If you’ve ever walked the buffet line at the cafe at Nordstrom’s department store, you will have seen the gargantuan, luscious-looking muffins that sit next to the equally large cookies near the cash register. They are impossible to avoid, and they seem to call out your name as you pass.
Although I have enviously watched other diners enjoy them, I have never succumbed. Anne, the life-long Weight Watcher, has never had the guts to dig into a Nordstrom muffin. They must be a gazillion Weight Watcher points. Who could afford that much of one’s total daily points allotment?
I’ll tell you who: one morning as I was having coffee (a nonfat latte, sweetened with Equal) at the Nordstrom coffee bar just outside the door to the store, I watched as three retired ladies stopped for a morning libation. They had just finished their constitutional walk around the mall and they were treating themselves to a reward for having been “active.”
Each of them got a sensible coffee, and here’s where my brain frazzled, one of those muffins. What? A slow slog around the mall wearing shopping attire and full makeup with not a hair out of place and they deserve a behemoth muffin? Not even an hour jumping and sweating at Jazzercise would give me the right!
Well, you can see that I obviously have muffin issues.
My friend and excellent cook Lugene has an antidote: for years she has made wholesome oat bran muffins that are really good and good-for-you. She originally got the recipe from the book, “The New 8-Week Cholesterol Cure,” by Robert Kowalski. The book was published in the late 1980’s and, because oat bran was being touted as a miracle cure for high cholesterol, it was on the New York Times best-seller list for a record-breaking 115 weeks.
These are not Nordstrom muffins. They don’t each weigh a half-pound and they contain no butter. If I were to have to describe these muffins, I would call them virtuous. The retired ladies would not make a bee-line for these after a trot around the mall.
But I would.
I’ve tinkered with Lugene’s recipe, which I deemed OK because she tinkered with the recipe in Kowalski’s book. This is a tinkerable formula: you can use egg substitute instead of whole eggs. You can bump up the brown sugar from 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup if you like your muffins a tad bit sweeter. You can add another banana, or even leave the banana out. The muffins seem to turn out under varying circumstances.
Lugene keeps extra muffins in the freezer, which I find to be a good idea. Because they’re not laden with fat, they don’t stay moist for long. If you freeze them, gently defrost and warm them in your trusty microwave.
Banana Oat Bran Muffins
2 1/4 cups oat bran
1 T. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 c. nonfat milk
1 ripe banana, mashed
2 eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
3 T. vegetable oil
1/4 c. chopped walnuts
1/4 c. dried blueberries
1/4 c. dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and lightly spray a muffin pan with nonstick spray.
In a large mixing bowl stir together oat bran, baking powder, salt and brown sugar. In a smaller bowl combine milk, banana, eggs and oil. Mix wet ingredients into the dry mixture and gently stir. Fold in nuts and dried fruit.
Fill a 12-muffin pan with mixture and bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until lightly browned.
One of these muffins is 4 WW Pointsplus, largely because of the walnuts and dried fruit. Without them the muffins are 3 PP, but I say go for the extra flavor, texture and PP.