With the exception of apple—and with a fight, carrots—my 6-year-old daughter, Bete, is fruit and vegetable averse. I can whirr up fresh fruit into a smoothie, yes, but ask her to bite into produce that in anyway resembles its natural state, and she goes straight into shut down mode. Recently I’ve noticed a tiny crack in her “I don’t eat fruit and vegetables” armor: Some of her food idiosyncrasies like the ketchup in place of tomato sauce habit (how did that even happen?) are waning, and she is showing a little curiosity about foods she once rejected. Now, bananas, which she hadn’t willingly eaten since she was 2, have caught her attention.
Last week while at the grocery store, Bete stunned me by asking if she could pick out some bananas. (I had started having her gather up our produce purchases in an effort to keep her connected to fruits and veggies in even the smallest ways.) I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough. True, I am dying for a leafy dark green vegetable to pass through her lips, but I will happily take a banana—they’re high in potassium and vitamin B6. Well, she wasn’t willing to eat it straight out of the peel—who was I kidding? So I decided let the bananas ripen for a week on the counter until the skin was really brown, and the fruit was soft and sweet. Bete and I could then bake them into an irresistible snack. Mini-muffins would be a great choice because the portion keeps my little expert snacks negotiator satisfied and me feeling a little less guilty when I do say yes to that second muffin. I love our Classic Banana Bread recipe and adapted it for this because the dense quick bread makes for a hearty little muffin and more often than not, one is plenty enough.
Bete and I cook together often, and lately I try to give her a task that involves working with the produce. So it was her job to peel and mash the banana. She was squeamish at first, but once the aromas released as she mashed it to a pulp, she was committed. We topped the batter with a few mini chocolate chips after spooning it into the muffin cups. (I hoped that would up the acceptance quotient.) This recipe is packed with bananas (3!) so that intense banana flavor comes through with each bite. My daughter commented when she sampled a warm muffin, “Yum! I can really taste the banana. Can I have another?" I've tried to keep snacks from becoming a battleground between my daughter and me and have been mostly successful. With these little banana packed gems, we are both feeling victorious.
A few cooking notes:
Converting the Classic Banana Bread recipe into mini muffins yielded 3 dozen muffins (spoon about 1 1/2 tablespoons batter into each muffin cup). They will freeze nicely in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
I coated non-stick mini muffin pans with cooking spray, but if I had the paper liners on hand, I would have used them instead and skipped the spray altogether.
Increase the oven temperature to 375° and bake the muffins for about 15 minutes or until they are golden brown on top and a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove them from the pans immediately and cool on a wire rack.