Best Morning Glory Muffins

Recipes that produce healthy and delicious muffins are not easy to come by. But occasionally, I stumble across a winner. What I love most about this recipe is that it uses apple butter. I’ve seen plenty of muffin recipes that use applesauce. But apple butter delivers the goods when applesauce is still busy making promises.

The muffin pictured above is topped with chopped walnuts. In reaction to some unsolicited feedback from my youngest child, I have been leaving the nuts out altogether lately. I miss the crunch and texture. But it’s not all about me, right?

Morning Glory Muffins

Adapted from Eating Well’s Comfort Foods Made Healthy. Original recipe can also be found on Eating Well’s website –> Morning Glory Muffins.

1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons wheat germ
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated carrots (4 medium)
1 apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
1/2 cup raisins
2 large eggs
1/2 cup apple butter
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a muffin pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, wheat germ, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the carrots, apple, and raisins.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, apple butter, oil, and vanilla extract.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined. Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Transfer muffins to a wire rack to cool. Serve or store in an airtight container. These also freeze well.

Yield: 12
Prep-time: 30 minutes

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Chocolate vs. Carrots

On a recent afternoon I heard, “Mama, can I have a Hershey Kiss?”

More often than not lately, I’ve been giving her a thumbs up. What harm can it do? But this time, more out of crankiness than anything else, I denied her request. I’ve been slacking lately. The junk has been creeping into our diet with increasing regularity.

My girl’s response was not a happy one to say the least. I dreaded having to listen to her protests.  But the pestering for sugar has gotten out of hand. And her diet has been dominated by beige foods for the past week or so. Instead of gently and lovingly parenting her back into a place of health and well-being, I quickly reached into the crisper drawer and dug out a neglected bag of carrots.

Despite her extreme displeasure with my decision, she was happily munching on carrots 10 minutes later. She’s not one to let go of a fight so easily. It seems that hunger got the best of her. And she actually ate a colorful food! Lots of it actually.

At dinner I was a lot more relaxed about her eating. The carrots had injected some much needed variety into the kid’s diet and there wasn’t as much pressure to make sure she consumed something resembling a square meal. I realized that I really missed being able to relax at the dinner table. The confrontation was worth it.

I guess my point is that even when you’re writing a flipin’ blog about healthy snacks for children, you’re not always bringing your A game. My new life rule is to stop buying little chocolate treats the minute they become routine or anyone in the family seems to be leaning a little too hard on the stash. After some moderately painful readjustments the family will see the light of day. And as long as there’s some fresh produce in the house, everything’s going to be okay!

Broc-o-bob

I’ve always been secretly fascinated by the oft discarded broccoli stem. It reminds me of asparagus. So I decided there has to be some potential there. And lately I get an extra rush out of making a snack out of leftovers or something that would normally be trashed.

Well, it turns out there is some potential. After a little steaming, the core of the broccoli stem is a tender shadow of the florets we normally consume. And more importantly, it is perfectly suited to being strung up with other vegetables on a bamboo skewer.

3 broccoli stems
3 medium whole carrots, peeled and tops cut off
Salt, if desired
3 – 4 radishes, sliced into 1/4-inch thick circles
1/3 cup Ranch dressing or other dip

With a large knife, remove the tough outer layer of skin on the broccoli stems. I did this by standing the stem on end (where the florets used to be) and carefully slicing downward from the base. The outer skin is a little less than 1/4-inch thick and slightly darker than the core.

Cut the peeled broccoli stems and carrots into one inch lengths. Transfer to a steaming basket. Place one to two inches of water in a pot (with salt, if desired) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Lower steam basket into pot and cover. Steam the broccoli and carrot for 5-7 minutes. Rinse in cold water and allow to cool completely or refrigerate.

When snack time arrives, provide bamboo skewers* to snackers and let them make their own. Serve with ranch dressing or Herbed Yogurt Dip.

*Note: I’m guessing bamboo skewers should not be put in the hands of most children under the age of 3, possibly 4. Adult supervision required. When in doubt, cut off the pointy tip. Although this can make it more difficult to assemble the kebob. A safer option might be lollipop sticks; pre-punch holes in the food and let the younger ones assemble on their own.

Yield: 6-8 kebobs
Prep-time: 15 minutes

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Carrot Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling

These moist, sweet, and satisfying muffins take my whole family to our happy place. They are great stand-ins for cookies; in some ways they’re even more enjoyable!

This recipe was inspired by one from Nook & Pantry – a very yummy looking blog.

For the muffins:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup finely shredded carrot
1/4 cup raisins, chopped

For the filling:

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 large egg yolk
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

In a small bowl, make the filling by mixing together the cream cheese, egg yolk, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, and oil. Stir in the flour mixture until combined. Then add the carrot and raisins. Stir to incorporate.

 Spoon the muffin batter into a well-greased mini muffin pan, filling each cup only half way. Then place one teaspoon of the filling in each cup. Cover the filling with the remaining muffin batter.

Bake for 13-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the largest muffin comes out clean. Cool the muffins in the pan for 5-10 minutes before gently moving them to a cooling rack. Serve. Store in an airtight container for up to 48 hours or freeze in an airtight container in a single layer.

Yield: 24 mini muffins
Prep-time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 13 minutes

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After School Snack

Instead of welcoming my child with a cookie when she comes home from school, she gets raw veggies. It’s a bit sneaky, but she’s starving most of the time when she gets home so she’ll eat anything.

In my defense, I’d like to point out that my youngest would not even think about eating her dinner (which is only an hour or so away at this point) if we had any other sort of snack. Heck, half the time she fills up on crudites, but I’m alright with that.

Anyway, my point here is twofold: a) Buy whole organic carrots and peel them. Their taste is vastly superior to “baby” carrots. b) We don’t eat fancy snacks all the time. Fruits and veggies are actually the backbone of our snack diet.

On a side note, my three-year-old started “making recipes” yesterday. Here she is writing out all the ingredients for her “recipe”. The great part is that she actually expects me to get cookin’ after she’s written it all down.

 

Raisin Muffins (a.k.a Salad Muffins)

This snack is inspired by the Salad Bars recipe in Julie Van Rosendaal’s cookbook Grazing. If you’re feeling extra fancy, top them with some vanilla greek-style yogurt!

1 cup white whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon ketchup or tomato paste
1 cup grated zucchini
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a mini muffin pan and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, and ketchup. Pour the flour mixture into the bowl and stir to combine. Add the zucchini, carrot and raisins and stir until evenly distributed.

Transfer batter to mini muffin pan, filling each cup approximately 3/4 full. Bake on the center rack of the oven for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Yield: 24 mini muffins
Prep-time: 20 minutes
Bake-time: 15 minutes

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