Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

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Here’s an ingenious way to sneak green into your child’s diet. With this muffin, you can give your child cocoa with a clear conscience.

The combination of grated zucchini and chocolate is a God-send because the zucchini, which adds moisture, is a vegetable that passes virtually undetected. Whether you refer to this muffin as “chocolate” or “chocolate zucchini,” the flavor speaks for itself.

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Chocolate Zucchini Muffins (makes 30)

3 eggs
1 3/4 cups white sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1/3 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder (for nice, dark finished color)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups zucchini, grated
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 heaping tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
brown sugar (for sprinkling on top)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin pans with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs. Beat in the sugar and oil. Add the applesauce, cocoa, vanilla, zucchini and stir well.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, mixing until dry ingredients are just moist. Fold in 2/4 of the chocolate chips.
5. Spoon batter into greased muffin pan, filling each muffin cup about 2/3 full.
6. Top with 1/4 mini chocolate chips and some brown sugar.
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
8. Remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack.

 

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Chocolate Ricotta Muffins

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These muffins are packed with protein and taste like smooth, creamy, cheesecake. Serve for breakfast, dessert, or after-school snack. My kids love the rich chocolate flavor, and I love the wholesomeness of the ricotta and milk.

Note: For best results, use whole milk ricotta, but lowfat also works well. You can substitute canola oil for some or all of the butter.

Chocolate Ricotta Muffins (makes 18)

1 cup ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cup milk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled OR 1/4 cup canola oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups granulated white sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin pans with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk ricotta cheese and then add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add milk, vanilla extract, and cooled and melted butter, mixing well. Set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder.
4. Add the ricotta mixture to the flour mixture. Stir just until combined and then fold in chocolate chips. (Do not over mix this batter or the muffins will be tough when baked.)
5. Divide the batter amongst the 18 muffin cups using two spoons or an ice cream scoop.
6. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
7. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

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Pasta Muffins

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These muffins were a pure experiment when I found myself with a limited time frame and a hungry husband and child. I snatched the leftover pasta and other ingredients, threw them together, plopped the mixture into muffin tins, and eight minutes later, I had two busy, delighted, and satiated boys.

What a tasty way to recycle, and reformat, leftover pasta! This recipe is so easy and effortless to concoct. Once cooled, place these muffins in plastic bags and freeze and keep them stashed for later when they can be warmed up in a microwave in seconds flat.

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Pasta Muffins (makes 12)

4 cups cooked pasta, tossed in cream, butter, or marinara sauce (if spaghetti, cut into about 2 inch strands)
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup cheese, shredded
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs (I like Italian seasoning)
1/4 – 1/2 cup cooked meat, finely diced (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease muffin cups with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, mix eggs, cheese, bread crumbs, and meat (optional).
3. Add mixture to pasta and toss.
4. Scoop pasta into muffin cups.
5. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
6. Allow to cool.
7. Remove from tins, serve, and enjoy!

Sweet Quinoa Muffins

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Nutrient-dense, light, and fluffy, these muffins are a wonderful way to “sneak” health into a child’s diet. Plus, eating them is like eating clouds with a light, rich sweetness.

The combination of coconut oil with vanilla yogurt adds wonderful moisture to the recipe. The almond flour lends a buttery-almond flavor. You can substitute grated carrots for the puree if you want more texture. The chia seeds add even more fiber and protein.

Your toddlers will love these. They are great for breakfast, snack, or on-the-go meal.

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Sweet Quinoa Muffins (makes 15)

¾ cup plus 1 Tbsp whole wheat flour
¾ cup plus 1 Tbsp almond flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 Tbsp chia seeds, optional
1 Tbsp sesame seeds, optional
1 cup cooked and cooled quinoa
¾ cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup coconut oil, melted
½ cup Greek vanilla-flavored yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature, beaten
¾ cup carrot puree (or 1 cup loosely packed, grated carrots)
½ cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray, or line with paper liners.
2. Melt the coconut oil and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, sift together the flours, baking soda and salt. Add chia seeds and sesame seeds (optional).
4. In a separate bowl, stir together quinoa, sugar, coconut oil, Greek yogurt, vanilla and eggs, carrots, and walnuts (optional).
5. Stir wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. The muffin batter will be about the same consistency as pancake batter.
6. Use an ice cream scoop to spoon batter into muffin tins, about ¾ full.
7. Bake 18-20 minutes, until the tops are a nice golden color.

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Low-Sugar Banana Muffins

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For Michael’s first birthday, I served these low-sugar banana muffins to compensate for the chocolate icing I lathered on top (his first-ever taste of chocolate). Michael ignored the chocolate icing and couldn’t get enough of the banana muffins!

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For Joey’s first birthday, again, I served these muffins – some with icing and some without. The picture below demonstrates Joey’s choice.

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This recipe is a great way to use rotten bananas. These muffins have plenty of potassium and not a lot of sugar. Plus, as you can see, for the toddler, they are much easier to eat than peeling and eating an actual banana!

Note: Omit raisins and walnuts for young children.

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Low-Sugar Banana Muffins (makes 12)

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 medium bananas, cut into chunks
1 egg (or 2 egg whites)
1/3 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup orange juice (or unsweetened orange juice)
1/2 cup raisins, soaked in water (optional)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Stir to blend.
3. In another mixing bowl, mash bananas with a fork until they are all mushed. Add egg, applesauce, oil, and orange juice to the mushed banana.
4. Combine all ingredients in one bowl.
5. Fold in raisins and/or walnuts.
6. Spoon batter into greased muffin pan, filling each muffin cup about 2/3 full.
7. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

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Green Monster Smoothie Muffins

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My kids won’t touch spinach, but in a muffin, anything goes. I personally never got into the smoothie rage. I don’t like drinking my food and my kids are scared of monsters.

These super green muffins are sweet-like-cake and packed with protein and vegetables. Plus, calling anything “monster” piques a child’s interest.

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Green Monster Smoothie Muffins (makes 12)

3 ripe bananas
2 cups baby spinach
1 6oz container greek yogurt
1 Tbsp peanut butter
1 Tbsp honey
¾ cups flour
6 Tbsp sugar
1 egg
1/8 cup canola oil
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin cups with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. In a blender, puree the bananas, spinach, yogurt, peanut butter and honey.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, egg, oil, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
4. Pour the smoothie mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well.
5. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.
7. Allow muffins to cool before removing them from the pan.