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whole-grain ideas? muffins?

  • g

hi there!

i am trying to incorporate more whole grains (and fiber in general) into my diet. i've got a few questions. any help would be much appreciated!

1) does anybody have a *tasty* whole grain or high-fiber muffin recipe?

i'd prefer something that accentuates and works with the natural flavor and texture of the grain rather than trying to mask it with a ton of sugar. it doesn't even have to be sweet at all...i once had a really excellent zucchini muffin.

2) any other yummy (preferably quick) breakfast ideas?

3) i've started using whole-wheat pasta, i *don't* like quinoa, and I've always used brown rice. anyone have any whole grains that they love and would introduce me to? extra appreciation given for a yummy recipe that highlights the yumminess of that grain! :)


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  1. Not a recipe at all, but if it's available in your area, try Orowheat's Winter Wheat bread - it's full of whole grains and nuts, nutritionally dense and quite tasty.

    1. eat Wheatena! I eat it for dinner sometimes when I'm feeling homesick.

      1. eat Wheatena! I eat it for dinner sometimes when I'm feeling homesick.

        1. I happen to really like the apple oat bran muffin recipe from Fannie Farmer--it's entirely bran, which strikes my boyfriend as a bit odd, but I like the texture (and the fiber!!!!). I made a banana-walnut batch, leaving out the cinnamon and substituting some honey for half the brown sugar, this afternoon and they smell lovely.

          The standard recipe is 1 c grated apple, 1 c ("lowfat OK") milk, 2 T vegetable oil, 2 egg whites; 2 c oat bran, 1/2 c brown sugar, 2 t baking powder, 1 t cinnamon, 1/2 t salt. 15-17 mins in a 425-degree oven.

          One nice suggested variation is substituting 1/4 c molasses for half the brown sugar, substituting 1/4 t ground ginger for the cinnamon and substituting raisins for apples.

          1 Reply
          1. re: KB

            thanks for the tip...

            what exactly is oat bran, though? i went to whole foods last night and found flax seed, whole wheat flour, and miller's bran.....but no "oat bran"

            what does it look like? where can i find it?


          2. I like barley a lot for soups and pilaf-type dishes. I also like rolled rye mixed in with rolled oats for cereal. But my boyfriend, who has been trying to get more whole grains into his diet for about a year now, has the best recommendation of all - mix. Grains that aren't so great on their own (quinoa, millet) can be delicious if mixed with other grains (brown rice, wild rice, barley, bulgher). Strange, but true. It's more work, since usually you have to cook them separately, but if you make a nice grain salad with the leftovers, it's worth the effort.

            1. I like this EPI recipe (link below) for oatmeal muffins, but with some modifications to make them a bit healthier. The texture of the soaked oats is slightly chewy and fairly addictive.

              The following are changes I've made on various occasions. I pretty much always add the cinnamon because I think it goes so well with oatmeal.

              Add a teaspoon of cinnamon/pumpkin pie spice.

              Use half the butter and replace the other half with the same amount of canned pumpkin or drained applesauce. (this works great!)

              Substitute some or all whole wheat for the white flour. (half is about right for my tastes)

              Toss in a few tablespoons of ground flax seed (I do this with a lot of baked goods/smoothies/granola -- you name it.)

              Trade cinnamon chips for the currants.

              Link: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

              1. Wow, this is right up my alley as I've been baking & experimenting for the past 1-2 years with high fiber/whole wheat/whole grains. I haven’t given up sugar & white flour totally (I love a good crusty baguette too much to do that), but I’ve found the high fiber has totally helped my health & lets me eat more of the foods I like (and I like a lot of foods).

                I eventually perfected a bran muffin recipe with dried blueberries (will post that when I get home tonight). Chocolate chunks and walnuts are optional; add them if you like extra fiber & yumminess; don't if you think they complicate the muffin. I use wild blueberries since they have much more fiber than say, raisins or apples, and are yummier than say, carrots.

                General tips for high fiber baking:

                You have to get used to the more dense results. Don't expect the same fluffy texture as things made with refined (white) flour. But don’t worry, you don’t have to eat hockey pucks.

                Substitute ground flaxseed meal for part of any flour; it’ll make the fiber ratio jump way up. And sub almond meal for flour, esp. for things like crumb topping.

                Use dark brown sugar instead of white, it’ll make it seem just as sweet even if you’re using less, and the end product will be moister (brown sugar absorbs moisture).

                Use white whole wheat flour (instead of the usual “red” whole wheat flour) for a slightly less bitter taste. Use whole wheat pastry flour for pie crusts (yes, I’ve made decent pie crusts with whole wheat & flaxseed meal).

                For non-baked things:

                Adding legumes (lentils, beans, tofu) ups the fiber to any dish. I’ve found legumes ups the fiber more than whole grains.

                I’ve found decently high fiber whole wheat couscous at Trader Joes. Brown rice is better than white rice, but not actually very high in fiber. I buy a “mixed grain” blackish-brown rice from a Korean grocery store that’s got beans & peas in the mix. But it makes a mess in my rice cooker (and you have to remember to soak overnight before cooking).

                I love the Orowheat Winterwheat someone recommended, but my fave bread is Milton’s in the red label (the purple and orange labels aren’t high enough in fiber). I never was able to make my own high fiber bread taste as good as these, so I stopped trying but if you want to try, you need to buy wheat gluten, unless you like hockey puck bread (my husband does).

                Whole wheat pasta is kind of iffy. The ones commonly available actually don’t have very high fiber (if you check the Nutrition info). The ones labeled Low carb that have soy flour are high fiber, but taste awful or have weird texture after cooking (i.e., forget about achieving al dente: you get to choose between chewy hard or mushy). So do what you can; ie, use whole wheat pasta or buckwheat noodles even if they’re not much higher in fiber; I just eat white pasta/asian noodles less frequently.

                Whole wheat/Lowcarb tortillas have become a staple at my house. You have to read the info because some of the whole wheat tortillas don’t have much fiber. The ones that do, you have to get used to the texture (your burrito/wrap will crack, it can’t be helped). Stay away from the Mission low carb, it looks scary how white it is, and it doesn’t taste good. My favorite brands are Del Valle low carb and La Tortilla Factory low carb (the non-flavored ones).

                Finally, yes, you will go to the bathroom more frequently. Not anything like Montezuma’s revenge, don’t worry. But I usually have to go after eating 1 or 2 of my muffins.

                1. I just made the banana-oat muffins from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. 2 lg. ripe mashed bananas, 1 egg, 3/4 c. buttermilk, 2 tbsp. canola oil, 1/3 c. sugar, 1 cup oats (mix). 1 1/2 c. flour, 1 1/2 tsp. soda (mix). Mix all and bake 375 for 25 min (took about 18 min in my hot oven). I added cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and ground clove and a pinch of salt. I doubled the recipe and got 24 muffins.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: kfk

                    I like that recipe for a fairly healthy muffin. Madison also has a decent recipe for a quinoa muffin -- made with cooked quinoa, quinoa flour and WW pastry flower. I add some kind of chopped dried fruit to the recipe. Make sure to rinse the quinoa very well or it will be bitter.

                  2. Farro is delicious and doesn't take long to cook. You can either follow the directions on the package for a real dish, or just cook it alone or with aromatics (onion, garlic) in salted water to cover. Then toss it with olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice if you want a bit of acid, and some greens--arugula and radicchio are really good. Farro's a good base for experimenting/adding because there's some texture to it.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Millicent

                      Even easier than farro is BULGUR. It's pre-steamed, and whole grain (6.4g fiber per 1/4 dry cup, 120 calories); it doesn't even need to be simmered, but just soaked in hot water or broth until tender (you can drain excess liquid off once it is tender enough for you). You can also use it in place of white rice for most standard uses: pilafs, soups, et cet.; it takes slightly shorter to cook than white rice.

                      And it's far tastier and more nutritious. Also better for you than brown rice (which has half the amount of fiber per unit of volume, but takes 2-3 times as long to cook).


                      For breakfast, I love to add Wheetabix to my cereal.

                    2. Tabbouleh. If you grew up with traditional American cooking and haven't been exposed to tabbouleh it is is going to sound weird but give it a chance. You soak bulgur wheat in cold water while you finely chop parsley, scallions, and fresh mint. Drain and press the bulgur, add the stuff you chopped, then add fresh lemon juice, a bit of olive oil, and salt to taste. The lemon and mint are essential. Keeps a week in refrigerator. Very delicate; a refreshing salad in hot weather. Serve on lettuce.