We are currently waging a fibre battle. I’m calling it that because somehow not calling it a vegetable or nuts-and-seeds battle is simpler, like breaking the issue down makes it easier to….uh…swallow. The issue is that Little e has decided to join the ranks of other five-year-olds who eschew all things fibrous, which of course includes vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds (basically the best part of food! I keep yelling in my head). It’s not that we were surprised–we’d read the books and had warnings from the internet and real live parents. It happens. But happening with our until-now omnivorous, mostly vegetarian, raw-fish-loving girl? (The sushi is still a safe bet, thank god). Fibre help me.
We’ve been having talks about the microbiome and how it can starve if it doesn’t get the fibre it needs. I’ve bought plush bacteria to help her visualise and we’ve looked at videos of magnified microbes online. It’s all very interesting to her…until there’s broccoli or bell pepper on her plate.
So I took a deep breath last week and tried a recipe I haven’t made in a while, but that, I recalled, did a good job of making a large dose of fibre taste delicious.
Remember bran muffins? Or maybe you eat them regularly? I will admit, they are the muffin I always avoid at the coffee shop. Mostly that’s because I’m more attracted to blueberry or raspberry or banana chocolate, but it’s also because bran muffins can be bad interpretations of sweetened and baked cardboard, am I right? It just seems much more likely to have a bad bran muffin experience than most other muffin experiences.
So I’m offering up a recipe that goes a long way to make bran muffins just another good choice on the rack instead of the one you eye suspiciously on your way to the blackberry-white chocolate ones. This one has a lot of stuff in it and there are a few extra steps, but it’s worth it for what the extra stuff does to the bran–bolstering it and lifting it up to something wholesome AND tasty. Moist AND not too heavy. Plus, there is no refined sugar in these. The sweetness comes from orange juice, prunes, molasses and raisins. And I think next time I make them I’ll try dark chocolate chips…because that might further increase the likelihood that Little e will eat one, and I’m not afraid to resort to chocolate bribery.
Molasses Bran Muffins
Adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce
1/2 cup orange juice
3/4 cup pitted prunes
1 1/2 cups wheat bran
1/2 cup dark raisins
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup molasses
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon orange zest
To make the prune jam, heat orange juice and prunes to boiling in a small saucepan. Turn the heat off, cover and let the prunes soften in the juice for about 20 minutes. Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender), puree the mixture until smooth.
Preheat the oven to 350. Grease muffin tins (or use paper liners, but I find these muffins work better without). In another saucepan, warm the buttermilk just slightly (it will separate if heated too much) and pour the bran into it, mixing to combine. Add the raisins. Set this aside to soak.
Sift the remaining dry ingredients into a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk the wet ingredients with 1/2 a cup of the (mostly cooled) prune puree. Save the rest of the puree for eating with yogurt or spreading on toast. Add the wet mixture to the bran and buttermilk, then add this mix to the dry ingredients and combine gently.
Scoop batter into the muffin cups. I find this amount of batter makes 14-15 muffins, depending on size. Bake for 30-34 minutes, until the bottoms are dark golden brown. Cool the muffins on a wire rack so they stay crisp on the outside. Flavour improves after the first day!