Growing up, summer Sunday mornings meant my Grandpa was making dozens of pancakes from Bisquick and old milk for his grandchildren. He’d take special requests for blueberry pancakes, or for pancakes shaped like letters, or for simply more – there are pancake eating records next to various water sport records in the family record book. But as much as we love Bisquick, sometimes we crave something marginally healthier or that we can eat with friends who have dietary restrictions. And thus, sometimes we make banana-oat pancakes.Continue reading “Banana-Oat Pancakes (Gluten-free, Dairy-free)”
Lest you ever think we have it all together, a series of chaotic events:
Differences between the plan and the execution:
- Apple cider doughnuts became carrot cake cupcakes
- Cupcakes became 6 jumbo cupcakes and 1 9″ cake
- Belle alone became Belle and Buddy
- Nothing ever got iced
Summer’s bounty comes in the form of many, many, MANY zucchini. In our friend’s garden. Miss T is an outstanding gardener, with a degree in plants, drip irrigation systems, and an intuitive sense of color and scale that we can appreciate but not duplicate. Fortunately for us, she gives away vegetables when they become too much.
Belle and I are working on showing appreciation through actions, so we grabbed our recipe book and started thinking of ways to give back to Miss T. Alas, her family has a combination of allergies and sensitivities (dairy, gluten, egg, and peanut) that makes vegan recipes safest. So, Belle and I discussed why we had to use special flour for Miss T’s zucchini muffins:
“That flour makes Miss T sick, but this special flour doesn’t!”
“Why does it make her sick?”
“Because there’s something in it that her body doesn’t like. It’s okay, as long as we are very careful not to give her our flour, but instead use Miss T’s special flour! Should we mix in our normal flour?”
“No! Because Miss T might get sick!”
Cool, she gets it. In our house, we just frame allergies as something that we accommodate because it’s nice to share and it’s nice to keep people healthy when we do. Good friends help friends stay healthy. (Note that we also use this logic for pandemic masks!)
This recipe has a lot of places where we repeat the same size measuring cup/spoon four times, which I took as an opportunity to do a little early math. If we need 4 teaspoons of ground flax, then let’s count how many scoops we’ve done, and how many are left.
“We haven’t done any teaspoons, and we have four to go, for four teaspoons.”
“We have done one teaspoon, and we have three to go, for four teaspoons.”
“We have done two teaspoons, and we have two to go, for four teaspoons,” etc.
I broke the 2 cups of flour up into half-cup measures so we could do the same process to reinforce the concept. It’s basic math facts (1+3=4, 2+2=4, 3+1=4, 4+0=4) but also the transitive property (if 1+3=4 and 2+2=4, then 1+3=2+2) and just a general reinforcement of number sense. Where I might use math manipulates on a table to show the relationship, here I’m asking Belle to hold these concepts in her head and reference my fingers as we count.
Belle lost interest shortly after, so she went off to draw something while I wrapped up the recipe. Timing is an estimate based on how long it would take with start-to-finish participation.
Skills worked on:
- Early math: number sense, transitive property, math facts
- Character formation: appreciation, consideration
- Allergy awareness
- Fine motor: pouring
- Food prep
- two small bowls (coconut oil, flax eggs)
- two large mixing bowls (wet, dry)
- measuring spoons and cups
- spatula and spoon
- muffin tin
Recipe (35 min prep, 25 min bake, yield: 12 standard muffins)
This recipe is adapted from Beaming Baker, and is egg-free, dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free, and vegan. We used Namaste gluten-free flour, but it should work with any flour marked gluten-free, including oat flour as in the original recipe. This recipe is written to minimize dishwashing, so it may feel out of order to experienced bakers. Overmixing is very easy if you do as I usually do (which is ignore recommendations to combine dry ingredients early) and will result in a flat and underbaked muffin.
- 4 1/2 tsp ground flaxseed
- 1/4 c plus 1 1/2 tsp warm water
- 1/4 c plus 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 1/4 c maple syrup
- 1/4 c brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 c gluten-free flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 c grated zucchini (a zucchini around 8″ long should be enough)
- 3/4 c chocolate chunks, optional
- Preheat oven to 350F and grease or line a 12 cup muffin pan.
- In a small bowl, whisk together 4 1/2 tsp ground flaxseed with 1/4 c plus 1 1/2 tsp water to create 1 1/2 flax eggs. Set aside.
- Grate zucchini using a box grater or a small food processor. A quarter cup more or less of grated zucchini will not break the recipe.
- Add 1/4 c brown sugar to a mixing bowl (the stand mixer if you use one).
- Add 1/4 c plus 2 tbsp coconut oil to a small bowl and microwave until clear (about 45-60 seconds). Set aside.
- In a large bowl (separate from the mixer), combine 2 c gluten-free flour, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp salt. Set aside.
- Add coconut oil to the sugar bowl, then add 1/4 c maple syrup, 1 tsp vanilla, and the flax eggs. Mix on medium using standard beaters until well combined.
- Add dry ingredients, mixing until mostly moistened, then add 1 1/4 c grated zucchini and optional 3/4 c chocolate chunks til fully moistened (no more than 20 seconds). Scrape down bowl and work any remaining dry ingredients into the mixture using a spatula.
- Spoon into muffin tins – the batter should be thick and the spoon can be used to help fill the cup to the edges.
- Bake for 25-30 min, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack in the pan about 20 min, then remove muffins from pan to continue to cool, about half an hour.
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This bake was a set up for choices: a or b? Pumpkin bread or peanut butter cookies? Eggs first or oil? You do it or me? One big pan or two little pans? With a recipe that is a two part dump recipe (dump wet and mix, dump dry and mix), almost any choice works. Meanwhile, using the “a or b?” construction encourages a child to reply with longer utterances that recast the question into a sentence, instead of “yes/no.” Six months ago, if I asked, “Belle, do you want to crack eggs first or pour oil?” she would have said “eggs!” Three months ago, “I crack eggs first!” Now, “I want to crack eggs first, I no want to crack eggs, I’m a little bit scared, I want you crack eggs!”
Once finished with option A, I can ask Belle what else we need to do, working on her recall of option B. If she resists that choice again, I can offer “b or c?”
Meanwhile, offering choices that have no wrong answers builds independence and a positive emotional bond between caregiver and child – especially since Belle frequently hears me say “no!” as we try to keep certain toys away from Buddy.
Belle’s confidence continues to grow in the kitchen, and she’s started taking over certain tasks completely independently. Since it doesn’t really matter if there’s extra Crisco greasing the pan, Belle gets the pan, the giant jar of Crisco, and the paper towel – and I walk away until she tells me she’s done, at which point I do a quality check.
Like all good things, this totally backfires when she wants to then scoop potent spices like cloves out of the bottom of a narrow necked jar without help but what can you do? I let her splatter pumpkin and tip cloves, but kept the actual spice scooping out of her reach (because quarantine grocery shopping is a bit hit or miss).
The scraping – can to bowl, bowl to pan – was tricky for Belle, since it engages at least two motions: a firm rotational movement along the side of the container and a lighter pulling movement toward the edge. Too much force while pulling can splatter, while too little force can leave batter in the bowl. To the tune of “I want to do it mineself!” I loosened the pumpkin and batter, held the heavy bowl (but not the light can), and let Belle try her best. Periodically, I’d scrape down the sides and give her back the spatula – practice makes perfect, right?
Meanwhile, Buddy stayed out of trouble by eating lunch, then getting to play with the mixing bowl and measuring cup afterwards.
- Cognition: a/b choices
- Language: expanding sentences
- Social-emotional: independence, positive caretaker bonding
- Manual strength and coordination: can opener, scraping
- Fine motor: spice scooping
- Mixing bowl
- Can opener
- Small bowl for cracking eggs
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- 3 loaf pans, 1 loaf pan and 1 9×9 pan, or 1 9×13 pan
Recipe (30 min prep, 45-50 min bake, yield: 3 loaves or 1 loaf and 1 9×9 pan)
This recipe is based off the Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread found on Allrecipes, though we cut the sugar by half on our first attempt. We find that 1 1/2 cups of sugar makes a delicious sweet bread, and that 1 cup of sugar makes it slightly less flavorful. We’ll probably continue to tinker with the sugar and spice content to boost flavor while reducing sugar – keep an eye out for a molasses variation – but this is unlikely to have a sugar-free version (unless it is all sugar substitutes). We love it because it uses an entire can of pumpkin, and because the bread lasts for more than a day in our house. It could probably be muffins but we haven’t tested the timing on that yet.
- 1 15 oz can pumpkin purée
- 4 eggs
- 1 c vegetable oil
- 2/3 c water
- 1-1 1/2 c sugar
- 3 1/2 c flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Add to a large mixing bowl: 1 can pumpkin purée, 4 eggs, 1 c vegetable oil, 2/3 c water, and 1 c sugar. Add an additional 1/2 c sugar for more flavor. Mix until oil is fully incorporated, about 3 minutes.
- Add dry ingredients: 3 1/2 c flour, 2 tsp baking soda, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp cloves, and 1/2 tsp ginger. Mix until fully incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
- Grease pans well, then pour batter into pans. Smooth the top with a spatula.
- Bake 45-50 minutes, or until the top has cracked and a toothpick inserted comes out dry. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for several days to keep from drying out.
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