Really Healthy Blueberry Bran Muffins

15 Aug

My time as a “Londoner” is coming to a close so this summer I’ve been trying to take advantage of the fertile Southwestern Ontario land that surrounds me.  In June, I went strawberry picking at one of London’s several berry farms (all are within a 15 km radius from my downtown apartment).  Wild black raspberries and garlic scapes were foraged in July while hiking around a large lake at the city’s edge.  And to round off a summer of Ontario berries, E and I went blueberry picking just outside of the city last week.

Strawberry Pie (made in June with freshly picked Ontario strawberries)

I’d never picked blueberries before but my coworkers had raved about how quick and easy it is.  Sure enough, with berry buckets strapped to our waists (to leave our hands free to pick), we quickly gathered 4 pounds of berries in less than 20 minutes.  We barely put a dent in our assigned row!  I was amazed at how easily the ripe purpley-blue berries came off of the stem while the underripe green and red ones stayed put.  Meanwhile, E had fun testing the differences in taste between the underripe and ripe berries… I think more ripe berries ended up in his mouth than in his bucket!

Berry bucket + fanny pack = really stylish

A mix of ripe and not-quite-ripe blueberries

Now, what to do with all of these blueberries?  I didn’t want to make a blueberry dessert so instead I decided on one of my favourite snacks: blueberry bran muffins.  Up until now, my go-to recipe contained far too much sugar to be considered a healthy muffin.  Sifting through my cookbooks, I found a recipe that was virtually identical to my go-to, but used apple juice concentrate (1/2 cup) instead of brown sugar (2/3 cup).  Perfect!

First out of the oven, these muffins were a shock to the palate.  Despite the natural sugars in the apple juice concentrate, they were not AT ALL sweet.  I was mildly disappointed but thought “at least I have a really healthy muffin”.  But, after letting them sitting overnight I found that they were subtly– almost perfectly– sweet.  In hindsight, I think the warm blueberries just needed a bit of time to release their juices into the muffin.  If the muffins aren’t sweet enough for you, spread a bit of blueberry jam on top (I made a batch with the rest of our blueberries)… delicious!

Blueberry Bran Muffins

Really Healthy Blueberry Bran Muffins
(adapted from the cookbook Power Eating)

1 cup sour milk* or buttermilk
to make sour milk, add 1 tablespoon vinegar to a 1 cup measure; top with milk and let stand for 5 minutes
1.5 cups natural wheat bran
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg
1/2 cup frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick spray and set aside.
  2. Combine sour milk and wheat bran in a bowl.  Stir to combine and let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Mix well.
  4. Whisk together egg, apple juice concentrate, oil, and vanilla.  Add to wheat bran mixture and stir to combine.
  5. Add flour mixture to wheat bran mixture, stirring until just combined.  Fold in blueberries.
  6. Distribute batter evenly between 12 muffin cups and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until tops are lightly browned and toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Let muffins cool in tin for 15 minutes on a wire rack, then remove from pan and allow muffins to fully cool on the wire rack.
  7. Store muffins in an airtight container in the fridge.  Allow to sit overnight (at least) before eating.  Enjoy!

Makes 12 muffins.  Per muffin: 105 kcal, 2 g fat, 4 g fibre, 160 mg sodium

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