- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Maybe this is the year you’re going to rein in your budget, or maybe you’ve pledged to make small changes to improve your diet.

As you look for ways to implement your resolutions, take a look at your morning habits. You’ll probably find plenty of room for improvement.

If your breakfast is coffee to go from your favorite java joint, accompanied by an oversized muffin or doughnut, you can do better, even if you’re rushed.

Bake a batch of muffins during the weekend. Wrap each in an airtight plastic bag and freeze. Grab a frozen muffin as you’re rushing out the door, and it will thaw by the time you get to your desk.

For a minimal cost investment and less than an hour’s work in the kitchen, you’ll save money and eat a product that’s better for you. A homemade muffin costs a fraction of what you’ll pay in a coffee shop.

You can control the portion size, add whole grains and keep the sugar and fat to a minimum.

The following recipe for bran muffins uses butter, sugar and an egg, but in sensible proportions. Each muffin has fewer than 125 calories, yet provides three grams of protein and 3 grams of dietary fiber.

Bran muffins

3/4 cup All-Bran cereal

½ cup hot water

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1 egg

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup fat-free sour cream

½ cup reduced-fat milk

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Place cereal in a heatproof bowl. Add hot water and set aside for 10 minutes to soften cereal. Meanwhile, cream the sugar and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer at medium speed.

Add egg and beat well. Add cereal and any hot water in the bowl. Beat again.

Stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Stir together sour cream and milk in a second bowl.

Alternately add dry and wet ingredients to mixer, beating only enough to stir in. Stir in raisins and pecans by hand.

Spoon batter into greased muffin tin, filling 2/3 full. Bake in preheated 400-degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Remove from oven, let sit for 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack to cool. Makes 1 dozen muffins.

Bev Bennett is the author of “30-Minute Meals for Dummies” (John Wiley & Sons).

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