Monday, February 23, 2015

Tasty And Nutritious Bran Muffins

Tasty And Nutritious  Bran Muffins

There are so many food fads that come and go. It seems that at this time, Bran muffins, which were a popular healthy muffin choice a decade or two ago, are not so popular right now. But these muffins could bump up Bran muffin's popularity—seriously they are so delicious and they have all kinds of healthy stuff in them!

So  why is it that Bran muffins one of those things we seldom see now?  For one thing, Bran has somehow fallen out of favor , perhaps as part of the gluten free craze. Yet there is still a large body of evidence that shows eating a diet that is sufficiently high in fiber is a huge health plus in fighting disease and weight gain. Some people cannot eat gluten but for those who can, bran is a great source of fiber!  Carbs are seen by some people as the enemy of weight loss and healthy eating and while we should curb our intake of things like white bread, pasta and refined flour, whole grains continue to be a good carb and part of a healthy diet.

 I think muffin themselves have become less sought after since some muffin recipes,especially commercially prepared muffins, can be deceptively high in sugar and refined flour with very little nutritional value.
If it was not bad enough that bran and muffins are less popular than they were a decade or two ago, in addition many bran muffin recipes create dry, bad tasting muffins!

 So why am I including a bran muffin recipe here? Because I want to introduce you to a wonderful little snack that is both tasty and nutritious!
My mother loves sweets and donuts and I wanted to find a tasty treat that is good for her. We could all use more fiber according to some recent research. I used to make a delicious bran muffin that everyone loved but as I looked at the recipe I realized it had more sugar and fat than I wanted. So I looked up some healthful recipes on line and then morphed them a bit with the sweet treat one I had from 25 years ago.

I found several bran muffin recipes on line that use mashed banana, and while I wanted to try that, I did not want it to taste like banana. I saw one,(which I did not keep track of where it was so I cannot post a link here) that used softened, pureed dates, which is a favorite technique of mine for sweetening cookies and cakes. Date puree also substitutes for some of the fat. I also threw in some ground flax seed  and walnuts for their nutrient value.
I had to look around to find Bran in the store but Vitamin Cottage had a nice sized bag for sale. I used some and will freeze the rest.
If you want to be cut out more sugar feel free to skip the Tablespoon of sugar and some or all of the molasses. I prefer these as mini muffins. It is easiest to use muffin liners but if you don’t have them just make sure to liberally oil the muffin tins.

Tasty And Nutritious  Bran Muffins

1 ½  cups wheat bran
¼ cup flax seed ground
¾  cup whole pitted dates
1/2 cup  orange juice or water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup low fat buttermilk*
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 medium banana)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3  cup molasses
1-2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 TBSP  brown sugar, date sugar or coconut sugar, optional

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole-grain pastry flour, Or unbleached white OR whole grain flour  or a mix of two
1/3 -1/2 cup walnuts chopped
Other add ins- shredded carrot, raisins or other dried fruit, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, spices like cinnamon, cardamom, ginger

Cooking spray

*If you don’t have buttermilk, mix 1 tsp vinegar into milk and let it satnd a few minutes. Or use ½ cup milk, ½ cup plain yogurt
Preheat oven to 350°.

 Combine dates and juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10minutes. Remove from heat and mix in baking soda and let it sit for 5 minutes then uncover and let stand 5 minutes.

Place date mixture in a food processor or blender; process until smooth. Add buttermilk, eggs, banana, vanilla, butter, oil, molasses, sugar …(everything except flour, soda baking powder, spices or  nuts or add ins.) Blend on low until well mixed.

 Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup and level with a knife. Combine flour, bran, flax, baking powder, salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add date mixture to bran mixture, stirring just until moist. Add any nuts, seeds, dried fruit, shredded carrot  or other add ins.

Place 24 mini muffin liners into mini muffin pan or 12 muffin cup liners in muffin cups.   Coat liners with cooking spray or light oil. Spoon or use small scoop to put batter into muffin cups.

Bake at 350° for 10- 12 minutes for mini muffins or 22-  25 minutes for full sized muffins, until a wooden pick inserted in center of muffins comes out clean.

Remove muffins from pan; cool on a wire rack.

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