How to Make Healthy, Kid-Friendly Muffins with Your Family

Looking to sneak something healthy onto your kid's plate while having fun in the kitchen at the same time? Make healthy muffins together!

Let’s face it, getting kids to choose and eat foods that are healthy can be difficult. While some kids are born foodies and love to eat their vegetables, others are less inclined to step outside their chicken nugget comfort zone. One great way to get less adventurous eaters excited about healthy food choices is to get them involved in the cooking or baking process.

This batch of healthy, kid-friendly muffins is a great introductory recipe. Your kids will love that they’re being invited to make something that resembles cupcakes for breakfast—and parents will appreciate the fact that there are plenty of nutritious ingredients inside.

What Makes Kids Leery About Trying New Foods?

What often makes kids (and even adults) resistant to eating new foods is the aspect of the unknown. They don’t know what’s in the food, they don’t know how it’s made and it may look different from the foods they’re accustomed to eating. By bringing kids into the kitchen, they’ll not only learn the important life skill of cooking but will gain a sense of understanding about the food that’s being served to them. Plus, they get to make a mess! That’s something all kids can get on board with—right?

Find more secret tricks to help picky eaters.

Skills Your Child Will Learn

Beyond exposing kids to new ingredients, flavors and textures, making healthy homemade muffins offers young bakers the opportunity to develop a number of important skills. For toddlers, baking muffins can be an opportunity to practice fine motor skills as they help stir, pour and sprinkle ingredients. Meanwhile, young children can practice measuring and counting and older children can refine their reading skills and practice math such as addition, division, multiplication, fractions and unit conversions.

How to Make Healthy Kid-Friendly Muffins

Muffin ingredientsLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Here’s a condensed version of this recipe for Wheat Germ Streusel Banana Muffins from Volunteer Field Editor Trisha Kruse.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/3 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce

Streusel Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons toasted wheat germ
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon cold butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts

Editor’s Tip: Don’t have wheat germ? You can pulse oats in the food processor instead.

Instructions

Step 1: Mix dry ingredients

mashing bananas for healthy muffins with toddlerLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

In a large bowl, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Let toddlers help gather ingredients from the pantry and add them to the mixing bowl. Your older kids can practice weighing and measuring ingredients and reading the recipe step-by-step as you work.

Learn more about the best kitchen tasks for kids of every age.

Step 2: Blend wet ingredients and combine

mix wet and dry ingredients for healthy muffinsLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Kids of all ages will enjoy taking turns mashing up the bananas! Practice counting and sharing by having the whole family count aloud as each child gets to mash the bananas five times before passing onto the next child.

In a separate bowl, beat together the mashed bananas, egg, oil and applesauce until well combined. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until moistened. Be careful to not overmix the batter.

Step 3: Prepare your muffin pan

Coat a muffin tin with cooking spray or use paper liners. Little bakers can help place paper liners into the muffin tins. Help them count as they add each liner or identify their color if using multi-colored liners. Older children can help fill the muffin cups two-thirds full with batter.

Editor’s Tip: For kid-size muffins, you can use a mini muffin tin. They’ll love that the muffins are specially sized just for them!

Step 4: Make the streusel topping

sprinkling streusel topping with a toddler over healthy muffin batter in standard and mini muffin tinsLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

To finish, blend the brown sugar, wheat germ, rolled oats and cinnamon together. While a fork or pastry blender are cleaner methods for blending streusel topping, using (clean) hands is way more fun. For a great sensory activity, let children take turns crumbling together the streusel topping with (we repeat, clean) hands. They’ll love being authorized to make a mess!

The streusel mixture should resemble pea-sized crumbs. Gently fold in the in walnuts, and then generously sprinkle evenly over the muffin batter.

Step 5: Bake

healthy kid-friendly muffin batter in standard and mini muffin tins topped with streusel toppingLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Bake at 375° for 18-22 minutes for standard-size muffins and 12-15 minutes for mini muffins. The muffins are ready when golden and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of each muffin. For a good math and time lesson, help children determine what time the muffins will be ready by having them add the baking time to the current time on your oven’s clock.

Cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan and transferring to a wire rack. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Editor’s Tip: The downtime during baking is also a good time to have children help with cleanup tasks like washing dishes, wiping up spills and sweeping crumbs from the floor.

close-up of healthy muffins made with kidsLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Ideas for Making This Recipe Even More Fun

The best part about baking and cooking with your kids is being able to spark their imagination. Don’t feel like you need to be boxed in by the recipe above. Experiment with your kids by letting them add other ingredients to this recipe. Divide the batter and try a few different versions and discuss how each ingredient changed the outcome of the muffins.

It’s a great science lesson in cause and effect that allows kids to explore new, healthy ingredients while helping parents understand their kids’ taste preferences.

Experiment with These Other Ingredients

  • Blueberries: Add 1/2 cup of fresh blueberries to the batter.
  • Diced Apple: Add 1/2 cup of peeled and finely diced apple to the batter.
  • Flax Seeds or Chia Seeds: Add 2 tablespoons of flax seeds to the batter or streusel.
  • Grated Carrots or Zucchini: Add 1/2 cup of grated carrots or zucchini to the batter.
  • Nut Butter: Replace the canola oil with 2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter or tahini.
  • Oat Flour: Replace 1 cup of all-purpose flour with 1-1/3 cups of oat flour in the batter.
  • Shredded Coconut: Add 1/2 cup shredded coconut to the batter or streusel.

For more at-home culinary experiments, check out these cooking kits for kids. We especially love Baketivity!

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Lauren Habermehl
Lauren Habermehl is a recipe developer, food photographer and creator of the blog, Frydae. She is a prolific quoter of FRIENDS, lover of weekend DIY projects and procrastinating fitness enthusiast who enjoys exploring the Milwaukee-area with her husband, daughter and ugly mutt named Tyson Doodles.