A reader inquiry about an ingredient in a recent Nutri-Data recipe reads: "What do you mean by 'bran?' Is it a cereal like All-Bran or Bran Flakes or what?"
This may seem like a silly question to some, but queries of this sort are not uncommon since recipes in newspaper food sections, magazines and cookbooks began to use ingredients that are unfamiliar or are referred to by a variety of names.
The bran called for in the recipe in question was unprocessed bran. Here are a few tidbits of information about bran, since a number of letters have posed the same question.
From the Wheat Kernel
Bran is the outermost portion of the wheat kernel. It is removed during processing because of its coarse nature to make all-purpose flour and other baking flours when a light textured product is desired. It is an excellent source of fiber.
Bran can be ground into a fine crumb-like product, called unprocessed bran, and sprinkled into breakfast foods, meat loaves, hamburgers, baked goods and toppings. In this state it also provides the foundation for delicious bran muffins.
Bran is also found in a ready-to-eat cereal form, such as those mentioned above. It can be processed into various forms--shreds and flakes, sweetened or unsweetened and combined with other grains like oats and fruits like dried apples or raisins. Normally, a recipe will specify, even if not by trade name, which of the products is to be used.
Following is a selection of recipes that use these products to give an idea of the generic equivalents.
CHICKEN BREASTS STUFFED WITH ASPARAGUS
16 canned asparagus spears, about 5 inches long
2 boned and skinned whole chicken breasts, halved
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 sweet red pepper, cut into 16 julienne strips
2 tablespoons water
1 cup bran flakes, crushed
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Simmer asparagus spears in boiling water 1 minute. Drain and cool. Place chicken breasts between plastic wrap and pound to flatten to 1/4-inch thickness. Remove plastic, then sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
Center 4 asparagus spears and 4 red pepper strips on each chicken piece. Roll up, starting from narrow end. Fasten with wood picks, if needed.
Beat egg with water. Combine cereal with lemon zest. Dip chicken rolls in egg and coat with cereal. Place in greased shallow baking dish and drizzle with melted butter. Bake at 375 degrees 35 minutes or until chicken is tender. Remove wood picks. Serve with Blender Hollandaise. Makes 4 servings.
1/4 cup butter
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
Heat butter in saucepan until hot and bubbly, but not browned. Place egg yolks, lemon juice and salt in blender. Cover and blend at low speed until mixed. Remove cover and continue to blend, pouring in butter in steady stream. When all butter has been added, turn off blender and serve immediately. If sauce is too thick, beat in 2 to 3 teaspoons hot water.
PER SERVING: 314 calories; 24 gm protein; 10 gm carbohydrate; 21 gm fat; 584 mg sodium; 159 mg potassium.
Protein 36% Riboflavin 25% Vitamin A 45% Niacin 44% Vitamin C 58% Calcium 05% Thiamine 17% Iron 29%
EGGPLANT AU GRATIN
2 (1-pound) eggplants
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups bran flakes, crushed
1/4 cup oil
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 pound part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups tomato sauce
Peel and slice eggplants into 1/2-inch pieces. Beat eggs with water, oregano and salt. Dip eggplant slices into egg mixture, then into cereal crumbs. Place on baking pan sprayed with non-stick coating spray and brush with 2 tablespoons oil. Broil until eggplant is golden, then turn, brush with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and broil other side. Place half of eggplant in greased 13x9-inch baking pan.
Combine cottage cheese, green onions and parsley and spread over eggplant. Sprinkle with half of mozzarella, half of Parmesan and 1 cup tomato sauce. Top with remaining eggplant, tomato sauce and cheeses. Bake at 350 degrees 30 to 40 minutes. Makes 8 servings.
PER SERVING: 268 calories;17 gm protein; 21 gm carbohydrate; 14 gm fat; 783 mg sodium; 292 mg potassium.
Protein 26% Riboflavin 27% Vitamin A 32% Niacin 14% Vitamin C 22% Calcium 29% Thiamine 18% Iron 34%
WHOLE-WHEAT BRAN PANCAKES
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup unprocessed bran
2 tablespoons oil
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine milk and egg in bowl. Add flours, bran, oil, baking powder and salt. Mix until fairly smooth. For each pancake, pour scant 1/4 cup batter onto hot, lightly greased griddle. Turn pancakes when tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked. Turn only once. Makes 4 servings.
PER SERVING: 247 calories; 8 gm protein; 29 gm carbohydrate; 11 gm fat; 442 mg sodium; 227 mg potassium.