An honest oat bran muffin is probably the most pleasant way to get a good quantity of oat bran into your system. However, to make an oat-bran muffin that doesn't fill you with eggs, fat and sugar while it's filling you with oat bran, your expectations will have to change a bit. An oat-bran muffin that will do some good is not at all like other muffins.

First, the qualities that make oat bran healthy also make it difficult to bake with. It is extremely absorbent, for one thing. Recipe developers at the Women's Community Bakery, which makes one of the best-tasting commercial oat-bran muffins in the area, worked for months to develop a muffin that didn't get soggy or even moldy.

Oat bran also has a gritty quality. Baked goods such as muffins made with oat bran will be quite sandy in texture. One way to ameliorate this is to "grind" the oat bran in a blender (preferably) or a food processor before using it. (To make a multigrain flour, combine whole-wheat flour, oats, oat bran, corn meal and white flour in nearly any proportion, grinding them together.)

Oat bran can be included in recipes for yeast bread, replacing part of the flour. Since it has no gluten, however, it must be used in combination with flour from other grains or the bread won't rise. Oat bran can also be used as a substitute for part of the flour in pancakes and waffles.

Here is a recipe for an oat bran muffin that is very low in fat, yet is chock full of oat bran and pleasant to eat.


(Makes 8 muffins)

If you choose to leave out the apple or banana, increase buttermilk to 1 1/4 cups. Raisins, chopped dates or other dried fruit, and chopped nuts can be added as well. The recipe can easily be doubled, with any leftover muffins to be wrapped airtight and frozen. One muffin contains 2 tablespoons of oat bran.

1 cup plain oat bran

1/4 cup whole-wheat flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 egg white

1 tablespoon corn oil

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons fruit jam

1/2 cup grated apple with peel, or one very ripe, well-mashed banana

Line muffin pans with paper baking cups.

Put the oat bran, flour, salt, baking powder and brown sugar into the container of a food processor or blender and process until fine.

In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Add oat bran mixture and blend just for a few seconds, until dry ingredients are moistened.

Spoon into baking cups (cups can be filled almost to the top, since muffins rise little) and bake at 425 degrees for 17-20 minutes, or until nicely brown on top. Remove muffins from baking pan immediately and cool on a rack. (Muffins that cool in the baking pan will be soggy on the bottom.)