Compared to the buttery, icing-piped white scones and tartlets in the pastry case, the bran muffin always seems like the obvious choice for the hungry healthy-breakfast browser. The bran adds a good bit of fiber and a little protein, too. But most bakery batters are made fluffy with white flour and sweetened with enough sugar to cover four glazed donuts—a 400-plus-calorie breakfast with more than 70g of carbs, most from refined sources like white flour and brown sugar. And the portion size? These muffins are enormous. Our mission: Bring the bran muffin back into balanced territory with 100% whole grains and no refined sugar—but still keep it moist and packed with flavor.
Classic: 440 calories per muffin 13.4 grams total fat per muffin
Makover: 168 calories per muffin 5.4 grams total fat per muffin
To build a muffin batter without refined sugar, we look to two naturally sweet elements: dates and ripe bananas. Dates become soft and plump when soaked in fresh orange juice; then we puree them until silky smooth with a little butter, oil, and ripe banana.
While it's a healthy ingredient, wheat bran is actually just one piece of the wheat grain—not technically a whole grain—so we round out the batter with whole-grain pastry flour. Healthy bran adds 1mg iron and 3.5g fiber to each muffin.