Bran: A Nutritious and Versatile Ingredient
Bran is the hard outer layer of whole cereal grains, such as wheat, rice, oats, and barley. It is rich in nutrients and an excellent source of fiber. Bran may offer several health benefits, including improving digestive health and reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer .
Bran is often used to enrich breads, muffins, and breakfast cereals, especially for the benefit of those wishing to increase their intake of dietary fiber. Bran can also be used for pickling, as in the traditional Japanese dish nukazuke, which is made with rice bran and salted vegetables. Rice bran can also be added to the water when boiling bamboo shoots or used for dish washing.
Bran oil can be extracted from some types of bran, such as rice bran oil, which is used for cooking or industrial purposes. Bran oil contains various antioxidants, such as tocotrienols (a form of vitamin E), gamma-oryzanol, and beta-sitosterol, which may help lower cholesterol levels and protect against oxidative stress .
Bran comes in different types depending on the cereal grain it is derived from. Some of the most common types are:
- Wheat bran: This is the most widely available type of bran and has a nutty flavor. It contains about 15% protein and 45% fiber. Wheat bran is a good source of iron, magnesium, zinc, and B vitamins. It can be added to baked goods, smoothies, soups, or salads.
- Rice bran: This is the byproduct of the rice milling process and has a mild flavor. It contains about 15% protein and 18% fiber. Rice bran is a good source of vitamin E, phosphorus, manganese, and selenium. It can be used for pickling, cooking, or making rice bran oil.
- Oat bran: This is the outer layer of oat groats and has a creamy texture. It contains about 13% protein and 16% fiber. Oat bran is a good source of beta-glucan, a soluble fiber that can lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It can be cooked as a porridge, added to baked goods, or sprinkled on yogurt.
- Barley bran: This is the outer layer of barley kernels and has a chewy texture. It contains about 11% protein and 70% fiber. Barley bran is a good source of beta-glucan as well as lignans, phytochemicals that may have anti-cancer effects. It can be cooked as a cereal, added to soups or stews, or used to make malt.
Bran is a nutritious and versatile ingredient that can be incorporated into various dishes. However, it also contains phytic acid, an antinutrient that can reduce the absorption of minerals such as iron, zinc, and calcium. Therefore, it is advisable to consume bran in moderation and with other foods that enhance mineral absorption, such as vitamin C-rich fruits or animal products.
If you are looking for some ways to use bran in your cooking, here are some delicious and easy recipes that you can try:
Classic Bran Muffins
These bran muffins are a delicious source of fiber and a great way to start your day. They have a nutty flavor and a moist texture, and you can customize them with your favorite add-ins, such as raisins, dates, nuts, or chocolate chips. You will need wheat bran, buttermilk, brown sugar, vegetable oil, egg, vanilla extract, all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and raisins. To make these muffins, you simply mix the wet and dry ingredients separately, then combine them and spoon the batter into a muffin tin. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden and springy.
Banana Bran Muffins
Banana bran muffins are a wholesome and tasty treat that are packed with sweetness from banana and honey. The addition of ripe banana makes these muffins really soft and the aroma of baked banana combined with vanilla is hard to resist. You will need ripe bananas, whole wheat flour, instant oats, wheat bran, baking powder, baking soda, salt, milk, oil, maple syrup or honey, vanilla extract, egg, and cashew nuts. To make these muffins, you mash the bananas and whisk them with the wet ingredients, then add the dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in the cashew nuts and fill the muffin cups with the batter. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Deep Dark Old Recipe Bran Muffins
These bran muffins are a family heirloom that date back to 1910. They are really dark and have more bran than flour in them. They are also very moist and flavorful, thanks to the molasses and raisins. You will need wheat bran, all-purpose flour, salt, baking soda, eggs, buttermilk, white sugar, molasses, vegetable shortening, and raisins. To make these muffins, you soak the bran in buttermilk for an hour or overnight. Then you beat the eggs with the sugar and molasses and add the shortening. Sift the flour with the salt and baking soda and add it to the egg mixture. Fold in the soaked bran and raisins and fill the muffin cups with the batter. Bake for 15 minutes or until done.