One of my kids is TWO.
He loves VEGETABLES.
Who can spot the lie?
My little boy would happily eat yogurt and grapes for every meal (yes I cut them up, duh). But I’m one of those annoying mom’s who is always trying to get some nutritional variety into the kids’ diet. You know, the one you pretend you don’t recognize at the park because you don’t want to hear about her child’s eating habits for the 42nd time?
So I spend a ton of time trolling the google thing looking for suggestions, ideas, recipes….so many many many and they are never quite right. Weelicious is sometimes helpful and sometimes completely insane. Collard greens? Seriously? Ever had a two year old laugh in your face? “Is that food, mom? I have a crayon that color, can I eat that instead?” Ok, not really, but that is what I imagine he would say if he could tie more than two words together.
One thing I have learned in all my fun with food is my kids will eat almost anything if I put in in a muffin. Let’s not get too crazy of course I’m not talking green peppers or anything wild like that.
So I have piles of recipes for magical muffins that got my kids eating vegetables without even noticing. BUT!!! Here it comes…the big BUTT. Yes the extra T belongs there because so many of these recipes rely on the fact that they are filled with sugar to make them tasty. So I started experimenting with various amounts of sweet and differing kinds of sweet with the different recipes I had. I started noticing that all the recipes are really almost the same.
I will do whatever I can to try and save myself time and money. It really pisses me off if I have to go to the store more than once a week and what I buy is going to be whatever is on sale. Which means that what we have available to eat in our house is going to be a crap shoot. My husband will happily go to the store to buy specific (expensive) ingredients for something special he wants to make. I on the other hand try to make whatever I’ve got into something special. His concoctions are almost always delicious. Mine are almost never inedible. The trying is the fun part right? Of course right!
Because I never have the same things twice I started playing around with the parts of the recipes that aren’t always the same. You know you need a bit of fat and a bit of sweet, something that will make them puff up etc. So below is what I have come up with that almost always works along with some of the things I have used to fill each category
I’ve used the same recipe for quick bread if I’m out of muffin cups. Be sure to grease your pan really well and bake longer if you do bread. I start the pokey thing testing method after about 30 minutes.
Start with two bowls one for wet, one for dry.
3 Tablespoons of fat: butter (melted), vegetable oil, coconut oil (treat like butter), avocado (did you know you can bake with avocado?)
1 egg (unless you are allergic to eggs use them they are good for you)
1/2 cup sweet: honey, sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, corn syrup, blue agave (I have not tried stevia let me know if you try it and how it goes)(molassass does not work)
Side notes on sweets: 1/2 a cup comes out to two teaspoons per muffin. I have tried using 1/3 cup
but that only really works if your fruit mash is really sweet like apple sauce or a super ripe banana.
And then I also add something sweet at the end like raisins or dried cranberries.
1/2 cup dairy: milk of all kinds including soy or coconut for you non dairy folks or yogurt (I’ve used plain and fruit kinds depending on what I have in my fridge be aware that adding fruit kind also adds sugar)
3/4 cup fruit sauce or mash: Go crazy try everything! I include squashes and sweet potatoes in the fruit category when making these things because they are sweet and they mash nicely once cooked (yes you have to cook the shit out of them first. nobody wants a lump of unmashed potato in their muffin). I’ve found that strawberries don’t really taste all that good cooked (I guess that’s why strawberry pie is always the fresh fruit mixed into that weird gelled goop)
1 cup vegetables chopped fine: spinach, kale, chard, carrots, zucchini, broccoli (is so, so), cauliflower are ones I have tried. Chop it really fine. I use a ninja because chopping things really small is the key to hiding the good stuff and I’m too lazy to do it with a knife. Also, when I say one cup I mean one cup before chopping. I really jam full the cup but, lets not go over board we want the kids to actually eat this stuff. I have also left the vegetables out with out changing any other part of the recipe and they are just fine.
2 cups of dry flour-ish substances: I mix and match usually using 1 cup of whole wheat flour and some combination of unbleached all purpose flour, flax seed meal, oatmeal, almond flour, or corn meal. soy flour does not work. Let me know if you find others that work. When using oatmeal I dump it into the wet bowl to soak for a while.
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (I have not messed with these. Need to bone up on my chemistry first)
1/2 teaspoon salt. Everything tastes better with salt. It doesn’t seem like it should but it does.
Spices. You are going to have to go with your own tastes on this one. I have found that it’s hard to go wrong with a teaspoon or so of cinnamon. I usually end up with some combination of Cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger adding up to about two teaspoons but we like things spicy around here.
I sometimes add things that are small pieces into the dry before adding it to the wet. Things that work good are blueberries (Fresh or frozen) raisins, cranberries, chocolate chips and chopped nuts. I have at times ground nuts to a powder and used a small amount in place of some flour.
So that’s it. Combine the two bowls of stuff together (The key to muffins is not over mixing. Mix until it’s all wet then stop.)
Put them in the oven at 350 for between 15 and 25 minutes for muffins. I start sticking a toothpick or fork or knife in them after about 15 then recheck every 5 or so until the pokey thing comes out clean.
Full disclosure: not every combination is good. I’ve come up with some doozies. Some things only my toddler will eat. Even if you think it’s gross it’s worth giving to them before tossing the whole batch. Children under five are all insane who knows what they will think is ambrosia.
Good luck let me know what is good and what is NOT!