I grew up avoiding bran muffins. They were dark, flavorless, usually hard and definitely meant I had arrived too late to the bread basket. But this muffin is the first thing you’ll reach for! It’s the perfect combination of tender crumb, balanced sweetness (without being cloying), pops of fresh fruit, and a nice serving of wheat bran or germ. Homemade muffins are such a treat, and a few wholesome additions make them better for the entire family.
Two shots of apple bring the flavor. Diced, tart Granny Smith apples add a fun texture and keep the muffin interesting, and creamy applesauce guarantees a tender crumb. (Applesauce is also a great substitute for fat in baking—start by swapping it for half the oil.) Look for unsweetened applesauce if you’re buying it. Homemade applesauce is so easy to make and tastes even better!
On the flour front, this recipe calls for 1 cup. Feel free to use 1/2 cup whole-wheat and 1/2 cup all-purpose for a whole-grain boost. Spelt or white whole-wheat flour can be substituted for the entire amount. Learn about alternatives to all-purpose flour.
And it wouldn’t be a bran muffin without the bran (or wheat germ). Wheat germ is the nutrient-rich seed center of wheat kernels. It’s full of healthy fats, which is why it’s important to store it in the refrigerator to keep it fresh. Wheat bran is high in insoluble fiber (yay for happy digestion!). Store it in a cool, dark place. Millet adds great crunch. I love this gluten-free grain, plus it’s a wonderful way to use up the rest of the bag in your pantry.
While I’m a fan of butter, coconut oil would also make a nice substitution. (I’ve started using coconut oil in my favorite banana bread recipe—it adds a wonderful rich flavor.) Since butter is about 80 percent fat and 20 percent water, don’t substitute coconut oil 1:1. For 1 stick butter, use 6 tablespoons coconut oil and 2 tablespoons water.
A Game Plan for Making Muffins in the Morning
Nothing beats a fresh-out-of-the-oven muffin. Here’s how to get there before you’ve had coffee: the night before, combine the dry ingredients and store in a Tupperware on the counter. Measure out all the wet stuff (keep the butter separate—you’ll need to melt it in the morning) and combine in a large measuring cup in the fridge. Dice your apples and keep them in a resealable container in the fridge. Line your muffin tin with paper liners, and all you have to do in the morning is turn on the oven, combine the dry ingredients with the wet, fold in the apples, and divide among the tins (a cookie scoop is the tool for this task). 25 minutes later, you’re a bonafide morning baking person!
Tune in every Sunday for a new Healthy Appetite video from Shira Bocar.
Watch Shira make these tasty, healthy muffins: