Sweet craving? Try healthier muffins, decked-out sprouts

Michelle Hainer / Today

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By Michelle Hainer
Try these blueberry bran muffins. With no butter, they're a healthier sweet treat!Michelle Hainer / Today

One week into your diet resolution and things are getting tough. Every fast food commercial and reference to pastry is making you salivate. Hang in there! Here are two recipes to help satisfy your sweet tooth without throwing you off track.

Out of all of the baking I do, I probably make muffins the most. I love how simple it is to whip up a batch, and when you do so at home, you’re saving A TON of fat and calories. Store bought muffins are complete calorie bombs. My dietician friend Heather couldn’t stop raving about how good these blueberry bran muffins are and she gladly shared the recipe with me. Oh wow. For a baked good that doesn’t contain butter or white sugar, these are seriously good. And not the least bit dry. (We think this is due to soaking the wheat bran in skim milk, so don’t skip that step.) I usually sprinkle a little bit of granulated sugar on the top of the muffins to make them more bakery like, but they’re good sans sugar too.

Low-fat blueberry bran muffins 

Makes 12 muffins

  • 1 1/2 cups wheat bran
  • 1 cup nonfat milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon organic sugar (optional)

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease muffin cups or use paper muffin liners. Mix together wheat bran and milk, and let stand for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, mix together applesauce, egg, brown sugar, and vanilla. Beat in bran mixture. Sift together all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir into bran mixture until just blended. Fold in blueberries. Scoop into muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with sugar. Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tops spring back when lightly tapped.

Nutrition: 110 calories, 1 g fat, 25g carbohydrates, 218 mg sodium

Michelle Hainer / Today

We’ve been on a brussels sprouts kick in our house lately and every time I make them, I can’t believe that I only now discovered just how good they are. And good for you too, as the sprouts are full of folic acid and vitamins A and C. I usually roast them with a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper, but if you’re looking for a sweeter side to pair with a pork loin or teriyaki chicken, this preparation, from bloggers Colleen Reilly and Stephania Stanley of Thursdays, is perfection. A bit of brown sugar sweetens the sprouts without adding a ton of calories and the walnuts provide extra crunch. If you can’t find fresh brussels sprouts, you can use frozen ones without compromising the flavor. This side dish is so good you’ll definitely want to eat your brussels sprouts. Your kids might even too.

Brussels sprouts with brown sugar and walnuts

Makes 4 servings

  • ¾ pound fresh brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and outer leaves discarded, or 1 12-ounce bag of frozen brussels sprouts, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ small red onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¼ cup crushed walnuts

Thaw brussels sprouts. (To do this quickly, place the sprouts in a small bowl with a touch of water and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir, and microwave for another 30 seconds.)

While sprouts are thawing, heat olive oil in a medium sized skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions to heated oil and sauté until they are clear. Add sprouts; sauté on one side about 2 ½ minutes. Add brown sugar and turn heat to medium. Flip sprouts and sauté another 2 ½ minutes. Add walnuts and stir occasionally for another 5 minutes. Remove from skillet and serve.

Nutrition: 164 calories, 11.7 g fat, 13 g carbohydrates, 15 mg sodium

Want more ideas for healthier options? Tell nutritionist Joy Bauer about your lunch and she'll suggest some sensible swaps. 

Get more tips and recipes for seasonal eats at Made By Michelle.