I bet all of us have a muffin tin kicking around the cupboards of our kitchen. It gets busted out for the baking of birthday cupcakes or to occasionally recreate Grandma’s famous blueberry muffins, but do you know that your muffin tin is capable of being so much more than JUST a muffin tin? It can be a magical tool in encouraging your kiddo to eat lots of different healthy foods! So simple, yet so true.
Muffin tins offer these little organized compartments that can be filled with fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, organic cheeses, and whatever else you can dream up. When your child sits down to a muffin tin meal, he/or she will see this gorgeous spread of choices that he/she can graze upon, and we all know how much children (okay, people of all ages) love choices. I don’t know about you, but I get pretty excited for a beautifully crafted cheese board with lots of little snacky options spread out on it. Think of a muffin tin meals as a kid’s version of a cheese board. Children are used to having just a few selections offered up to them on a plate at meal time. However, with a muffin tin, there are lots of little options. Children feel empowered by all these selections and, in my personal experience, are often more willing to try a new food when it is offered to them among other foods they already know they love and adore (and even if they don’t eat it the first time, just keep throwing it in that muffin tin and I bet you will see them nibbling on it before too long). Bottom line, muffin tin meals are great for encouraging children to try/eat a wide variety of foods at a given meal. My daughter is totally hooked on them and gets bright enthusiastic eyes when she sees one waiting for her on the table.
When putting together a muffin tin meal for your little person, the equipment required is truly minimal. Just a muffin tin! Any size will do! If you have a giant one, just fill up how many compartments you feel necessary to properly feed your child. If you have a mini muffin tin, this is extra awesome for even more small portions of lots of different healthy foods. I like to spruce up my muffin tin meals with some brightly colored silicone reusable muffin tin liners to add to the fun and visual appeal (plus, an even easier clean up!). These are the ones I use and love.
But what do you put in that muffin tin to create an enticing meal for little foodies? Anything small or that can be cut to become small. When putting together my daughter’s muffin tin meals, I try to make sure 50% or more of the muffin tin is filled with fruits and veggies to encourage her to eat as much of them as possible. Truly, pretty much anything can become part of a healthy muffin tin meal, it just takes some creativity. To help you get started, here is a list of all the things I reach for when throwing together a muffin tin meal for my little one.
-berries. All the berries. Just wash them and throw them into the muffin tin.
-sliced apples, bananas, or pears
-grapes (choking: make sure you cut in half for children under 3 years of age)
-pomegranate seeds. Yep, the whole seed is edible.
-sliced peaches, plums, or apricot
-carrot or celery sticks (again, nut butter would be a lovely addition to this selection)
-raw broccoli or cauliflower florets
-grape or cherry tomatoes (choking hazard: be sure to cut for children under the age of 3)
-olives (choking hazard: be sure to cut for children under the age of 3)
-corn, on or off the cob
-raw or cooked green beans
-cooked beans (black, garbanzo, pinto, navy. All of them are great in muffin tin meals)
-nut butter (great for those apple slices or carrot sticks (just spread a bit on the fruit of veggie of choice)
-hummus. Beet hummus is a great for sneaking in (yet another) veggie, really pretty to look at, and tasty to eat.
-hard boiled eggs
-cubed or shredded meats
-cooked whole wheat or brown rice pasta (penne is a great pasta for muffin tin meals)
-finger sandwiches made with whole grain bread
-crackers or pretzels made with whole grains
-sweet potato fries