Toddler muffins.

Never eats.

I read the books about French babies and how they eat everything, and I assumed that mine would be an enthusiastic omnivore – how could he not be?! And in the beginning, he was – he ate his purees, grains and yogurts happily, lapping up anything I put in front of him and smacking his lips with great delight. Around the time we began to introduce textures, though, something went horribly awry.

The kid doesn’t eat.

Well, he doesn’t eat much, I should say. He’ll eat oatmeal, and applesauce, and yogurt, and peanut butter toast, and all the crackers. He likes cookies, and will eat just about anything I blend into a mush, except for purple things. He likes watermelon in slices, but won’t eat a sliced strawberry. Blueberries and grapes are untouchable, potatoes and pasta an insult. He was handed a hot dog at a birthday party and abhorred it. He tasted a bite of hummus off a cracker at Costco and burst into tears.

Needless to say, he is not an adventurous eater, though he did taste a snow pea the other day and took two bites before throwing it on the ground, which I think was progress. One day he might eat a green bean! One can hope. I keep handing him things, and putting food in front of him, which is about the best I can do, right? I don’t know.

His daycare requires us to send him meals, and I am told that he eats brilliantly when he’s there, so I send him nutrient-dense soups and things to make up for what he doesn’t eat at home. For breakfast, I send him muffins.

He gets all kinds – I made some pink ones for him last week that used up a pound of strawberries and the rest of my rolled oats. He’s had peach muffins, and subtly cheesy corn muffins, and gluten-free coconut flour muffins for something a little different; he likes a meal he can cart around, and a handful of carbs meets his almost all of his needs. My peanut butter-banana-chocolate muffins though, those are his favourite. And even though they aren’t a seasonal thing – I make them whenever the bananas at the little natural foods store on the corner are brown and sad-looking (and cheap).

Gross bananas.

I finally got a photo of him eating one today (after posting on Facebook that I figured it would be impossible). So here’s the recipe. I like to think these are reasonably healthy.

Any of the weird ingredients can be subbed for stuff you have; I bought a lifetime supply of coconut sugar when Nick was diagnosed with diabetes because it’s a low-GI sweetener, even though it later turned out that all sugar acts like refined white sugar in the blood for a diabetic no matter how pure my intentions. You can use brown sugar. Any other oil will work fine in place of the grapeseed. You can omit the ground flax if you don’t have it, but I find that by using entirely whole wheat flour in these, the recipe benefits from the bit of leavening the flax provides; if don’t have flax and like a lighter muffin, use half whole-wheat and half white all-purpose flour.

Toddler_MuffinToddler muffins (or: Peanut butter banana muffins)

Makes 12.

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 or 3 ripe – brown – bananas (if you have smaller bananas, use 3; if you only have those giant monster ones that are like a foot long, two will suffice), mashed
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (chunky or smooth, whatever you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 3 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 tbsp. ground flaxseed

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Grease a muffin tin, or fill the tin with 12 paper liners. I am cheap, so I just grease.

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

In another larger bowl, mix bananas, peanut butter, coconut sugar, cocoa powder, egg, and oil until thoroughly combined. Stir in chocolate chips, sunflower seeds, and flaxseed – mix well.

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.

Spoon into your prepared muffin tin. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre of one of the middle ones comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for five minutes before turning the muffins out onto a wire rack to cool. If you are going to freeze these for daycare, let them cool all the way before putting them into a large freezer bag. If you like bananas and are just going to eat these yourself, go nuts.

Peanut butter chocolate banana muffins

Here are the B-sides – a handful of this morning’s attempts to catch the toddler in action.

Bok choi with mushrooms.

bokchoi

I always think I am going to have so much time, and then I commit to a million things and am surprised when I can’t do any of them well. Well, no more! (That is probably untrue – just ask me to do something.) This summer has seen a shift in my priorities; I want to do a lot of things better, and, I hope, a few things pretty well. I want to make pickles and play outside and write books and blog posts and can homemade baby food for my friend who isn’t doing so well at the moment, and I want to do all of this without feeling like I’m letting anyone/everyone down.

So, with no small amount of despair, I let go of our community garden plot – we simply weren’t able to keep up with it. To be honest, I’m sure that we would have been kicked out eventually anyway – we hadn’t been showing up anywhere near often enough.

The community garden is a 15-minute drive to a spot we used to be able to walk to, and when we moved in December it was to a place across the street from a friend who has abundant garden space that she let us have access to. This new spot isn’t as pretty as our last place, though it is a lot bigger. Last night to make a salad I just hopped the fence across the street and thinned some of the beets, pulled a couple of radishes, and snipped some leaves off one of the heads of lettuce. We were no longer a part of the community in our other spot; here, we are neighbours.

The back part of the garden

The nice thing about our new space being so close is that I can walk by and plan dinner around what’s currently thriving; recently, it was the bok choi. Whenever I buy bok choi, it’s in heads like thick leaf lettuce, or tiny little bunches of the baby variety. I guess we’re growing a different kind, because ours is growing in the way chard does – long stalks off a middle stem with big, soft, droopy leaves. Whatever variety it is, it’s delicious.

In the spirit of saving time (because who even has any?!), here’s a quick dish of greens and mushrooms; you can use chard, or kale, or bok choi or whatever you’re growing or have bought. It makes enough for two large side dishes, or four small ones. It takes ten minutes if you’re a fast chopper.

I hope you like – and have the time – for this one.

Bok choi and mushrooms with trout

Bok Choi with Mushrooms

  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 lb. bok choi, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce

In a skillet, heat sesame oil and butter over medium-high heat until the butter begins to sizzle.

Add onion, and cook for one minute.

Add ginger and garlic, and both kinds of pepper.

Cook for two minutes, until everything is soft and translucent and fragrant. Add mushrooms, then bok choi, then the soy sauce, and toss the whole thing together. Cover, drop heat to medium, and cook for three minutes.

Serve with fish or barbecued meats; it would also be good with fried tofu.

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