Snack time!

>> Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I'm a mom on a mission. My mission is to get my kids to eat as healthy as possible while still enjoying their food. Snack time is often a challenge here. My kids can be picky and finicky, so I'm always looking for good, healthy snacks that will keep them interested in good food (in addition to trying to sway them to like fresh fruit and veggies). So, this is going to be a semi-regular feature here - healthy snacks that taste good. My kids are my jury here, but these snacks are just as good for adults.

My son came home from preschool a few weeks ago and asked if I would make him some pumpkin muffins. They made them a couple of times in their preschool class, and he loved them. Well, I put it off - for several weeks - because neither I nor his father care for pumpkin. Last week, I found a recipe that looked fairly easy and full of pumpkin at Smitten Kitchen. Both of my kids love these muffins! They consume them with a fervor that I can't quite translate into words.

I'm thrilled (and more than a little surprised) that my kids like pumpkin, and here's why. Pumpkin is loaded with the antioxidant beta-carotene. It's also low in fat and calories and high in potassium. Add in a fair amount of vitamin C, fiber, and other nutrients like calcium, iron, and vitamin E, and it's a shame that our main use for pumpkins is as a Halloween decoration!

I tweaked the recipe ever so slightly, so I'm going to go ahead and give you the version that I used, complete with pictures of my muffins. If you want to see the original recipe and gorgeous pictures of the final product, head on over to Smitten Kitchen. I chose to make mini-muffins for portion control (though it doesn't really help when they inhale 2-3 at a time). I'm sure that a better baker than I could substitute whole wheat flour for some of the all-purpose flour and decrease the sugar and still come out with a fine muffin.

Pumpkin Muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cup packed pumpkin (from a 15-oz can - be careful not to get the pumpkin pie filling can!)
1/3 cup olive oil
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line mini-muffin pan with muffin cups.

Mix together pumpkin, oil, eggs, pumpkin-pie spice, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until smooth. Mix together flour and baking powder and add to the pumpkin mixture. Mix until just combined.

Add batter to each muffin cup so that each cup is about 3/4 full. Bake until puffed and golden brown and a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean, about 20 min.

Makes about 3 dozen mini-muffins.

Are you a picky eater? Would you like to be a little less picky? Then head on over to Kid Appeal and enter the Recovering Picky Eater Challenge! I know around here my kids are much less likely to try a new food if I don't like it. I'd hate to shut down good food options for them because of my pickiness. So, I'm going to work on my dislike of beans and fish - much to the joy of my husband, I'm sure.


fox42 January 6, 2009 at 9:08 AM  

Looks great. We love Smitten Kitchen and highly recommend it

Mark January 6, 2009 at 12:02 PM  

fantastic! I am in the same boat and will continue to pick at your site for healthy alternatives! Thanks for the recipe! :)

Blake January 6, 2009 at 12:41 PM  

Those look good. I'm gonna make them for sure. I look forward to other healthy snacks too!

Jenna January 6, 2009 at 1:35 PM  

mmm pumpkin muffins, those look good. baking for snack time is a great idea, and the boys love muffins. thanks for the mention!

The Happy Runner January 6, 2009 at 7:18 PM  

On the ww flour issue: I buy a bag of ww and a bag of regular. Then, I pour them both in an airtight container so whenever I use flour, I use half ww, half white. It works well for me because I can retain some of the lighter texture that you lose when you use all ww.

TwinToddlersDad January 6, 2009 at 7:54 PM  

This looks great! Need to show it to TwinToddlersMom!

We have tried a very simple very-low sugar added pumpkin dessert with lots of crushed walnuts. Twins did not care for it too much yet, but we enjoyed it a lot! Guess will need to encourage the twins to try it again since pumpkin has such high nutritious value.

Anonymous January 6, 2009 at 9:42 PM  

Hi there, love your blog. I am conflicted on the HFCS debate because white sugar is also not that great, plus, its bleached white. Anyway, we do use it but I also try to use honey and molasses. For vegans or egg-allergic folks reading this post, check out a vegan version of pumpkin muffin here, plus some more nutrition background on vitamin A and pumpkins:

It has slightly less white sugar (b/c it also calls for molasses) and uses whole grain pastry flour, which retains the softness.

Thanks for the great post, I will come back for more.

Lori January 6, 2009 at 9:47 PM  

Loved the muffins. I can never get enough pumpkin. I'm glad it is sticking around for longer than turkey day. Love Happy Runner's tip for mixing the flours too.

cathy January 7, 2009 at 6:38 AM  

Glad everyone likes the idea of pumpkin muffins!

Happy Runner - Love your flour idea! I'm new to using whole wheat flour and am SO not a baker, so tips like this rock!

TwinToddlersDad - Hubby wants me to try this recipe with less sugar. I'll let you know now it goes.

BeyondPrenatals - I'll check out your recipe. I'm not anti-white sugar (though I do think it's always a good idea if you can use less!), but I'll bet that honey and molasses would impart a great flavor to the muffins. Going to check out those muffins now!

Anya January 7, 2009 at 7:31 AM  

I love love love pumpkin and am always looking for new ways to use the ton I have in the freezer. Thanks for the recipe and bring on the healthy snack ideas (I need them!).

fatfighter January 7, 2009 at 9:36 AM  

What - you don't like pumpkins? :)
I absolutely LOVE anything pumpkin - especially the delicious pumpkin cookies at the bakery a block away...
I will try these - thanks for sharing!

Fruity January 7, 2009 at 9:36 AM  

Interesting! I've never try pumpkin muffins before.. Looks great

Mary H. January 7, 2009 at 6:36 PM  

I just found your blog and will be a regular reader.

cathy January 7, 2009 at 7:13 PM  

Fatfighter - What can I say? I'm a picky, but adventurous, eater!

Mary H - Glad you found the blog! Looking forward to your comments.

Anonymous January 10, 2009 at 9:49 PM  

Mmmm! Made your pumpkin muffins tonight, and they are wonderful. I substituted whole wheat flour for a little over 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour, and the texture is very good.

Also, I shook a little cinnamon-sugar mix on the tops of the muffins before baking. I used regular-size muffin tins, and the recipe made 15 muffins.

I might try reducing the fat a little by substituting applesauce for part of the oil, though that does tend to change the texture of baked goods slightly. Olive oil is healthy fat, so I may just leave well enough alone.

Great blog, and thanks for the recipe!

Shelly January 12, 2009 at 1:11 PM  

I love the tips on your blog, thanks for sharing!

I wanted to tell you about a healthy alternative for juice I just found.

First Juice is a company that makes tasty vegetable/juice blends that are 50% less sugar than typical 100% juice. My kids LOVE their new Blueberry + Purple Carrot flavor. For a treat, I blend the juice with a bit of ice and yogurt for a homemade smoothie.

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