Sweet potato muffins

Sweet potato muffins | Me & The Moose. These one-bowl, whole grain muffins sneak in some vegetables at breakfast, lunch, or snack time. #sweetpotatomuffins #meandthemoose #sweet potatorecipes #thanksgiving #healthybaking

Thanksgiving is here! I love this holiday and the season that follows, but there are definite downsides. I’ve talked about keeping expectations in check with kids and holidays. And while it’s exciting and fun that there’s always something going on: Making cookies, making gifts, buying gifts, wrapping gifts, listening to music, decorating, holiday events, holiday parties, holiday-themed school things, concerts, visiting relatives, etc, it can be…a lot. And for a little one like mine who’s always searching for his equilibrium, it can be.. A WHOLE LOT.

Sweet potato muffins | Me & The Moose. These one-bowl, whole grain muffins sneak in some vegetables at breakfast, lunch, or snack time. #sweetpotatomuffins #meandthemoose #sweet potatorecipes #thanksgiving #healthybaking

So, let’s not add even more by completely abandoning our commitment to balanced eating, mkay?

These sweet potato muffins are a fantastic “sweet” to have around. They feel festive and would certainly make a fitting Thanksgiving breakfast to watch in front of the parade or DOG SHOW (!!!!!!!), but are just sweet enough thanks to the applesauce, a few Tbsp of brown sugar divided between the batter and the muffin tops, a handful of golden raisins, and sweet potatoes.

And did I mention that they only require one bowl? You’ll have enough dishes this week.

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A couple of notes:
- Chop the sweet potatoes into 1/3-1/2 inch chunks. Any bigger and they may not soften enough during baking, but if you shred them, they disappear and make the batter a bit too wet.
- This is a thick batter, almost dough-like in consistency. Don’t worry. It always puffs up well in the oven and results in an airy, light muffin.

Sweet potato muffins | Me & The Moose. These one-bowl, whole grain muffins sneak in some vegetables at breakfast, lunch, or snack time. #sweetpotatomuffins #meandthemoose #sweet potatorecipes #thanksgiving #healthybaking

Sweet potato muffins

4 Tbsp butter or coconut oil, partially melted
½ cup applesauce
1 egg 
1/2 cup brown sugar, divided  
3/4 cup yogurt 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup wheat flour 
1 cup white flour 
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda 
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt 
1 medium sweet potato, cut into tiny squares (about 1.5 cups)
¼ cup golden raisins

Move your oven rack to the bottom or lower middle portion of the oven. Preheat to 375.

In a large bowl, partially melt the butter or coconut oil. Microwave it for a few seconds until it just begins to liquify, but is still partially solid.

Mix in the applesauce, egg, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, yogurt, and vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined and no streaks of flour remain.

Add the chopped sweet potatoes and raisins and stir again to combine.

Spoon the batter into the cups of a muffin tin, filling about 3/4 of the way. Top each muffin with a large pinch or two of brown sugar.

Bake for 18-22 minutes until firm to the touch and a tester in the middle comes out clean. Check after 12-15 minutes and cover if the sugar browns too fast.

Sweet potato muffins | Me & The Moose. These one-bowl, whole grain muffins sneak in some vegetables at breakfast, lunch, or snack time. #sweetpotatomuffins #meandthemoose #sweet potatorecipes #thanksgiving #healthybaking

Chocolate hummus

Chocolate hummus!

Even the best intentioned parents fall into bad habits when it comes to toddlers and food. I swore we would never make M a separate dinner from ours and yet, here we are. I also swore that I would never cave to bedtime snack requests, but…you guessed it.

Look, we have a lot of good habits and we course correct pretty fast when we realize that we’re off track. And we try not to sweat it when things change or don’t work around mealtimes. But f*&$@#ing hell is it frustrating.

While M isn’t a huge snacker between meals, he would happily eat all “snack” food for his meals. For lunch, I’m more okay with packing him a collection of finger foods (hard-boiled egg, veggies and hummus, fruit, mini muffins, etc), but for dinner, it’s hard for me to swallow guacamole and chips as his main course (pun intended).

I mean, he has an entire adolescence to make bad food choices, so we have to get some goodness in while we can, right?

All this to say, we’re struggling with food right now. One strategy we’re implementing is trying to ensure that M’s whole day is rounded out with good stuff so that one bad meal isn’t a big deal.

Chickpeas, dates, maple syrup, unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.
Blend until really smooth for a protein-packed after school snack.

I started making my own chocolate hummus after being introduced to this magical concoction (seriously, how did I not know that chocolate hummus existed until about 2 months ago?) at my book club.

Chocolate hummus: free of gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, nuts, and all animal products. Basically, the perfect after-school snack.

This sweet dip is mostly chickpeas, which have a ton of protein and fiber, plus some natural sweeteners and a couple of spices. It takes about 15 minutes to make and most of that time is spent waiting for water to boil. This snack is also free of nuts, gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, and any animal products.

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A couple of notes:
- Soak 4 dates, though you may not need them all. This dip tends to get sweeter as it sits in the fridge, so be careful about adding all four dates up front.
- If the dip doesn’t taste sweet enough after two dates, try adding another pinch of salt. The salt really brings out the sweetness and the chocolate, so you may not need additional sweetener.

Chick peas, dates, maple syrup, unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.

Chocolate hummus

1 can chick peas, rinsed and drained |
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ cup maple syrup
2-4 dates, soaked in boiling water for 5-10 minutes
1/8 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt, plus more to taste
½ tsp vanilla extract

Boil some water and pour over 4 dates. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, rinse your chickpeas and pour them onto a paper towel. Dry them lightly. Add to a food processor.

Measure the other ingredients and add to the food processor. When the dates are soft, add them to the other ingredients and blend until very smooth, about 5 minutes. Serve.

Yield: 1.5 cups or about 14.5 ounces

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Chocolate hummus!

Possibly the perfect lunchbox treat or after-school snack.

Apples and honey breakfast cookies

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Oh apple season, how I love you. However, baking with you in your natural state sometimes leads to a soggy mess. So, dried apples it is. I like the Trader Joe's version the best because they're dry (obviously), but not so dry that they're hard to eat. Though I still have to cut them up for M because he shoves so many of the whole ones into his mouth that he chokes. When will he learn??

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Anyway, these cookies are ever-so-slightly sweet thanks more to the dried apples and golden raisins than the honey, though the honey is necessary for binding everything together. These cookies are sort of like if granola, oatmeal, and a cinnamon raisin cookie had a baby, but with less refined sugar than most granola or cookies and more portability than oatmeal.

 

This is also a great place to sub in some store-bought sunflower seed butter to make these lunchbox appropriate. Pretty sure the rest of the ingredients would mask the sometimes glue-y taste of store-bought versions. Using gluten-free oats also makes these safe for kids with gluten allergies. And I haven't tried these with egg substitutes, but I'm assuming that two or three flax eggs would also work to bind these together. If using a flax egg, directly reduce the amount of flax seed meal that goes into the batter, but keep the baking powder the same. I would also use a full cup of honey as an increased binder. But note that I'm speculating here as I haven't tried these changes myself. I'll update the post if I do!

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Apples and honey breakfast cookies


8 oz natural peanut, almond, or sunflower seed butter
¾ cup honey
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup flax seed meal
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 ½ cups dried apples, chopped (plus 12 whole ones for decorating the tops of the cookies)
½ cup golden raisins
Olive or coconut oil

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the peanut butter, honey, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl. Mix well.

Add the dry ingredients and mix until all have been incorporated into the wet ingredients and no streaks remain.

Wet hands and form the dough into 12 large balls and gently press down onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. The dough will be sticky and crumble-y, which is why wet hands are helpful. Don’t worry if the dough feels like it will imminently fall apart. As long as it mostly sticks together, they’ll bake and cool into a solid cookie.

Press a round dried apple onto the top of each cookie and spray or brush with coconut or olive oil.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the sides just begin to brown. 

Let cool completely before removing from cookie sheet. (The cooling also helps bind the crumbly cookie together.)

Yield: 12 very large cookies

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Banana bread doughnuts

I've been thinking a lot about feelings lately as M, in typical toddler fashion, has all of the feelings, all of the time. Well, not all of the time. But while it makes life harder for me when he has A DAY, I want him to know that feelings are fine and that "managing" them doesn't mean suppressing them. That reminder is for me more than him because he wants to fly his feelings flag high. Unfortunately, my first instinct is to talk him out of it in an effort to make him "feel better," but which is probably more like "feel nothing negative."

I've read a few articles lately about parenting boys like this one, which was a good reminder of things I already think about and do (and wrote about here). Most writings about raising feminist sons (or just sons who aren't jerks) mention encouraging their emotional vocabulary, but don't give a lot of specific data or instructions. However, this article gives both and made me think about how I talk with M about everything, not just his feelings.

Tiny tooth marks in the doughnut on the bottom right corner.

Tiny tooth marks in the doughnut on the bottom right corner.

Since reading this article, I've tried to be more curious with M, particularly when we're cooking together. He takes his little step stool and stands next to me at our (tiny) counter. I give him jobs and we make a huge mess and in the mean time, I have the opportunity to ask him a million questions about what he's doing, choices he's making, and what he feels while we work on this whole project. Baking is also a great way to teach patience because we can't eat the finished product right away.

M made (and tasted) every batch of these banana bread donuts with me. He loved them all, but I liked my final batch with a little more coconut sugar and a second egg, the best. This is truly a one bowl recipe: We mixed the wet ingredients first and added the dry ingredients directly to the wet batter and they've turned out really well each time (with minimal dish doing at the end). This recipe could easily be made as mini muffins, regular muffins, or a loaf of banana bread. But I quite like them as doughnuts because they bake very evenly and very quickly.

Banana bread donuts

Adapted from America's Test Kitchen

3 medium bananas, smashed
¾ cup coconut sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup full fat plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup quick oats
2 Tbsp flax seed meal
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400. Smash the bananas in a large bowl and thoroughly mix in the rest of the wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the same bowl containing the wet mixture and mix until just combined and no dry flour can be seen. Spoon the batter into greased dougnut pan and bake for 12-13 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly pushed. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a cooling rack to let cool completely.

Yield: 14-16 doughnuts

Healthy strawberry and cherry granola bars

Healthy strawberry and cherry granola bar | Me & The Moose. These chewy granola bars are a mixup of granola bars, oatmeal cookies, and rice krispy treats, but healthier and more filling than any of the traditional ones. #meandthemoose #granolabarrecipes #nutfree #glutenfree #naturalsugar #granolarecipes #granolabarrecipes #snacks #snackrecipes

Say hello to the Frankenbar: Part granola bar, part oatmeal cookie, and part Rice Krispie treat. These beauties are also free of refined sugar (mostly), gluten, nuts, and can be dairy-free if you swap out the chocolate-covered sunflower seeds with carob chips. The brown rice syrup takes a little getting used to; to me, it has a slightly funky flavor on its own. But the syrup is far stickier than honey or maple syrup, so it's a better binder, and you don't taste it in final product.

Actually, I have a confession to make: I find a lot of "healthy" baking ingredients a little gross on their own. I wouldn't necessarily choose carob chips or coconut sugar over their more refined counterparts, except that I prefer using ingredients that are generally better for me and for M when I control the food. Also, I aim to only publish recipes here that I know are delicious and don't suffer (at least, to my tastes) from the healthy stuff.

Healthy strawberry and cherry granola bar | Me & The Moose. These chewy granola bars are a mixup of granola bars, oatmeal cookies, and rice krispy treats, but healthier and more filling than any of the traditional ones. #meandthemoose #granolabarrecipes #nutfree #glutenfree #naturalsugar #granolarecipes #granolabarrecipes #snacks #snackrecipes

These bars are also completely adaptable based on preferences and allergy concerns. Can't find dried strawberries or cherries without extra sugar? Use other dried fruits. Don't have any nut allergies? Use almonds or peanuts and almond or peanut butter instead of the sunflower seeds and seed butter. Can't find chocolate covered sunflower seeds? Swap in the aforementioned carob chips to make the bars dairy-free or use chocolate chunks or M&Ms.

Healthy strawberry and cherry granola bar | Me & The Moose. These chewy granola bars are a mixup of granola bars, oatmeal cookies, and rice krispy treats, but healthier and more filling than any of the traditional ones. #meandthemoose #granolabarrecipes #nutfree #glutenfree #naturalsugar #granolarecipes #granolabarrecipes #snacks #snackrecipes

This recipe is also a great way to use up sunflower seed butter if you have some leftover. Again, one of those ingredients that tastes kind of terrible on its own (unless you make this homemade version which is GREAT), but adds a nice nuttyness. These treats would also make a great snack for Valentine's Day parties in nut-free classrooms.

Healthy strawberry and cherry granola bar | Me & The Moose. These chewy granola bars are a mixup of granola bars, oatmeal cookies, and rice krispy treats, but healthier and more filling than any of the traditional ones. #meandthemoose #granolabarrecipes #nutfree #glutenfree #naturalsugar #granolarecipes #granolabarrecipes #snacks #snackrecipes

Strawberry and cherry granola bars

1 1/2 cup quick rolled oats
1 1/2 cup puffed brown rice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup chocolate covered sunflower seeds
2/3 cup dried cherries
2/3 cup dried strawberries
1/3 cup freeze-dried strawberries
1/3 cup freeze-dried cherries
1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp sunflower seed butter (1/3 cup works, but the bars are slightly crumbly)
6 Tbsp melted coconut oil (measure after melting)
1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp brown rice syrup

Preheat the oven to 350. Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment and lightly grease. Set aside.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Melt the coconut oil and add to the dry ingredients along with the sunflower seed butter and the brown rice syrup. Using a spatula or your hands (I always use my hands), stir well to combine. Dump the mixture into the parchment-lined baking pan and pack down with gusto. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.

Let cool completely before serving. The bars stayed crunchy for one week in a sealed bag at room temperature, but go ahead and freeze some or all if you won't eat within a week.

Healthy strawberry and cherry granola bar | Me & The Moose. These chewy granola bars are a mixup of granola bars, oatmeal cookies, and rice krispy treats, but healthier and more filling than any of the traditional ones. #meandthemoose #granolabarrecipes #nutfree #glutenfree #naturalsugar #granolarecipes #granolabarrecipes #snacks #snackrecipes