Apple cinnamon muffins: for a healthy breakfast, lunch or snack

Getting my kids to eat breakfast is a constant battle. They don’t sit still, they don’t like anything and they don’t feel hungry are the usual arguments. Added to that is the fact that they usually wake up at 6am and I want them to be able to get themselves breakfast that isn’t dragging a chair to the cupboard and trying to reach biscuits on their tippy-toes.

They go nuts for my homemade lunchbox muffins so thought I’d start trialling muffins that are good for breakfast but aren’t chockers full of sugar and things. AND when I’m on the run trying to get them dressed and find their shoes (again), I need something I can grab to take on the way to work.

The first recipe I tried is from Love & Lemons for Healthy Apple Cinnamon Muffins. You can access the recipe at this link, or I’ve added it below with some notes.

Love & Lemons Healthy Apple Cinnamon Muffins

  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sunflower or canola oil
  • 3/4 cup cane sugar (although I only had caster sugar so used that instead)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup spelt or whole-wheat flour (I used whole-wheat)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large apple (cored, peeled and small diced)

Pre-heat the oven to 400f (that’s just over 200c) and line or spoil spray a 12 cup muffin pan.

Whisk together the almond milk and apple cider vinegar and set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

Add the oil, sugar, eggs, apples sauce and vanilla extract to the almond milk bowl and whisk until well combined.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir til just combined.

Add 2/3 of the chopped apples (although my youngest didn’t like the “chunky bits” so I’ll leave that out next time. You could also add sultanas or chopped walnuts as well)

Mix 1 tablespoon of additional sugar and 1/2 tsp of extra cinnamon. Add the muffin mixture to your muffin pan and then sprinkle a little of the cinnamon sugar over each one. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

I had one refusal and one acceptance as long as the chunky bits were taken out so that’s a win in my house. One of these with a glass of milk has filled his tummy nicely. They can be frozen and then 35 seconds in the microwave to defrost/warm through. They have also been brilliant to grab and go for me when I’m heading to the train.

I’ve got a few more breaky muffins that I’m going to trial so I’ll keep you posted!

Getting my kids to like new things

Food preparation and kids are two things that have to go together. But it seems to also come with a ridiculous amount of stress. Too hot, too cold, too lumpy, too spicy, what’s that, I don’t like it…… The amount of blogs I’ve read about how to get your kids to like healthy and broad ranging foods is mind boggling, and I still ended up winging it.

I’ve read that there’s a “flavour window” between around 4 and 18 months within which you’ve got your greatest shot of them trying (and liking) lots of healthy things and are more likely to try (and have a taste for) new foods in the future.

So I read that at the end of “the window”. Great. Apparently we still have a shot though and persistence is the key. If you offer a new food, they reckon, and your angel doesn’t like it, try introducing it 5-10 times (over time – not in the same sitting! 🤣) before giving up. Personally I think 10 times might be a bit much for my kids but I get the theory. Their tastes seem to change so quickly, it feels like one week they don’t like something they always loved and then love something they hated.

When I started my lifestyle changes, one of the things I really wanted to achieve was sitting at the dinner table to eat together instead of early dinner for them and later dinner for me. Because of work hours and habit, I’d never really managed that before, so it took some working out.

Another barrier was the food itself. I give them healthy food (allowing for a weekly nuggets fallback) and things that are tasty and different but I like things that are more adventurous again. But also, they need carbs (growing boys), I do not (far too grown up around the middle and the butt), so how to align meals to suit both?

I started introducing new foods a bit at a time. First, brown rice (instead of white), chickpeas, soba noodles, and started re-introducing food that had been rejected in the past. Brown rice was picked up immediately. Chickpeas took a few goes. The jury is still out on soba noodles, but the journey of experimentation goes on.

I’ve tried the smorgasbord approach (lots of little things to try but not big amounts so it’s not overwhelming). This helped to bring back capsicum and cheddar cheese. I made messy food – tacos – so they could have fun building. I am still working on this as I’m hoping they will start to like coriander and fresh salsa and avocado (all refusals currently).

The most enlightening thing for me was that prior to eating together at the table, food was very functional for them. It was a thing they had to stop playing to do, before they could go and play again. Now, they are developing table manners (they’re boys, it’ll take a while) and we talk about a lot more subjects – including food. They can tell me not just what they don’t like but why they don’t like it. For example, I’d been plugging away with curry and stir fry. It turns out they love them, but the don’t like the veg folded in. If you keep the veg separate, they woof the lot down like there’s no tomorrow. Who knew?

I realised they didn’t have a vocabulary around food, so now I make a point to ask their opinion about my menu planning and cooking. They even want now to learn recipes for themselves and have just learned how to make flat bread. Even though my heart stops every time they go near the gas hob, I have to let them have room (safely!) to explore and enjoy creating.

And me? I just keep reading those blogs on how to do more stuff and hope my boys don’t notice I’m winging it.

Parenting is awesome. But it’s hard. Like, it’s really hard.