Friday, March 16, 2012

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

I might as well tell you right up front. These are one of those muffins that parents "hide" vegetables in. Yeah, I know, parents (and plenty of non-parents who like to add their two cents as well) have strong feelings about these sorts of things.

One camp says you should never ever hide a vegetable because children need to see the vegetables they're eating and learn to eat them by golly. The loudest in this camp also accuse parents who do so of lying to their children. Only a couple weeks ago, I read something a famous fitness guru said about how she would never do such a thing. I admit that I couldn't help but think that this famous fitness guru was probably famous (and rich and busy) enough that she wasn't always (or perhaps usually) the one who ends up feeding her kids.

The other camp loves the idea of hiding a vegetable. They're thrilled to have junior eating some cauliflower, even if he doesn't know it (and would not himself be thrilled). They claim they've got to get their picky kids nutrients in non-gummy-vitamin form somehow. The most ardent of this camp believe that if foods are hidden regularly enough, kids will eventually start to become accustomed to the taste. Well, maybe. Although in my experience, the best of the hidden vegetable recipes are the super sweet ones.

I kind of sit in between these camps. I admit that I went through a phase where I was desperate with my picky kids and picky husband (they wouldn't even eat much fruit at that point). I checked out a couple sneaky cookbooks from the library and went to town. The problem was that most of the non-sweet recipes my family was still too picky to eat (and some of them were super-grode) and the idea of pureeing everything every week seemed a little oppressive. Also, I knew that they weren't coming to an acceptance of carrots through this method. I also knew that they needed to see vegetables for what they were and to eat them that way. If for the sake of politeness at other people's houses if for nothing else (yeah, we're still working on that food politeness thing; it's a constant point of parental angst for me). On the other hand, however, when parents, or people who aren't parents but have plenty to say to parents, or people who are parents but who have nannies and cooks in their employ start criticizing this method, I seriously want to smear some slimy butternut banana puree in their smug little faces. Because, come on, it can be tough to get your kids to eat well, especially on a regular basis. Especially if you have a picky spouse or extended family members. Especially if broccoli has a hard time competing with the constant flow of candy that seems to be spewing forth at every holiday and from plenty of non-home venues such as their school, the library, did I mention their school (it's a little nuts), and most certainly, Grandpa.

So if I can add a little something simple and good to a recipe I would have made anyway, I will. And if it's in smooth hidden form, I generally have a little more success (as a note: you may remember my muffins from last week; they were delicious, but they had--gasp--texture within them and my oldest kids and husband wouldn't even try them). So, yes, pumpkin in pancakes, carrot in muffins, spinach in a smoothie, even a little squash in macaroni and cheese--that's not so bad. And it gives me hope that my oldest and most stubborn and picky child will, perhaps, consume enough vitamin A to one day bring forth grandchildren. Because, let's face it, this is all about me and my needs, right?

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins (with carrot puree)
adapted from Deceptively Delicious
Makes 12 muffins
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes
Cost: $1.55 or about $.13/muffin
(sugar: .15, peanut butter: .45, carrot puree: .50, banana: .15, egg: .10, flour: .20)

Note: You can make your own purees if you wish, but I admit that I am usually (um, okay, always) too lazy for this and tend to buy mine in baby food (or canned form in the case of pumpkin). In this recipe I use one 4-oz jar of pureed baby food carrots.

1/2 C packed brown sugar (divided)
1/2 C creamy peanut butter
1/2 C carrot puree (about one 4-oz jar baby food carrots)
1/2 C mashed banana (about 1 large ripe banana)
1 egg
1 C whole wheat flour
1 scant tsp baking powder
1 scant tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
a handful of chocolate chips if you're of weak character

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

In large bowl, mix 1/4 C brown sugar with peanut butter, carrot puree and mashed banana. Add egg and mix.

Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir to mix until just combined. Don't overmix it or your muffins will be tough. Add remaining 1/4 C brown sugar (and chocolate chips if using). Mix this just a turn or two. You don't even want it incorporated. You want to see some stripes of lovely brown sugar. This will give it a sugarier, crispier top.

Put batter in muffin tins and bake until toothpick comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes.


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