Baby’s Banana Muffins

I have many readers that have shared with me that my super food muffins are among the first solids (after purees, of course) that they try with their babies.  (I’m flattered, amazing readers! <3)  I imagine this is because in addition to being loaded with super foods, they are easy to tear into small pieces and turn into mush in the mouth similarly to bread.  I typically make the muffins with a little bit of texture—shredded veggies or nuts, for example—but for all of the babies out there that might just be getting used to solids, I whipped up a batch that contains mashed banana as the star.

Don’t get me wrong, these are delicious and nutritious for anyone, and you could always throw in some chopped walnuts if you’re looking for a bit more texture yourself.  I’ve also played around with this formula and made some adjustments to reflect more experimentation in the kitchen.  If you have my original formula memorized like I do, you’ll notice the tweaks below.  🙂

A final note…

Ingredients like nuts, depending on whom you talk to, are not necessarily recommended for little ones.  I’ve read no nuts until age two.  I’ve also read eighteen months, and I’ve read that it might not even matter at all.  If you’re concerned about your baby consuming nuts, seeds, or plant milks made from such ingredients, always ask your child’s pediatrician first.  Then, enjoy!

FORMULA BASE:  SUPER FOOD MUFFINS

Makes 12 regular sized muffins

  • 1 cup flour –> I’m using whole wheat.
  • 1 cup cooked small grains (e.g. quinoa, kaniwa, millet, etc.) –>  I’m using millet.
  • 1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ cup sweetener –>  I’m using light agave syrup.
  • 1/8 cup oil –>  I’m using coconut.
  • 1 cup raw (fresh or frozen) fruit or veggie –>  I’m using mashed banana.
  • 1-1 ¼ cups plant milk –>  I’m using almond.
  • 3 tbsps seeds (e.g. chia, hemp, poppy, flax, etc.) –>  I’m 1 tbsp each chia, hulled hemp, and ground flax.
  • ½-1 tsp extract (amount will depend on flavor intensity) –>  I’m using 1 tsp homemade vanilla.
  • ½-1 tsp spices –>  I’m using ½ tsp ground cinnamon.
  • ½ tsp salt (optional) –>  I’m not using any.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Separately combine all of the dry ingredients and all of the wet ingredients (include the mashed banana in the wet).

muffin batter

Pour the wet into the dry and mix with a wooden spoon. The batter will be thick and lumpy, but you can always add more plant milk if it seems too dry or dough-like. Spoon the batter into a lined or greased cupcake pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. Use the toothpick test! Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Pumpkin Pecan Muffins

First of all, it’s been a little slow on The Fresh Formula because…I am now a mother of two! Oliver Ryan was born on Sunday at 36 weeks. Although he is healthy and happy and we are home from the hospital now, I wasn’t totally ready for an early arrival, and thus, unable to get to blogging for the past week. More to come on the newest love of my life…

Secondly, despite appearances, these muffins aren’t burnt. Their chocolatey color comes from the incorporation of dark molasses as a sweetener. After recently making a pumpkin spice cake that included molasses, I decided to try it out with my super food muffins. The rich flavor of molasses pairs nicely with pumpkin and its typical spice blend.

Since we’re on the subject, molasses is a super food, too. Despite being essentially a “waste” product of producing white granulated sugar, molasses maintains nutrients that the refined stuff does not. In addition to what you see on the product label below, molasses, like agave syrup, has a low glycemic index, which is important in reducing the risk for type 2 diabetes. Molasses is also high in antioxidants and has a subtler sweet flavor than other sweeteners. Personally, having followed a plant-based lifestyle for going on four years, I find super sweet food products too rich, so molasses is the perfect sweetener for me.

DSC_2477

So, again, I chose molasses because I am pairing it with pumpkin. Pumpkin puree—not pumpkin pie filling, ya’ll—is a powerhouse of vitamin A and also contains high levels of fiber and iron. ‘Tis the season to find these gourds everywhere, so if you’re up for the challenge, you can butcher and puree your own. Travis and I have done it and even made pumpkin milk from the seeds! Otherwise, you’re looking for canned pumpkin that contains nothing else (particularly sugar, fat, and salt).

DSC_2476

Anywho, just in time for Halloween, you can devour these pumpkin muffins for breakfast or bring them to Thanksgiving dinner if you’re in charge of dinner rolls. 🙂 Enjoy!

FORMULA BASE: SUPER FOOD MUFFINS

Makes 12 muffins

  • 1 cup flour –> I’m using whole wheat.
  • 1 cup cooked small grains (e.g. quinoa, kaniwa, millet, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ cup sweetener –> I’m using molasses.
  • 1/8 cup oil –> I’m using coconut, melted.
  • 1 cup raw (fresh or frozen) fruit or veggie –> I’m using ¾ cup pumpkin puree + ¼ cup chopped, raw pecans.
  • 1-1 ¼ cups unsweetened plant milk –> I’m using ¾ almond, which is less than usual since the puree adds a bit of water to the batter.
  • 3 tbsps seeds (e.g. chia, hemp, poppy, flax, etc.)
  • ½-1 tsp extract (amount will depend on flavor intensity) –> I’m using 1 tsp homemade vanilla.
  • ½-1 tsp spices –> I’m using ½ tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp nutmeg, and 1/8 tsp each cardamom and cloves. All spices are ground.
  • ½ tsp pink Himalayan sea salt (optional) –> I’m not using it.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Separately combine all of the dry ingredients and all of the wet ingredients. In this case, the wet ingredients include the pumpkin puree, too.

DSC_2478

Pour the wet into the dry and mix with a wooden spoon. The batter will be thick and lumpy, but you can always add more plant milk if it seems too dry or dough-like. Spoon the batter into a lined cupcake pan and bake for 25 minutes.

DSC_2479

Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Eat Your Vegetables!

If you have a picky child, or are not a huge fan of vegetables yourself, today’s recipe will allow you to hide your veggies among whole grains and a little bit of sweetness so that they go down easily and you don’t miss out on their nutritional benefits.

While I’m proud that my two-and-a-half-year-old consumes nutritious, plant-based eats all day long, I’ve found that he’s definitely not immune to some of the typical behaviors of the picky toddler. As of the last few months, if he sees something he’s never eaten, he’s unlikely to try it. If that something is a vegetable (or at least looks like one), we’re in even worse shape.

Thankfully, my boy has never met a smoothie he doesn’t like, so I’m able to hide a variety of raw vegetables in that component of his daily breakfast. (That’s right – his morning smoothie is just part of his breakfast. He has an insatiable appetite in the morning, eating less and less as the day progresses.) I’ve managed to sneak raw celery, carrots, cucumbers, beets, fresh herbs, and a variety of greens right by him for many a morning now.

Until he’s willing to look at a heap of broccoli and get excited about eating it, I have to get creative. In addition to smoothies, I’ve found that my super food muffin formula lends itself just as nicely to shredded vegetables as it does fruits. Today’s rendition features zucchini, which I find a bit too earthy in flavor to compliment most smoothie combinations. Zucchini, or Italian squash (pictured below, shredded in the food processor), is a solid source of vitamin C and manganese and promotes healthy eyesight, so I definitely want Nolan to have it in his diet.

DSC_2404

My zucchini muffins also include a yummy spice blend that features the following:

CINNAMON: A popular spice that you can purchase as sticks or ground, cinnamon is high in antioxidants.

NUTMEG: Nutmeg, which you can find as a seed or ground, is a great source of fiber, copper, and like zucchini, manganese. The two are often paired together in cooking.

CARDAMOM: Cardamom, available as pods or ground, is also a rich source of fiber and manganese and boasts a notable serving of iron, too.

CLOVES: Use cloves sparingly as their flavor is the strongest of this group of particularly flavorful spices. You can find the cloves whole or ground, and like cinnamon, expect a healthy dose of antioxidants.

When talking recently with a fellow mom, she shared with me that her pediatrician said that if her toddler ate one balanced, nutritious meal per day, that that was success. Obviously, we aim to feed our kids of all ages (and ourselves!) healthful foods all day long, but when it comes to the pickiest of the picky, one well-rounded meal may be the best we can hope for some days.

Thus, one of these muffins in and of themselves contain more super foods than the average toddler may be willing to consume in an entire day, so it’s a small “meal” that parents (and whoever!) can feel good about. (I usually pair Nolan’s with fresh fruit, togurt, and a smoothie.) Small victories, parents, small victories. 🙂

DSC_2408

FORMULA BASE: SUPER FOOD MUFFINS

Makes 12 muffins

  • 1  cup flour –> I’m using whole wheat.
  • 1 cup cooked small grains (e.g. quinoa, kaniwa, millet, etc.)–> I’m using kaniwa (see my veggie burger post).
  • 1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ cup sweetener –> I’m using agave syrup.
  • 1/8 cup oil –> I’m using coconut.
  • 1 cup raw (fresh or frozen) fruit or veggie –> I’m using shredded zucchini*, skin on.
  • 1-1 ¼ cups unsweetened plant milk –> I’m using almond.
  • 3 tbsps seeds (e.g. chia, hemp, poppy, flax, etc.)
  • ½-1 tsp extract (amount will depend on flavor intensity) –> I’m using 1 tsp homemade vanilla.
  • ½-1 tsp spices –> I’m using ½ tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp nutmeg, and 1/8 tsp each cardamom and cloves. All spices are ground.
  • ½ tsp pink Himalayan sea salt (optional) –> I’m using it.

*Shredded carrots, parsnips, beets, or sweet potatoes would also be delicious!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Shred your zucchini (or other vegetable) in a food processor. Separately combine all of the dry ingredients and all of the wet ingredients. Pour the wet into the dry and mix with a wooden spoon. The batter will be thick and lumpy, but you can always add more plant milk if it seems too dry or dough-like. Spoon the batter into a lined cupcake pan and bake for 25 minutes. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

DSC_2410

Welcome to The Fresh Formula!

DSC_1414

Happy New Year and welcome to The Fresh Formula! Since I committed to a plant-based diet around this time three years ago, I thought it only fitting that I launch my blog on New Year’s Day. Many of us find ourselves making resolutions to improve our lives, and those often include health and wellness goals. I never resolve to follow a weight-loss diet, regularly utilize an exclusive exercise program, or lose a certain number of pounds because I find that such goals often lead to temporary results where you are constantly playing catch-up with yourself.

Instead, consider making a resolution this year that prompts you to change your lifestyle, and the rest – healthy eating, exercise, even weight loss – will fall into place. I remember years ago when the queen of talk, Oprah Winfrey, hosted the author of French Women Don’t Get Fat, Mireille Guiliano. Guiliano made a point that the French don’t have to spend hours and hours sweating at the gym because they incorporate exercise into daily life: taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking to the store instead of driving, etc. I view plant-based eating similarly; it is a way of living…not a diet, a system for counting calories, or a strict exercise regime.

In the beginning, plant-based living may be a challenge for you, but I can tell you from experience that it piques curiosity, sparks creativity, and of course, becomes easier and easier. Over the years, I have found myself genuinely interested in researching and experimenting with food, flavor, and nutrition, and have been proud of the results.

So, what can you expect from this blog? Under About, you can read more about me, plant-based living, and my fresh formulas, and see new formulas and recipes popping up at least once a week under Recipes. Under The Formulas, I have amassed a small collection of formulas that are already tried and true in my kitchen. Each week, I will feature an existing or new formula and an accompanying sample recipe so that you can see what that particular formula looks like in action.

This week, I’ve decided to start with the formula that inspired this blog: Super Food Muffins (located under Breakfast Formulas). Today’s post will feature this formula in a blueberry lemon variety, but as you will learn, the formula is just a baseline for whatever ingredients YOU have on hand.  Here we go…

 

FORMULA BASE:  SUPER FOOD MUFFINS

Makes 12 regular sized muffins

  • 1 ½ cups flour –> I’m using whole wheat.
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa –> I’m using white (despite being rather blasé in appearance, it is higher in nutritional content than rainbow).
  • ¼ cup uncooked rolled oats –> I’m using an extra ¼ cup of quinoa instead, this particular go-around.
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ cup sweetener –> I’m using agave syrup.
  • 1/8 cup oil –> I’m using coconut, melted.
  • 1 cup raw (fresh or frozen) fruit or veggie –> I’m using blueberries.
  • 1-1 ¼ cups plant milk –> I’m using almond.
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • ½-1 tsp extract –> I’m using ½ tsp of pure almond.
  • ½-1 tsp spices –> I’m using 1 tsp cinnamon.
  • ½ tsp salt (optional) à I’m opting out of salt, but adding it will definitely make your flavors pop even more. I highly recommend pink Himalayan sea salt.
  • SPECIAL ADDITION: The zest and juice of one lemon.

Looking for a bit more texture?  Consider adding chopped raw nuts or seeds.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Separately combine all of the dry ingredients and all of the wet ingredients. Pour the wet into the dry and mix with a wooden spoon. The batter will be thick and lumpy, but you can always add more plant milk if it seems too dry or dough-like.

DSC_1402

Spoon the batter into a lined cupcake pan and bake for 25-27 minutes.

DSC_1405

Use the toothpick test! Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.