Monday, February 25, 2013

200th Post - The Best Bran Muffins EVER!

Before I even begin to tell you about how amazing these bran muffins are, I first must tell you that this is my 200th blog post. I can't believe it! Have I really blogged 200 times? Whoa! When I hit my 100th post, I dedicated it to my amazing mom. Without her, I wouldn't know what the heck to do in the kitchen. No joke. There are still some things that she makes that I can make as well, but they just taste better when she makes them. I don't know what it is, but I am guessing it's just mom love. Ya, that must be it. For this 200th post, I dedicate it to my health. Since my 100th post, I have changed my eating and workout habits for the better. I'm down 35 pounds (and still going!) and I now have learned to enjoy working out and getting into running and kickboxing. Me, running? Ya, right. But in all seriousness, although it's tough, I do enjoy it. Never did I think those words would come out my mouth. Nevertheless, with my working out and adapting recipes, I have come to learn that healthy does not have to mean flavorless or tastes bad. Now, don't get me wrong, I still love to bake and cook the not so good for you stuff, but it's all about moderation. The captain keeps telling me that and I think it's starting to finally stick. He's pretty smart.

Okay, back to the muffins. THESE MUFFINS ARE AMAZING. I know when you think bran muffin, you think dry and gross, but these are totally the opposite. These muffins are loaded with dried fruit, honey, coconut, nuts, applesauce and bran. Lots of bran. Tons of fiber, tons of flavor and so delicious. The best part, is that they are under 145 calories each! Since I started making these, I have been eating one for breakfast and one for a snack in the afternoon. Oh, and I forgot to tell you- there are no processed sugars and no dairy in these muffins! How many other muffins can say that? You can always use any milk of your choice, but to keep the calories down and to keep it dairy free, I use unsweetened almond milk. You don't even know it's there, promise! These muffins bake up quick and are so moist from the honey and applesauce that you won't even miss the oil that is usually in muffins. Darn those 500 calorie muffins that look healthy, but are loaded with oil and sugar.

These muffins so good that I usually make a double batch and freeze half of them for the next week. They freeze great in a big ziploc bag. But, to make sure you don't get bored with them (there is no way you could!), I have tried out several variations on this muffin recipe. The original recipe called for fresh blueberries, but since the captain is anti-blueberry, that was a no no. So, I decided to go with dried cherries. You can always do fresh blueberries, but I love cherries and after doing the calorie count of 12oz of blueberries, I was able to determine that a heaping 1/2 cup of chopped dried fruit was about the same! Here are some of the combinations I have done so far and some that I can't wait to try:
  1. Dried cherries and walnuts - this one is my favorite!
  2. Dried apricots and pecans - this is my mom's favorite. The chewy apricots give it a little something something.
  3. Chopped apples, walnuts and cinnamon - this one reminds me of apple pie and the apples keep the muffins extra extra moist.
  4. Carrots, raisins, cinnamon and walnuts - I can't wait to try this one. Hello carrot cake!
  5. Zucchini, cinnamon and walnuts - I can't wait to try this one either. It reminds me of zucchini bread.
As you can see, the list of combinations is endless! Use whatever nuts and dried fruit you like. Or leave the nuts or fruit out if you want, but trust me, it's better with them. Unless you are allergic - that wouldn't be such a good idea to eat them then. Experiment and find out what you love and get addicted to these muffins! If I did, I know you will too. You won't ever say no to bran muffins again.

yummy ingredients

if you spray non-stick spray on your measuring cup, the honey will slide right out!

pouring in the milk and vanilla

this is wheat bran. you can find it in the cereal section or the baking section. I usually find it in the cereal section next to the oatmeal.

mmm, dried cherries. the first time I left them whole, but they are better chopped a bit.

exactly 16 muffins - that rarely happens!

bran bran bran muffinssss

The Best Bran Muffin Ever (adapted from SkinnyTaste)

1 cup wheat bran
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour (white or regular whole wheat will be just fine)
1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or skim is fine)
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tbsp coconut oil (or canola)
2 large eggs, beaten
12 oz fresh fruit or a heaping cup of your favorite dried fruit, chopped

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Line a muffin tin with 16 liners.

Combine the wheat bran, wheat flour, baking soda and baking powder. Stir in nuts and coconut.
In a separate bowl, blend applesauce, almond milk, honey, coconut oil, vanilla and egg.  Add to dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Fold in fruit. Scoop the batter into paper-lined muffin cups and bake for 13-14 minutes (may take up to 18-20 based on your oven), or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Bran muffins usually get a bad wrap, but not anymore!


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