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Cherry Pecan Bran Muffins

Sometimes I think I would be perfectly happy in the kitchen making nothing but muffins all day long.  Quick to prepare and endlessly adaptable, muffins are fun, easy, and delicious – and I believe everyone should learn to bake them.

If you’ve been reading about my kitchen adventures for any length of time, you already know that I tend to make a lot of whole grain muffins.  While I do love sweet, cake-like muffins, I decided long ago that if I’m going to snack on something that tastes like dessert, I’d almost always rather go for an actual cupcake.

So while my muffins might not fall into the category of health food, I do try to find a nice balance between flavor, texture, and nutrition.  These cherry pecan bran muffins are no exception.  The muffins are packed with fiber but aren’t overly dense or heavy; the tart cherries and pecans lend a wonderful flavor, but also pack a nutritional punch.  Tart cherries are filled with antioxidants, are a natural source of melatonin, and might help to ease the pain of arthritis, and when taken out of the pie, pecans are good for you as well.

I’ve been eating these muffins for breakfast with a side of Greek yogurt, but they also make a great mid-afternoon snack.  You may substitute other dried fruits or nuts for the cherries and pecans, but I found this combination to be a delicious one.

Cherry Pecan Bran Muffins

1 1/2 cups wheat bran
1/2 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup dried tart cherries, roughly chopped
1/2 cup chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare a 12-cup muffin tin with butter, nonstick baking spray, or paper liners.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together wheat bran and boiling water; set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.  When wheat bran has cooled, whisk in the egg, milk, oil, and brown sugar.  Pour wet bran mixture into the flour mixture and stir with a large spoon until just combined.  Fold in the chopped cherries and pecans.

3. Divide batter between the twelve muffin cups (a regular-sized ice cream scoop works well).  Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 18-22 minutes, or until the top of the muffin springs back lightly to your touch or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Check early and don’t let them over bake.

Nutrition Info per serving (one muffin):  252 calories; 11 grams fat; 37 grams total carbohydrate; 4 grams fiber; 15 grams sugars; 5 grams protein.  Nutrition information is approximate – analyzed through NutritionData.com

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