Healthify Your Muffins

If you’re like me, you may desire to feed your family a wide range of nutritious foods and yet, if you’re like me, you may be blessed with toddlers who are resistant to the introduction of said nutrients. One of the easy ways to get the good stuff into a picky eater is to hide it in unsweetened applesauce, but another way is to make green muffins. Believe me, this totally works. It’s astounding, really.

Several people asked for the recipe I recently used to make Kale Banana Nut Muffins. Honestly, I just used the Banana Nut Muffin recipe from Joy of Cooking and replaced some of the bananas and some of the oil with pureed steamed kale. I’ve tried to approximate the recipe below. (Note about Joy of Cooking – if you like to fiddle around in the kitchen and substitute ingredients I highly recommend Joy of Cooking as a basic cookbook. It has lots of tried and true basic recipes that are easily modified. This is one of the cookbooks I think is really worth owning.)

Kale Banana Nut Muffins

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a standard 12 muffin tin or line with paper cups.

2. Get a bag of prewashed kale greens or spinach, or get a bunch of kale and pull off the stem and chop up the greens. Steam it lightly until just wilted and then puree in your blender or food processor. The result should be about 1.5 to 2 cups of puree, give or take.

3. Whisk together thoroughly:
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat flour (or use more wheat flour and less white, as you wish)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Stir in 2/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

4. Whisk together in a separate large bowl:
1 large egg (or use an egg substitute like flax seed or meringue powder, see below)
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (or use less if you like a less sweet muffin)
1 or 2 mashed bananas (I’m not sure how much I used because I was using frozen)
2 or 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter or coconut oil or whatever you want
1 teaspoon vanilla
your kale puree from step 2

5. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and mix together until just moistened, don’t overmix, it won’t be smooth. Divide the batter among the muffin cups and bake until a toothpick inserted in the muffins comes out clean, around 18-20 minutes. Let cool for 2-3 minutes in the pan and then remove. Let cool on a rack unless you’re serving them hot.

A note on ingredients:
Check your grocery store to see if they ever mark down prewashed bags of greens. I find reduced greens at Kroger all the time, but never at Meijer or Walmart. In fact, Kroger’s organic greens are almost always cheaper than their regular greens, and yet I see people go for the regular greens all the time. It boggles the mind. If you find a super deal on fresh greens, you can quickly steam them and then freeze them in freezer bags. I did that a while ago when I found 11 bags of kale for 67 cents each. You could puree it before you freeze it, but if you’re dealing with 11 bags of kale you probably don’t have the time for that. It’s ok to puree it later.

I have a couple of bags of frozen banana chunks in my freezer from the last time bananas were on crazy ridiculous sale and I bought a lot. It’s nice to have frozen banana chunks on hand anyway for smoothies and recipes.

I have a tin of meringue powder in my pantry from the year I made elaborately decorated camel-shaped sugar cookies at Christmas. It has come in handy since as an egg substitute for recipes at times when I am out of eggs or when I want the kids to be able to help with the batter. I don’t like the kids to eat raw eggs, so using meringue powder makes it safer if they eat a huge glop of the batter, as the invariably will. Meringue powder is a reasonable substitute in quick breads and muffins, but I haven’t tried it in cookie batter.

And there you have it. Go ye forth and healthify your muffins!

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