Saturday, March 27, 2010
Posted by Aparna Balasubramanian
Once upon a time, when my daughter was younger, she would eat almost anything I served her. Life was pleasant and meal times were very relaxed. Then she started growing up and arguments over silly things became the norm. Some of our mealtimes were fraught with tension, just trying to get her to eat.
Picture our dining table as a sort of boxing ring with both of us in our respective corners, verbally trying to make our points about food while my husband was stuck in the middle trying to referee the whole thing amicably. You get the general idea, and I’m happy to say this phase didn’t last for too long.
To be fair to her, she now does eat most vegetables without too much of a fuss. She really does prefer to carry home-cooked food in her snack/ lunch box than eat what’s served in the school canteen. I usually try to use this preference of hers to my advantage.
Sometimes I smuggle, hide or disguise vegetables and fruit in food she enjoys. She is sharp and smart enough to know what I’m doing while understanding my almost OCD (obsessive compulsive desire) to get her to eat “healthy”.
I must admit that I’m not always successful, but that’s life.
“Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie” according to Jim Davis. I would add these “vegetable muffins” to this quote.
My daughter likes muffins, preferably the sweet ones. These muffins have cheddar cheese and vegetables that she likes (and one that she doesn’t) in them. Yet she thinks these muffins are “okay”! “Okay” is her lingo for “it’s not bad, but frankly I don’t really like it”!
Actually, what she told me later was, “the texture is really great, and they’re very good for savoury muffins, but you know I don’t like savoury stuff". Then she gets up and gets herself some savoury banana crisps!!
In our home, these muffins are for evening time snacking, but they are pretty good for snack boxes to school. Add some milk and fruit and they make a filling meal too. They’re good on the side with tomato soup too.
I had some zucchini left over from another kitchen adventure of mine. I needed to use this up. So these muffins have zucchini, sweet red carrots and some very thinly sliced green beans in them.
Feel free to use whatever vegetable you would prefer, but I would suggest that using more than 2 or 3 vegetables in these muffins might be overkill as far as children are concerned. I find it helps if one or two of the vegetables used are those which your children like, as it makes it easier to sneak in the third “not-liked” vegetable!
You can use all purpose flour if you prefer, or only whole wheat flour. In my home I’m the only one who really likes breads and quick breads with whole wheat flour and I find that about half and half of both flours ensures a good texture.
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt (remember the cheese has salt)
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp brown sugar
freshly crushed black pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup oil (I use a sunflower-rice bran oil blend)
1 cup milk
3/4 cup shredded/ thinly sliced vegetables of choice
Put the flours, salt, sugar and baking powder into a big bowl and whisk together to mix well. Add the grated cheese and whisk a couple of times more to ensure the cheese is well coated with flour and mixed well.
In another bowl, whisk the beaten egg, oil and milk together. Then add the shredded/ sliced vegetables and mix well.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it. Using a wooden spoon, fold the mixture together as little as possible, to blend well. If traces of flour are still visible that’s fine.
Over mixing the batter will result in tough muffins.
Scrape the batter into greased muffin tins and bake at 200C for about 30 minutes till the tops start browning. Remove from tins and cool on a rack.
This recipe makes about 10 very tasty and moist muffins, depending on the size of your muffin tins. Please make them at your own risk and be prepared to have your children declare these good, terrible or okay!
This post was written by Aparna
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