Holidays...good. Overindulging...bad. Sometimes it's hard to get back in the healthy groove once one's fallen off the proverbial wagon. So, I thought I'd offer up a fairly quick and healthy bran muffin, with a tasty twist, to help with those new and improved best intentions (aka resolutions). Read on for said 'twist'...
Behold the twist....grapes!
Roasting the grapes couldn't be easier. I had a large bunch that had languished a few days too many in the fridge. Not perky enough to eat on their own, but perfect for roasting. Toss the grapes with some olive oil and honey, roast for about 10 minutes, and prepare yourself for a lovely caramelized (and significantly reduced in volume) mess of shrunken grapes and thick, pink juice.
For the bran muffin recipe, I borrowed heavily from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day cookbook, but added a few Luv'n Spoonfuls tweaks here and there. I'm also forever indebted to Maria Speck, the author of Ancient Grains for Modern Meals for the inspiration for the roasted grapes. Roasted grapes...who knew? These have definitely been added to my Where The Heck Has This Been All My Life list. Soooo good! Maria uses them as topping for farro. I can't wait to try them again, maybe as a nice substitute for raisins in an oatmeal cookie? The photos are of the unroasted grapes (the roasted grape pictures resulted in rather homely, shriveled orbs that seriously belied their superstar taste).
Bran muffins get a bad rap for being dry, crumbly, and not too interesting. More a kind of 'I should eat this because it's good for me' food item. This recipe should shatter those stereotypes rather handily. The muffin is tender and moist, and full of good-for-you ingredients. The roasted grapes add some delicious (and I think much-needed) interest. These are definitely bran muffins, with a bran-forward taste, perfect for those of us who appreciate and enjoy the hearty flavor.
This is my version of Raisin Bran cereal without the bowl! An interesting addition might be a small dollop of slightly sweetened goat cheese or mascarpone hidden in the middle. I plan on experimenting next time with some grape syrup, something that caught my eye the last time I was at the Middle Eastern store. I think the flavor would work well in place of the agave used here. I would love to hear from anyone who has used this ingredient before as it will be a first for me (and I do so love to experiment).
Resolutions...so much easier to stick to with the help of a delightful and healthy treat here and there.
2 large eggs, preferably organic
1 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk (I used yogurt)
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup agave syrup, or maple syrup, or grape syrup
1 tablespoon unsulphered molasses (optional)
2 cups crushed bran cereal, unsweetened or lightly sweetened
2 tablespoons natural sugar (or slightly more to taste)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Approximately three cups red grapes (which should cook down into approximately one cup)
Splash of olive oil
4 tablespoons honey
Preheat the oven to 475, and wash and dry the grapes. Scatter the grapes on a parchment lined, rimmed cookie sheet. Drizzle with a splash of olive oil and the honey, tossing well to coat. Roast for approximately 10 minutes; shake the pan every couple of minutes to prevent scorching. The juices from the grapes should have thickened slightly. Set aside to cool while assembling the batter for the muffins.
Place the eggs in a large bowl and lightly beat. Add the yogurt (or buttermilk), melted butter, olive oil, syrup of choice and molasses and mix well. Sprinkle the sugar and crushed bran cereal over the liquid mixture, mixing well. Set aside.
Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon over a piece of wax paper or into a medium bowl. Add to the large bowl with the wet ingredients, stirring until just mixed. Add approximately 3/4 cup of the roasted grapes, and mix lightly. Scoop into paper lined muffin pans (I ended up with approximately 16 muffins using a 4-tablespoon scooper). Top each muffin with a couple of reserved grapes and reduced grape juices.
Bake for approximately 18 to 22 minutes until lightly browned and a skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out dry. Let cool in the pans on a wire rack for five minutes, then remove from the pans to cool completely on the racks.