Bran New Start

My mood coach (aka my husband) has pointed out to me a number of times that improving your life in some dramatic way looks great in the movies, but isn’t so practical in normal life. Instead, what about making just a tiny percentage of it better? I was already aware of the how-to-meditate book and app by news anchor Dan Harris, 10%Happier, but ten percent seemed too ambitious a goal. Why not try for, well, 1%?

That is, instead of looking for some massive about-face–a new career! a new home! or, as some people seek, a new spouse!–what about tiny tweaks here and there to add a little more light and color to a day? Upbeat music instead of the news; an upbeat, inspiring novel instead of the latest gloomy literary fiction; choosing to play the piano for a few minutes instead of squeezing in one more chore.

It’s the oat bran muffin principle, really.

Say what?

Think about it. We all want to be healthier, right? And many of us make or feel we ought to make dramatic resolutions to get there. New gym membership, half marathon, going vegan.

Much more realistic to think of making tiny tweaks to existing regimens.

For instance, improve those dread cholesterol numbers and aging digestions by adding oat bran to the daily diet, which is both easy and delicious if you bake up a bunch of these muffins. I mean, they even look healthy, don’t they?


An officemate of my spouse gave him the following recipe years ago and swore it turned her health around. My spouse already eats oatmeal every weekday, but these add much more fiber. And are portable. And imo taste a whole lot better than a bowl of oatmeal, no matter how much stuff you sprinkle on top.

I’ve played with the recipe so much over time to make it healthier that I don’t actually remember what the original is. So here’s my version:

Stir together:

1 1/2 cup oat bran

1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (depending on my mood, I’ll substitute white flour for some of this so the muffins are a bit lighter)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp soda

1/2-3/4 tsp salt

1/3-1/2 sugar of some kind (white, brown, splenda)

tsp each of nutmeg and cinnamon, or more to taste (You can play with the spices, or add grated lemon or orange peel or a splash of vanilla extract).

If you want raisins, now’s a good time to stir in a good 1/2 cup or so. I prefer frozen blueberries, which add all kinds of antioxidants.

Beat together by hand:

3 eggs (original recipe used egg whites only, I think. I’ve never bothered, since the medical world seems to be in favor of eggs again.)

2 TBS dark molasses

1/3 cup low fat buttermilk

6 Tbs unsweetened applesauce (I generally have some in the deep freeze from the fall crop. If you mistakenly buy sweetened applesauce, you’ll need to adjust the recipe’s sugar.)

1 Tbs plain nonfat yogurt.

(Note I’ve removed the oil from this recipe. The applesauce and yogurt add the moistness. If you want to use oil, just substitute a couple of TBS for the applesauce.)

Fork stir the wet ingredients into the dry. Do not over-mix. Use ice cream scoop to drop into muffin tin: I use a silicone one, which eliminates the need to grease the tins or use paper cupcake liners, which tend to stick to the baked muffin.


Bake about 10 minutes at 375, until a toothpick comes out clean. Recipe makes about 24 muffins, depending on how large you make them. These freeze well.


Happy health!












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