It's been so long. I almost lost you, didn't I? Fortunately you're pretty much all my best friends so your dedication withstands the test of time, flourishes even in my absence.
The reasons for the long gap in posts are as follows:
I was on vacation. And then I took a vacation from my vacation. And then I took another vacation from my vacation. I actually did some cooking on said vacation(s), but the cooking mostly involved repeat performances of things I've already posted about here. Maybe you are wondering which of my posts are particularly worthy of repeat performances? Well, these are the ones that were at least worthy of the Californians with whom I spent most of January: Damn Good Chili (hey, guess what, dried beans take a SUPER LONG TIME to cook at high altitudes); Corn Chowder (this last time with a mix of fish rather than just salmon - pretty tasty); Spicy Black Bean Burgers (only I used cranberry beans instead - warning: they are a bit drier than black beans!); and Gingery Lemon Squash Soup (my mom doesn't love ginger, so to temper the gingeriness I swapped in a 14-oz can of coconut milk for an equal portion of the water/broth - super good!). (Oh! Also I am again making The Best Egg Casserole Ever for my in-laws tomorrow morning and am quite excited about that. Yum!)
My relationship with food recently has been in flux. Late last year I had a renewed conviction that I should go vegetarian, maybe even vegan. (This happens every few years. Let's just leave it at that.) Then, in mid-January, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. So my interest in a sustenance based on whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables was compromised somewhat, as my medically-prescribed diet prioritized protein consumption over carbohydrates - no matter how whole or natural those carbohydrates are. I've been testing my blood sugars regularly for over three weeks now and have learned a great deal about how my body processes carbohydrates. I've also eaten more protein in the last month than ever before - mostly meat and dairy though, because that's easiest, but I'm working on changing that a bit now that I'm back in my own kitchen and shopping at my usual stores. Slowly but surely I've stopped resenting all my awesome new cookbooks; I'm figuring out that I still can eat most of the foods I like (even an occasional sweet) and grow a healthy baby, but a preoccupation with portion control and timing is going to have to be part of my life for at least the next couple of months. And there are still kinks, still extreme, fear-charged responses when my blood sugar levels fluctuate more than I'd like (like after I ate a BLT with a pile of fries on an empty, hungry stomach), still frustrations and reservations as I tackle the kitchen. So for a little while, what I cook and eat, and thus what I have to share here, might end up being kind of random. Even more random than usual, that is. And my posting might be scarcer, but I'll do my best.
Since we've been back home, until this weekend anyway, it's been too cold to leave the house. So we didn't manage a proper grocery store trip until this morning. In the meantime, there were a lot of whey protein shakes and quesadillas using tortillas and cheese from my freezer. This issue has been remedied.
And now to the real reason you're here: Blueberry Bran Muffins!
Loved by toddlers the world over!
Or by my toddler, anyway. Who is so freaking cute, right?
By the way, I used another alternative sweetener in making these, sorghum cane juice, which is similar in flavor and consistency to light molasses. It's not especially sweet as far as sweeteners go, but it did the job well in these muffins, and made them super moist to boot. These are dense muffins, hence no fluffy muffin top, but I like muffins that way, especially bran muffins.
The recipe is inspired by the blueberry bran muffins I used to devour by the six-pack-full from Trader Joe's, and as a starting point I used a Smitten Kitchen recipe based on an Epicurious recipe.
The homemade ones are MUCH better than the TJ's ones.
I made these in the evening. While they were cooling in the pan, I took a bath that was about thirty minutes in duration. Afterwards, thinking it was time to try one, I asked my husband if he'd like one as well. "I already had two," he responded. Later, I gave three of them to my lovely neighbor, still warm, and when I saw her the next morning she had eaten them all. These folks aren't over-eaters. The muffins just go down easy. Be warned.
Blueberry Bran Muffins
Inspired by Trader Joe's; adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Yield: 12 muffins
1/2 cup oil
1/3 cup sorghum cane juice (or honey or maple syrup or agave nectar or brown rice syrup)*
1 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup unprocessed wheat or oat bran
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (or more wouldn't hurt)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and butter a 12-inch standard muffin tin. Whisk together the oil, sorghum cane juice, egg, plain yogurt, and vanilla until as thoroughly combined as possible. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, bran, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Mix dry ingredients into wet until just combined. Gently stir in blueberries until they are evenly distributed. Scoop batter evenly into twelve muffin cups. Bake for 16 minutes, rotating muffin tin 180 degrees about half-way through baking time. Allow to cool for about ten minutes in pan and then remove to finish cooling, eat, or store.
Note: I removed three after about ten minutes and had an easy time doing so. I removed the rest about an hour later and it got trickier. They'd grown more decidedly attached to their muffin tin home by then.
Nutrition info per muffin, for those of you who may care: 196 calories / 23 g carbohydrates / 3 g protein. I figure, if I'm counting this stuff, I might as well share it, eh? (Sorry, weight watchers - I don't calculate fat and fiber at this point!)
*If you like a sweeter muffin, EITHER use honey, agave nectar or maple syrup rather than sorghum or brown rice syrup, OR use sorghum or brown rice syrup AND add 2-4 tablespoons of regular or brown sugar.