Warming up to Oats: Banana Cherry Oat Muffins

I’ve carried a guilty conscience about oats. 

I know how nutritious they are – rich in soluble fiber to help reduce total cholesterol and LDL “bad” cholesterol while helping to stabilize blood sugars and reduce the risk of heart disease.  Yet the only time my diet seems to acquire this grain is via oatmeal raisin cookies.   Guilt.

With the bitter cold winter air making it’s introduction (always an intro I regret — is it June, yet?), I decide the warmth of a bowl of hot oats can help combat my seasonal woes.  I recently picked up steel-cut oats without realizing one fundamental difference between steel-cut and the more traditional rolled or old-fashioned oats– cooking time.  Patience is a virtue; but not one of mine.  I’m always looking for short cuts, particularly when it comes to cooking.  Yet with a pound of steel-cut oats at my disposal and a few days off from work, I figure now is the time to get creative. 

I decide to revisit a favorite baked good of mine that I have recreated numerous times in an effort to create a nutritious yet scrumptious product – the muffin.  I had been reading that using steel-cut oats in its raw form to make baked goods may not produce the best results (I read something about loosing a tooth or two…).  I found I got great results cooking the steel-cut oats first, and then adding to the mixture right before baking the muffins.  I also had a large number of dried cherries on hand from a recent trip to Whole Foods, so I added them to the mix to add tartness.

Banana Cherry Oat Muffins

(Recipe loosely adapted from Umami Girl’s recipe for Banana Sweet Potato Muffins)

Boil 4 cups of water.  Add 1 cup steel-cut oats.  Once oats thicken (about 5 mins), reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 30 minutes or until desired consistency.  Set aside

Ingredients
2 small ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
8 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup cherries 

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Line two standard muffin pans with paper liners. In a large bowl, combine the bananas, yogurt, brown sugar and white sugar. Mix on high speed until incorporated.  Add the butter, egg and vanilla and mix until well-combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl when necessary.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined.  Add oats and cherries and mix-in by hand.

3. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling them a little more than halfway. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

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