Five years ago, almost to the day, I published a recipe for a bran muffin sweetened with only dates and bananas. To this day it remains the recipe on this site that I am most proud of, and probably the most Muffin Mythiest muffin recipe there is, so I thought it was high time I dug it out of the archives and brought it to your attention.
In our home a batch of these muffins is made about once a week, and kept in the freezer for to be pulled out and packed along to the office for a mid-morning snack or late breakfast. This consumes a good amount of space in our tiny Euro freezer, but it well worth the sacrifice for the weekday convenience it offers.
A colleague of mine, who is French, cuttingly dry, and unintentionally hilarious decided to give these muffins a try, her first foray into the world of ‘healthy’ baking, and sent me a full report:
Report from the experience(s)
1. I bought ingredients I didn’t even know existed and there were organic!!
2. I bake for the first time without the usual butter and sugar
3. It still smelled nice
4. It tasted nutritious.
5. I will need to review my definition of baking to integrate ‘nutritious’ baking.
Nutritious baking tastes good and is healthy for everyone in the family. My husband who snacks a lot loves it (guilt-free snack) and the children liked them too (finally a muffin that they can eat as much as they want).
I bake to treat myself and these muffins (although they taste good) don’t taste of what I am used to.
But I will persevere.
Ah, that cracks me up.
But it highlights and important point, which is your expectation of what a muffin *should* taste like. In Sweden, and much of Europe, ‘muffin’ is the word used to refer to cupcake, or a buttery, sugar-laden coffee shop treat. If you’re making these muffins expecting them to taste like that, you’re going to be disappointed.
But, if you’re going into things expecting a healthy baked good that still tastes great, you’re on point. These are sweet, but not too sweet. Moist, but not buttery. Tender, but still hearty. Use the brownest bananas you have (frozen bananas are great too) for the sweetest muffins. And store your muffins in the freezer! Not only will they last longer, but there’s something about being frozen then thawed that brings out another layer of sweetness. Trust me on this one.
Bananas are a great source of concentrated energy and potassium. They are also a very good source of vitamin B6 and a good source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, and manganese.
Dates are wonderful things. They truly are nature’s candy. They’re sweet and caramelly, and they are jam packed with sugar. 100g of dates contains roughly 265 calories, 75g carbohydrates, 2g protein, and only traces of fat. Of that 75g carbohydrates, about 90% is sugar, which is mostly in the form of glucose and fructose. This means that of those 265 calories, about 240 come from sugar. So when we’re baking with dates and saying ‘this recipe has no sugar!’ what we’re really saying is ‘this recipe has no REFINED sugar!’ But don’t let the calories stop you from eating dates! They are also an excellent source of dietary fiber (about 7g in that 100g serving), and dates are especially rich in soluble fiber, which is the kind that helps maintain healthy blood cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar levels. Plus dates are rich in a host of different vitamins and minerals (more info after the recipe), so eat ‘em up! In moderation.
One year ago: Creamy Cauliflower Pasta Bake and Beans on Toast
Three years ago: Grated Apple and Yoghurt Breakfast Bowl and Naturally Sweetened Pumpkin Pie
Four years ago: Pankakkor (Swedish Pancakes)
Five years ago: No Sugar Banana Branners (the first time!)
no sugar banana bran muffins
- 200 g about 1½ cups chopped pitted dates
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 very ripe bananas mashed
- 2 Tbsp of soft butter OR olive oil I've used both with the same results
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1½ cups of wheat bran
- ½ cup rolled oats
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 banana diced
- 1 cup walnuts chopped
Grease your muffin tins, and preheat your oven to 200°C/ 400°F.
In a small (but not too small!) pot, combine the dates and water and heat to boiling on high heat. As soon as the water boils, add the tsp of baking soda, and stir to combine. Marvel at the foamy science that is happening and do not be alarmed, just make sure your pot is large enough that it won't foam over. Set mixture aside to cool.
In a stand mixer, whip together mashed bananas and butter or olive oil until it is light and frothy.
Add the eggs and whip to combine them.
Stir in milk, bran, and oats, and set aside.
In a small bowl sift together flour with baking powder and salt.
Add the dates to the wet mixture, and stir to combine.
Add the remaining dry ingredients, and mix by hand.
Mix in diced banana and walnuts.
Spoon into prepared muffin tins.
Bake for 20 - 25 min, until tops are golden and a knife inserted into the middle of one of the muffins comes out clean.
Recipe Notes-This recipe uses 200g of chopped dates, which, crammed into a measuring cup equaled about one and a half cups. You'll want to chop the dates before you measure them, otherwise you won't have enough.
-I like to cut dates with my trusty kitchen scissors rather than a knife.
-Store muffins in the freezer for optimal sweetness.
Other healthy muffin recipes you may like:
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