Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Spinach Mini Muffins!

After a 2 month or so break from the blog, I'm back, and I have lots of recipes to share! I decided to start back up with my toddler's current favorite breakfast...spinach muffins! Yes, that's right, SPINACH muffins, or green muffins as he calls them. This is the third time I have made them, and he ate 8 of them! I can't say that I blame him. They are delicious! I was skeptical at first, but I am so glad I decided to give this recipe a try. Every time I make these mini muffins I increase the spinach, and you cannot taste the difference. It just makes the green color more vibrant and, of course, adds extra nutrition! 

So you may be thinking, "Why should I add spinach to muffins?" Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin K and a very good source of vitamins A, C, and folate. Spinach also contains minerals such as manganese, magnesium, calcium, zinc, and iron. We all need to be incorporating more dark leafy greens such as spinach into our diets, and throwing some into some muffins is a simple way just to add a little extra spinach into your diet! You can read more about the health benefits of spinach here and here. More on dark leafy greens here

So now that we've discussed how delicious these muffins are and some of the benefits of adding more spinach to your diet, let's make some of these delicious spinach muffins! 

Start by putting 1/2 cup of applesauce, one egg, 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, 2 cups (or more) of spinach, 1/3 cup of sugar, and 2 Tablespoons of canola oil into a blender. Yes, there is a little bit of sugar in this recipe. I'm sure you could probably substitute that with a banana or perhaps more applesauce if you choose. I, personally, believe that 1/3 cup of sugar in an entire muffin recipe is not that much sugar, so this does not bother me. Feel free to make substitutions to suit your family's diet and preferences! 

**Updating 11/22/15 to say I have used as much as 2 1/2 cups of spinach with great results, however you can start to very slightly taste the spinach at that point, so be aware of that if you decide to add more than that. I have used both canola oil and coconut oil in this recipe with great results. I also used brown sugar instead of white sugar when I was out of it, and they were still good! The white sugar is definitely the way to go, but brown will work in a pinch!**

Pile all of these ingredients in your blender and puree until it is all liquefied. 

It should come out looking like this green liquid. Just be patient and you may need to stop and stir your ingredients around a little with this large amount of spinach. 

**Updated 11/23/15: Then in a separate bowl combine 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup of white whole wheat flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. I always use a whisk to mix dry ingredients together. It helps to remove any lumps that may be in the flour. So in my initial post, this recipe called for 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour. I tried using 3/4 cup all-purpose flour and 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour, and I was very pleased with the results! The texture was still very soft which is one of my favorite parts about these muffins. I liked it so much I have changed the recipe! I love making healthy changes without sacrificing quality and flavor! I have also made them with all white whole wheat flour and they were not nearly as soft and tender. The batter was thicker, so I had to add a splash of milk, and they took an extra minute to cook. My children enjoyed the results just fine, so if you want to use all whole wheat flour, go for it! But personally I feel the finished product is better with half all-purpose and half whole wheat flour.

Next pour your wet ingredients from the blender into your dry ingredients in the bowl. Be sure to scrape out your blender! You want all of that spinach mixture in your muffins! 

Then just stir to combine. Break up any large chunks of flour if you see them, but it is important to not over mix muffin batter. 

Then pour your batter into a greased mini muffin tin. I greased my muffin tin with coconut oil spray, and I had no problems with them sticking. Fill the mini muffins mostly full. You should get 24. 

Then bake them in a preheated 350 degree oven for 11 minutes. The original recipe suggests baking them for 12 minutes, but I found that mine were a tad dry the first time I made them, so I reduced it by a minute and they came out perfect! Oven times and temperatures may vary, so I would start checking them around 10 minutes the first time you make them just to make sure you don't over cook them. They come out looking like this!

They puffed up nicely, and I seriously love the green color! 

 After they cool for a minute, simply pop them out and put them on a cooling rack. I put a small plate of 5 of them in the freezer for a few minutes to cool quickly for my kids. 

Then serve them right up to your children and yourself because trust me they are delicious! These also freeze very well. I freeze what I have leftover on a plate or tray for about an hour, then pop them into a labeled freezer bag. Simply pull out how many you need and defrost in the microwave. I made a double batch recently because these go so quickly at my house! I used 5 cups of spinach total in the double batch and you can see how dark the green color was below! 

I definitely recommend making a double batch if your toddler devours 8 in one sitting like mine did other wise you won't have very many left over! 

This would make a great little breakfast with a side of fruit. It looks beautiful alongside those red strawberries! My son really enjoys eating things that are different colors, so he was really excited about this! 

If your kids don't enjoy green color in foods, this may not be the best recipe for them. My son, however, really loves foods that are all different colors, so he is excited to eat a muffin (or pretty much anything) that is green! My baby girl loves these too! She is almost one year old and she likes to share her food with me even when I am taking a picture! 

Here she dug right in! Yummy! They seriously taste like cake...don't let the spinach frighten you! I considered posting a picture of myself eating one just to prove that I like them too. Unfortunately I don't look as cute as my babies do first thing in the morning.  

Here's the handy dandy recipe since I'm sure you want to get right to making these! They are definitely worth a try! 

Spinach Muffins
Adapted from Weelicious

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups fresh spinach, packed 
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons canola or coconut oil (melted and cooled slightly)
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Put the applesauce, egg, vanilla, spinach, sugar, and oil in a blender and puree until it is completely liquefied.
3. Whisk flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. 
4. Pour the spinach mixture into the flour mixture.
5. Slowly mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until combined.
6. Pour batter into a greased mini muffin tin, filling each cup most of the way full.
7. Bake for 11 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool. 

To freeze place muffins on a plate or sheet tray in the freezer for about an hour. Move to a labeled freezer bag. Defrost desired number of muffins in the microwave when ready to eat! 

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