Zucchini Banana Flaxseed Muffins

These nutrient-packed muffins are delicious! I adapted them from Martha Stewart’s recipe by substituting for whole wheat flour, low fat milk, and halving the sugar and they still came out so good.

Recipe yield: about 12 muffins

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated zucchini, 1 medium-large zucchini
1/3 cup mashed banana, 1 large banana
3/4 cup reduced fat milk, I used 1 percent
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, whisked

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350* and prepare muffin tins
2. In large bowl, combine all dry ingredients (flour- salt) and mix together
3. Add grated zucchini and mashed banana to the dry ingredients and stir to combine
4. In a separate small bowl, whisk milk, vanilla, and egg together
5. Add the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and stir until combined.
6. Pour muffin mix into lined or greased muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes*

* If making mini muffins, bake for about 15 minutes

I doubled the recipe and made 24 regular muffins and 12 mini muffins. I only baked about 1/3 and froze the rest. I have found that the best way to freeze muffins is to freeze the batter in the paper/ tinfoil liners in a muffin tin and then transfer them into a freezer bag once fully frozen. When you are ready to eat fresh baked muffins, take out as many as you’d like and place them in a muffin tin and bake for 20-25 minutes in a 350* oven (it may take a little longer for the frozen muffins to cook but not much at all)

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Cole gives them the thumbs up!

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Helping mom with the liners

Brown Rice and Broccoli Muffins

I saw these on Pinterest and was inspired to make them over into a healthier version. They turned out great & were so easy to make! Mom & kid approved. You could also modify this recipe into a casserole instead of muffins for a more family- friendly meal.

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Ingredients:
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup broccoli, steamed & chopped
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded. plus more for top

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 and prepare muffin tin or casserole dish with nonstick spray
2. Place all ingredients into a large bowl and mix well
3. Scoop mixture into 6 muffin tins and top with cheddar cheese
4. Bake for 25 minutes
Enjoy!

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Note: I used left over roasted red pepper quinoa, which is why you can see some red pepper in the photo

Healthy Brownie Bites

I spend a lot of time looking for/ testing new recipes that will work for us and that I can share with all of you. Many don’t work out and a LOT have to be tweaked a bit before I use/ share them. This one worked out well on the 1st try!! I didn’t even change any of the ingredients. Healthy Brownie Bites via Snack Girl.

Brownie Bites

(20 balls)
15 pitted dates
2/3 cup cocoa powder (plus extra for dusting)
1 cup raw almonds
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons water

Add almonds to food processor and pulse until ground. Add dates, cocoa powder, honey, and water. Mix until it just forms a sticky mass. Wash hands and attempt to make a ball with the dough (it may need more water to get to the perfect consistency). Put a tablespoon of cocoa or confectioner’s sugar on a plate. Roll balls in your hand and then roll in sugar or cocoa (or both). Eat! These can be store in the fridge for a week.

A few notes:
I used Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder in the recipe, but either would work well.
I also rolled some of mine in coconut or chopped walnuts and they were delicious!
I used more like 4T of water and ended up with a smoother consistency.
DON’T be afraid of the fact that there are dates in it! Seriously. Just trust me.

Enjoy!

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A Snack Fit For Olympians

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I’m sure many of you have seen the controversial Coke and McDonalds ads that have been airing during the Olympics and many of you are probably equally annoyed/ frustrated by them promoting unhealthy products to viewers that look up to these amazing athletes, especially young ones that hope to someday be just like them. The advertisement space is obviously driven by money,and after all, Coke and McDonalds are not only two of the largest food & beverage enterprises, but also two of the longest running sponsors of the Olympics. Thankfully most of us know that they wouldn’t be world class athletes if they were living off of a fast food and soda diet. I had though of doing a whole post on this a while back when It was being debated whether they should be allowed to advertise during the Olympics or not but ended up not and today I’d like to share some healthy Olympic snacks for your little ones. I am glad I waited and am now able to highlight the positive instead of dwelling on negatives.

The first Olympics was held in Athens, Greece in April of 1896. The 5 colors of the Olympic rings symbolize the five continents that athletes traveled from to take part in the Olympic events. The rings are linked together to represent the unity that all nations show when coming together to compete against one another.

I created a snack that represents the 5 olympic rings. It’s a fun way to celebrate the Olympics with your family, and also a great way to get them to eat a variety of colorful foods.

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I made separate fruit & veggie rings to show more examples of what you can put in them, but normally I would mix & match. Here are a few more color-coded ideas:

Blue:
Blueberries
Purple potatoes

Black:
Blackberries
Black beans
Olives

Red:
Strawberries
Tomatoes
Raspberries
Red bell peppers
Cherries
Apples
Kidney beans
Watermelon
Pomegranate
Cranberries/ craisins

Yellow:
Bananas
Corn
Pineapple
Golden delicious apples
Yellow bell pepper
Summer squash
Cheddar cheese
Wax beans
Yellow tomatoes

Green:
Green grapes
Broccoli
Green beans
Kiwi
Spinach/ other greens
Zucchini
Cucumber
Peas
Celery
Green apples
Avocado
Honeydew melon
Edamame

Have fun experimenting with different foods & fueling your champions!

Recipe round-up: Whole Wheat Cinnamon Chips, Fruit Salsa, and Oatmeal Banana Smoothie

This week I packed homemade fruit salsa with whole wheat cinnamon chips in Cole’s lunch. This was actually left over from the night before when I brought this appetizer to a Ladies Wine Night gathering. Both the ladies and Cole loved it. It was my first time making it and I LOVED it too. I looked at a few recipes for ideas and just made it up as I went.

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I was too busy chatting and sipping wine at Ladies Night to remember to take a photo, so this was a few days later and the colors are not as vibrant as they were when it was fresh, but it still tastes great for a few days.

Fresh Fruit Salsa

Ingredients:
10-12 large strawberries
2 kiwi
1 peach
1/4 cup blueberries
1/3 cup pineapple
1/2 of a golden delicious apple

Directions:
Rinse and chop all fruit into small pieces. I left the apples separate so they wouldn’t brown or take on the color of the other fruit. Other recipes I found called for adding sugar, which I found was unnecessary as it is very sweet & delicious on its own. Some also called for lemon or lime juice, which would help a bit with preserving the oxidation of the apples.

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Chips

Ingredients:
4 whole wheat tortillas
Butter or cooking spray
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350*
2. Spread a very light layer of butter or cooking spray onto the tortillas
3. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture onto each tortilla, covering evenly
4. Slice tortillas into “chips” using either a knife or pizza cutter
4. Place on parchment lined baking sheet
5. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes
6. Allow to cool for a few minutes, Enjoy!

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Oatmeal Banana Smoothie

I have always wanted to try a smoothie with oatmeal in it and think its a great way to get a nutritious & filling breakfast.

Ingredients:
1 banana, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup old fashion oats, cooked with 1/2 cup of water or milk (I used milk)
1/3 cup Greek vanilla yogurt
3T sliced almonds
1cup ice

Directions:
Place all ingredients into a blender, blend until desired consistency (it won’t be completely smooth with oats & almonds). Pour into a glass & Enjoy!

Blueberry muffins

Recently, I took Cole and Audrey blueberry picking and we came home with LOTS of fresh delicious blueberries. Most of them were consumed by the handful, some in lunches, and the rest were used in this blueberry muffin recipe. I wanted to try something new, so I found this recipe on Pinterest and used is as my inspiration. The original recipe called for a cup of sugar, which I wasn’t fond of but also used sour cream in place of oil. I made a few adjustments and here is what I came up with.

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Blueberry muffin recipe

Ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg
½ cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1¼ cups light sour cream &/ or vanilla yogurt**
1½ cups frozen or fresh blueberries

** since I halved the sugar in this recipe, I decided to sweeten it by substituting vanilla yogurt for some of the sour cream. I would have done a half & half mix but I only had a 6 oz container of fat free vanilla yogurt so it ended up to be just over half

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F*

2. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl untill combined.

3. Whisk the egg in a separate medium bowl, about 20 seconds. Add the sugar and whisk vigorously until combined. Add the melted butter in 2 or 3 additions, whisking to combine after each addition. Add the sour cream in 2 additions, whisking just to combine.

4. Add the berries to the dry ingredients and gently toss just to combine. Add the sour cream mixture and fold with a rubber spatula until the batter comes together and the berries are evenly distributed. The batter comes out thicker than usual.

5. Spoon batter into greased or lines muffin tins. I usually make a combination of regular and mini muffins, so I cooked he mini muffins for about 15 minutes and th regular ones for 25. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick or dry pasta and making sure it comes out clean.

Enjoy!

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We very much enjoyed these muffins! They were moist and had an almost cheesecake-like taste to them.

Red, White, and Blue

I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th and got to spend time relaxing, spending time with friends & family, or soaking up the sun. We were lucky enough to do all three!

In honor of America’s birthday, and the official Red, White, and Blue holiday, I made a few fun patriotic meals to help celebrate. I posted Cole’s patriotic daycare lunch on our Facebook page Tuesday, including Red, White, and Blue whole grain pancakes that I made using strawberry and blueberry purées for color instead of dyes. I also posted yesterday’s breakfast of whole grain waffles topped with vanilla yogurt, strawberries, and blueberries. This is my third Red, White, and Blue themed healthy meal, the Patriotic Popsicle.

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Both kids gave these Patriotic Popsicles rave reviews.

Ingredients:

1. Lemonade (I used Newman’s Own virgin lemonade)
2. Blueberries; fresh or frozen
3. Strawberries; fresh or frozen
*amounts will depend on the size and number of your Popsicle molds

Directions:
1. Spoon blueberries into bottom of the Popsicle mold
2. Pour in enough lemonade to cover berries
3. Freeze for at least 1 hour
4. Remove mold from freezer and add an equal part of just lemonade and place back in the freezer for at least another hour
5. Slice strawberries and place them in a food processor with lemonade until relatively smooth
6. Top off the remaining space in the pop mold with the strawberry lemonade mixture
7. Place stick in and return to the freezer until you are ready to enjoy!

Tip: make sure to take note of the length of your stick before the last layer, otherwise you may not leave yourself enough room

These sound relatively labor intensive because of the prep and freeze time between layers, but they were very simple to make and I added layers as I had time. I will certainly be experimenting with many other popsicle recipes during these hot summer days and will be excited to share them with you all.

Think beyond the sandwich

Yesterday while out running errands I passed a Burger King, to which I generally pay little to no attention to but their sign caught my eye while sitting at a red light and it surprised me and got me thinking. Here is a quick picture I snapped of their advertisement:

This is obviously not the best picture, but the sign is advertising a $1.04 chicken sandwich. Here is the same advertisement I found online.

So, how can Burger King possibly be selling a chicken sandwich (breaded chicken, lettuce, mayo, bun) for $1.04? Think about how much energy and labor went into producing this sandwich All the way back to the farms that grew the crops or raised the chickens, the farmers and the machinery needed, the fertilizers, feed, time, gas, the harvesting, butchering, distance traveled, delivery, preparation, packaging, more traveling, delivery, preparation, packaging and the sale of this item (I’m sure I even missed a few steps). There is no way that they can be selling a sandwich that was conventionally produced and used fair trade practices for paying the farmers, etc. needed to grow and produce these products that would eventually make this sandwich. I don’t even want to know where they cut corners to produce “food” this cheap but I do know that it is impossible to produce and sell REAL food this cheap.

My goal in posting this is not solely to slam the fast “food” industry but it is that every now and then, before purchasing or consuming food, to THINK about where that food came from and all the hands and production needed to produce it. It may change the way you look at your food and what you are putting into your body.

I did this as a class exercise once and admit that most of the time while in the grocery store with a toddler, the last thing I do is stand in front of food and analyze every aspect of its production. I do however want to nourish my family with healthy foods and know that without farms and farmers there would be no food and since I don’t want to get up at 4am and milk the cows every.single.day, I respect those who do and think they should be compensated fairly. I also want to be consuming food that is close to its natural state and thus highest in nutritional content.

Choking Hazard

So, those of you that Like Healthy Little Ones on Facebook get to see pictures of Cole’s packed daycare lunches and probably already know that grapes and grape tomatoes are lunch box regulars for him. I almost always cut both of these items up for him thinking I was reducing the choking hazard of them. I recently realized that I was usually cutting them in half, which made them smaller but doesn’t change the small round shape that poses a choking hazard. A better way to cut these foods is horizontally, creating a half circle. For even more precaution or for really little ones, cut them into quarters. I became aware of this while reading one of Cole’s recent daycare newsletter discussing the potential choking hazards of hotdogs as cookout season it upon us. Here is a list of many of the other choking hazard foods for little ones under 4 or 5.

  • hotdogs
  • nuts
  • grapes
  • grape/ cherry tomatoes
  • popcorn
  • raw carrots
  • hard candies
  • gum balls
  • meat
  • cherries

It’s best to either avoid these foods or to significantly alter their shape &/or texture to reduce any potential choking risks.

Mini Zucchini Muffins

Finally, here is the zucchini muffin recipe from one of Cole’s lunch box photos a while back. I came up with the recipe through searching many and merging a few that I liked together. I suggest making these as mini muffins though because sometimes zucchini muffins tend to be dense in the middle of the larger ones (I didn’t squeeze out the zucchini either, which may help).

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1  1/2 t baking powder
  •  1/2 t salt
  • 1T cinnamon
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • scant 1/2 cup brown sugar*
  • scant 1/2 cup white sugar*
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1  1/2 t vanilla
  • 1  1/2 cups shredded zucchini, about 2 medium
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips or chopped walnuts (optional)

* the original recipes called for anywhere between 1 – 1  1/3 cups of sugar. In an effort to reduce the sugar on the first trial I usually just measure out a little less as to not significantly change the taste

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Spray mini muffin tin
  2. In medium bowl, combine all dry ingredients (flour – sugar)
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs & oil; add vanilla and zucchini and continue to whisk
  4. (Optional) Add chocolate chips or walnuts to mixed wet ingredients (mine were an afterthought so they went on top and easily fall off while eating)
  5. Slowly whisk dry ingredients into wet mixture
  6. Spoon out batter into mini muffin tins
  7. Bake for 15 minutes
  8. Cool & Enjoy!