Saturday, April 19, 2008

The sweetness of whole(some) foods

Today I took a ride on the little-frequented (by me) Q train, which has a stop relatively close to my apartment. The distance is short enough that I have no problem walking to and from the station, but far enough that I wouldn’t want the Q to be my every day commuter train (that honor goes to the lovely F train). So when I took the leisurely stroll from the Q station, I noticed something very striking on Cortelyou Road: the newly-opened Flatbush Co-op, taking up the space that was once an Associated Supermarket.

Of course, I was — and still am — torn between the “there goes the neighborhood” attitude, knowing that my environs are becoming much more gentrified and soon I may not even be able to afford the rent around here, and the absolute thrill of knowing that I can walk to a big, beautiful co-op full of wholesome and natural foodstuff, and I don’t even need to join in order to shop there!

As one would expect, at the moment the latter impulse won over, and I dashed across the street and through the automatic doors of the bright, conscious-consumer friendly haven of all things organic. I made mental notes of produce prices and I eyed the juice bar menu; I found my favorite teas lined up directly at my eye level and basked in the aisle of Newman’s Own cookies. When I found the baking goods, I was struck by the sheer variety of what I could buy all-naturally…there was the run-of-the mill whole-wheat flour, sure, but there were also bags of spelts and brans and unrefined sugars, many with variations that I had never even known existed. It was amongst these shelves that I spied a bag of wheat bran. Picking it up and routinely checking out the nutrition information, I was reminded of a recipe that I had found and put aside, in my “remember for future use” file: Wheat Bran Blueberry Muffins.

While I simply do not have the need to have a full batch of muffins at my disposal, this recipe is absurdly healthful, and quite tasty looking as well. And if I can make a full batch of red velvet cupcakes, then I really should have no qualms with making the muffins, a much more wholesome choice.

I paid for my wheat bran, helped myself to a membership brochure (no, there is no room in my budget for a food co-op membership, but for a fleeting few moments, I had liked to think there could be), and soon after, I was in my kitchen, baking muffins.

The final product turned out delicious: sweet enough without tasting like a dessert, but with a strong taste of bran. However, eating a muffin at 7:00 in the evening just didn’t feel right. Perhaps tomorrow morning, they’ll be even better. My muffins have a darker coloring to them because I used frozen blueberries, and as I measured the berries out, some of the juice was also added to the batter. Oops! This is best avoided, but I don’t think it had any horrible effects on the outcome of the muffins.

Wheat Bran Blueberry Muffins

Yield: About 2 dozen regular-sized muffins


1 1/2 cups wheat bran
1 cup nonfat milk
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup blueberries


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease muffin cups or use paper muffin liners. Mix together wheat bran and milk, and let stand for 10 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, mix together applesauce, egg, brown sugar, and vanilla. Beat in bran mixture. Sift together all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir into bran mixture until just blended. Fold in blueberries. Scoop into muffin cups.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 16 to 20 minutes, or until tops spring back when lightly tapped.

Recipe courtesy of

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