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Muffin Recipes for Healthful Alternatives to Cupcakes in School Parties

Baking S.O.S. says: I have been working with the administration, staff, and fellow parents in my children’s school district for many months to make changes to the Health & Wellness policy for the entire school district.

One of the topics that concerns many parents is the excessive amount of candy, sugary cupcakes and desserts served during classroom celebrations–from birthdays to holiday parties.

I am offering the following muffin recipes as a suggested alternative to cupcakes in the classroom. I will admit that the recipes are not exactly “healthy;” however, each recipe does contain a fruit and/or vegetable to boost the nutritional value, and they are at least a step in the right direction by eliminating “empty calories” found in high-fat, high-sugar frostings.  It is my effort to compromise between those that desire to provide a tasty treat for class parties and those that want to eliminate desserts all together from the classroom.

Feel free to use these recipes in YOUR child’s next class party. I have tested all of the recipes many times with my own kids and their classmates, and each recipe–made from scratch with REAL ingredients (not tons of preservatives and additives from store-bought desserts)–gets a big “thumbs up” from kids and adults alike. Enjoy!

Apple Oatmeal Muffins 


1 C. all-purpose flour
1/3 C. sugar
tsp. baking powder
tsp. salt
1 ½
tsp. cinnamon
C. oats (uncooked oatmeal)
C. milk
C. canola oil
large eggs
C. apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (approx. 2 C.)

1. Sift dry ingredients (flour through cinnamon) together into a large mixing bowl.
2. Stir oatmeal in by hand.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, and eggs, then stir into dry ingredients just until mixed.  Fold in apples by hand.
4. Pour batter into paper-lined muffins tins. Bake at 375 degree F for 18-20 minutes until tops spring back and a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Yield: 1 dozen muffins

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

2 ¾ C. all-purpose flour
¼ C. cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
¼  tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3 C. sugar
1 C. canola oil
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 C. grated zucchini
1 C. chocolate chips

1. Sift dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
2. Mix sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla together in a separate large mixing bowl (or electric mixer).
3. Add in zucchini, then add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
4. Stir in chocolate chips by hand.
5. Line muffin tins with paper liners and spray with cooking spray.  Fill pans ? full with batter.
6. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Yield: 2 ½ dozen muffins

Streusel-Topped Pumpkin Nut Muffins

2 ¼ C. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. cloves
¼ tsp. salt
2 C. sugar
1 C. canola oil
3 large eggs
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
1 C. chopped pecans (optional)
1 C. raisins (optional)

Streusel Topping
¾ C. all-purpose flour
½ C. sugar
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
¼ C. unsalted butter, softened

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with muffin papers and spray lightly with cooking spray. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the dry ingredients: flour through salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl (or the bowl of an electric stand mixer), beat together the sugar, oil, eggs and pumpkin.
4. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix just until blended.  Fold in pecans and raisins (if using).
5. For streusel topping: combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir with a fork until crumbly.
6. Fill muffin tins ¾ full with batter, then sprinkle streusel topping on top.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until top springs back when touched and a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Yield: 1 ½ – 2 dozen muffins