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Bran muffins are a terrific way to get fiber into the diet in a tasty, portable package. Bran, which is the outermost layer of any grain that is husked off during milling, is actually very good for the body. It not only offers fiber; bran also contains protein and certain minerals and vitamins to boot. Bran muffins typically contain flour as well as bran, and many home cooks add dried or fresh fruit, nuts, or other goodies to make the muffins delicious.
Bran muffins can range from strictly healthy variations to those that mix in a little sweet fun. Those who appreciate a health-food approach to muffins find that low-fat, sugar-free bran muffins can be made using whole-wheat flour in addition to wheat, oat, or rice bran. Eggs, yogurt, and soy or almond milk add moisture and protein, while honey or molasses sweeten these muffins up.
Bananas are a longtime favorite addition to muffin mixes of any kind, and bran muffins are no exception. Walnuts and bananas go hand in hand for many cooks. Dried or fresh chopped apples also work well with this combination, and a sprinkle of cinnamon is nice as well.
Cooks who want a less-dense, grainy muffin can lighten it up with enriched white flour. As these muffins taste a bit more like cake, they’re a sneaky way for the home cook to slip some good fiber into the diets of picky eaters. Using applesauce instead of sugar keeps them sweet and moist and adds a bit of additional nutrition too.
Other fruits to add to bran muffin batter include fresh or dried peaches, pears, or even pineapple. Fresh berries add bursts of flavor and ratchet up the fiber. The clever cook knows that there’s no need to limit additions of fruit, though.
Crystallized or fresh ginger adds snap to basic bran muffins. A few drops of pure extract such as vanilla, almond, or hazelnut add a layer of flavor. Lemon zest provides a high note.
Bran muffins also offer the cook a way to sneak in a serving of veggies. Bakers know that shredded carrots or zucchini are undetectable in breads and muffins, but the fiber and vitamins they provide add to the goodness. In addition, these vegetables contribute to a moist, dense texture.
It’s easy to transform healthy muffins into a naughty-but-nice treat by adding shaved, dark chocolate. A dollop or two of peanut or almond butter provides additional protein. Either of these additions, or both, are especially good when combined with banana and walnuts.
Carrot-bran muffins are good too, especially when spiced like a carrot cake. You just add grated carrot, raisins, cinnamon, allspice and a pinch of ground cloves to the batter and presto! Carrot bran muffins.
If you really want to sabotage the healthy effects, you can even make a glaze for the muffins. However, I've found with most recipes, you can reduce the sugar and it won't affect the finished product too much. With bran muffins, since sweetness is the goal and not crumb or finished "look" of the muffin, half sugar and half Splenda might work. I'll have to experiment and see what I come up with.
I like bran muffins, and they're easy to make, especially when you start with something like All-Bran cereal. I've used the muffin recipe on the side of the box for years, with success. You have to make sure you let the cereal sit in the milk long enough to absorb it, though. Otherwise, the texture of the muffins won't be quite right.
I like raisins or blueberries in my bran muffins. Any dried fruit really ups the sugar content of the muffins, so I like to go with fresh fruit, in general. Chopped apples are good, too.
I really like a bran muffin and a cup of vanilla yogurt for breakfast. That really hits the spot for me.