Artsy Fartsy

Someone’s in the kitchen

Tasty treats made from nutritious ingredients

0 Comments 01 September 2010


One of my favorite DIY projects is cooking with my daughter. Although Whole Foods and others offer tasty (and usually pricey), healthier treats for kids, I have found a number of recipes and tips that have enabled me to offer my daughter sweets she enjoys and that I feel good about giving her. The following are a few of my favorite recipes and tips for easy, healthy snacks and treats.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

2 eggs (or egg substitute)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup blue agave nectar (from health food store or Whole Foods)
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups grated zucchini
2/3 cup applesauce
1/4 cup milk
2 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 bag chocolate chips (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add sugar, agave nectar, vanilla extract and milk, and stir to combine. Mix in the grated zucchini and the applesauce. Sprinkle in baking powder.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and cocoa powder, and whisk to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in two batches. Stir until combined. The batter will be thick, but if it gets too difficult to stir, add a bit more milk to loosen it up.
4. Prepare a muffin tin with liners, or spray it with a baking spray that contains flour. Fill the muffin wells 3/4 full.
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the top of one muffin comes out clean.

Carrot/Raisin Cake

I modified the following from What to Expect When You Are Expecting. I gave my daughter frozen squares of the cake to gnaw on when she was teething, and I continue to offer it as a healthier sweet treat. Frozen seems to be more of a hit than room temperature or warm at our house.

2 1/2 cups sliced carrots
2 1/2 cups apple juice concentrate (or a grape or other
juice blend)
1 cup raisins (substitute dried berries, cherries, or a mix
of dried fruits for variation)
1 cup shredded zucchini
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 whole eggs (egg substitute works great for a vegan
4 egg whites (egg substitute if you prefer)
1 Tbsp vanilla
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 Tbsp baking powder
1 Tbsp (or more) cinnamon (clove and allspice give it
more kick)
cooking spray

Prep: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray cake pan (13×9 or 2 9-inch square).
1. Combine the carrots with 1 cup of the juice concentrate in a medium-size saucepan.
2. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, until carrots are tender, 15 to 20 mins. Puree in blender or food processor until smooth.
3. Add raisins and process until finely chopped. Let cool.
4. Combine flour, wheat germ, baking powder and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Add remaining concentrate, oil, eggs, whites and vanilla; beat until well mixed. Fold in carrot puree, zucchini and applesauce. (Mix in an additional cup of dried fruit for a chunkier, sweeter cake). Pour into the prepared cake pans.
5. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 mins. Cool briefly in the pans, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups rolled oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 cup raisins or other dried fruit (optional)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin)
2 whipped egg whites
1 tsp vanilla

1. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin and egg whites.
2. In a medium bowl, mix remaining ingredients.
3. Mix together until moistened.
4. Drop onto greased cookie sheet and flatten.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Other tips

• Unsweetened applesauce, canned pumpkin, pureed sweet potato/squash or sweet potato/squash baby food can be used to replace oil and/or butter/shortening in baking recipes.
• Most pre-packaged cake mixes call for a little more than 1 3/4 cups of liquid, some combination of water and oil. Purée a 14 1/2-ounce can of vegetables or fruit and you will get almost exactly that volume and effect (sweet potato, squash carrot and other mild-tasting vegetables work best in blander recipes; beets and stronger flavors work best with chocolate or a more prominent flavor).
• Finely shredded vegetables (bell pepper, carrot, mushroom, onion, zucchini, spinach) can be added undetected by most little ones to meatballs, meatloaf, spaghetti sauce, and other “meaty” (or imitation meat) dishes.
• Replacing sugar in baking:
HONEY: Use 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon honey in place of 1 cup sugar, and reduce the other liquid ingredients by 2 tablespoons.
FRUIT JUICE CONCENTRATE: Use 3/4 cup for every cup of white sugar, and decrease the amount of liquid by 3 tablespoons

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