Healthy Homemade Banana Bran Muffins

The muffin top: dreaded or almighty – extra belly weight or the better half of a sweet breakfast bread? As far as I am concerned, the whole terminology uncertainty is rather unfortunate. How did we get so wrapped up in the muffin top conundrum and forget about the integrity of the whole muffin? At what point do we examine the flavor, health benefits and textural appeal of the whole muffin or the strength and health condition of the whole body instead of criticizing or over-praising just one part?

Both the literal and figurative muffin tops can be detrimental to overall health and wellness. The nutrition facts on a “healthy bran muffin” I investigated at the local grocery chain contained 275 calories and 28 grams of sugar per serving, which is only half the muffin.

This means the average muffin consumer is going to get 550 calories and 56 grams of sugar in the first meal of the day. Research from the Mayo Clinic has revealed that excess belly weight significantly increases the risk of heart disease, breast cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and some forms of cancer.

In fact, it may be the conventional muffin that plays a role in the unhealthy development of a muffin top. Starting your day with a muffin like this one is what I am tempted to call healthy eating suicide. After a night of rest your body’s internal systems are starving for nourishment to provide the energy and nutrients it needs to function at top speed throughout the day.

The refined carbohydrates (aka sugar as soon as it hits your mouth), added refined sugar and flavorings provide only a sugar rush and crash.  Not only are you hungry for more hardly an hour after eating, your metabolism is clamoring to maintain regular function.

However, I am a big fan of muffins and a homemade muffin is a whole different animal, as far as I am concerned. Homemade muffins can actually be a healthy and easy breakfast food to have on hand throughout the week. Muffins don’t have to cause muffin tops, and muffin tops don’t have to be the only decent tasting portion of the muffin. Using whole grains, nuts, seeds, flax, bran, fruits and vegetables in your homemade muffins can help you create a more wholesome and good tasting food all the way through.

Whole grains will help slow down digestion, prolong energy release and jumpstart the metabolism. Added nutrients from dried or fresh fruits and vegetables will add nutritional value to promote strength, satiation and healthy function throughout the day. Flax seeds, nuts and seeds contribute healthy fats and oils your body needs, as well as some beneficial protein and nutrients.

Forget your predispositions about the chalky bran muffins of your past, adding bran and other fibrous ingredients to your muffins in balance with some added moisture from mashed bananas, applesauce or yogurt will create a fiber-filled and delectable finished product. Fiber will aid in digestion and keep you satiated for a longer period of time.

Muffins are an easy project I like to undertake about once a week so we have some healthy breakfast alternatives on hand for rushed mornings or weekend brunches. My favorite recipe, by far, is made with banana, cinnamon, raisins, bran, whole wheat and oats. It stays moist and fresh for days and requires no added sugar. Check back Thursday for the recipe and some other muffin inspiration and until then, whatever you do, don’t even think about laying your hands on a store bought muffin!