Nutritious baked snacks for my toddler
August 27, 2014 2:05 PM   Subscribe

My 2 and half year-old takes a snack to pre-k every day. I would like to start to make his snacks, in the form of nutritious muffins or breads or brownie-like things into which I can integrate some fruit or vegetables. Help me out with some recipes?

I have a basic knowledge of baking and would like recipes with ordinary ingredients, please. I'm looking for things like banana bread made with whole wheat flour, or brownies made with beet puree, some sort of muffin made with apple sauce and all bran, things like that. Cookie recipes are also welcome. Snacks can also be savory.

Extra points if the snacks don't need tons of sugar or salt to taste nice, and will keep well in the freezer.

If your recipe can also accept variations, for example coconut oil instead of butter and things like that, please do tell me.
posted by CrazyLemonade to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: My go-to muffins of this type are Heather Homemade's Good Morning Muffins. I typically sub whole wheat flour for AP, and use unsweetened coconut instead of sweetened. I've also not been disappointed when I reduced the sugar from 2/3 c. to 1/2 c.

They are totally delicious and full of good things - zucchini, pecans, apples, etc. Love.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 2:12 PM on August 27, 2014 [8 favorites]

I like to make this banana blueberry bread recipe for breakfast. I make the muffin variation.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:13 PM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have posted this on metafilter before! Here's a recipe for some banana pumpkin walnut muffins I made. (Do keep in mind that your kid's pre-K might not allow anything with walnuts or peanut butter, so check with them first!)

I make these muffins with what I have on hand, so it's a pretty flexible recipe and a lot of the stuff was eyeballed (but I have a pretty good volumetric eyeball).

-3 cups whole wheat flour
-1 cup dry oatmeal
-a few tablespoons of ground flaxseed
-4 tsp baking powder
-2 tsp baking soda
-4 eggs
-1 cup brown sugar
-about a cup of applesauce
-2 bananas
-at least 1 cup of pumpkin, maybe 2 (I used fresh because it was October, but canned is fine)
-salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, ground cloves to taste
-a couple tablespoons of honey and maple syrup until it tasted right
-as many walnuts as you want (I used a lot)

You may need to adjust the amounts of things until it looks/tastes right. Like I said, I really just sort of eyeballed it. Bake at 350 for about a half hour.

Also, you can put pretty much any pureed/well-shredded veg in there. Carrot and zucchini both bake really well. Spinach is good, too, but will turn them a really unappetizing green color.
posted by phunniemee at 2:13 PM on August 27, 2014 [4 favorites]

Oh, and you can TOTALLY sub coconut oil for the canola/veggie oil in the recipe I linked to.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 2:14 PM on August 27, 2014

Oh, and this is far more expansive than JUST baked goods, but you might like this blog.
posted by phunniemee at 2:15 PM on August 27, 2014

Best answer: This is my go-to savory cookie snack thing. It may be an acquired taste, but these are tasty and filling while being decently low-cal and not very sweet at all. If you read the comments you'll see some subs for the amount of cheese. I've definitely done it with less cheese.
posted by jessamyn at 2:19 PM on August 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Homemade granola bars are the newest big hit in our family and are really easy. The recipe is ratio-based so you can add whatever works for your family.
posted by mamabear at 2:27 PM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Check out Her blog has TONS of healthy recipes, including snacks, to fill up her many hungry teenage boys. My favorite item is the breakfast cookies.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 2:38 PM on August 27, 2014

The guardian had a ten best healthy snacks column on Saturday. Some are maybe more child friendly than others.
posted by biffa at 2:42 PM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

These black bean brownies might not be quite as healthy as you might want for this purpose, but they are delicious, especially with the peppermint added:
posted by wiskunde at 2:56 PM on August 27, 2014

Response by poster: I posted this question just as I'm almost out the door and running to the supermarket so I'm trying my hand at the good morning muffins and Jessamyn's cookies today/tomorrow before studying the rest of your suggestions, do the good bakers here know if these things will keep well in the freezer? (I'm planning on making a whole recipe and freezing the muffins/cookies, taking one portion out each schoolday and putting it in a toaster oven for a couple of minutes before it goes in the lunchbox.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 3:07 PM on August 27, 2014

I routinely make those and do this...

- cook four of them
- roll the other ones up into balls and freeze/refrigerate them in small bags
- take them out, thaw them, press and bake

They cook pretty quickly too so if you have a toaster oven you can make them in that. y one suggestion would be to make sure that you get the rosemary ground up decently well, otherwise it can be pokey.
posted by jessamyn at 3:10 PM on August 27, 2014

Best answer: Zucchini bread! This recipe is pretty standard, although I nearly always close to double the zucchini recipes call for -- it both adds nutrition, and makes the breads more moist (and turns them a nice green color!), so it's win-win as far as I can tell.

That, and most other baked breads will freeze well. For muffins and cookies, freeze the raw dough and cook only what is needed at a time! (Also a great technique for having guests over)
posted by likeatoaster at 3:26 PM on August 27, 2014

Best answer: In case you don't know, let me offer the common advice that you can substitute unsweetened applesauce for half the oil in most cakes and muffins. The results are xlnt when fresh, but don't keep as well as the original recipe.
posted by SemiSalt at 3:32 PM on August 27, 2014

Muffins keep really well in the freezer. Nuke in the microwave for 30 secs or so to thaw completely. I haven't tried the toaster oven route.
posted by purple_bird at 4:12 PM on August 27, 2014

I have been using this recipe as a base /inspiration for my own, yummier, more diverse muesli bars. It's been great. I love them, my toddler daughter calls them cakes, win win.
posted by smoke at 5:28 PM on August 27, 2014

Best answer: Quiche freezes wonderfully and is fine eaten at room temperature. I use 1/4c cream (milk's ok too) per egg, 3-4 eggs depending on how much cheese and veg I'm cramming into the crust, 45min at 350F.

The "Bisquick" "impossible pie"-type recipes may be of interest.

When my kid was little we went through a lot of "pizza" that was the sort of thing only an eager parent could call "pizza" -- whole wheat mini pitas topped with pesto (less messy than tomato sauce...), a bunch of chopped veg, and just enough cheese to glue it all together. These just need a tiny bit of baking, freeze great, and, again, fine at room temp.

Vegetable 'pikelets' are great for this sort of thing. Cheesy vegetable pikelets recipe

Usually I'm dubious about but this banana crumb muffins recipe is outstanding. I usually add about two cups of frozen blueberries or some other fruit (chopped apple, peaches, dried cranberries I soaked in boiling water for a bit, etc) to each batch. Chocolate chips are a tasty option too. They freeze really well.
posted by kmennie at 5:56 PM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Based on a prior ask I have started making these 2-ingredient cookies from over-ripe bananas like crazy.

The idea is to combine 2 mashed bananas with 1 cup of rolled oats (that is the ratio, obviously you can make larger batches). Bake cookies at 350 degrees for 9 to 10 minutes. The recipe that The Pink Superhero linked to recommends chopping up the oats a bit if you use rolled oats and I find that I prefer the cookie texture when I pulse the oats a few times in a processor. And then you can either give the processor a quick rinse or throw in an apple and chop it up a bit or put in a bit of juice and make it more like applesauce.

Because I can never leave well enough alone I have added a grated apple or some applesauce to every batch. I also like adding raisins. My kids love chocolate, but I am trying to maintain the idea of a healthy cookie, but we come up with a compromise where I sometimes stick a chocolate chip on top to make it more of a "treat." Other times I have stirred in a bit of almond butter or peanut butter and/or some seeds (sunflower/flax/pumpkin). Oh, and I've not tried it yet, but I have thought of trying some chopped up carrots, too. They freeze very nicely.

They are dense (obviously) and a bit like a granola bar. The banana and apple make them plenty sweet enough, I've never felt the need to add a sweetener.
posted by dawg-proud at 6:49 PM on August 27, 2014 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: These are all great, thanks everyone. I really appreciate the extra info on substituting or your own variations.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 7:57 PM on August 27, 2014

Not baked (which makes them easier) but I love home-made protein bars. This is a link to a nut-free version using sunflower seed butter, but you can sub the sunflower butter for peanut butter, and switch the oats for shredded coconut, etc. This recipe is more about getting the consistency right, so I often add coconut oil to make the mix softer. The site has several variants of protein bar if you prefer to make something with a different flavor. I posted the sunflower version because its the most recent one I've made, since I'm dealing with a nut-free kindergarten this year. These bars need to be stores in the fridge, but they freeze very well too.

Full disclosure, she's a friend of mine, but I make the bars because I like the recipe, not because she's my friend!
posted by Joh at 10:55 PM on August 27, 2014

I'm not sure if this will be too healthfood-y for a small child to enjoy, but I like this recipe because it's wheat-free and pretty low in sugar.

Banana Oat Bran Muffins
based on recipe from "Simplify Your Life" by Elaine St. James

2¼ cups of oat bran*
1 tbsp baking powder
¼ cup sugar
Handful of raisins/sultanas
1/3 cup LSA meal*
1¼ cup nonfat milk
1 egg
2 large overripe bananas
Dash of vanilla essence

Combine all dry ingredients (oat bran, baking powder, sugar, sultanas, LSA meal) in a mixing bowl. Blend all other ingredients into a puree and mix thoroughly with the dry ingredients. Fill greased muffin tins, allowing some room for mix to rise. Bake at 450ºF (about 230ºC) until top of muffins are brown (about 15 minutes).

These muffins go off in about a day at room temperature, but store just about indefinitely in the freezer. Frozen muffins can be defrosted in the microwave for about 30 seconds, or if you put a frozen one in a lunch box it will be defrosted by early afternoon.

*I'm not sure if these qualify as "ordinary" ingredients, both are definitely available at the supermarket where I am. LSA meal = a mixture of ground Linseed, Sunflower seeds and Almonds. If you couldn't get LSA meal you could use desiccated coconut. I have also made Apple Oat Bran muffins by substituting a can of pie apples, mashed with a fork, for the bananas.
posted by Cheese Monster at 12:58 AM on August 28, 2014

Mini-quiches. Make in muffin tins & freeze.
posted by judith at 6:47 AM on August 28, 2014

I make the same banana and oatmeal cookies as dawg-proud for my toddler. I add honey, cinnamon and vanilla extract, plus whatever else I have on hand: shredded coconut, dried fruit, chocolate chips (occasionally), flax meal, oat bran, walnuts, chia seeds, etc.

My kid also likes banana oat greek yogurt muffins even though I forgot the chocolate chips and personally thought they were pretty bland.
posted by Safiya at 8:39 AM on August 28, 2014

(Sorry, all of my recipes are in a printed folder at home)

I make regular blueberry muffins, but add a 1/2c or 1c of cooked quinoa to the batter. It makes them a little bit chewier (not in an unpleasant way) and adds some protein.

Also, I make chocolate brownies with shredded zucchini added (you can google chocolate zucchini bread). Not sure if you want to give a 2yo chocolate, you could just make regular zucchini bread.

Mini-quiches are an awesome suggestion as well. My 3yo has just discovered that he loves quiche. Bonus with quiches is that I find that his attitude is better overall throughout the day when he has more protein and less carbs.
posted by vignettist at 8:48 AM on August 28, 2014

Best answer: Big YES to the freezer, and here's another tip, if you can swing it.

Take one day and do five or six different batches (different flavors, different recipes) and get them all baked in a day, then label them (name and date, v. important!) and freeze them. Doing it this way (big batches) leads to a lot more snack/lunch box variety, and thus a happier kid who doesn't suddenly get sick of banana bread or blueberries or whatever.
posted by anastasiav at 9:01 AM on August 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

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