Saturday, February 23, 2013
Despite the fact that I wrote just last month about how I rarely eat muffins—which really is true, I assure you, otherwise I would be unable to maintain my weight—the inspiration struck once again this morning. It was less about eating them, actually, and more about creating a healthier version of the recipes I see online. Also, I always have blueberries in my fridge (my favorite berry for cereal and snacks), and they called out this morning for some special treatment.
Enter today’s recipe, completely my own. I’d call it a “crazy healthy” muffin but that’s rather an overstatement, since the recipe does have more added sugar than, say, a breakfast of peanut butter on toast. Other than that, though, this muffin is fairly nutritious: fiber-filled whole grains like oats and wheat, including extra helpings of nutrient-dense wheat bran and germ; flax seeds for fun, texture, and heart- and brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids; and canola oil for more valuable polyunsaturated fats. The three sweeteners were selected rather pointedly: molasses, to obtain a rich flavor that complemented the bran while also bringing a darker color to the batter; honey, because I thought 2 tablespoons of molasses might be too dominant; and sugar, because it’s a dry ingredient and having too many wet sugars can make the batter heavy.
I’m so excited by how this muffin turned out that I’m immediately writing about it to get the recipe on paper before I forget.
Blubeberry Bran Muffins
- 1/2 cup whole oats
- 1/2 cup whole bran cereal
- 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1 tbsp wheat germ
- 1 tablespoon flax seeds
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup skim milk
- 2 tablespoon canola oil (or other vegetable oil)
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup blueberries
Heat the oven to 400F. In a food processor, grind the oats and cereal into a flour. Add the remaining dry ingredients and pulse a few times to combine. In a bowl, beat the egg lightly and whisk in remaining wet ingredients. Pour the wet into the dry ingredients and mix gently to combine; do not overmix. (Batter can be lumpy.) Fold in blueberries. Spoon into 6 muffin cups and sprinkle with additional wheat germ. (If you spray it with oil you don’t need the paper liners.) Bake 20 minutes, until puffed and cracked at the top. Cool 8 minutes, then turn out of the pan. Let cool an additional few minutes or so, and enjoy while still warm.
First, about the cereal. You could probably use 1/3 cup wheat bran here instead but I haven’t been able to find it at the store, so I used my morning breakfast cereal. (If you make bran muffins, you are probably familiar with this strategy.) I would have preferred to use bran, simply because cereal has added sugar and salt. While mine is as good as they come—meaning, the main ingredients are whole wheat and wheat bran and it’s high in fiber and low in sugar and salt—cereal is still a processed food. But, hey, I’m a realist and consummately practical: that’s what I had this morning, and that’s what I used. And I’ll bet that’s what you’re most likely to have on hand as well.
Second, perhaps you’ll find this muffin less sweet than those you’ve eaten, but it’s such a relative concept because taste bus actually o offer among people, and what you perceive as sweet or salty has to do with biology and environment. I find this muffin wondefullly balanced. If you don’t,you might step back and consider what else you’re eating before throwing this recipe out the window. In other words, if you’re not accustomed to a diet filed with whole grains, fruit, health fats, and not a lot of added salt and sugar, it will take time for your taste buds to catch up. but, just like when you switch from whole to skim milk, eventually you do adjust, and, more importantly, prefer the tastes of the “better-for-you” versions.
Did I mention these muffins were amazing?
Yeah, I guess I’ve made that pretty clear.