Stealth Nutrition ❧ Healthier Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Healthier Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins |© Urban Cottage Life.com

I think it’s safe to say we could all stand to improve our nutritional intake, but this is a special concern for parents of the dreaded Picky Eater. One of my Little Misses falls into this category, and so I’ve been looking for ways to, ahem, practice some nutritional subterfuge and sneak more good things into her diet.

Surprisingly, she loves chia seed pudding, while neither her mother nor auntie can stomach the texture. Go figure! Something else she enjoys eating is banana chocolate chip muffins, so I thought I would try to come up with a version of those that ups the healthiness factor.

The secret I have up my sleeve for this is lentil puree. Lentils are pulses —the edible seeds of the legume family — and are nutritional powerhouses, delivering fibre, protein and other nutrients. They’re cheap, plentiful, and pretty easy to cook. If you don’t want to cook your own, you can always buy them canned too.

Did you know that Canada is the world’s largest producer and exporter of lentils? And, that the United Nations has declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses? (I’m just full of interesting information!) You can check out more information and find many lentil recipes over at Canadian Lentils.

Anyhow, back to these muffins. They’re adorably diminutive, baked in miniature cups that hold two tablespoons of batter, and deliver the banana chocolate flavour that Little Miss likes so much. The lentil puree is essentially undetectable. (Unfortunately, she didn’t go for these muffins — I think she may be suspicious of some of my efforts — but her little cousin who’s just a year old and auntie liked them a lot! This is a good thing, as I need people to give my baking to.)

Healthier Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins |© Urban Cottage Life.com

Since they’re not in the oven as long as a loaf of banana bread, these little muffins don’t get that beautifully burnished deep bronze colour; I miss it, but it’s not a big deal. I tried baking them with the convection fan on and also with a sprinkle of sugar on top, and neither of those methods added any appreciable colour. If a pale muffin bothers you, you could try adding a simple crumble to the top … something along the lines of a bit of oatmeal, some butter, a bit of sugar (along with a bit of turbinado for extra crunch) and maybe some cinnamon — there are lots of recipes out there for this sort of thing.

And finally, yes, my muffins are a tad lopsided. Charmingly so, I hope. I couldn’t find my small muffin tin, so I just set the paper liners on a baking tray and filled them. Without the supporting structure of muffin cups, a bit of shape-shifting occurred. I figured if that’s the worst problem I have to deal with, it’s a good day — made even better by a couple of these tasty bites!

Healthier Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

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Healthier Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

© Urban Cottage LifeHealthier Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins |© Urban Cottage Life.com

Pre-heat the oven to 350℉. Set 30 small cupcake liners in a muffin pan on a parchment paper-lined large baking tray.

  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup granulated cane sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup mashed banana (I used two medium-large bananas that had been frozen)
  • 1/2 cup lentil puree
  • 1-1/2 cups spelt flour (or all purpose)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Measure all the dry ingredients except the sugar into a bowl. Stir and set aside.

Stir the sugar and oil together, then add the eggs and beat in until incorporated. Add the vanilla, mashed banana and lentil puree, and mix until smooth.

Add the flour mixture and stir in slowly. When almost incorporated switch to a spatula; scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the chocolate chips and continue to mix until no traces of flour are visible and the chocolate is well-distributed throughout the batter.

Using a one-tablespoon ice cream scoop if you have it, put two level scoops of batter into each muffin liner (they will be 2/3 to 3/4 full). Set the tray on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Transfer the muffins to a cooling rack.

9 comments

  1. That is giving me something to think about. Lentils have a pretty neutral flavor so I’m sure you can’t taste them. I experiment a lot with adding leftover fruit pulp from juicing but sometimes it works and …. sometimes not so much.

    • Lentils are so versatile! You can learn more about lentil puree and lentils in general over at the Lentils Canada website. And you’re right, the puree is neutral in flavour, so it can be used in many ways, sweet or savoury.

  2. Marlene, I’m going to pass on a bit of comfort and family history, for what it’s worth. They grow out of it!
    Like your chia eating miss, my eldest who was three just loved avocado but not much else. Being a first time mum, I was worried and I took my picky eater to the doctor. He told me that I should make a list of everything he eats during the day and I would realise that even if he was giving me a hard time at meal times, he was actually not starving. The doctor was right. Be creative, but don’t worry. My bit of creativity was conglomerate soup. What’s in a name asked Shakespeare and CJ Denis. Vegetable soup is just as good for you as conglomerate soup. 🙂

    • Your ‘conglomerate’ soup reminds of some name games I used to play with my own kids when they were little. Bulgar pilaf became ‘Mediterranean rice’ and chicken with vinegar sauce was renamed ‘ketchup chicken.’ Both were favourites under their aliases, but I know they wouldn’t have stood a chance with their real names! I agree, even the picky eaters get more nutrients than we realize sometimes, but I think we parents (and even grandparents) feel better when we can sneak a little more in! You’re right: it’s all about creativity.

  3. How creative, Mar! I’ve seen friends and family members worry over a finicky eater. I doubt if any hid lentils in a dish but I think they would have tried it if they thought it might have worked. Funny how their diets expanded once they went off to college. 🙂

    • It’s always worth it to see you can sneak some extra nutrients into a picky eater’s meals! I agree though that in the long run it all works out. The funny outcome to my attempt is that I now know why Little Miss didn’t like her muffins: she doesn’t like banana muffins, apparently. She likes bananas, but only at my house, not at home, and not in baked goods. Go figure! I’ll have to try again with a banana-free version. Or not, lol.

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