Zucchini-Carrot Muffins: A Perfect Kindergarten Snack

Surprise! I’m back. Yes. Back. Actually, I’ve been here all this time, just not writing, because I’ve been busy doing other things.

“Like what?” you may ask. Well, you may ask it, and I’ll even answer it.

I’ve been cooking, and I’ve even been good and photographed the bounty of my kitchen, but have not gotten around to recording the recipes because–Kat started kindergarten, so our family has had to adjust our schedule. Seems like I finally got used to the way it worked with her in preschool (after only a year–I’m slow on the uptake sometimes) and BAM! The kid’s in kindergarten, in real school, doing real school things.

And Kat loves kindergarten. She’s already been learning to read–Zak and I have been teaching her, and I’ve been teaching her elementary addition and subtraction, as well as how to count all the way to 100, but now she has continual classroom support on these subjects, and she loves it. LOVES it. She is so happy to go to school in the morning and happy to come home and tell us what she’s been doing. And she’s so much more mature as well.

AND, she’s turning five at the end of the week. Five. It’s been a long, wild five years, let me tell you, but it is so wonderful watching her grow and change so quickly each day of her life. Truly, our whole family is blessed.

AND, Morganna has finally gotten her driver’s license and is now the proud owner of our old Subaru Outback, Big Blue. The process of getting the car fixed up to be safe for her to drive all over creation, and of her getting that license was long and arduous–as a person who was seriously phobic about driving and had PTSD flashbacks to the horrific drivers in my past, I never believed I’d be able to teach someone else to drive. But, I did. I realized as I did so that I’m not afraid of cars anymore, at all. In fact, these days, I’m pretty fearless.

So that’s a great thing, but teaching someone to drive, as well as carting them to and from work and home is a time consuming process.

And then there’s the documentary. It gets its own post, mind you, but Dan and I have been out filming hither and yon, and our team has added a third person, sound technician and foodie Heather, who was one of the originators of the idea of a documentary in the first place. So the three of us are always out and about carting equipment, setting it up, asking questions, falling over from heat prostration, and filming, always filming and it’s just a lot of fun. But also a lot of work.

Especially the behind the scenes work that I get to do, being the producer. I set up filming schedules, keep the clearances and waivers and other paperwork straight and filed, buy equipment, figure out locations and take care whatever physical needs and transportation needs our crew might have–it’s a lot of stuff to keep track of. But, it’s fun, and I have to say–it’s almost as much fun as running a restaurant kitchen. And it uses similar skill sets….but more on that later.

And then, there’s the volunteer work I’ve been doing for the CFI. That’s Community Food Initiatives for those not from here in Athens. In short, it’s a volunteer organization that combats the issue of food security (that is, in a word, hunger) on multiple fronts. More on the CFI in a post of it’s own. It’s too much to explain in a single paragraph, and the work that all of us in the organization is doing is important and worthy of a proper introduction and explanation.

Let it suffice to say that the CFI allows me to feed people who REALLY need good, healthy wholesome food on a larger scale than any other way I’ve done before. And it makes me happy to feed folks who really need it.

But enough about me. I didn’t come here to write about me.

What I want to write about right now are zucchini-carrot muffins.

Why in the world do I want to write about zucchini-carrot muffins? Why? I mean, really, why? Don’t muffins like that just suck? Aren’t they either dry and crumbly and rather cardboardy in texture and listless in flavor, or worse, greenish and goopy-sticky and sickeningly sweet?

Well, yeah, most vegetable-based muffins fall into one or the other of those less than enticing categories, but this recipe is different.

Why is it different?

Because I made it up, that’s why. If readers haven’t figured out by now that I utterly refuse to make and eat or feed others repugnant food, I don’t know what to say.

And why zucchini-carrot muffins? Why not something else?

Well, because I’m in charge of bringing Kat’s class their classroom snack for the next couple of weeks and while I want to make them tasty stuff, I also want to bring them stuff that’s good for them, while I’m at it. It’s part of my mission to educate not only the minds of children while they are at school, but their palates as well.

The first day of my reign as Sultana of Snacks, I brought blueberry mini-muffins that Kat and I made together. From my usual blueberry muffin recipe, though I did modify it a bit–instead of using sour cream, I used all Greek yogurt with an additional 1/8 cup of milk. And I used white whole wheat flour in place of the all purpose flour and whole spelt flour for the white whole wheat flour, and I did replace the melted butter with canola oil and then didn’t coat the top of the muffins with melted butter dipped in sugar. And no white sugar, but only raw sugar.

Let me tell you–those were some good muffins, and by damned if they weren’t also pretty darned good for the wee schoolkids. (They were popular, too. Each kid ate two muffins–which I didn’t expect.)

After two days of fresh fruits and vegetables, I decided it was time to bake again, and this time, Kat asked for zucchini muffins. Yeah, she asked for them by name.

So, zucchini muffins it was to be, though I decided I wanted to add carrots, too, so that the color would be more varied and interesting. I also ended up adding some golden raisins and dried cranberries, because if some vegetables make muffins good, some dried fruits will make it better. Kat did reign me in when it came to the walnuts, though, citing that lots of kids don’t like nuts.

One flavor at a time, said I to myself as I reluctantly set aside the walnuts.

We’ll see how these muffins go over. I baked them in regular sized tins, but they would have made perfectly fine mini muffins as well. Kat sure liked them–she had one for dessert after dinner tonight and pronounced them to be, “Supendous.”

Yeah, she’s got a great vocabulary for a five year old, even if she spoke while she was chewing and left the “t” out of the word. (I choose to believe that lost “t” came about because of that little issue of “talking with the mouth full of muffin.”

At any rate, here are some mighty fine vegetable and fruit-based muffins, perfect for using up the late summer bounty of squash and carrots that are pouring in from a garden near you. These bake up to be moist without being soggy, flavorful without any of the spices dominating, with cute little flecks of dark green and orange suspended in a light brown matrix of spongy cake-like goodness and little chewy amber or garnet colored fruit bits that give a burst of concentrated sweetness that is neither cloying nor insipidly distracting.

These are just damned fine muffins, that’s all there is to it.

Kat’s Zucchini-Carrot Muffins

Ingredients:

2 cups white whole wheat flour or all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole spelt or regular whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
2 cups coarsely shredded zucchini (DON’T peel it! You’ll lose the pretty green flecks if you do!)
1 cup coarsely shredded carrot (peel that one, though)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, beaten well
1/2 cup canola or other vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 drops orange oil (optional)
1/2 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped walnuts or black walnuts (optional)

Method:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line muffin pans with paper liners–you will need enough pans to make 24 muffins, though to be honest, you may end up with only 21 muffins, depending on how well you fill the cups.

Whisk together the dry ingredients (from the flours to the cardamom) until they are well combined in one bowl.

In another bowl, whisk together the vegetables, sugar and eggs until well combined, then stir in the vegetable oil, extract/orange oil, and buttermilk, and whisk lightly. Then stir in the fruits and if you are using them, the nuts.

Sprinkle the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients bowl, and stir until well combined. Don’t beat the batter and don’t even stir more than you absolutely need to–you don’t want to encourage gluten formation here–that makes for tough muffins. And no one wants a tough muffin. No one.

After you have it all mixed together, spoon the batter into the lined muffin cups and bake for between 15-20 minutes. Muffins are done when lightly browned on the top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for ten minutes then remove from pan and finish cooling on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container and serve within 24 hours.

Makes 21-24 muffins.

8 Comments

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  1. Hooray you’re back! These muffins look delicious. And I just cannot believe you when you say Kat is turning five. How is that even possible?

    Comment by Christine — September 15, 2011 #

  2. These look wonderful. I may try them for a potluck this weekend.

    Comment by Ardene — September 15, 2011 #

  3. Welcome back! We missed you. I am not prepared for Kat turning 5 and in kindergarden. Where did the time go.

    These muffins sound wonderful. A friend’s son just moved to my campus. I just sent him email asking what he thinks about raisins, nuts & cranberries. As soon as I get an answer I want to try making them. I figure a group of hungry college boys will make them disappear in no time. Of course I will have to taste test one or three for myself before they are sent off.

    Comment by Maureen — September 15, 2011 #

  4. Hey, everyone! It’s hard to believe that Kat is five for me, too. It just seems like yesterday that she was on my lap nursing almost constantly, and curled up asleep with me at night, a bundle tinier even than the smallest of our cats. (She was a wee baby and our cats are generally big cats….)

    As for the muffins–they were a great success. All were eaten and Ms. More, Kat’s teacher all but begged me to make another batch of them for one of the snacks for next week. Who am I to refuse?

    But I still think that black walnuts or walnuts would make them even more tasty….

    Comment by Barbara — September 16, 2011 #

  5. Oh those sound so yummy. My grandson Owen just turned 5 too, and started kindergarten. We are moving down to Tennessee to be closer to family and I’m going to remember this recipe. “Supendous” is one of his favorite words and he also loves helping me bake in the kitchen and I can’t wait to try these.

    Comment by Mardel — September 18, 2011 #

  6. I’m glad you’ve been busy and happy. :) And that the muffins moved.

    My first grade son’s class had a multi-ethnic feast day on Friday, with gracious space for children who were scawed of Alien Food and variety for those who like trying things. I brought kalbi and rice and turnip namul and (for the interesting howwow) kim chee.

    Comment by Mary Ann Dimand — September 25, 2011 #

  7. What great treats for the kids and seemingly healthy too which is usually my aim when i prepare treats for the kids. I’m sure those muffins were cleared in no time! All the best from Canada!

    Comment by Amy @ Flex Belt — November 21, 2011 #

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    Comment by Bond — April 29, 2012 #

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