Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dairy-Free Muffin Mom

So here's the breakfast issue around here. DB's school-day breakfast needs to meet all of the following criteria:

* No dairy ingredients.
* High protein. It has to fortify his brain for math, among other things, from 8 AM until snack time at 10:30.
* No peanut butter. (and I feel the need to minimize other nuts, according to what I read about nut allergy; DB does not have a nut allergy but some kids in his school does; nuts are allowed in the lunchroom but not in the classrooms.)
* Dry, not messy, not crumbly.
* Must be able to be eaten by hand, no utensils.
* Larger pieces (like mini muffins) keep DB more on-task about eating than, say, small pieces of dry cereal or bite-size bagel pieces, which DB tends to dawdle at eating). But...
* Can't be too chewy, like a hunk of bagel or ciabbatta roll; DB's mouth gets too tired.
* Preferably can be transported in a disposable container.
* Needs to be variable from week to week (or thereabouts), to keep DB from getting bored.

So. In my book, cereal bars and muffins are the answer. We got through almost 2 batches of rice-krispie bars before he got tired of them, so now we're on a muffin kick (nice for cold-weather, too).

To add more protein, I've started adding rice protein powder. The one I found has 12 grams of protein per tablespoon, so a quarter-cup goes a long way!

We also found recipes in an unlikely place: Nick Jr.'s Holly Hobbie area. Somehow Db navigated to that part of the site one day and really enoyed the muffion-making game, and we've had 2 recipes printed for, oh, FOREVER and I've just got around to trying them out.

Thank goodness for vegetarian sites on the Internet to tell me how to substitute rice milk for buttermilk (answer: add 1 TB lemon juice per cup), and to give me an idea of how to add the rice protein powder, plus a bit of luck and awaaaay we go!

He liked them enough to ask for more without my offering them -- the best test! I think the sprinkling of colored-sugar sprinkles on the top helped, too.

Another muffin source I didn't expect: Trader Joe's Pumpkin Bread mix. It's quite spicy, which appeals to DB's tastebuds. I added 1/2 cup of cinnamon-flavored applesauce, which added even more cinnamon flavor. By accident the first time, I still used the full amount of oil, and the muffins were really moist and chewy. The second time, I halved the oil to allow for the applesauce, but the muffins were drier. Third time, back to the full amount!

Another Internet trick: How to thaw muffins from the freezer. Answer: 20 minutes in a 300 degree oven (which can include the warm-up time) and they taste fresh-baked. Amazing!

This is good for me because making 30-odd muffins means 1 of 2 things happen around here:

1. Husband eats the last 3 that both DB and I were expecting to have for DB's breakfast.
2. Halfway through the batch DB gets sick of that for breakfast and wants something else.

Voila, the freezer saves the day!

One more trick I found today: Measure out the dry ingredients twice, and put the 2nd batch ina jar so it's premeasured for next time. (Now, it's possible that I've just TOTALLY jinxed myself and DB will never want corn muffins again.)

I like the premeasure option not because I'm so busy but because, well, this is soo petty but...

The Holly Hobbie corn muffin recipes uses ALL 4 of the measuring cups 0-- 1/4, 1/3, 1/2 and one cup. Usually I use 2, sometimes 3. But for all 4, I like to feel I'm getting extra value for my dishwashing dime.

Edited to add: I thought of another parameter for breakfast:
* Must be within a certain mouthfeel range. not too much grainy texture (so whole-wheat flour, oats, etc. -- nice, high-protein sources -- are marginal.

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