When I had the chance to hang out with my two-year-old niece Kora last week, one of the first things we did that morning was make muffins. I just can’t say enough about getting kids involved with the cooking. The kitchen is a great place to talk to kids about what is healthy. And it is good for children to see where food comes from and that there are many options available for making food. Food is much more than processed junk out of a box. When my nieces ask for fruit snacks, my new answer is “Ok here is some fruit what kind do you want?” It is fruit and it is a snack. How did we get to a place where fruit snacks are handed out everywhere and they are brightly packaged and many times very sneaky in their marketing tactics. I believed for many years, fruit snacks were a healthy snack. Well, obviously I was not reading the ingredients back then, I was just going off the name. The fact the name has fruit in it makes us think it is healthy. So even when the package says,”100% real fruit juice” Fat Free,” “Gluten Free” or “All Natural” do not be fooled. When we turn over the package and look at ingredients it is startling. Most brands have at least two or three artificial colors, sugar (and sometimes more than one kind of sugar) and when I was reading labels for this blog post I also came across some brands that had artificial sweeteners in them. And yes, there are some organic fruit snack brands that do not have artificial colors and other harmful ingredients. However, I recommend these only as a special treat. They are still packaged and processed with lots of sugar and they can be an expensive snack. When time allows, choose real, whole food for your kids.
It is important for kids to be involved with making healthy, real food. Both of my nieces really enjoy helping in the kitchen. When they come to visit me cooking is always one of the fun things we do together. The recipe I had decided to make was blueberry muffins.
I started off asking Kora if she likes blueberries. She said yes but I was not sure I believed her because she can be a pretty picky eater. So I took the blueberries out of the freezer and gave her a couple to eat. She ate them and said yes I like them. I told her we were going to put the yummy blueberries in the muffins we were making.
My teaching background of course always shows through in the kitchen too. We talk about what color the blueberries are and we count how many eggs are in the recipe. Cooking is a great opportunity for learning about counting and measuring. We even practice words in Spanish while we are making the muffins. Kora’s first job was to put the silicon muffin cups onto the cookie sheet. We counted them in both English and Spanish when she got them on the tray.
This is a new recipe I put together. I wanted a muffin recipe that used applesauce because I still have some unsweetened applesauce in my freezer that my sister and I (with Chloe and Kora’s help) made last summer. I was really curious to see if Kora would eat the muffins once they were baked. Trust me, I had nothing to worry about. She loved them and wanted to eat only muffins for lunch. I really think when kids are actively involved in food preparation they are more likely to eat what is on the table because they had a part in making it. OK, so I was not super surprised when my two-year-old niece liked the muffins because she helped make them (when kids help prepare food they are always more excited to eat it) but when my husband asked on Sunday morning if we had any blueberry muffins left, I knew they must be good! We both really like them and in fact, I made another batch this week. If we don’t eat them fast enough I will freeze the extras.
Kora’s Blueberry Muffins
2 ½ cups almond flour
¾ tsp. baking soda
2 tbsp. organic, unrefined coconut oil
1 tsp. organic apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. pure vanilla
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen will work)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a glass bowl, mix the flour and baking soda. Melt coconut oil. Then mix in the eggs, applesauce, honey, coconut oil, vanilla and vinegar. When mixed well stir in blueberries. Put in muffin tins and bake 15 to 19 minutes until a nice golden brown color. If you are using muffin tins without paper liners be sure to grease the pan with coconut oil.
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