Here we are on a weekend when so many food bloggers are talking about festive Mardi Gras Foods, and I'm giving you Made-from-Scratch Low-Sugar and Whole Wheat Bran Muffins. Oh my. I hope that's not a sign that I am hopelessly un-hip, but I did promise on Twitter that I would share this recipe over the weekend, and I'm a woman who keeps her promises. Besides, I like bran muffins, and my body reminds me often that eating more fiber is a good thing!
When I saw a recipe for made-from scratch pear bran muffins (with no bran cereal) in the The South Beach Diet Quick and Easy Cookbook it turned into one of those baking experiences where I have to make the recipe several times before I'm happy with it. Right away I switched pears for apples (because I never have pears in the house, but almost always have apples.) I made these three times, with quite a few changes from the inspiring recipe, but I thought the final version was just right. These muffins are just slightly sweet, and to my taste they're much better than all those bran muffin recipes that use bran cereal as one of the main ingredients.
I used a mixture of Splenda and brown sugar in this recipe, which I've found gives better flavor than just Splenda alone. (Edit: Nowdays I would probably use Stevia in the Raw Granulated in place of the Splenda.) Of course if you want to use all Splenda (or even all brown sugar if you don't care about the whole low-sugar thing) please adapt to what works for you. I also used a mix of whole wheat pastry flour and almond meal in my muffins, but if you don't want to buy those I'm guessing white whole wheat flour would probably work. (If people try variations of the recipe that are a success, I'd love to hear about it in the comments.)
In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the whole wheat pastry flour, almond meal, wheat bran, Splenda, brown sugar, ground cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.
You'll enjoy the muffins more if you take an extra minute or two and make sure the apple is very finely diced before you add it to the liquids. I used an apple corer, then peeled off the skin and diced up the apple pieces.
I also took a couple of minutes to toast the walnuts in a dry pan before I chopped them, which also adds flavor.
Then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just enough that all the dry ingredients are moistened.
Spray muffin cups or muffin pan with nonstick spray or oil, then divide the mixture among the muffin cups. (If you use the small muffin cups like I did, they will be pretty full.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out completely clean. Let muffins cool a little before eating. You can keep these muffins in the fridge for quite a few days, and I am sure they will freeze well, although I haven't frozen any yet because I keep eating them!
(Makes 12 small muffins; recipe adapted with quite a few changes from Pear Bran Muffins in The South Beach Diet Quick and Easy Cookbook.)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup almond meal (this is coarser than almond flour, but I'm guessing almond flour will also work)
1 cup wheat bran
1/4 cup Splenda, Stevia in the Raw Granulated Sweetener, or sugar (use Splenda or Stevia for South Beach Diet)
2 T brown sugar (or use 2 T more Splenda or Stevia if you want even less sugar)
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cups low-fat buttermilk
3 T grapeseed or canola oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 apple, peeled and cut into very small dice (1/4 inch or less)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (preferably toasted before chopping; can also use other nuts of your choice)
Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Spray muffin cups or muffin pan with nonstick spray or oil.
In a medium-sized bowl, stir together whole wheat pastry flour, almond meal, wheat bran, Splenda (or Stevia Granulated or sugar), brown sugar (or more Splenda or Stevia Granulated), ground cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.
Beat eggs in smaller bowl, then stir in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Remove apple core and peel the apple, then finely chop apple pieces and add to liquid ingredients. Toast walnuts for 1-2 minutes in a dry pan over high heat, just until they start to become fragrant. Then finely chop walnuts and add to liquid ingredients.
Add the wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir just enough so that all the dry ingredients are moistened. Use a large spoon to divide the batter among the muffin cups. Bake at 350F/180C for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out completely clean.
Let muffins cool for a few minutes before eating. These muffins will keep well in the fridge for quite a few days. I am sure they would freeze well, although I haven't frozen any yet. To reheat, microwave for about 30 seconds. (I like to eat them hot with Brummel and Brown Natural Yogurt Spread.)
South Beach Suggestions:
Even with the 2 tablespoons of brown sugar that I used, these muffins are pretty low in sugar and I would eat them for phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet. Using almond meal makes the muffins more low-glycemic, but nuts are a calorie-dense food, so use portion control. I'd probably limit it to one muffin for phase 2 and two muffins for phase 3.
Ten More Whole Wheat Muffins You Might Like:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Low-Sugar and Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins with Pecans from Kalyn's Kitchen
Gluten-Free Low-Sugar and Flourless Zucchini Muffins with Pecans from Kalyn's Kitchen
Low-Sugar and Whole Wheat Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins with Lemon from Kalyn's Kitchen
Whole Wheat Orange Spice Muffins from Pinch My Salt
Oatmeal Blueberry Applesauce Muffins from Joy the Baker
Whole Grain Ginger Pear Bran Muffins from Farmgirl Fare
Whole Wheat Cranberry Orange Ricotta Muffins from Andrea Meyers
Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins from Eat Me, Delicious
Whole Wheat Quinoa Muffins from Enlightened Cooking
Whole Wheat Muffins with Raisins and Dried Cranberries from Daily Musings
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)