Kia Ora friends! It has been a minute, but it is wonderful to be back. Better yet when that familiar fresh vegetable box from Streamside arrives, bearing organic, local goodness in the form of sweet carrots, pungent parsley, fungi, and hello- spinach, too! I've included spinach as a substitute for kales and silverbeet in past recipes, and highlighted it in a by-gone delicious Palak Paneer riff (search Palak Paneer on the website under 'Recipes' if that sparks your tastebuds), but for such a well loved green it is about time for another look at those iron-packed leaves. I imagine you're all familiar enough with the oft repeated virtues of spinach and its ilk, but did you know that the best way to assure maximum absorption of all the vitamins and minerals is to cook and/or liquefy those green leaves?
Even I, lover of greens, will admit a cup o' cooked and liquified greens doesn't exactly leave me salivating. So what's a gal to do? When in doubt, throw it in a muffin. Really. Add in naturally sweet and moist ripe bananas and fragrant cinnamon, flour, a couple farm fresh eggs, and you have yourself the makings of a delicious AND nutritious green muffin. They're great for breakfast alongside your preferred protein or fruit & yoghurt, absolutely heavenly slathered in plenty of butter for a snack, and make excellent grab-and-go handheld food for hungry kids. These green muffins have the toddler seal of approval in our house, and are simple enough that my almost 3 year old helps to make and devour each batch. You'll need a blender or food processor for at least a portion of the recipe, but it comes together quickly and requires simple standard ingredients.
Around 2-3 Cups Chopped Spinach (or substitute kale, silverbeet, etc), loosely packed
2-3 Ripe Bananas
2 Large Eggs
2 tsp Vanilla
1 1/2 Cup Flour (I like spelt, but any good flour you have on hand will do!)
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder (look for aluminium free)
Couple Pinches of Salt
2 tsp Cinnamon
Optional: Seeds or Nuts; Chocolate Chips; Dried Fruit
+ oil or butter for greasing muffin tray if not using paper liners
The How To:
Gather up your ingredients, especially if you have eager young hands assisting in baking. Organization keeps kitchen disasters at a minimum. Grease or line a muffin tin; this recipe makes about 12 muffins, depending upon size. Preheat your oven to 180c.
Rough chop washed and dried spinach, removing just the very end nub; stalks are fine. Add chopped spinach, banana, eggs and vanilla to a blender or food processor. Whiz it all up into a pretty green blend, stopping as necessary to incorporate any stubborn leaves. If you only have a small Bullet or Ninja type machine, you'll measure out the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and simply add the blended wet ingredients to the bowl. If you're using a larger strong blender or food processor, you can choose the aforementioned option, or keep the washing-up to a minimum and simply add your dry ingredients directly into the already occupied vessel. (These muffins aren't too precious, and we aren't too concerned by overmixing or handling, versus a pie crust or fluffy cake batter.)
Mix/add flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. If using a bowl, pour the wet mix into the dry mix and use a spatula to incorporate. If using a larger blender or processor, add in the dry ingredients and pulse just to combine. If adding in any whole nuts, seeds, chocolate or fruit, mix in now with a spoon.
Spoon fill the greased/lined muffin tin with the batter, evening out the amount as you go; I often start with a small scoop over the 12, then top up as needed so they bake somewhat equally. You could sprinkle the tops with seeds or leave as is, then pop into the preheated oven and bake for around 15 minutes, or until muffins have risen and have a slightly golden quality to the top green. Remove from the oven and allow to cool briefly before slathering warm muffins in butter or peanut/nut/seed butter, as they'll set up a little more as they cool.
And slather in butter, really- healthy fats are integral in absorbing all the goodness from those greens, and keep us satiated. Mmmm mmm.
- If using a strong blender and you'd like to up the nutritional profile, you could incorporate a couple extra handfuls of pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, or other sprouted grains into the wet ingredient step, being sure they're blitzed before adding in the dry ingredients. Hidden bonuses.
- Yes, you can substitute vegan egg or gluten free flour; yes, it may change the texture.
- If you prefer sweeter baked goods, feel free to add in a bit of sugar or your preferred sweetener; we go easy on the extra sweet and find the ripe bananas do the trick. No judgement.
- Baking with kids? Awesome life skills! Allow them to be a bit messy, learn about real foods, encourage numbers while measuring, connect and chat about the day while you bake, and more often than not be pleasantly surprised that even picky eaters are happier to eat something they've made.
- Double or triple the batch if you like them, and freeze the extras, defrosting as necessary. Time saver!
Questions or comments? Feel free to reach out to this mama-baker-writer-mover on Facebook or at nakedcakesandwholefoods@gmail.
com, always happy to chat.
Recipe created by Elena Keir of Naked Cakes and Wholefoods