Saturday morning dawned like most others in our house. Blissful sleep was interrupted by the familiar call of ‘mom, is it morning yet?’ and our day was begun. One of the things I cherish about weekends is taking a little extra time to do things we usually rush through during the week. An extra-long hike rather than a quick workout or walk in the neighborhood; taking a picnic to the park and spending hours watching Little J on the playground; and cooking meals that take a long time or have a complex list of ingredients I wouldn’t want to take on during the week. The other thing we make time for each weekend is some time for Little J and I to cook together, like making this week’s recipe: Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Muffins.
Cooking together is something that is really important to me. Little J has been in the kitchen watching me cook since birth, and has been helping since she was about 15 or 16 months old. Helping, of course, is a relative term. Most often in those early days, helping meant way more mess, way more time, and sometimes even having to salvage things after she was safely out of the room.
Cooking together, for me, is one of the most important things I can do with Little J. It’s one-on-one quality time together. It’s an incredible learning opportunity – being able to follow a process, math, science, and fine motor skills all rolled into one. Most importantly, I’m passing along an important skill – being able to cook and bake food from scratch. Once the basic skills are learned, you can apply those skills to cooking or baking anything you set your mind to.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard people say ‘but I can’t cook like you Rachel, I just don’t know how’. It’s a huge barrier for people in reclaiming their health because preparing healthy foods is an integral part of being healthy. While cooking is a skill that anyone can learn at any age, it only makes sense to honor ages-old traditions and keep young children by our sides learning how to cook as they grow up.
Throughout the week, Little J can help with lots of things in the kitchen – setting the table, finding ingredients in the fridge, and other simple tasks. On the weekend, we pick something together that she wants to make, and then she does as much of the preparation as possible, with my careful guidance and assistance on hand. It usually takes twice as long and creates twice as much mess as if I did it myself – but the time and the cleaning are well worth every precious moment.
We made these muffins together this weekend. Whole grain, gently sweetened with just a little molasses and honey, and spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, these muffins are great for an on-the-go breakfast or snack.
Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Muffins
Active Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 12 muffins
1 large apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 tsp lemon juice
1½ tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
2½ cups whole wheat flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses
1 cup milk
½ cup butter, melted
- Put the diced apple in a small bowl and toss with the lemon juice. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and nutmeg and toss to coat the apples evenly with the spices. Set aside.
- Whisk together the honey, molasses, milk, eggs, and butter.
- Combine the whole wheat flour and baking powder in a 4-cup measuring cup. Sprinkle over the wet ingredients and stir together until just combined.
- Fold the apple mixture into the batter.
- Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, spoon muffins into buttered muffin tins. Bake in a preheated 400F oven for 20-25 minutes or until done.
- Let cool in the muffin pan for 5 minutes and then transfer to racks and cool slightly before serving. Store remaining muffins in an airtight container.