Cooking By Number – Muffins

Last week, I spoke for a group of nursery school teachers on healthy snacks for preschoolers. When I asked the director whether the kids cooked in school, she mentioned that they made muffins but needed healthier ideas. Hey, who says muffins can’t be healthy? These get their moisture from pureed fruit or veggies. You can pump up the whole grain with whole wheat flour; use white whole wheat for a lighter color than regular whole wheat. Don’t use too much oil or butter – nobody will know the difference. And of course toss in a bit of crunch, and healthy fat, in the form of nuts or chocolate chips.

Here’s what you need to make 12 Cooking By Number muffins.

1 teaspoon spice
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 egg
1 teaspoon extract
2 cups puree
3/4 cup light brown sugar
4 tablespoons oil or melted butter

1/3 cup crunch

Here are some ingredient ideas to get you started. Mix and match to create your own flavor combos.

Spice – Cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cardamom, nutmeg (pick one or two)
Flour – White whole wheat, whole wheat, white all-purpose
Extract – Vanilla, almond, hazelnut
Puree – Applesauce, banana, prune butter, pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot
Crunch – Mini chocolate chips, sliced almonds, chopped walnuts, chopped pecans

Now that you’ve picked out ingredients, here’s what you do with them:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.
  2. To make your own puree, mash fruit or cooked veggies with a potato masher or process in the food processor until smooth.
  3. Stir together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  4. Stir together the wet ingredients in a medium bowl until well-blended.
  5. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir until just blended; avoid over-mixing. Gently stir in the crunch.
  6. Spoon into the muffin pan and bake until the tops are lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then remove from the pan. Leftovers can be frozen.

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