The clock is ticking on weekday mornings. Breakfast must be made and eaten (and hopefully cleaned up). Faces wiped. Teeth brushed. Clothes on. Peanut and nut free, waste-free lunches must be packed. Winter gear on. You get the point. In this situation, the adults often skip eating breakfast themselves in favour of getting everyone out of the house and to their daily destinations on time.
There are tasks that, done the night before, make mornings run more smoothly. I try to have clothing laid out, backpacks packed, and an idea of what I will be making for breakfast and lunch. Most mornings, I wake up earlier than the children so I can get myself together before the day begins. Having a well-stocked pantry and refrigerator also helps.
For weekdays, I have some form of healthy baking ready to be enjoyed for breakfast or a snack. I consider healthy baking to include homemade items with reduced sugar, more fiber and fruit in them. Two months ago, I purchased the How to Feed a Family: The Sweet Potato Chronicles Cookbook by Laura Keogh and Ceri Marsh. I have tried many of their recipes for dinner (Tilapia Tacos with Fresh Lime is a favourite) and am now a follower of their blog Sweet Potato Chronicles. A special feature in their cookbook that caught my attention was the “Don’t Call Them Picky, for Heaven’s Sake”. I have found myself thinking, how did my 2-year old who loved all foods, turn into a picky 4-year old? I won’t ruin the whole article for you but the authors have advised against this label and assured me that it is a stage!
One of the healthier baking recipes that my family favours is the blueberry muffins. My children love blueberries so this was an obvious choice for me. These muffins can be made on the weekend and enjoyed within 2 days (my husband grabs one and eats it on the way to work) or freeze them and just pop one into their lunches in the morning.
Baking with your children. Really, it’s a whole topic on its own. It’s messy, time consuming, requires patience, requires reminding the children not to sample the dough (or not to sample too much) and the result may be different than the photograph. It’s also hilarious, silly and a great learning experience for both sides. Children not only learn how to measure and mix ingredients but also how to plan and tidy up. They get excited about the outcome and are more likely to eat something if they had a hand in making the item. Plan to bake with your children on the weekend. You’ll have more time to enjoy the blips that happen as you go along. Be encouraging. Allow for mistakes to happen. This recipe is perfect for baking with children as it is easy and turns out just like the photo!
Whole Grain Blueberry Muffins*
Makes: 12 muffins
Time: Prep time (15 minutes) + Baking (20 minutes)
310mL (1 ¼ cups) whole wheat flour
310mL (1 ¼ cups) quick cooking oats
60mL (¼ cup) flax meal**
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp ground cinnamon
250mL (1 cup) applesauce
125mL (½ cup) brown sugar, packed
125mL (½ cup) buttermilk
2 tbsp vegetable oil
185mL (¾ cup) blueberries (fresh or frozen)***
1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Lightly grease or line a muffin tin.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, oats, flax meal, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
3. In another bowl, mix together the applesauce, sugar, buttermilk, vegetable oil and egg.
4. Gently shake the dry ingredients into the wet, giving the mixture a stir every few shakes. Stir in the blueberries.
5. Pour the batter evenly into the muffin tin cups, filling only two-thirds of the way, and pop them into the oven for 18-20 minutes. They’re done when they’re firm and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
*This recipe was reprinted with the permission of the authors.
**This is flax seed that has been ground. I have a small spice/coffee grinder that I use to grind flax seed and other spices. Store-bought, pre-ground flax meal has less nutrition than freshly ground flax meal so be sure to grind right before you bake with it. Store whole seeds in a sealed mason jar in the refrigerator.
***I used frozen, wild blueberries for this recipe (I find wild blueberries have more flavour). I did not bother to thaw them prior to mixing and the recipe turned out well.