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Involve older siblings in the cooking process
Zucchini and carrots add nutritional punch to these muffins
A mix of ground nuts, seeds, and chopped dried fruit make flavorful additions
The baby sous-chef looks on
Healthy Any Time Muffins
Healthy Any Time Muffins

postmodyrn Eats! : The Power of Organization

When I was a newlywed, my husband and I would have lengthy conversations about what kind of parents we would become once we had kids.  (Perfect parents: obviously!)  I thought through the pros and cons of different parenting techniques, and talked to friends and family members with young children about their experiences.  Phil and I discussed what we would do the same (and differently) than our own parents – two sets of wonderful role models, with different backgrounds and parental philosophies - and said things like “Having kids will never change or compromise who we are, and the lifestyle we’ve created for ourselves.”  I remember secretly judging other moms with out-of-control kids at the supermarket.  I also remember thinking that since I had always considered myself a rational and patient person who loves small children, motherhood would come naturally to me.  Given my calm demeanor and obsession with dolls and babies as a young girl, motherhood MUST after all be my true calling as an adult.  

Fast forward to my first week of motherhood.  After a difficult delivery ending in severe pre-eclampsia and an unplanned C-section things were not off to a good start.  The anti-seizure medicine I was on made it impossible for me to even hold Lucas for my first full day as a mother.  Also, the hormonal changes brought on by the delivery were making me more than a little unbalanced.  When I was finally well enough to be up and about the hospital room, I walked over to the bassinette to change Lucas’ diaper, and somehow managed to put it on backwards.  Additionally, despite several advice sessions with the lactation consultant, after five days breastfeeding still was not going smoothly, and I was convinced my child was starving.  On the day we were scheduled to leave, I spent over twenty minutes trying to accomplish the simple task of strapping Lucas into his car seat, and remember thinking “Wow, the hospital staff really will let just about ANYONE take these things home!”  

What I learned that week was that no amount of research can prepare you for how much your life WILL change when you become a parent.  As someone who likes to know what she’s getting herself into and approaches every challenge with a plan, having Lucas definitely threw me for a loop.  How could I be such a rookie at something I always thought I would be so good at?  It didn’t make any sense. 

So I did what any rational new mom would do: I begged my mother to fly in (from Switzerland!) to supervise the whole new-baby operation, and make sure I didn’t unintentionally do anything to compromise the long term health and well-being of my first born child.  

Thank goodness I did!  Not only did I learn an incredible amount about how to care for my baby, but those weeks also changed the way I viewed my mother.  For the first time, I understood the years of work and sacrifice that went into raising my brother, sister, and I.  The thankless and selfless side of motherhood was suddenly becoming very clear to me, and there was no turning back! 

One of the most important lessons I learned during that time was the power of organization and setting a schedule.  After a few weeks on the job, you train yourself to think through every possible scenario and plan accordingly, usually resulting in new moms walking around with giant bags full of gear for every quick outing to the store.  That said, if you’re anything like I was, you’re so focused on setting a schedule for the baby (and any older children you have), that your own schedule inevitably gets thrown off – in particular your eating and sleep schedule. 

I’m not going to tell you to sleep when your baby sleeps (we all know that never works).  But one thing you can do is EAT when your baby sleeps.  Especially when you have some ready-made foods on hand that are healthy, filling, and energizing.  

Meal Planning Tip: Always keep a few air-tight containers of ground nuts, seeds, and dried fruit on hand in your refrigerator.  You’ll be surprised how often you use them.  I mix ground walnuts and chia seeds into my four-year-old's oatmeal every morning; I make a topping out of ground pistachios, garlic, parsley and breadcrumbs for many baked fish and vegetable dishes; and my husband makes pancakes with ground almonds and pumpkin seeds every Sunday morning.  Ground nuts and seeds are also a delicious addition to many baked goods.  Just buy them in bulk (we buy ours at Costco) and grind them in a food processor.  

Our family typically keeps ground walnuts, almonds, chia seeds and an assortment of dried fruit (with no added sugar).  Walnuts are the only nut – and one of the only foods – to offer significant amounts of ALA, an Omega-3 fatty acid that the body cannot manufacture.  ALA protects the heart by improving the ratio of HDL (“good”) cholesterol to LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.  This in turn reduces inflammation, and plays a significant role in cognitive function.  Walnuts also are a concentrated source of disease fighting antioxidants, including gamma-tocopherol, a type of vitamin E.  Almonds are a great protein and fiber combination which keeps blood sugar levels steady throughout the day.  They also provide bone-strengthening magnesium and calcium, and blood-supporting iron.  Chia seeds are one of nature’s highest plant-based sources of complete protein, and also are a good source of essential minerals phosphorous, manganese, calcium and potassium.  

RECIPE: Healthy "Any-Time" Muffins

I would like the preface the following by saying that I am not typically a fan of recipes that have a long list of ingredients.  I truly believe the best food is simple, easy to prepare, and made from a few high quality components. This recipe is a great base and lends itself well to a variety of substitutions and add-ins, so if you are missing a few non-essential ingredients go ahead and substitute with whatever you have on-hand.  I recommend making a double batch of these muffins.  Not only do they freeze well, but other family members (especially of the four-year-old variety) have been known to devour multiple muffins in one sitting – making a fairly sizeable dent in inventory!  

Dry Ingredients:

1 ¼ cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
Approximately 1/3 – ½ cup of any of the following you have on hand: ground walnuts, ground almonds, chia seeds, ground pumpkin seeds, ground flax seeds, etc. (No need to measure very carefully, just throw in a couple handfuls) 
½ cup raisins or other chopped dried fruit

Wet Ingredients:

1 mashed ripe medium banana
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup applesauce
1 large egg
1/3 cup milk  
3 tablespoons of honey
1 medium zucchini, shredded (I grate it on my cheese grater)
1 medium carrot, shredded (Also on the cheese grater) 

To Prepare:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Coat a 12 cup muffin pan with some olive oil.

In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients.  In a medium bowl, mix together all the wet ingredients.  Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix until combined.  

Fill each muffin cup with approximately ¼ cup batter, and bake for 23-25 minutes.

Photos: Martine Larson

 

Comments

Martine, I saw this post and recipe after Phil shared it on Facebook. I'm always looking for healthy, delicious recipes that I can make in volume, now that we have a 1 year old and I'm short on time. Tried these muffins this past weekend, and they are a keeper. Will be making them often. Thanks and look forward to hopefully more recipes from you.

Submitted by Jen Weedn on Sun, 2015-04-05 16:39

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