Mouthwatering Bran Muffins

I've been baking and writing about bran muffins for years. This spring, I put my favorite recipes to the test, and if my family tasters are honest, I've hit on an updated version that is so good, I have to hide them in the recesses of my cupboard pantry if I'm going to get my share. 
Still full of good and healthy stuff, I now soak the raisins a bit so they puff up before stirring into the batter. I added more chopped walnuts. When I did a taste test with two recipes, one with a smooshed-up ripe banana, and one without, the banana won. It adds a nice taste and texture. 
Taste testing aside, the fun part of muffin-making with kids is that there's a job for all ages and stages. One child can measure and stir together dry ingredients in one bowl, while another cracks the egg or smooshes the banana in a different bowl. Within minutes, the batter comes together and is ready to scoop into little paper cups and bake. 
Wash and dry the prepping dishes as a team, and before you know it, you're poking a toothpick in the middle of a muffin to test doneness and enjoying a healthy homemade snack in a kitchen where the baking aroma of home wafts through the air. 


2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups wheat bran
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup raw blue agave sweetener or 1/3 cup honey
1 ripe banana, mashed
3/4 cup raisins soaked in water for 5 minutes and drained
3/4 cup chopped walnuts 

1. Heat oven to 350 F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
2. Stir together the flour, bran, wheat germ, brown sugar, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. 
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, vegetable oil and agave sweetener or honey, until combined.
4. Add the dry ingredients, stirring just until combined, then fold in the banana, raisins and nuts with a few swift strokes. Do not overstir. 
5. Scoop the batter into the muffin cups. An ice-cream scoop works well.
6. Bake until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. 
7. Cool for 5 minutes and serve. Makes 12 large muffins.

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