In my brain, there is a cycle that goes like this:
“Oh shit. I’m feeding the kids nothing but processed food for breakfast. I’m a monster. I’d better fix that.”
For next 2-3 weeks: “Everything is made from scratch. I rock. The kids seem smarter already.”
Week four: “I’m tired. These multi-grain waffles from Trader Joe’s are just a temporary thing. A little won’t kill them, right?”
Devil mom on shoulder: “Remember that article you read about sugar and brain development? Remember?!!!”
Me: “But I’m so tired.”
Devil mom: “Don’t care. Get to work. Chop chop.”
Not sure where you are in this cycle, but I have something that might help.
One of the processed foods that my kids *love* are those Veggie Delights chocolate muffins that I sometimes buy by the case at Costco. I like baking, so I thought why not have a go at them?
I rooted around the internets and found a recipe, but I of course had to tinker with it. My version passes the if-it-didn’t-come-out-of-the-plastic-wrapper-it’s-crap picky kid test. So there’s that.
Pro-tip: because the zucchini is the worst/most time-consuming part of this, I eventually figured out that it’s much easier/faster to make a shit-ton of the zucchini and freeze it for later use. Instead of spending 20 minutes preparing just enough of the zucchini every time we want muffins, I spend 30 minutes making A LOT of zucchini. Then, making some muffins on a Saturday morning because the kids decided they NEED them is way more manageable. I usually do the zucchini prep completely separately from making the muffins, and throw the bag of frozen green cubes into the freezer with a totally satisfied sigh.
If by now you're thinking "just show me the damn recipe already," here ya go.
Buy several zucchini - basically as many as you think you can fit into your food processor after being chopped into large chunks
Chop raw zucchini into large chunks
Throw the zucchini into the food processor
Add water, a few tablespoons at a time to help it loosen up and puree
Put the pureed zucchini into the old baby food freezer trays (got them on Amazon and I still use them a lot and love them.
In the recipe that follows, use approximately 8 cubes of frozen (defrosted) zucchini in place of 1 cup of the fresh stuff. Since ice cube/baby food trays vary in size, you should test how many cubes 1 cup of puree will fill with your particular tray and adjust accordingly.
- 1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
- 3/4 c sugar
- 1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 c pureed zucchini
- 1/2 c carrot applesauce (or just applesauce)
- 3 tbs canola oil
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 c whole milk
- 1/2 c chocolate chips
- extra chocolate chips for topping
Defrost zucchini puree in microwave, or leave at room temp for a couple of hours
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line one 12-cup muffin tin with liners and spray the liners with non-stick cooking spray. NOTE: depending on how much batter you use in each liner, you make have enough to make a few extra. I usually make around 16 instead of just 12.
In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, sugar).
In another medium bowl, combine wet ingredients (zucchini, applesauce, eggs, milk, vanilla, oil). Whisk slowly with wire whip to combine.
Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir thoroughly to combine.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Divide batter into the liners + top with chocolate chips (great fun for littles to help with this part).
Bake 22-25 minutes or until a cake tester/toothpick comes out clean. If you have a convection oven, the timing will be around 18 minutes.
Let cool on wire rack.
After a couple of hours, put cooled muffins into a ziplock bag and freeze until use. At breakfast, microwave each muffin ~20 seconds on high to thaw/warm, or set them out the night before.
Warning: these mofos are messy. Expect chocolate covered faces and fingers. Have wipes nearby and consider bibs for littles who still eat like animals.