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Whole wheat muffins made with shredded zucchini and pureéd pumpkin, sweetened with mashed bananas, applesauce, and minimal sugar. Suitable for toddlers, children, and adults!
When I was pregnant, I worried about a lot. I worried about labor and pushing, and while it hurt like a mother, it all worked out well and everyone was healthy at the end. I worried about breastfeeding, and although we struggled at the beginning, we nursed for a long time (11 months and 4 days, thankyouverymuch!).
I worried about sleeping, and then, after 6 weeks, we had a unicorn sleeper and he hasn’t looked back. I also worried a lot about teething, and what do you know, kid has 8 teeth and they mostly didn’t bug him. Go figure.
One thing I didn’t worry about at all was eating. I thought “this kid is a human, humans eat, and so yes, he will eat.”
And then, once that human got a taste of real food, he also, surprise surprise, formed tastes and opinions and eventually, a way to express those opinions. Ahh, yes. We are just on the cusp of toddlerhood (I am savoring the last 2 weeks of having a “baby”), but we’ve already seen glimmers of tantrums and reactions that clearly say “I don’t want to eat this.”
I knew toddlers were opinionated and I knew that they were picky eaters, but holy wow. Holy. Wow.
In all honesty, I don’t think I would call our kiddo a “picky eater.” Not yet anyway. But if I have learned anything in the last 6 months of feeding him real food, it’s that mixtures/combinations/kill-as-many-birds-with-one-stone-as-you-can is the way to go for a kid with a smallish stomach, a short attention span, and major opinions.
While he will pound sauteéd bell peppers until his eyes fall out, it’s best to throw them into scrambled eggs with cheese and/or some sort of meat to get the best job done. He loves pasta with sauce, but there’s usually some broccoli or spinach thrown in there to make sure he gets some greens.
And if it has peanut butter on it? Whatever it is he will eat it.
Enter: toddler muffins.
When I asked my fellow mom friends for recipe ideas that were kid (and parent) friendly, I was met with this phrase that I had never heard before. Toddler muffins? WTF are those?
I was told fruit, veggies, low sugar, fiber, the works. So I hit Pinterest and took some notes and did some experimenting in my own kitchen. I also lined up some test subjects, and all were happy to participate.
I wanted these muffins to have veggies, but I didn’t want them to taste like carrots (which I saw was a common purée among toddler muffins). I went with pumpkin purée since I was familiar with using it in muffins, and it has a fairly subdued taste.
Since I had my orange veggie taken care of (yes, I know it’s technically a fruit, but in the case of feeding a child, it’s a vegetable!), I chose zucchini as the green veggie (and I grabbed some tips from my chocolate chip zucchini bread recipe).
I took some other cues from my skinny strawberry chocolate chip muffins in how to use applesauce, and mashed bananas from my recent banana crumb snack cake to round out all of the fruit and veggie components.
As far as the dry base for these toddler muffins, I chose whole wheat flour to add some nutritional value to them. I also went with some oats to give the muffins some extra oomph, calories, and texture.
I used butter as the fat, but you’re welcome to use coconut oil if you prefer.
But, keep in mind, there is only 1/4 cup of butter in 24 muffins, so if you’re worried about too much fat, please know that overall, that’s not that much butter per muffin.
AND, only 1/4 cup of brown sugar in the whole batch. That’s it. The bananas take care of most of the natural sweetness. Thanks, ‘naners!
Ok, ok, so I have chocolate chips in the recipe list. But they’re totally optional. I made 12 muffins without them and then added 1/2 cup of chips to the other half of the batter so we had both floating around our kitchen. Honestly, we loved both. All three of us!
While I worried that these muffins would be too dense, they are absolutely not. They are surprisingly fluffy while also packing a hearty texture, flavor, and nutritional punch. Our son had, I don’t know, a dozen over the course of a few days, and an eager 5 year old and 19 month old had a couple each.
The verdict? “Yum”s all around.
And when our son was done with his, this is what he brought me.
Oh, and remember how I said he will eat anything with peanut butter on it? He devoured them even faster slathered in the good stuff. Which is a great tip! Does your kid love cream cheese? Almond butter? Sunflower butter? Jam/jelly? Goat cheese? Slather it on there and make it even better.
Honestly, we loved these just as much as J did. I grabbed one on the way out the door one morning and it was the perfect on-the-go breakfast with my coffee. These muffins freeze/thaw well, so they’re great for making ahead and having on hand when you need one last minute.
Fruits, veggies, protein, and fiber. All of the things your on-the-move kid needs to fill his or her belly in a healthy way. I can’t promise they’re magic, but they sure do put a lot into a toddler even if he or she just gets a few nibbles between laps around the play room!
Pssst… There are also directions for mini muffins, if you or your kiddo prefer bite size treats!
- 2 cups whole wheat flour1
- 1 cup quick oats2
- 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted and slightly cooled
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/3 cup plain yogurt any fat content is fine
- 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 3 large ripe bananas mashed
- 1 and 1/2 cups shredded zucchini approximately 1 medium zucchini
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips optional3
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line the wells of two 12-count muffin pans with cupcake liners, or spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a medium size bowl, whisk together the butter, brown sugar, eggs, pumpkin, yogurt, applesauce, and bananas. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir gently until just combined. Fold in the shredded zucchini and chocolate chips (if using) until everything is incorporated.
- Spoon the batter into the wells, filling them about 2/3 of the way full. Bake muffins for 14-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Store muffins in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 or 3 days. Since the muffins are so moist, we like to keep them in the refrigerator, where they will last about a week. Muffins can be frozen, up to 3 months. Thaw in refrigerator or in the microwave as needed.
- You can use all-purpose flour or a mixture of all-purpose and whole wheat.
- Do not use old-fashioned oats in this recipe. If you don't have quick oats, pulse 1 cup of old-fashioned oats in a food processor a few times until it is a fine texture.
- I like to fill 12 muffin wells and then add 1/2 cup of chocolate chips to the other half of the batter.