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At my little guy’s preschool graduation last year, his teacher asked each of the kids what they would like to be when they grow up. One by one the kids stepped up and announced their ambitions.

A police officer. A zookeeper. A fire fighter. An artist.

My little guy was the last one in his class to share what he’d one day like to be. I wondered what he would say. He loves dogs, so I thought possibly he’d say he wanted to be a veterinarian. Or a zookeeper. And of course, he looks up to firefighters and police officers. So he might want to serve the public in one of those roles.

What he said both surprised and delighted me.

“I want to be a chef.”

A chef? I would have never guessed.

But then I started thinking about how often I had invited him into the kitchen to help out with baking and cooking. He donned his first apron when he was a toddler, and together we’ve shared many memorable moments in the kitchen. I even signed him up for a cooking class at his preschool. So really, this shouldn’t have surprised me.

For me, I remember spending time with my mom in the kitchen baking cookies or helping with dinner. Oh, I cherish those memories! It was a lighthearted time we spent together, enjoying each others company and deepening our relationship.

So I guess I, too, would love to share these moments with my little guy. It’s not so much that I long for him to one day be a chef (although I’d support him if he wanted to be one). It’s more about the time we spend together–laughing and getting to know each at a deeper level.

Making Muffins Together

A couple of days ago, we shared another special moment in the kitchen together. This time we made muffins.  Yes, as you’ll see from the pictures below, my little guy decided he’d wear his pajamas for the event. Oh, how he loves his pajamas! And they’re Christmas pajamas. :0)

As a family, we’re trying to make healthier choices in the foods we eat. So I thought I’d try a muffin recipe that reduces the amount of white flour and doesn’t include any white sugar. From my experience, baking with healthier ingredients, particularly whole wheat flour, can be a challenge, especially in preserving flavor and texture. Many times I’ve been disappointed with how “healthy” baked goods turn out. But I thought I’d try another recipe to see if I could find a winner.

I found a Pumpkin Pecan Muffin recipe in Feeding the Whole Family: Cooking with Whole Foods by Cynthia Lair that I decided to try. (This cookbook has several delicious healthy recipes.) Now I did modify this recipe quite a bit, partly because I didn’t have some of the ingredients on hand (e.g., cardamon, molasses) and partly because I wanted to add dark chocolate to the muffins (yep, I couldn’t resist :0).

My little guy helped me with mixing the batter. We had a wonderful time together in the kitchen! And the verdict on the “healthy” muffins? My family loved them, especially my little guy. He asked for more. They were moist from the pumpkin and flavorful with dark chocolate morsels and pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg). I’ve included the muffin recipe below, so if you’d like, you can make them with your li’l bees.

Pumpkin Chocolate Pecan Muffins

Ingredients for Pumpkin Chocolate Pecan Muffins (also includes butter, which I forgot to include in picture :0)

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup unbleached white flour

1 TBSP baking powder

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground cloves

¼ tsp ground ginger

1/8  tsp ground nutmeg

½ cup unrefined cane sugar

½ cup butter

¼ cup pure maple syrup

¼ cup honey

1 cup canned pumpkin

½ cup milk

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

½ cup pecans, chopped

¾ cup dark chocolate morsels

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Lightly oil muffin tins or line with paper muffin cups.

2. In a large bowl, mix together flours, baking powder, salt, spices, and unrefined cane sugar. Set aside.

3. On low heat, melt butter in a small saucepan. Add syrup and honey to the warm butter and stir together.  Pour mixture into a bowl and add pumpkin, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk together until well blended.

4. Add wet ingredients to dry mixture and fold gently, using as minimum strokes as possible. Fold pecans and chocolate morsels into the batter.

5. Fill muffin cups full with batter. Bake 25 to 30 minutes. If desired, serve warm with butter. Makes about 18 muffins.

This recipe was shared at Justa’s Kitchen on May 11th. :0)

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