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Healthy (er) Muffins

IMG_8737Word on the street is that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and, while all meals are important, I think this is probably true.  Breakfast can set the tone for the day.  It can either fuel your little sprouts before they head off to school or daycare or to dig in the dirt and eat rocks, OR it can give them a short burst of energy followed quickly by grumbling tummies before the next meal or snack time.  However, mornings are HECTIC! I only have 1 little boy and I don’t even work outside my home but by the time we are both ready for the day, it’s pretty much halfway over.  I don’t know how you mamas who work or have kids in school do it!  I would love to make a wholesome, warm breakfast every morning but somedays, it just doesn’t happen.  That’s where these muffins come in.  They are hearty, reasonably nutritious and the best part is they are actually yummy and my little guy gobbles them up.  I bake them when he’s napping then stash them in the freezer in a ziptop bag.  When I need a quick breakfast for G, I can either pull one out the night before to thaw or zap it in the microwave for 30-45 seconds.  You can definitely play with the ingredients too.  If you don’t want to use all whole wheat flour, try half whole wheat and half white.  Not so into bananas? You could substitute applesauce or probably even grated zucchini (though I haven’t tried the zucchini so if you do try, let me know how it works!).  Don’t like peanut butter? Try any nut butter (you could probably even try nutella… I won’t judge).  You can also substitute any sweetener you like (I just like the richness of brown sugar).  I also usually add a few chocolate chips or dried fruit (or both), just to give G something interesting to bite into (and he definitely goes searching for those bites with the chocolate or fruit).  You could even add a little cinnamon or nutmeg for a different flavor.  So many options! Make them your own and adjust to your family’s tastes.  I hope these can help make your mornings a little more delicious and a little less crazy!

Banana Peanut Butter Oatmeal Muffins

1 ½ cups wheat flour (or half wheat half white)

1 cup oatmeal (any kind but steel cut)

1 Tbsp ground flax seed (optional)

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

2 Tbsp Canola oil

½ cup brown sugar (see notes above)

2 large eggs

1 cup mashed ripe banana (2-3 medium)

Heaping ⅓ cup peanut butter

1 cup plain greek yogurt (or buttermilk or low fat sour cream)

⅓ cup semi sweet chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, etc. (optional)     

Preheat oven to 375.  Grease 12 muffin cups.  Whisk together flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips/fruit. In a medium bowl whisk together canola oil, sugar, eggs, banana, peanut butter and yogurt until smooth.  Make a well in center of dry ingredients and pour in liquid ingredients.  Stir with spatula until just incorporated.  Divide batter among 12 muffin tins.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.  Cool muffins on wire rack.  Store in airtight container on countertop or in freezer.  Eat up!
Just to break things down for you, the whole grains (flour and oats), provide B vitamins as well as fiber to keep you regular (if you know what I mean…).  Canola oil contains essential fatty acids and also helps your little one absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.  Ground flax seed also contains essential fatty acids including those coveted omega-3’s everyone is talking about (though make sure it’s ground and not whole flaxseed if you want all the nutritional goodness).  Eggs, peanut butter and greek yogurt provide protein which helps keep those little tummies full and satisfied until their next meal.  Banana adds sweetness along with fiber to help prevent those sugar spikes and drops.  I could justify the chocolate chips by saying they add antioxidants buuut, I’m gonna be real and say they are just for yumminess.

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