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Lean and Healthy Bran Muffins

2 ounces bran flakes 
1/4 cup walnut pieces, sunflower seeds, or both 
1/4 cup raisins or dried cherries 
2 tablespoons evening primrose seeds, ground 
1 cup (4.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour 
2/3 cup (2 ounces) old-fashioned rolled oats 
1/2 cup (2.5 ounces) stone-ground cornmeal 
1/2 cup sugar 
11 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, apple pie spice or pumpkin pie spice (optional) 
2 teaspoons baking powder 
3/4 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon sea salt 
1 apple or pear, chopped 
1 cup low-fat or nonfat buttermilk 
1 large egg 
3 tablespoons cold-pressed unrefined sesame oil 
Sesame seeds (optional) 

Preheat the oven to 475. Place the rack in the center of the oven. 

Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper muffin cups. 
With your hands, crush the bran flakes into uniform small pieces, but not crumbs. In a small bowl, mix the bran flakes with the walnuts and/or sunflower seeds, raisins or cherries and evening primrose seeds. Set aside. 

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, oats, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon or pie spice (if using), baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the bran flake mixture and stir together. 

Place the apples or pears, buttermilk, egg and oil in a food processor or blender and process until the fruit is coarsely pureed. Fold the fruit mixture into the flour mixture, stirring gently to combine. 

Fill the muffin cups to the top and sprinkle the tops with the sesame seeds (if using). Place the pan in the center of the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 375. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the muffins are lightly browned and firm to the touch. 

Let cool in the pan for a few minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan and place them on a rack to cool completely. Serve within 24 hours or store in an airtight container or a bag in the freezer. 

Note: You can substitute 1 banana or 1 cup applesauce or other fruit sauce for the apple or pear. 

Makes 12 muffins

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