Cranberry banana bran muffins fit the healthy bill

The test kitchen’s pursuit of the perfect bran muffin proved one of the more difficult challenges we’ve tackled. We started with all kinds of crazy ideas, that included making sweet potato caramel for frosting (which is a very good idea, but not quite right for these muffins), using lots of greek yogurt for moisture, and even baking/frying the muffins at the same time in coconut oil (sounds weird, because it was, but dang those little guys were tasty).

Eventually we circled back to a more minimalist pursuit, a less-is-more strategy that brought about the desired results. We ended up creating three bran muffins from scratch: the Chocolate Peanut Butter Bran Muffin, The Blueberry Coconut Bran Muffin and the Cranberry Banana Bran Muffin.

2014-02-13 16.51.07

We will post the recipes and calorie information for all three, but we decided to start with the true winner, the best of the best, the Cranberry Banana Bran Muffin. It turned out so good we felt guilty eating it. But with 13 grams of protein, only 228 calories and 1 gram of fat, these big fatty muffins fit the bill of both tasty, moist and good for you (though admittedly both the sugars and carbs came in higher than on the other two when we ran the nutrition data).

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 cup bran
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup whey protein powder
  • 1/2 cup unpacked brown sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly whipped until combined
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup dried, unsweetened cranberries

Directions:

  1. Prepare muffin pans by greasing sides lightly with butter. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl.
  3. In a stand mixer combine banana, egg, brown sugar, milk, yogurt and vanilla, just until blended, about one minute.
  4. Fold wet into dry until combined, then fold in the cranberries.
  5. Pour batter into muffin pan, nearly full so they will rise and become very big.
  6. Bake for about 18 minutes, but watch carefully. Check with tester and remove promptly when dough has clotted and the tester comes out nearly smooth.
  7. Let stand for five minutes then remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.
  8. Best served warm but kept well for several days. Can be frozen as well.

Nutrition data from Sparklepeople.com, which was WAY easier than nutritiondata.com (they have some serious kinks to work out. I’ll just leave it at that).

Nutrition Facts
  9 Servings
Amount Per Serving
  Calories 232.5
  Total Fat 2.2 g
  Saturated Fat 1.1 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 0.3 g
  Cholesterol 47.7 mg
  Sodium 430.8 mg
  Potassium 176.2 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 44.7 g
  Dietary Fiber 2.3 g
  Sugars 14.9 g
  Protein 14.0 g
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