Orange, Pumpkin and Date Muffins

It’s probably pretty clear that muffins are something that are baked, and eaten, quite regularly in this house.

The reason I tend to go for muffins is for a few reasons:

  1. They are quick and easy to make
  2. They can be appropriately portioned into whatever sized morsel you want
  3. They freeze really well, meaning you don’t have to feel like you are eating the same thing everyday for a week
  4. They are the perfect size for lunchboxes

I had some quinoa flour in the pantry and some pumpkin that needed using, which resulted in the creation of these Orange, Pumpkin and Date muffins. The dates provide a natural sweetness, while the juice and zest of the orange give the distinct citrus flavour, while the mashed pumpkin provides a good nutrition boost but also allows the muffin to retain it’s moisture and compliments the spice profile nicely. If you were wanting to add some crunch to these muffins, some slivered almonds or chopped walnuts would work quite nicely. I have chosen to not put nuts in these muffins as the kids will take them to school and kinder.

The first time I made these Orange, Pumpkin and Date muffins, I used only quinoa flour, which left a distinct after taste, which wasn’t offensive and no one complained, but I thought that I would make a few amendments to allow it to be more suitable to everyones palate. Often flours such as quinoa, buckwheat and chickpea flour have quite a strong flavour, so it is best to mix them with another type of flour, such as a wheat, spelt or even rice flour for a gluten free alternative.

I hope you enjoy these muffins for something a little bit different. xx.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup peeled pumpkin, steamed and mashed
  • 3/4 cup quinoa flour
  • 3/4 cup wholemeal spelt flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup dates, pitted and chopped, I used 3 medjool dates
  • Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and prepare ~12-15 hole muffin tin.
  2. Peel pumpkin and chop into 1cm slices and place in a steamer basket and steam until soft. Allow to cool slightly and mash.
  3. Place the flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, spices, zest and dates into a large bowl and mix to combine.
  4. Add the eggs, orange juice, vanilla and the mashed pumpkin and mix well to combine.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tray and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Apricot, Almond and Chocolate Millet Cups

Today the girls and I decided to do some baking and I was thinking about making some sort of slice, something apricot and almond, but not certain what. As we were looking through Claire’s bag of kinder activities for lockdown 2.0, we came across some Gruffalo inspired recipes, one of them was ‘Knobbly Knees’, essentially a honey joy with some nuts, dried fruit and chocolate. This was the exact inspiration I needed.

The main ingredient for Knobbly Knees was cornflakes, which we didn’t have, so instead we used puffed millet and didn’t really follow the recipe at all, but created these little Apricot, Almond and Chocolate Millet Cups. These little cups are the perfect snack for both kids and adults, they are versatile in that they can be made using whatever puffs, dried fruit and nuts that you have on hand.

These cups when made using millet are a gluten free snack, making them suitable for anyone who has coeliac disease or follows a gluten free diet. If you are making these for kids that need a nut-free snack for school, the nuts can be substituted for seeds and peanut butter can be swapped for tahini or more butter. The chocolate chips can be added before adding the butter mixture, however this will result in them melting and the whole mixture being a darker colour.

I hope you enjoy these quick and easy snacks xx.

Ingredients:

(Makes ~20-24)

  • 60g puffed millet
  • 40g almonds, roughly chopped
  • 40g dried apricots, diced into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup flaked coconut
  • 100g butter
  • 3 tbs honey
  • 1 tbs peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius and grease muffin tins or patty pans.
  2. Place millet, almonds, apricots and coconut into a large bowl and mix to combine.
  3. Place the butter, honey and peanut butter into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until melted and allow to bubble for ~1 minute. Cool slightly.
  4. Pour butter mixture over the millet mixture and mix well to coat. Add the chocolate chips and fold through.
  5. Place mixture into muffin tins or patty pans (I used silicone muffin trays) and press down slightly, sprinkle with a few choc chips and bake for ~ 10 minutes.
  6. Allow to cool completely before removing from the tray and store in an airtight container.

Peach and Blackberry Muffins

We love muffins in this household, and with an array of amazing Summer fruits currently available, it makes the flavours of our muffins new and exciting!

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I bought a whole heap of peaches this week, as they are cheap as chips, with the intention of stewing them. Aaron then took Brian for a walk the other night, and came home with a bucket full of blackberries, from the wild blackberry bushes that we have growing in the reserve not too far from our house, and so these muffins were born.

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Elise, who is now one, is an absolute animal when it comes to eating. She will often eat more that Claire in a day, so I wanted to make these muffins suitable for her, yet still delicious for the rest of the family, so I have kept the sugar to a minimum, but added more blackberries than I might have otherwise.

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The first batch of these I made with the intention of sending the to school with Mark during his first week, but they disappeared within a few days. Luckily, we still had peaches and Aaron picked some more blackberries so I could make some more and perfect the recipe. I have kept this second batch in the freezer and they freeze/defrost really well.

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If blackberries weren’t readily available, fresh or frozen raspberries would work really well. The original muffins I was planning were peach and raspberry until the blackberries appeared on my kitchen bench.

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Enjoy xx.

Ingredients:

Makes 15 muffins

  • 1 3/4 cups wholemeal flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb soda
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 60g butter, melted
  • 75g coconut oil, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup natural yoghurt
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 2 peaches, 1 diced, 1 sliced for on top of the muffins

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180° and prepare muffin tin.
  2. Place flour, oats, baking powder, bicarb soda, brown sugar and salt into a large bowl and mix to combine.
  3. Melt the butter and coconut oil in the microwave or in a saucepan and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Place the eggs, yoghurt, vanilla, milk and lemon juice into a medium sized bowl and mix to combine.
  5. Add the egg mix to the dry ingredients and mix, then add the melted butter and oil and mix well.
  6. Gently fold in the diced peach and blackberries.
  7. Spoon into prepared muffin tin, top each muffin with a slice of peach, and bake for 15 minutes or until inserted skewer comes out clean.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before removing muffins from the tin.

Making the perfect lunch box

The perfect lunch box! Does such a thing exist? Of course it does!

The perfect lunchbox is the one that any parent puts together to send with their child to school or kinder. It doesn’t have to be packed full of homemade, raw, organic treats that you have spent the whole weekend trying to prepare even though you hate cooking. All the perfect lunchbox needs to be is food that nourishes your child’s body, provides their brain with enough glucose to concentrate, and adequate fuel to get them through the day.

Yes, I love cooking and I love baking and we always have several home made options on offer at any given time, but I appreciate that not everyone is lucky enough to have the time to prepare such foods, nor do most people enjoy it as much as I do. Plenty of families have 2 working parents, leaving time for dinner and lunch preparation and not a lot else, so I am not suggesting that you spend every spare second in the kitchen, but if you do have a spare half an hour, start by making a batch of picklets or muffins. These all freeze exceptionally well and if you make a double batch, you’ll have a good supply that will last a good 1-2 weeks. If you’re choosing to make some of my muffins or pikelets, choose the ones with berries rather than grated apple or carrot as they are less time consuming.

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What do kids really need at school?

A morning tea for most kids should consist of some form of fruit or vegetable. Whether that’s a whole piece of fruit, cut up fruit or even a fruit cup (in natural juice not syrup), it doesn’t matter. If you kids like veggie sticks by themselves, it’s a great way to get some extra veggies into them. Next, a source of protein to help to keep them going until lunchtime. This can be some hummus, or other, dip, with some wholegrain crackers, some yoghurt or cheese or some roasted chickpeas or fava beans. You can roast your own, or the supermarkets and whole food shops sell them – my kids LOVE them! If your child is at high school, and nuts are allowed, nuts are also a great option. A home baked pikelet, muffin, muesli bar, bliss ball or slice is a great option here as well.

Lunch should consist of 3 main things: Carbohydrates, Protein and Vegetables. A ham, cheese and tomato or cheese and vegemite sandwich on wholegrain bread is a perfectly nutritious option for a quick throw together sandwich. Add in a container of veggie sticks to add in the extra nutrients. If you have a bit more time to prepare and freeze some lunch options, things like fritters, zucchini slice, savoury muffins or sushi are excellent options. If you have some time to prepare lunch fresh, a protein and salad sandwich or wrap is a great option. As long as there is some form of protein (meat, chicken, fish, eggs, cheese or bean/legume), carbohydrate (bread, rice, pasta, other wholegrain or potato) and some vegetables, your child will be set!

Most (primary) schools don’t like nuts being brought to school, which is quite disappointing as so many awesome snack recipes have nuts. However, if I had a child with an anaphylactic reaction to nuts, I would be pleased that such policies exist. As a result of this, I have been trying to adapt some of my nut filled snacks, such as muesli bars and bliss balls, so that they use seeds in place of the nuts. For the most part, they work quite well without the nuts. I will just have to save these nut filled snacks for afternoon tea.

If you’ve made it through this first week or so of school and have been scrounging the back of the pantry for things to fill lunchboxes, then set aside some time this weekend to do some lunchbox preparation. Make a batch of zucchini slice and fritters and pop them in the freezer and lunches will be sorted for the week! Add to this a batch of muffins or nut free muesli bars and snacks are sorted too. All you’ll need to do of a morning is grab some of each of these and a piece of fruit and/or some veggies and you’re set for next week, or longer.

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Hope this provides some inspiration xx.