Friday, March 04, 2011

The Best Vegan Bran Muffin Recipe! Bake-Off Between Kellogg's All-Bran Versus Nature's Path Smart Bran Cereals.

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Sometimes you Just Need a Bran Muffin!
It's not always easy getting 25 or more grams of fiber a day. And you know what happens if you don't! So you think, I'll just buy that big, beautiful bran muffin at Starbucks. That must be SOOOO healthy, right? 
WRONG! That little beauty has 420 calories, 19 grams of fat, 23 grams of sugar and for all that, it only delivers 6 grams of fiber! I'll show you how to deliver almost that many grams of fiber with a delicious muffin that has less than 150 calories! 
Besides helping you poop, a diet high in fiber also lowers blood cholesterol levels, helps control your blood sugar levels as well as your appetite which will keep you slim and beautiful! These 150 calorie beauties will fit nicely into any weight loss program.
How do you Pick a Good Fiber Cereal for your Muffins?
Most popular bran muffin home recipes start with a high fiber cereal. Kellogg's All-Bran cereal has been around since 1916 and millions of batches of muffins have been baked starting with that tried and true ingredient. But is that the best one to use? I looked around for other high fiber cereals and I found one that you might be interested in. It's Smart Bran by Nature's Path.

Nature's Path's "Smart Bran" on the left, Kellogg's "All-Bran" on the right.
Let's Compare
First, let's look at the ingredients.
All Bran's ingredients include: wheat bran, sugar, the dreaded high fructose corn syrup, malt flavoring, and a bunch of added vitamins, including the much coveted vitamin B12 (critical for vegans). 
Smart Bran ingredients include: organic wheat bran, organic oat fiber, organic evaporated cane juice, organic psyllium seed husk, organic barley malt extract, organic oat bran, organic whole oat flour, sea salt.
A quick look will show you that Smart Bran ingredients are all organic which is a plus. They also use 3 types of fiber: wheat bran, oat bran and psyllium seed husk, all with their unique benefits. All-Bran only uses wheat bran.
All-Bran uses high fructose corn syrup - I know, HFCS has had a bad wrap. In fact they are rebranding it as "corn sugar". I still don't want to eat it, thank you very much. But All-Bran is fortified with vitamins which some vegans depend on. Smart Bran is not.
Without boring you with a label comparison, I will say that they are both very low in calories, low in fat, and of course, very high in fiber with both of them around 20 grams per cup.

Smart Bran (left) and All-Bran (right) both produced lovely bran muffins
Now for the Bake-Off!
I took the classic All-Bran muffin recipe, made it healthier and "veganized" it: replacing the egg with a flax egg, the milk with soy milk, replaced some of the sugar with stevia, and replaced some of the oil with mashed banana (complete recipe below).
The muffins made with Smart Bran resulted in a little lighter and moister muffin although the All-Bran muffin was also very good. Both muffins had very similar calorie and fat content (see below) and delivered almost the same fiber as the Starbucks muffin with one third the calories! 
The one big advantage of All-Bran is that it's easier to find. I had to drive to the larger Whole Foods in Santa Rosa to find Smart Bran. You can also buy a 6 pack of Smart Bran on the internet (which I did - I think we are set for a while!). 
Whatever cereal you choose, making your own bran muffins will always be a healthier option than buying them. Also, don't forget to bake with White Whole Wheat Flour. It's as delicate as white flour but has the fiber and nutrients of whole wheat!
Fiber Warning: If you aren't currently eating lots of fiber, introduce high fiber cereal and high fiber bran muffins into your diet gradually to avoid gastrointestinal distress and the distress of those around you! 

Vegan Bran Muffins
[makes 12 muffins]
2 cups All Bran or Smart Bran high fiber cereal
1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour 
Stevia (equivalent to 1/2 cup sugar)
1 tablespoon aluminum free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
4 tablespoons water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or unrefined, organic canola
1/4 cup Sucanat or organic cane sugar
1 cup vanilla or regular soy milk, (or other non-dairy milk)
1/2 cup mashed banana, (or apple sauce)
1/3 cup dried cranberries or raisins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Grease a 12 muffin pan.
In a large bowl, combine cereal, flour, stevia, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
In a cup or small bowl, make a flax egg by combining the flax seed with water and beating well. Set aside.
In another bowl, mix oil, sugar, milk and mashed banana. Add flax egg and mix well.
Add wet mixture to dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
Fold in cranberries until evenly distributed.
Fill muffin pan and bake for 16 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick, when inserted in the middle of the muffins, comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
Remove muffins from pan and serve warm with Tofutti vegan cream cheese or try one of my recipes for Low Sugar Jam.

Per serving (using All-Bran cereal): 153 calories, 6.1 g fat, 0.8 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 3.8 g protein, 25.4 g carbohydrates and 5.4 g dietary fiber.

Per serving (using Smart Bran cereal): 148.9 calories, 6.0 g fat, 0.8 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 3.2 g protein, 23.7 g carbohydrates and 5.3 g dietary fiber.


Anonymous said...

Kellog's cereals all have vitamin D from an animal source, for the record.

Dr. Joanne L. Mumola Williams said...

This is true. Many fortified foods contain D3 which is usually made from lanolin, the oil from sheep's wool. The vegetarian form of vitamin D is D2 and is derived from fungus.

Carla said...

I made this recipe this morning, didn't use cereal, I just used bran and it turned out wonderfully. Thanks :) I put a pic on my blog :

Dr. Joanne L. Mumola Williams said...

Great idea! Thanks for sharing Carla.

Kara said...

Thanks for this recipe : )

Dr. Joanne L. Mumola Williams said...

You're welcome Kara!

Anonymous said...

Literally love these!! I hate when people say what they did different in a recipe however, I did fresh blueberries the first time and it was great as well. Used craisins like the recipe calls and it was great also. Finally, just an idea (I'm trying this tomorrow) the orange flavored dried cranberries from trader joes. Anyway thank you!!

mylittlepoems said...

I modified the recipe a little bit and it turned out great. After tasting the muffins, my friends told me I should start my own business ;) I added 1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut, 1/4 cup of chopped walnut and 1/4 cup of chocolate chip.

Dr. Joanne L. Mumola Williams said...

Delicious additions! Will have to try. Thanks for sharing,