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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.
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