I remember when oat bran muffins became all the rage as a health food in the late 1980s. Adding lots of oil or butter practically nullifies any benefits you would get from the oat bran, but they can be made healthier. This version uses skim milk and applesauce for binding liquids and ground flax seed as part of the dry ingredients. You can use pre-ground flax seed meal or grind your own in a blender or coffee mill, just make sure the coffee mill is dedicated to grinding spices and grains. Either way, keep the flax seed in the refrigerator or freezer as it can go bad rather quickly.
These aren't delicate, fluffy muffins—they are substantial and have a hearty texture. I adapted this recipe from one on Bob's Red Mill website. The recipe was already good, I just tweaked it a little bit. The nuts are called for in the original recipe, but I often skip them.
My boys love these, so I make mini muffins because that is a perfect size for little hands. As soon as this batch was out of the oven, my boys started following me around and poking their fingers in the basket trying to snag one while I was photographing. I did finally manage to get a photo without any fingers in it, and then I handed one muffin to each of them. In a few seconds those were gone and the boys were asking for more.
I can get about 48 mini muffins out of this recipe. These do freeze well and make a good snack or breakfast on the run. Warm a frozen muffin in the microwave for 15 to 30 seconds depending on the size of the muffin and the power of your microwave.
[Updated November 26, 2009.]
Oat Bran Flax Muffins
- large mixing bowl
- small mixing bowl
- large spatula
- muffin tins, greased
- #60 cookie scoop (for mini muffins) or a #20 for regular size muffins
- 1½ cups whole wheat pastry flour (or unbleached all-purpose flour if you can’t find it)
- 3/4 cup ground flax meal
- 3/4 cup oat bran
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice mix
- 2 eggs (beaten)
- 3/4 cup lowfat milk, almond milk, rice milk, or soy milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons applesauce
- 2 cups finely shredded carrots
- 2 apples (peeled and shredded)
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350° F/175° C.
- In the large bowl, mix together flour, flax meal, oat bran, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.
- In the small bowl, combine the milk, eggs, vanilla, and applesauce. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until just blended. Fold in the carrots, apples, and cranberries.
- Fill prepared muffin tins 2/3 full with batter.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.