The Muffins That Changed the World [Sexy Bran Morning Muffins]
Ok, so maybe “changed the world” is a little over dramatic. But they certainly changed MY world. And continue to do so.
Breakfast was always very important in our family. You didn’t leave the house or start a day without it. Typically, there was cinnamon sugar on toast, cereal (only the occasional sugary variety), eggs on toast, or bagels with cream cheese. Perhaps not the healthiest of choices, but they were better than some of my friends who ate a chocolate bar and pop before 1st period.
To this day, I could live on bagels & cream cheese alone. I wake up each day to a ravenous stomach screaming for sustenance. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m eating too late in the evening (I know, I’m naughty), or not eating nutritionally sound snacks, but I have always woken up feeling nauseously hungry in the morning, for as long as I can remember. Taking the time to make something healthy isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind while my stomach throws a tantrum fit for the toy aisles of Wal-Mart. I like to be able to grab something on the way to work with my coffee. Generally, this means less-than-healthy options. Croissants, bagels, muffins filled with buttery, delicious fats… not exactly the types of things that help an active body and mind stay alert and satisfied. I’ve been on the hunt for a healthy muffin for some time. Both from a recipe standpoint or from any coffee shops along my walk to work. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t happy with what I found. So I began looking at the recipes I liked and adjusting them to suit my tastes and needs. Ultimately, I would come out with a muffin filled with unprocessed ingredients that would be deliciously moist and flavourful, but filling and incredibly healthy at the same time. It’s rare that I give you lessons in healthy eating, so if you’re going to pay attention to any of my rants, this one is probably most beneficial.
To get the right balance of fiber (which my diet is sorely lacking these days) I wanted a combination of both soluble and insoluble varieties. With that in mind, I found a balance with both oat bran (soluble) and wheat bran (insoluble). Each boasts its own set of benefits; Wheat Bran aids digestion, adds bulk to stools and prevents constipation (ok, have a chuckle. I’ll allow it). Because wheat bran absorbs water and expands in the system, it’s said that it provides a feeling of fullness for longer. 1 half cup contains 60 calories, 1g of fat, 18g of carbs and 4g of protein. The same amount offers 12g of dietary fiber, which provides 48% of the entire recommended daily value (Source: LIVESTRONG). Pretty amazing, right? When I grow up, I want to be wheat bran. Oat Bran contains soluble fiber that is heart healthy and helps lower bad cholesterol and keep blood glucose levels in check. One 3/4-cup serving of cooked oat bran contains 5.3g of protein, 1.4g of fat, 4.3g of fiber, 16mg of calcium and only 66 calories (source: Canadian Nutrient File, 2007b).
These two powerhouse grains make for a brilliant start to your day. Especially when you combine them with ground flax, sunflower seeds, toasty nuts, bananas, apples and cinnamon. Just to be clear, before you write this off as “just another bran muffin”, I need you to believe me when I tell you THEY ARE SO DELICIOUS, TOO! Shockingly so. I had planned to do a few test runs of this recipe, making changes as I went. But I was so thrilled with the first batch that I ate 4 of them (which was a bad idea…. for reasons not appropriate to talk about with internet friends, perhaps), wrote out the recipe, and shared with some friends immediately. They even passed a taste test with my best friend, the queen mother of all things fibrous and healthy. They are winners, guys! Gold medal winners of the Breakfast Muffin Olympics! So feel free to make these, and eat them sans guilt for breakfast. They are so healthy that I didn’t even feel bad about slathering them with a little butter. Everything in moderation, right? So butter up those buns. Err… muffins.
I’ve been having one of these each morning with my coffee (I’m not willing to give that up yet. Or ever.) around 9am and they have been keeping me full and happy until I eat lunch around 12:30.
Sexy Morning Muffins
adapted from Nancy Silvertons Bran Muffins & Joy the Baker’s Gnarly Muffins
makes 1 ½ dozen.
You can typically find oat and wheat bran (Bob’s Red Mill sells both) in the baking or health-food section of your grocery store. Otherwise, you can usually find them in bulk stores. (Edit: You can also find it from Quaker in the oatmeal section!)
I bought whole flax seeds and opted to grind them myself at home. Flax offers the best benefits when its ground fresh and hasn’t been sitting on a shelf for 3 months. You can buy pre-ground if you prefer or if you don’t have the means to grind it at home.
1 cup unbleached All-Purpose flour
1 cup wheat bran
3/4 cups whole flax seeds
3/4 cup oat bran
1 cup brown sugar, plus extra to sprinkle on top
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 tsp cinnamon (I used 3, but I LOVE cinnamon)
1 tsp cardamom
2 bananas, mashed
2 apples (skin on), grated
1/3 cup raisins, whole or roughly chopped
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup toasted pecans (or whatever nuts you prefer)
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten lightly
2 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350. Pour wheat bran onto a cookie sheet or roasting pan and toast for 5-6 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes, until fragrant. Pour into white flour and mix. (This is basically a homemade, superior, chunkier version of whole-wheat flour).
Place the flax seeds in a coffee grinder, mortar and pestle or bullet and grind until powder. In a medium bowl, stir ground flax into the flour blend along with the rest of the dry ingredients (first 10 ingredients). Stir until uniform in texture.
Mix the wet ingredients in a large bowl. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and stir just until combined. Be careful not to overmix.
Spoon into lined muffin tins (3/4 way full). Sprinkle with brown sugar (and oats if you have them) and bake for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Eat a muffin. Check yourself out in the mirror, and feel good about it. Maybe even do a little dance. And then eat another muffin, you sexy thing, you!