Thursday, January 28, 2016

Peanut Butter Bran Muffins

Hello again! I can't believe January is almost over! We're back to the grind again here at my house. My husband has started back to school, so most of the time it's me and the two kiddos hanging out. If you've been following my blog for any amount of time, you've probably picked up on the fact that I love muffins! Love them! I would (and mostly do) eat a muffin of some sort for breakfast every morning. Since I have muffin-loving children as well, I like to make muffins that are at least mostly healthy. There are a few that are in my regular in I make them every other week or so. I've shared a couple of these already like Spinach Mini Muffins and Whole Wheat Pumpkin Mini Muffins. I'd like to share a third with you today...Peanut Butter Bran Muffins. I actually cannot believe how delicious these are. I mean,'s a bran muffin! I remember seeing brown, strange looking bran muffins at my grandmother's house when I was younger. They never looked or sounded appealing, but I promise these bran muffins are a totally different story! 

I found the original recipe on Weelicious, a fantastic blog where I get very many of my recipe ideas. I had purchased a container of Sunflower Seed Butter from Trader Joe's hoping my son would like it for a little variety on his then daily peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Unfortunately he did not care for it, and I did not like it enough to just eat it as is, so I was left to search for some way to use it. There are lots of recipes available using this particular seed butter if you look for them, and one that sounded very appealing to me was the Sunflower Butter Bran Muffin recipe on Weelicious. They were so tasty that I used the rest of the sunflower seed butter to make the muffins a few more times. Eventually, I ran out of the sunflower butter, and since I did not intend on buying it again I decided to try it with peanut butter, which I always have on hand. Yum...what a fantastic muffin recipe! I have since also tried making these with almond butter, which is also delicious! I have made a few tweaks to the recipe in the several times I have made them to make them even healthier, and I am excited to share them with you! So let's get to muffin making! 

Start by measuring 2 and 1/2 cups of bran flakes into a large bowl. You can find these on the cereal aisle. I use these: 

Pour 1 and 1/4 cup milk into the bowl with the bran flakes, and I stir it around a little to make sure the bran flakes are coated. Let this soak together for 5 minutes. The milk will soften the bran flakes, so the finished muffins won't have a crunchy cereal texture to them. 

After the 5 minutes have passed, whisk in one large egg, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/4 plus 1 teaspoon of oil (I use canola oil or coconut oil that I melt in the microwave and let cool), 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and 1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter. Feel free to use any nut or seed butter you like. I have made these with sunflower seed butter, peanut butter, and almond butter and they have all been delicious! I imagine you could use maple syrup or honey in place of the sugar, but that will make the mixture more wet, so you may want to decrease the amount of oil or increase the amount of flour or flax seeds that you add. 

Next, since these are muffins, we need to measure and whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. So into a small bowl measure 1 cup of flour, 1 Tablespoon of ground flax seeds, 1 Tablespoon of baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. I use white whole wheat flour, but you could use all-purpose flour if you prefer. I imagine spelt flour would also work, though I have not tried it yet myself...I have a brand new bag of spelt flour in the freezer, and it's on my list of things to try, so I'll post about it as soon as I do! 

Next take your dry ingredients and add them to the large bowl with the wet ingredients and mix it all together gently until it is just combined. As always when you are making muffins you don't want to over mix the batter. 

Then gently fold in 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips. These were optional in the original recipe, but they are not optional for me! The chocolate chips are so delicious in this that I do not make this recipe unless I have mini chocolate chips in my pantry! 

Next pour the batter into a greased mini muffin tin, filling each cup about 2/3 full. I grease mine with coconut oil spray. 

Bake these for about 12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The toothpick will come out mostly clean...sometimes you hit a chocolate chip, so it will come out with melted chocolate on it, and that's okay. You just don't want wet batter on the end of the toothpick when you pull it out. Generally muffins will spring back when you gently press the top of them, so that is another way to check for doneness. 

These muffins are best served warm! When I eat them leftover I always nuke them in the microwave for a few seconds so the chocolate gets nice and melty! They also freeze very well. I would definitely freeze them if you don't finish them within 3-4 days. Just place them on a baking sheet and freeze for an hour or so, then move them to a labeled ziploc freezer bag. 

Here's a little tip: This recipe will make more than 24 mini muffins, but less than 48, so if you use a 24-mini muffin pan to bake your second batch you will have some empty cups. I fill mine about half way full with water to protect the pan and to make it easier to clean. 

My 16-month-old daughter adores these muffins as do my husband and myself! These are not my 3-year-old son's favorite muffins for some strange reason...he has tried them a few times and does not care for them. However everyone else that tries them loves them and asks for the recipe! I always pull out some kind of leftover frozen muffins for my son to have when I make these. I'm sharing the fact that he doesn't like these because sometimes kids (and anyone for that matter) just don't like things, and that's okay! He eats a wide variety of foods and is open to trying new things, so I am okay with him not liking these...that does not stop me from making them regularly for the rest of us though! 

Peanut Butter Bran Muffins
Adapted from Weelicious 

2 1/2 cups bran flakes
1 1/4 cups milk
1 large egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon canola oil or coconut oil (melted and cooled) 
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (or any nut or seed butter you like) 
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon ground flax seeds 
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips 

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a mini muffin tin with non-stick spray. 
2. Combine the bran flakes and milk in a large bowl and let sit for 5 minutes.
3. Whisk the egg, brown sugar, oil, vanilla, and peanut butter into the bran flake mixture. 
3. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the flour, flax seeds, baking powder and salt.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in the mini chocolate chips. 
5. Pour into prepared mini muffin pan, filling about 2/3 full and bake for 12 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

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