I’ve been cooking with my munchkin since he was a little wee one. He loves to cook, and I decided early on that gender roles be darned, there is nothing wrong with a boy who loves to cook, and everything right with one who can cook well!
My little one is not an overly picky eater, but he’s definitely more vocal about what he will and won’t eat these days; and getting him to eat vegetables is sometimes a hard fought battle. He’s way more keen to try something new if he’s helped to make it, and baking is one of our favorite things to do together.
To sneak in a bit of extra fruits and veggies I make spinach muffins which I've dubbed “Dinosaur Muffins”. He’s big into dinosaurs at the moment, (note his super cute chef apron) so anything dinosaur related is a total win.
This recipe is super easy to whip up, and you can try this with several variations. It’s a very forgiving recipe, so feel free to swap in and out whatever fruits/veggies your little one likes (just take note of water content as you may need to add a bit more flour to get the mix right). I’ve made this several ways, with zucchini or without. If using zuchini, shred it finally, and squeeze it through a cheese cloth to remove any excess moisture, then throw it in a blender. You can use fresh and/or frozen spinach, use whatever you have on hand. If using frozen, microwave it to defrost it a bit and squeeze out any excess liquid.
I’ve listed some suggestions below for substitutions to make this completely sugar free, or egg free for those vegan or with sensitivities.
Here’s the recipe.
Recipe makes 18 mini muffins, or 9 large muffins.
• 2 cups – flour, (white or whole wheat)
• 1 1/2 teaspoon – cinnamon
• 2 teaspoon – baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon – baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon – salt
• 3/4 cup – milk (or any milk substitute)
• 1/2 cup – honey* or apple sauce**
• 2 large – banana
• 1/2 cup – spinach (fresh or frozen) and/or zucchini ***
• 1/2 cup – butter, unsalted
• 1 large – egg****
• 1 teaspoon – vanilla extract
1 Preheat oven to 350 F, and line your muffin pan with paper liners.
2 Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Allow your little one to whisk and combine all the ingredients.
4 Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredient bowl, and fold together gently until just combined. This is the perfect time to let little one assist, but be careful that they don’t over-mix and make a tough muffin).
5 Scoop the batter into the muffin liners, and bake for about 20 minutes, or just until the muffins are firm to the touch on top and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle.
These keep well for about 3 days in Tupperware on a counter, or about 5 days if stored in the fridge.These are easy to pop into the microwave in the morning to serve warm, and are a great on the go snack.
*Omit honey if vegan and substitute agave nectar or white sugar—sweetening to your liking.
**You can also use apple sauce to add sweetness if you want to make this sugar free
*** For little ones with texture sensitive, shred and then puree, and it will make a smoother muffin, free of vegetable bits.
**** For little ones with egg sensitivities, increase the baking powder to two teaspoons. Or you can add an extra 1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce in place of the egg, plus 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder. And if you don’t have applesauce, you can also substitute with 1 tablespoon of flaxseeds mixed with 3 tablespoons of water.
Let me know what your little one thinks about these Dinosaur Muffins.