Evergreen Christmas Cupcakes

Evergreen Christmas Cupcakes

A friend of ours asked Lauren and me a while back if we could post some recipes or ideas to get her children to eat more vegetables at lunch. The catch is that their lunchboxes are not refrigerated and they aren’t able to have food microwaved. Hmmmm. As I scoured Pinterest I found a great recipe for spinach muffins from Laura’s Sweet Spot (now The Green Forks). It looked yummy to me, but I thought there was little chance I was going to get any buy-in from The Bear (my three-year old boy).

I remembered an article I read several years back about a study where children were given options for different food and objects and asked to choose their preference. Children would choose a rock with a picture of SpongeBob over a cupcake! I looked for that article online and I couldn’t find it. However, I did find a link to that references 2 studies (U of Penn, Yale) that show children perceived a cereal to taste better when it had a cartoon character on the box. It got me thinking…. could I use this to coax my little one into eating some spinach muffins?

I called them Christmas Cupcakes cause they were green like Christmas trees. I used Christmas cupcake papers and served them on a Christmas plate. Would it work?

Ingredients
christmas cupcakes 7
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 (6 ounce) bag fresh baby spinach
  • ½ cup mashed banana (from about 2 bananas)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F and line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners your child will love: cartoon characters, favorite color, holidays, etc.

christmas cupcakes 8

Whisk the dry ingredients in a bowl: flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt (I omitted the salt for low-sodium purposes).

Christmas Cupcakes

In a blender, add oil, milk, and spinach. Blend on high until completely puréed. Add banana and vanilla. Blend on low just to mix.

christmas cupcakes 5

Pour spinach mixture into dry ingredients and fold together with a rubber spatula until completely combined.

christmas cupcakes 2

Trust me, this really does taste yummy!

Trust me, this really does taste yummy!

5. Fill muffin cups about ⅔ full and bake 18-20 minutes. I always do the toothpick test (insert a toothpick into the center and remove from oven when it comes out clean).

christmas cupcakes 4

Notes from Laura
You can use 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour for an all whole-wheat option. You can possibly use spelt flour too.
Fa-la-la-Ta-DA!  christmas cupcakes 6
I put on my super excited face and set one down in front of the Bear. He looked at it, he smelled it, he took a bite. “This is very good!” Success!  Eventually Baybay (my 1 year-old daughter) was chowing down even though I think the Christmas element was lost on her. She does anything her big bro does. 🙂
I’m still on the lookout for more ways to incorporate vegetables into lunches. How do YOU do it?
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8 thoughts on “Evergreen Christmas Cupcakes

    • They were yummy! You don’t taste the spinach at all. The banana, vanilla, and cinnamon give it a banana bread flavor. Maybe I’ll try adding walnuts next time!

  1. Hey Lauren- I read this on http://happyherbivore.com/. You could use whole wheat flour and then sub applesauce? I learned something new about whole wheat flour, too.

    “In Muffins: with whole wheat muffins, it’s usually pretty safe to replace 1 banana with 1/2 cup of applesauce but you never want to use more than 1 cup of applesauce in an entire recipe, so you’ll need to keep that in mind. Another option is silken tofu, or a yogurt, but you might need to scale back your applesauce… Only adding as much as necessary to get the mixture to the right wetness. (Dry batter is never good).

    Caution:if it’s a gluten-free recipe or you’re using white flour, you must use the banana or another kind of binder. Whole wheat has gluten, so it will bind on its own without the banana, but white flour (all purpose) doesn’t really and gluten-free flours absolutely won’t. One of the reasons I like whole wheat so much (aside from it being healthier than white flour) is I don’t have to use a binder most of the time.”

  2. Pingback: Gooey Butter Cookies | Gaining Mommymentum

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