Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pumpkin and Spinach Baby Muffins (8 Months Plus)

Will has finally started eating solids with great enthusiasm - with one caveat. Wants to do it himself. Vehemently. This makes finger foods my friend, since his frantic grabbing for spoons full of baby food requires a great deal of effort on my part to keep aimed towards his mouth rather than forehead. Half a jar of baby food mutually guided works especially well for both of us when it's supplemented by something he can have complete control over, like baby puffs or teething biscuits.

When I give him something he can eat on his own, he gets a great deal of entertainment and satisfaction, and I get ten to fifteen minutes to eat my own food, empty the dishwasher, or start dinner. (All while keeping an eye out for choking, of course.)

But while baby puffs are well received, they're expensive and not very nutrient or calorie dense. So I flipped through my baby cookbooks and saw some recipes for baby muffins. Just the thing! Except that most of them had eggs and added sugar, the first being a no-no for babies under a year, and the second being something I'd like to avoid as much as possible.

So I took some inspiration from about five different recipes, substituted apple sauce for the eggs as a binding agent, sweetened it lightly with molasses, and made Will some mini-muffins that are chock full of vitamins AND entertainment.

Here's the recipe:

1 and 3/4 cups organic all purpose flour*
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of ginger
1 cup finely chopped fresh organic baby spinach
1 cup organic pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup no sugar added applesauce (I use homemade, see baby food blog)
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup water (more as needed)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Mix the dry ingredients and then add the wet ingredients and stir just until blended. Add a little more water if necessary to reach a thick batter consistency. Spoon into a greased mini-muffin tin. Bake in middle of oven for about ten minutes until tops are lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for a few minutes then remove to finish cooling on a wire rack.

*Talk to your pediatrician about any new recipe, and about serving wheat, especially if you have family history of food allergies. Will had already had wheat prior to this with no reaction, so our pediatrician cleared this recipe for him. Look into substituting rice flour.

Will ate two of these with great gusto even after he had already had his normal dinner of baby food! I put most of them in the freezer and kept out some for the next few days. I plan to thaw them on the counter overnight for more nutritious entertainment in the coming months.

I hope to experiment with more muffin recipes in the future. Sweet potato, zucchini, carrots - any vegetables that do well in quick breads are shoe-ins for baby muffin recipes where you get to control the sugar. Once Will is a year old I can substitute whole wheat flour for some of the regular flour and up the fiber and nutrient profile of the muffins, plus at that age you can usually introduce cow's milk and eggs, so baking will be even easier. Until then, I am considering taking some help from a vegan cookbook (local library here I come!) to find tips for baking without milk and eggs.

I loves muffins.

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