Sunday, March 6, 2011

Healthy & Hearty Banana Nut Muffins

I love to feed my family whole-grain, heart healthy food so I jumped at the chance to review a package of wheat bran sent to me by Swanson Health Products. A little background on Swanson: I enjoyed reading the story of the founding of the company. In the late 1950s Leland Swanson, founder of Swanson Health Products, was struggling to play his beloved sport of golf because of arthritis. After some personal research he began taking supplements to increase his health and eventually after a small mail-order beginning Swanson became the company it is today.

Now on to the ingredient of wheat bran. Bran is the "hard outer layer of grain and is often produced as a by-product of milling in the production of refined grains. Bran is particularly rich in dietary fiber and essential fatty acids and contains significant quantities of starch, protein, vitamins and dietary minerals." (Wikipedia) Basically, wheat bran is the good stuff that is often left out of milled flour. I wanted to bake something special yet kid-friendly for breakfast with the wheat bran. I found a Banana-Bran-Nut Muffin recipe on Bob's Red Mill site but I was concerned that the bread would be unappealingly dense. That's when I pulled out the package of Bob's Red Mill aluminum free baking soda also sent to me by Swansons. I didn't know what that meant but from a little internet research I found out that some companies chemically produce baking soda whereas Bob's Red Mill is mined naturally with water in northwestern Colorado. Why is this important? Although no definitive correlation has been shown regarding health problems (Alzheimer patients have high aluminum content in their brains) aluminum can also be the source of a slight tin flavor in your baked goods.

The Verdict:  With an ingredient list of wheat bran and wheat flour I was doubtful these muffins would be moist let alone enjoyable to my children. The result was two of my kids ate 3 muffins each in one sitting! The muffins are very moist and flavorful. I did add a dusting of granulated sugar to the tops of the muffins for the benefit of my young children. (The noticeably sugary-topped muffins were the first to be eaten.) I am anxious to continue baking with the aluminum free baking soda to see if I can taste a definitive difference. Still, it had to be good baking soda to create a plump muffin when you're baking with such heavy grains.

Banana-Bran-Nut Muffins
Recipe source: Bob's Red Mill Natural Foods

1 1/4 cups wheat bran
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoons salt
3 Tablespoons brown sugar, packed
3/4 cups chopped walnuts
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups plain lowfat yogurt
1 large overripe banana

Preheat oven to 400°F. Insert paper liners in muffin tins, set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the bran, whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, brown sugar, and walnuts and stir until well mixed.

Measure the oil and yogurt into the blender (or processor) and add the banana, broken up. Blend at medium speed until uniform, then pour over the dry ingredients. Stir gently until all is wet. Spoon the batter into the foil liners and bake for about 20 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins.

*Other bloggers can receive products from Swanson to review by contacting

I was not compensated for this post although I did receive product samples to facilitate my review.  Any and all opinions are my own.  

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