“Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down!”
– Mary Poppins
It’s that time of year again. Not only have school lunches reared their ugly heads, but along with this dreaded chore comes the annual desire to make some healthy changes to the brown-bag contents. Whether the motivation comes from the guilt of excessive summer ice cream cones and lemonade, or from the desperate hope that less sugar in a day might translate into better sleep and improved behaviour, the result is usually the same in my household – me poring through cookbooks and recipe websites, looking for enticing ways to feed my family healthier food that they will actually eat.
After years of their mother being over exuberant in this department, my kids’ first question upon coming home to a pan of fresh brownies or a cold fruit smoothie is “what did you put in it??” They know that the chances of detecting black bean skins or flecks of spinach in their teeth after consuming the treats is pretty likely. Sometimes they are OK with it; sometimes it turns out to be a huge waste of my time. (Avocado-based chocolate “pudding,” anyone?) I’ve learned, albeit slowly, that it’s best to be upfront about the “goodness” in the food, while not neglecting the need for it to have a little sweetness to make it appealing. After all, what good is a muffin containing healthy vegetables if it never gets consumed?
That’s the thing with sugar-coating anything – there is a fine line between making something more palatable and being downright deceitful. It reminds me a little of 1 Corinthians 13 where Paul explains that without love, all of our religious acts and knowledge mean nothing. Not only is love the most important expression of Christian faith, it is what makes everything else make sense, have meaning and be desirable.
These muffins are chock full of healthy fruits, vegetables, proteins and grains, but without the generous measurements of sugar they would definitely not be easy to swallow. This recipe is very flexible – try adding other fruits or leaving out the carrots. The muffins freeze well (perfect for school lunches!) but they taste best fresh out of the oven with some butter on them. I usually double or triple the recipe.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- 1.5 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ cup ground flax seeds
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ½ cup melted butter or coconut oil
- ½ cup applesauce
- 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (approx. 3)
- ¾ cup shredded zucchini
- ¾ cup shredded carrots
Preheat oven to 350. Mix first 6 ingredients together in a large bowl. Set aside. In a separate bowl whisk eggs together. Add sugar, apple sauce, melted butter or oil. Mix well. Stir in mashed bananas.
Using a spatula, stir wet mixture into dry mixture until no flour is visible. Fold in zucchini and carrots.
Scoop batter into muffin tin mold lined with 12 large liners.
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.