes that healthy food should be fun and enjoyable; not boring or bland. I agree completely!!!
The benefit of Merry Muffins is that it takes the guesswork out of healthy eating. There are so many people that get overwhelmed when trying to eat healthier. It can be especially daunting trying to find quick and healthy meal options. It is so much easier to visit Merry Muffins and know that you are getting good food, that is also good for you.
I really appreciate this socially conscious and responsible approach to food. I think that more restaurants and companies should approach food in this way and it would really have an positive effect on the health of our communities.
Most of all, Laura believes in treating her employees and customers like family. She always wants people to feel better when they leave the store, even if they don’t buy anything. I could tell that Laura and her employees have great relationships since they would laugh and chat to each other freely. There are even customers that come into the store to say hi and catch up with the Merry Muffins employees!
I absolutely loved getting to know Laura. It was amazing to learn that these healthy muffins started because of her desire to help her kids and has now blossomed into a business that helps her customers be healthier without sacrificing taste.
Muffins at Home
I was so happy to take home a few different muffin flavors including a chocolate peanut butter muffin. This muffin is incredible on its own, but if you’re in the mood to gild the lily, I used it to make a fun parfait!
This parfait is made up of several layers of pieces of the Chocolate Peanut Butter muffin, Fage greek yogurt, fresh cherries, peanut butter and, of course, Lily’s chocolate chips! I made a few parfaits in mason jars, so I could take them to work as a healthy sweet snack.
This parfait is so delicious, with the combination of this tart greek yogurt, sweet fresh cherries, and the crunch of the chocolate chips. So good! It keeps well in the fridge for a few days, so it is also a great meal prep item.
I hope you go to Merry Muffins or order some of their muffins online. Their 1 year anniversary is coming up next week so it would be great if you can show them some love! Check them out on Instagram at @merrymuffins or online at Merrymuffins.com. I really believe in their products and I love that they are making muffins healthy and delicious.
And for an extra special treat, you can follow the recipe for making the parfait below. Let me know if you try it! I would love to see what you made. Take a photo and tag me on Instagram at @nourish_with_renata and #nourishwithrenata on Instagram! I would love to see what you make!
A fun parfait is the ultimate way to highlight the incredible muffins at Merry Muffins!
- 1 Merry Muffin of choice, crumbled into large pieces such as Chocolate Peanut Butter
- 1 cup fresh cherries washed, dried and pitted
- 1 6 oz container of greek yogurt, such as Fage 2%
- 6 tsp natural peanut butter
- 1/4 cup stevia sweetened chocolate such as Lily's Chocolate
In a small mason jar, layer 1 tbsp of yogurt, 1 tbsp cherries, 1 tbsp muffin pieces and drizzle on 1 tsp of peanut butter.
Repeat these layers until the mason jar is full. You should have 2-3 layers.
Make another parfait by repeating steps 1 and 2.
On the top of the parfaits, sprinkle on some chocolate chips.
Eat immediately, or seal the mason jars and store in the fridge till ready to eat.
Keep the parfaits in the fridge for up to 1 week.