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Coffee shops and diners have managed to give muffins the reputation for being sugary, fattening treats with little nutrition. The truth is that there’s nothing inherent in muffins themselves that should mark them as off-limits to people trying to maintain healthy lifestyles. Done right, muffins can provide a good dose of fiber plus fruit. Oat bran muffins can be made with applesauce, whole-grain flour, and cholesterol-lowering oat bran, making them healthy enough for any diet.
By now, it’s common knowledge that, eaten regularly, oatmeal can contribute to bringing high cholesterol numbers back down to earth. Oat bran is a lesser-known treasure. Milling oats generally means that the bran, which is the husk, is removed and discarded. That’s a shame because the bran, which is high in the fiber beta-glucan, offers a host of health-enhancing goodness.
Using applesauce to make basic oat bran muffins means the cook can reduce the sugar as well as some of the fat without losing flavor. Applesauce also helps maintain a moist, spongy texture. Eggs provide protein, and when the muffins are made with whole-grain flour as well as oat bran, the fiber benefits are doubled.
The clever cook knows that kids consider muffins to be something like very portable cake and will devour them with gusto. Making a double batch of batter at the beginning of the week means the cook can offer hot-from-the-oven morning muffins on a daily basis. Some additions to oat bran muffins that really hit the spot include cranberries, raisins, or other dried fruit, mashed bananas, and apples. Peaches and fresh berries also complement oat bran muffins.
Walnuts, pecans, or other nuts can be added for a little crunch as well as a protein boost. Cinnamon and even a little nutmeg add flavor, and some cooks like to substitute honey, molasses, or brown sugar for white sugar. Not only are muffins made with these healthy ingredients a good breakfast to start the day, but they make a filling, satisfying, after-school snack for kids or a midafternoon nibble at work.
These muffins are full of healthy goodness, but it’s important not to overmix them, or the batter can turn gummy. Instead of mixing the batter using a handheld or electric mixer, it’s best to gently mix by hand, folding the eggs, flour, sweetener, and other ingredients together. Oat bran muffins freeze well, so making a few batches in advance means they’ll be readily available.
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