Muffins Make Back-To-School Mornings Delicious

While some kids in our area have already started back-to-school, for most families the countdown to the end of summer vacation has just begun. And while kids may be sad about the end of summer, many parents view the approach of back-to-school time with equal amounts of anticipation and dread. Why? Because while it means settling back into a comfortable routine, it also means the return of the school day morning stress and all that goes with it. With the rush to gather scattered homework, lunches, book bags, etc., it can be a challenge to make sure your kids have some sort of (hopefully healthy) breakfast in their tummies before they go out the door.
So how can you make sure your kids get a healthy breakfast before school? Bake them some delicious and healthy muffins. They’re easy to make, yummy, portable, and endlessly adaptable to taste and nutrition preferences. Here are some tasty recipes to get you started.
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Tropical Morning Muffins

2 ½ cups white whole wheat flour (or a mixture of whole wheat and all-purpose)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup honey (or maple syrup)
1/2 cup light brown sugar, loosely packed (or dark brown sugar)
1 cup mashed very ripe banana (about 2 large very ripe bananas)
1/4 cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt (or any yogurt)
1 large egg, beaten
3/4 cup milk (almond milk, soymilk, cow's milk, rice milk)
zest from 1 orange
1 ¼ cup diced pineapple (fresh or canned)
1 thinly sliced banana for topping
1/4 cup shredded coconut, optional

Preheat oven to 325F degrees. Spray 15 muffin tins with nonstick spray (do not use cupcake liners- muffins will stick to the liners). Set muffin tin aside. In a large bowl, gently toss the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together until combined. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the honey and brown sugar together, using a fork to break up as many lumps as you can. Add the mashed banana, yogurt, and beaten egg. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Gently begin to fold it all together. It will be very thick. Add the milk slowly and continue to gently mix the ingredients together. The milk will thin everything out, but the batter will still remain thick. Fold in the orange zest and pineapple. Do not over-mix the batter, which will lend tough, dense-textured muffins. Divide the batter between 15 muffin tins. Fill all the way to the top. Top with 2-3 thin slices of the sliced banana and a sprinkle of coconut. Bake the first 12, then the last three in another batch. Fill the empty muffin tins halfway with water in the 2nd batch to ensure even baking. Bake for 17-18 minutes until very lightly browned on the edges. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Allow the muffins to cool completely.

Cook’s note: Muffins taste even better the next day, like most banana bread recipes.  Muffins remain fresh and moist stored at room temperature for up to 5 days.  Muffins freeze well, up to 3 months. Makes 15 muffins @ about .67 cents per muffin.

Blueberry-Applesauce Muffins

1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cups rolled oats
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 heaping cup unsweetened natural applesauce
1 tsp. oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 ¼ cups blueberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
For topping:
3 Tbsp. oats
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 Tbsp. whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 12-cup muffin tin with liners and coat the inside of them with cooking spray In a large bowl combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl combine applesauce, oil, brown sugar, egg, and almond milk. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined. Don't over-mix! The batter will be slightly lumpy, but that’s ok. Gently fold in the walnuts and blueberries. To make the topping: In a small bowl combine oats, walnuts, flour, butter, and cinnamon. Sprinkle 1 heaping teaspoon over each muffin. Bake muffins for 15-19 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached. Makes 12 muffins @ about $1.20 per muffin.

Chocolate Chip Muffins

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup ricotta cheese
2  large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/3 cups milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup canola oil

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 1/4-cup muffin tin lightly with cooking spray (do not use paper cupcake liners). Mix the flour and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl. Place the cheese in a medium bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Whisk in the milk and vanilla until blended. Fold the cheese mixture and oil into the flour mixture until just blended. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, and bake 25 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the pans immediately, and cool on a wire rack. Makes 18 muffins @ about .44 cents per muffin.

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