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Sunday, February 5, 2017

Oat Bran Muffins - Lower Carb, All Real, All Good

In August of 2016, Mr. Dwayne was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. It was not something that was on our radar, but probably should have been. We'd both gained weight over the last few years of extreme stress and deaths in our family. I have to admit, we often took what I call "The Ice Cream Cure." Hey, carbs work. Emotional eating happens because, in the short term, it works. 

I've always been for real food. Lots of fruits and veggies. I like to eat things that have some life force in them - things that have been alive recently. I thought our diet was pretty good. I do take time to cook from scratch on most occasions. But, then, mmmmm, the ice cream. 

I came of age cooking for my family during the low-fat craze. Some of my favorite recipes come from Jane Brody's Good Food Book: Living the High Carbohydrate Way. I learned about beans and rice and combining plant proteins. I learned how to use various whole grain flours and traditional baking methods from Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book - which remains a classic resource. While all this is pretty healthy, it doesn't suit the needs of my family now.

Now, I have to learn to cook a different way - fewer carbs, carefully selected, in small portions. 

My initial forays into the online world of "low carb" revealed a lot of meat and dairy and treats with artificial sweeteners. Some advocated "no carb" or "keto" - an extreme approach that seems to be about weight loss more than health. It all seemed out of balance to me. Yet, we needed to take action and improve my sweetie's health fast. 

We did eat more animal protein and dairy than usual. It made the first few weeks fairly painless for Mr. Dwayne, who did not have to give up his favorite foods. After a few weeks of this, I was dragging and cranky. Super low carb was not a viable or sustainable option for me. I added in a few more fruits and whole grains. Mr. Dwayne lost weight quickly. 

Here we are, 5 months later. Mr. Dwayne has lost 45 pounds and I have lost 20. I've been working on better fitness, with Zumba classes and a gym membership. Overall, we've found a better balance in our diet and we both feel better. The joke at our house is that cabbage is the new potato. 

The only thing that did not go well were Mr. Dwayne's cholesterol numbers. They went up 10 points in that 5 months. Not the good kind either. So, we had to change again. Minimal cheese and limited red meat and processed meat. Lots more veg. So far so good. 

I've been searching for a way to get more water soluble fiber into his diet. This type of fiber is proven to assist with heart health, gut health and in lowering cholesterol. The problem is, he hates beans and only likes oatmeal in the form of cookies. So, I set out to find a way to get him the fiber in a way that is full of flavor and nutrients and low in carbs. Most of the oat bran muffin recipes online have lots of sugar, plus white flour. Low carb muffins seem to all have artificial sweeteners. By combining a few recipes and doing a lot of testing, I think I finally hit the mark.

This recipe makes 12 muffins, which have 111 calories each, with 15 grams of carbs and 7 grams of sugars. According to the American Diabetic Association and his meals should have 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates. The nutrition and diabetes management classes with our health provider suggest that each meal should be under 45 grams. Mr. Dwayne considers a serving for breakfast to be 2 muffins, keeping his carbs well within the 45 gram limit.

Because they don't rise as much as traditional cake-like muffins, you can fill the muffin cups nearly to the top. You can line the cups with papers or with non-stick spray. I like the crust, so I don't use the papers, even though clean up is easier that way.

Flat topped, but flavorful and moist. They are lightly sweetened with banana, blackstrap molasses and raisins - all highly nutritious foods. I know Mr. Dwayne will enjoy them. We'll find out how they work in the next few months!

Oat Bran Muffins
1/2 cup raisins plus boiling water
2 cups Oat Bran hot cereal
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 mashed ripe banana (about 1/2 cup)
2 tbsp. oil (I used olive oil)
2 tbsp. black strap molasses
1 egg
1 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line or grease a standard muffin tin.

Place the raisins in a heat proof bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside.

Combine the Oat Bran, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.

Mash the banana and add the oil, molasses and egg. Whisk to combine. Whisk in the milk. 

Drain the raisins. Stir the milk mixture and raisins into the oat bran mixture until moistened. Evenly distribute between 12 muffin tins. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove from muffin tin to cooling rack immediately. Enjoy!

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