Cooking with Toddlers: Moose Muffins

We recently checked out from the library If You Give a Moose a Muffin, and The Toddler loves reading it (along with the OG If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.) While I haven’t posted a recipe here in about 100 years, we just succeeded in a small baking experiment that works for killing some time, delighting a toddler, connecting literature to real life and prepping breakfast for the week, all in one.

Moose Muffins - inspired by the children's book
Moose muffins! Very little added sugar, no added oil, contains both fruit and vegetables, and best served with a good book 🙂

If you’re anything like me, it also provides your young baker a lesson in flouting the specific measurements of any given baking recipe and enjoying or suffering the consequences. (Fortunately, this turned out pretty good!) I’ve never been one to closely follow a recipe, so consider this a basic roadmap from which you can detour depending on what’s in your pantry and what your family likes to eat.

The Toddler gobbled a few mini-muffins up as soon as they were cool enough to eat, and seemed pretty impressed that his pouring and mixing turned into food. He even helped clean up afterward!

I kept these pretty low-sugar so I wouldn’t feel guilty about serving them for breakfast and didn’t add any oil (though I use whole milk/yogurt in my muffin recipes and entire eggs.) I do find that the no-oil muffins I make tend to stick to the muffin cups/tins more than usual, so don’t be afraid to be a little liberal when greasing them.

Finally, thanks to The Husband for being a second set of hands during this activity; it’s doable with just one adult, but a nice weekend-morning family activity. (If you’re doing this solo, try to gather everything up before your little one is waiting anxiously to get started or you may run out of attention span.)

Moose Muffins - baking with toddlers (The Last Mommy Blog)

 

Moose Muffins

Makes 12 regular muffins and 12 mini muffins

Dry ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • pinch of salt

Wet ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of raw sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of raisins (we used golden raisins)

Directions

  1. Read If You Give a Moose a Muffin with your toddler. Ask, “Would you like to bake some muffins for a moose?!” If they respond enthusiastically, “Yes!!!!” proceed. If not, try again some other time.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  3. Strap your toddler in to a booster seat/high chair at the kitchen table so they can’t run amok with ingredients, and then pile everything up just out of their reach. Gather a wet ingredients bowl, dry ingredients bowl, a teaspoon, your measuring cups, muffin tins and muffin liners.
  4. Have your toddler line your muffin tins. (We don’t have mini muffin liners, so I swiped at the mini muffin tin with an oil-soaked paper towel.) See note above about these being sticky; feel free to grease the muffin liners themselves to avoid this.
  5. Put the dry bowl in front of the toddler and measure out each ingredient for him and let him dump the measuring cups into the bowl and stir in between. To make it even more educational, do lots of counting: “This is one cup of flour.” “We need two scoops of baking soda.”
  6. Do the same with the wet ingredients, cracking each egg into the measuring cup and letting him dump, etc.
  7. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet (or is it vice versa?Whatever muffin recipes usually say.) Try not to over-mix. Fold the raisins in last.
  8. You should probably do the scooping of the muffin batter into the papers/tins, but count while you do it.
  9. Bake muffins. The mini muffins were done in about 12 minutes, and the standard-sized in about 20-22 minutes, but your mileage may vary.
  10. Allow to cool, serve with blackberry jam! (Consume while re-reading If You Give a Moose a Muffin.)

Substitutions and variations:

  • Finely chopped walnuts would be really good in this (if your kid is of the age to eat such things.)
  • Swap out some or all of the applesauce for pumpkin puree; switch the shredded zucchini for shredded carrot. (I’d also probably switch to regular black raisins for this alternative.)
  • Don’t like raisins? Use frozen blueberries! Or chocolate chips! Or nothing!
  • Don’t have zucchini? Shred a fresh apple instead to make these extra-appley. I’d swap out the allspice for ground ginger in this case.
  • If we had any plain yogurt in the house while I was making these, I would have used that instead of milk.
Cooking with Toddlers: Moose Muffins

In the great green room…

there was a telephone, and a red balloon…

Goodnight Moon has become The Baby’s very favorite book. In fact, it was the first book he took any interest in beyond chewing. One day when he was about 4 or 5 months old, he was looking at it on the floor and we had to leave, and he cried as I put him in his car seat until I handed him back his book, and he babbled the whole way to the grocery store, reading to himself (I like to think.)

We ended up being given three copies as gifts before his arrival, and I’m glad we didn’t give any away because I can see we’re going to need them.

Somehow this most classic book wasn’t a part of my own childhood, and honestly the garish colors and lack of punctuation made me wonder what all the fuss was about. (not to mention the third painting on the wall — not the cow jumping over the moon, nor the three little bears sitting on chairs, but the rabbit fly fishing in a river for another rabbit… wth?)

But seeing The Baby’s delight all there is to look at, and hearing the words lilting like a prayer (“Please, God, let my baby go to sleep?”) have cemented this story in my brain for the rest of eternity.

We don’t read it every night. In fact, this is the book that marks that it’s time to go to sleep. But Goodnight Moon will always hold a place in my memories of The Baby’s early days.

Speaking of books, we are nearly, nearly there with fully babyproofing The Baby’s bedroom. (Though I think I’ll keep saying “nearly done babyproofing” until he’s got his learner’s permit… He seems to have a real knack for beating me to the punch in this particular battle.)

I will take pictures of the rest once I’ve tied up a few loose ends, but here is a sneak peak of a new reading corner. We ditched the regular old bookshelf for these book ledges I built, and The Baby loves being able to see (and pull down) all his books. (Yes, we also have two copies of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. One board book and one paperback for when The Baby decides to quit chomping on his books.)

DIY book ledge for baby's room
The Baby’s book nook… a great place to take in Goodnight Moon.

I was having a little writer’s block after a work-heavy week or two that kept me from blogging, so I decided to participate in the Daily Prompt: Moon. Further proof that parents can take any word and turn it into a way to talk about their kids! 🙂

Tune in tomorrow for some real, actual, interesting content… so excited to share some wisdom from a mom friend!

In the great green room…