These mini pumpkin cranberry muffins are a result of my most recent visit with Atlantic Superstore in-store registered dietitian Kristen Gaudet. I visited Kristen in the summer to talk about weight management and switching to a more plant-based diet. With cooler weather setting in, I returned and asked Kristen to help me meal plan lunches for my three-year-old daughter, Elodie. She suggested serving bento box lunches, featuring local fruit and vegetables, and I instantly fell in love!
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Mini Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins
I’m one of the lucky few with a child who, if she doesn’t eat everything, will at least try new things. She also loves to bake and enjoys all-things-mini. When I came up with this recipe for mini pumpkin cranberry muffins, I had a pretty good feeling they’d be a good fit for her bento box lunches. Local cranberries, pumpkin purée, coconut oil, and spelt flour also mean I don’t feel terrible about including them in her lunch!
Atlantic Superstore In-Store Shop With A Dietitian Service
I met Kristen at her in-store office in Dartmouth. We talked about my goals for Elodie’s lunches:
- Include as many local fruits and vegetables as possible using the Canada’s Food Guide healthy plate method.
- Focus on plant-based proteins.
- Choose whole grains.
Kristen drew a diagram of choices helping me realize just how many options there are to create healthy toddler lunches. She suggested including a small treat in each lunch, as well as water to drink. Together, we used the diagram to rough out a meal plan and grocery list for the week. We walked to the produce department, and Kristen showed me all the local fruits and vegetables available. She showed me everything I needed on my list, including locally available produce, and healthy locally made snacks. She set me up for my weekly shopping trip with Elodie!
Cooking With Kids
I’ve been cooking with my daughter since she was 18 months old. I thought about buying one of those fancy wood kitchen towers, but instead, I stood her on a chair, and she’s been there ever since!
I spend so much time in the kitchen; my options were to either bring Elodie in with me or plop her in front of the television. I chose the kitchen. Today, Elodie is three years old, and she can crack eggs by herself, whisk dry ingredients, pour milk from the carton, spread butter and honey on toast, scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl, and much, much more. Including her in the kitchen has helped shape her into a food lover!
Bento Box Lunches For Kids
Maybe it’s a kid thing, but my daughter LOVES all things mini, and she has been LOVING bento box lunches! Because the portions are small, and there is variety (plus a treat) they hold her interest, and she always eats most everything inside.
Kid’s Bento Box Lunch Weekly Meal Plan
Here is a breakdown of the meal plan Kristen helped me create for Elodie. We based prep time on my work schedule. The days with homemade items, like the mini pumpkin cranberry muffins, are made on the days when I have more time. Days with less time feature quicker options. Each lunch is balanced with fruit, vegetables, protein, and whole grains –
mini pumpkin cranberry muffin, ham, peeled and sliced apple, homemade granola, cheese, veggie skewer, fresh berries, Smarties (pictured below)
sunflower seed butter and banana sandwich on whole-grain bread, cantaloupe and grape skewer, chopped sweet peppers, pretzels
chopped pepperoni, blueberries, grapes, roasted veggies (leftover from dinner the night before), cheese, whole-grain crackers, locally made granola bar
mini quiche, apple slices with sunflower seed butter for dipping, veggie skewer, popcorn
mini meatballs and rice (leftover from dinner the night before), tzatziki, mini tomatoes, mini bocconcini balls, homemade mini muffin
Meal Planning Is The Key To Sanity
Because of my visits with Kristen, I’ve learned everything from mindfulness to creating balanced meals. My in-store shopping session with her took these lessons a step further and taught me how to create fun and healthy lunches for a toddler! Plus, having a plan for grocery shopping and lunches makes my life SO MUCH EASIER. The entire experience has been a win in my books. To learn more about in-store shopping sessions, to book an appointment with either Kristen or another registered dietitian in your area, visit bookadietitian.ca.
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Looking For More Fall-Inspired Recipes? Try:
Looking For More Pumpkin Recipes? Try:
Mini Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins (dairy-free)
- 1 1/2 cup spelt flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon ground
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger ground
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (225g) canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar firmly packed
- 1/4 cup coconut oil melted
- 1/4 cup plant-based milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup halved fresh cranberries (about 30-40 cranberries)
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease one 24-mini muffin tin, or two 12-mini muffin tins.
- In a large bowl whisk spelt flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt until well combined.
- In another large bowl mix canned pumpkin, brown sugar, melted coconut oil, plant-based milk, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.
- Gradually fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients. When muffin batter is still streaked with flour, add halved cranberries and fold to combined.
- Divide muffin batter evenly between 24 holes in prepared mini muffin tin(s). Place in oven and bake 13-15 minutes, or until internal temperature of muffins reads 200ºF. Cool on rack 10 minutes and remove from tin. Muffins will keep, stored in an airtight container, for up to four days. They also freeze well!