Thursday, January 10, 2013

Heidi Swanson's Bran Muffins

I loved the ease of having the kids home for the holidays. The days blended into one another and three weeks flew by too fast because we were busy moving and settling into a new house. With so much to do, the lazy mornings I had envisioned and looked forward to just didn’t materialize most days. However,But it was so good to be able to wake up just a little later than my usual 5 a.m. and peacefully enjoy breakfast in the quiet hour I got to myself before the others started waking up. There were no early morning chastisements, hurried breakfasts, rush to catch the school bus. No trails of strewn clothes left behind or balled-up pyjamas found on top of beds. No realization a split second later (and the ensuing anxiety) that either child forgot a water bottle, a book-bag, library book, a hat, money for field trip/school photo/book order. Because they leave for school at 6:40 a.m. and are up and maddeningly chirpy at 6:00, the kids go to bed fairly early on weeknights. Usually they are already asleep before 7 p.m. which means we have to wait until the weekend to eat dinner together as a family. At least holidays change all of that. So accustomed we are to not seeing each other past 6:15 p.m., there is much giddiness and meal-times are loud, messy, exciting.  It’s sad when all of that comes to an end. But, to be honest, by the end of three weeks I was a little twitchy. So overwhelmed with all the things I still needed to sort through without the kids (finally) underfoot, yet excited to reclaim a few hours of relative under-stimulation each morning.

The night before the first day back in school, I stood in the kitchen with my copy of the beautiful Super Natural Every Day  by HeidiSwanson propped up on my messy kitchen counter, laid open to page 47, Bran Muffins. Working with what I had on hand I whisked eggs, yogurt, coconut oil and maple syrup together while I conversed with the man (husband) and a visiting friend, a sleepy baby balanced on my left hip. When I felt I needed the use of both hands the baby would be passed to the others – seemingly happy, her droopy eyes belying the frisky, jerky movement of her hands and limbs. Back and forth she went, observing every movement as I scooped the thick-ish batter into the muffin tin and, before I popped them in the oven, dotted a few with a teaspoon of strawberry jam, some with chopped dates and left the rest as they were. Not expecting these muffins to be very palatable (come on, bran = blah most of the time) I assumed they would need embellishments. How wrong. These muffins were moist, delicious, and hearty with just the right amount of sweetness and a faint crunch (the crunch from the crushed cereal in the batter lasted only up to a day but the muffins were very moist three days later). No embellishments needed. Perfect with a tiny smear of barely-salted butter (for me), and for breakfast-on-the-go for the kids. These muffins saved me this week.

A few days ago I had cheerfully uploaded this photo on instagram. The caption said, “Kids back in school. Enjoying the quiet this morning”. How presumptuous and audacious. Of course that was an invitation to jinx myself forever.

Just when I thought I was going to unpack our last few boxes in peace and then put up my feet and read a book, maybe: everyone got sick. Including me. Falling like dominoes, starting with my girl, ending with me. So, this week was all about sleep-deprivation and exhaustion. I feel a bit like a wrung-out mop. Or dish-rag. Whatever is worse. But at least these muffins kept me nourished while, according to my boy, we (he and I) were “living the life” today i.e. sitting up in bed convalescing reading and chatting.

If you’d like to make these muffins, here’s the recipe. I used things I had on hand so I substituted coconut oil for the butter, a blend of whole wheat and all-purpose flour for the whole wheat pastry flour, and yogurt for the buttermilk. I’ve made quite a few things out of this book over previous months (more blog posts to follow) and I find Heidi’s recipes very easily adaptable. The recipes themselves contain suggestions for substitutes and I’ve found that I can use seasonal fruits, a blend of flours and different alternatives for butter without my alterations compromising the end-result. I’m excited to try more recipes from this book over the next few weeks as part of my target-one-cookbook-a-month plan for this year.

Bran Muffins
Makes 12
(Mildly adapted from the original recipe) Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson, Page 47

2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup plain, full-fat yogurt
½ cup coconut oil
¼ cup maple syrup
½ cup oat bran
1.5 cups plain, unsweetened bran cereal, crushed (I poured it into a zipper bag and crushed it with one hand while I carried the baby)
½ cup wholewheat flour
½ cup all purpose flour
¼ cup natural cane sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp fine sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400F. Generously butter a standard 12-cup muffin pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, coconut oil and maple syrup. Sprinkle the crushed cereal and the bran on top, stir, and allow the mixture to rest for five minutes.
Stir the dry ingredients together in another bowl and sprinkle them over the wet ingredients, stirring till just combined. Scoop the thick-ish batter into your muffin pan and bake 18-22 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before turning the muffins out of the pan to cool on a wire rack.


Rocquie said...

I love a good bran muffin and yours sound delicious. So sorry to hear your family has been sick; it is so hard to take care of little ones when you yourself are sick.

Enjoy your quiet morning time when you can get it. My favorite time of day!

tasteofbeirut said...

These indeed sound like easy, comforting muffins; sorry to hear about all the little troubles. I remember those days. Kids do grow up and problems like that vanish (to be replaced by other of course!); thanks for your touching comments it made my day! Happy New Year to you too!

I Wilkerson said...

I had to laugh--two of my three kids are morning people (they get it from their dad) and wake up "maddeningly chirpy." It's a concept I just don't have... But the muffins look great--they remind me of something I had forgotten about which had also surprised me. Nothing like a really easy (e.g. already made) healthy breakfast food!

Needful Things said...

@Rocquie - They're back in school today. *Big* sigh of relief (and fingers crossed!)

@Joumana - you're very welcome!

@Inger - I'm just not a morning person and until I had kids I couldn't bear to talk much until at least 2 hours after I had woken up. This is the main reason I wake up at 5 a.m. or before - just to allow myself some time & some quiet first thing in the morning.

Anonymous said...

I have this book, too, and agree that the recipes are really easy to adapt to what you have on hand. I've actually been eyeing this muffin recipe for a while now - maybe it's time to try it out!

Kim said...

You might be where they get their chipper attitudes! It sound like you made the most out of everyone being sick-- so at least your outlook was still upright. Embracing the messiness of family is one of life's sweetest delights, isn't it? I also love your idea of focusing on one cookbook each month. It's funny how we buy these things and read them like books, but I rarely circle recipes and actually make them. I've never bought one of Heidi's but your review makes me want to head out to the bookstore today.

Needful Things said...

@Kim - Oh, Kim. Me, and chipper? :-/
I buy far too many cookbooks. Collecting them, rather than really cooking from them has become a crazy obsession. My recent move forced me to look at this habit of hoarding a little objectively & I decided it was high time I put those books to proper use!

Shelley said...

I hope everyone is well and feeling better again. I'm bouncing a baby on my knee as I type and am looking forward to when she is big enough to ride on my hip. Maybe I'll get more baking done then :-)

Needful Things said...

@Shelley - Third time's a charm. Trust me, there was no baking to be done (or even imagined) when the eldest was a baby. This one seems to like the kitchen very much & has always calmed right down as soon as I walk in there with her.

Gemma said...

Yum (: These look so delicious and healthy! And easy in the morning!
I hope everything is going better now, sorry to hear that they've been sick ):

Anupama K. Mazumder said...

Oh those muffins look so delicious! I love the plate, and the shot with coffee and muffins.

Redawna said...

What a fantastic sounding recipe. Very different from any of the Bran Muffins I have made. I have everything but the coconut oil. I definitely have to hit the Farmers Market Friday night for a new jar.

Can not wait to try!

Needful Things said...

Thanks Anupama.
@Redawna- you don't have to use coconut oil - I used it because I was out of regular butter & had very little vegetable oil!

Beth said...

When you find a good bran muffin recipe, it's worth its weight in gold. These sound fantastic. Hope everyone feeling well soon!

My Little Space said...

Hi there, thanks so much for stopping by my blog earlier. You've a very lovely site & it's such an honour get to know new member around the blogosphere. Looking forward to sharing more.
Best regards, Kristy

Catalina said...

I can imagine how wonderful these must taste for breakfast! Yummy :)

Kim said...

P.S. I bought Heidi's book and am loving it. I've been exploring more natural ingredients these days so it came at the perfect time to appreciate it.


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