Muffins are easy to make, and the perfect healthy homemade snack for kids of all ages. I rounded up my top (10+) nutritious muffin recipes for kids that are also school safe!
As a dietitian mom of three kids, I’m always on the look-out for nourishing homemade snacks that my kids love, including these energy bites. As a busy parent I don’t have time or energy to spend on making those “Pinterest-perfect” snacks, and to be honest, kids don’t really care! All that they want is a yummy and fun snack to eat – preferable with their hands! When I’m preparing a snack (especially for school), there are a few criteria that follow:
- It has to be easy to make
- It has to include foods that are nourishing and satisfying
- And finally, it has to be school-safe and portable
What fits all of these criteria? Homemade muffins! I always make sure to have a batch or two on hand for busy mornings, school lunches and after-school snacks. They are the best – especially when there are chocolate chips involved! The flavour combinations are nearly endless with muffin recipes.
Muffins are a great hand-held nutritious snack for when you’re running out the door, or to add to school lunches (just make sure to use a nut-free butter).
Why Muffins are healthy for Kids
To be honest, I don’t love labeling any food as “healthy” or “unhealthy”. I find that this dichotomous thinking is rooted in diet culture and isn’t necessary. Health is also multifaceted and means different things to different people (read more about food neutrality here. I digress!). But as a registered dietitian, I do know the importance of nutrition, especially for kids who are growing and developing. Muffins can be a healthy snack option in THAT regard (as good nutrition is part of health). This is especially true if the muffins are made with nutritious ingredients and are offered to them with a variety of other foods. Here are some ways muffins can be nutritious for kids:
- Fibre: Muffins made with ingredients such as whole-grain flour, flaxseed, chia seed, oats, etc. contain fibre, which can help regulate digestion and keep kids satisfied longer.
- Fruits and vegetables: Adding fruits and vegetables to muffin batter can increase the nutrient content of the muffins. For example, muffins made with grated carrots or zucchini, or spinach can be a great way to add in some extra veggies into your child’s diet. And guess what? You do NOT have to “sneak” them in. In fact, I encourage you to invite your child to get involved in the baking process so they feel more invested in the process and may be inclined to try the food. Read more about how to help your kids explore food without pressure.
- Reduced sugar: It’s no surprise that store-bought muffins can often be high in sugar and lower in fibre. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – a high sugar processed muffin still offers some energy and nutrition and can be fun to eat. But homemade muffins can be made with less sugar (you can control the amount that goes in) and still taste delicious. Again (and to be clear), I am not trying to demonize sugar or processed foods whatsoever. There is always a time and place where store-bought muffins fit in. Learn more about my food neutral stance.
- Nourishing fats and protein: Muffins can be made with heart-healthy fats such as olive or canola oil, full-fat Greek yogurt, eggs, etc., all of which provide provide a satisfaction factor and keep tummies full in between meals. I often make higher protein muffins (with Greek yogurt, nut butters, eggs etc.) for this reason too – to up the satifaction factor, keep blood-sugar levels more stable throughout the day, and tummies full.
- Portable and convenient: Muffins are a convenient snack option that can be made in hand-held portions, which is perfect for school lunches. This may be helpful for neurodivergent kids who have difficulty with transitions or need to eat on the run.
How to Make Muffins Nutritious
When I make muffins I make sure to include protein-rich ingredients such as
And then I add a bit of sweetness with honey or maple syrup (and chocolate chips), and some sort of whole grain flour, oats or flaxseed. What’s more is that some of my recipes are made directly in a blender or food processor. I love this food processor one and use it daily!
To inspire you, here are 10+ nutritious muffins for kids they’re guaranteed to love!