Devin's kindergarten class has a shared snack policy...which means, once a month, I try to figure out something healthy for 22 kids, and know that much of whatever I pack will be thrown in the bin. Uber-frustrating. The first time I had snack, we packed snack baggies (which I also hate to use) of sugar snap peas. What kid doesn't like sugar snap peas? Turns out, almost every kid in Devin's class. She came home looking distressed, and told me, "Everyone but me and two other kids threw them out, because they're green." Gr.
On principle, even though I know they won't be wasted, I refuse to buy those (admittedly convenient) snack packs of goldfish, or cracker sandwiches, or whatever is (rather ironically) thought of as "kid-friendly." How are pseudo-foods that are full of fake color, preservatives, and a butt-load of crap friendly to kids? So, I've played it somewhat safe, and packed apples and carrot sticks. Nothing green. Gr. (Why kids will eat fake green and blue dyed food is beyond me, when natural green veggies are so much more appealing.) This week, I decided to go a little further, because I was bored with the same ol' thing. And according to Devin (and despite the fact that these are chock full of healthy, that's right - healthy, ingredients), almost every kid was diggin' my muffins. Take that, junk food!
This recipe is adapted from Williams Sonoma Complete Outdoor Living Cookbook. Their recipe calls for raisins, and while I like almost every fruit and vegetable you can throw at me, I do not dig cooked raisins. The whole swollen plumpness kind of weirds me out. So, I usually replace the raisins with dried cranberries. This time I used both cranberries and fresh dates. Experiment. You could use dried ginger, or dried cherries, any dried fruit with a bit of chewiness to it would work great. Get crazy with it. And these are so tasty that picky kids won't even realize they're full of good-for-you foods. And the best part of this recipe, you can make the mix the night before (even two nights before!), and just pop the muffins in the oven in the morning! Quick and easy, just like I like it.
Overnight Carrot Muffins - adapted from WS Complete Outdoor Living
-makes 12 standard sized muffins (or a whole bunch of mini muffins!)
2 cups (315 g) all-purpose flour
1 cup (90 g) rolled oats
1 cup (220 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 cup (185 g) dried cranberries (or another dried fruit, or combination of fruits, of your choice)
1 cup (250 ml) buttermilk
1/2 cup (125 ml) vegetable oil
1 cup (155 g) lightly packed shredded carrots (I grated mine on a box grater)
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, salt and spices. Add dried fruit, and toss to coat with flour mixture. In another bowl, beat eggs, buttermilk, and oil until well blended, then add carrots to wet ingredients. Pour wets over the flour mixture, and stir until just blended. Don't overmix. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight, or up to 2 days.
To bake, preheat oven to 375F. Place 12 cupcake liners in muffin pan, and spoon batter into cups. Bake about 25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through cook-time, until golden brown, and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for 5 minutes. Serve warm, or let cool completely, before packing up for your kiddo's class.
*Note* I made a double batch, so we'd have enough for the kinders, as well as ourselves at home. I spooned half the mix into regular size muffin cups, and the rest into mini muffin pans (also using cupcake liners, I am notorious for stuck-muffins-tantrums without them). To bake the mini muffins, bake at 375, for about 12 minutes, rotating pan halfway through cook-time. I didn't count how many mini muffins we ended up with, but it was between 3 and 4 pans worth...so round about 72 to 96?...wow, that sounds like a lot. No wonder we ended up with so many!