A cool thing about parenting is watching your child’s personality develop. Before having a baby, I sort of imagined that he/she would turn out the way he was guided by John and me. While guidance and direction are a huge part of raising a child, they are born as individuals, their own person. It’s been such a joy to discover what Oden’s interests are along with him. I’m so happy that he has the confidence to try to do something on his own and it’s really special to see how excited he gets when he realizes what he’s capable of. Some of his fixations seem to come out of nowhere. For example, the kid can’t get enough of his little broom, his play vacuum, his spray bottle, and other “cleaning” supplies. It’s hilarious! It started with Grandpa’s broom collection when he was barely a year old, and now he spends time every day play-cleaning different parts of the house. I’m sure it’s part of a 2-year-old’s quest for independence that he can “do it” himself. I can only hope it continues throughout his teenage years and beyond! Wishful thinking…
Another thing Oden has shown interest in is cooking. Maybe he saw me in the kitchen and started mimicking me. From a very young age, he would make-believe mix and taste food, pretending to cook without being prompted. Then we set up a hand-me-down play kitchen and it was the best day ever! I’ve tried to include him in some easy baking adventures and he loves to be a part of it- he even will do a stirring motion and ask to cook. Because he is so into it and wants to be my little helper, I got him a super-cute (and sturdy) counter stool. The height is adjustable so he can be right there in the action with me.
We used it recently to make some awesomely healthy baked oatmeal cupcakes together. Anything called a “cupcake” seems like a sure thing, am I right? I’ve learned that in order for everyone to enjoy baking with a toddler (mom included), it helps to do some prep work. I like to set up our station with premeasured ingredients in easy-to-pour bowls before we begin so that my little chef can get right into it without losing interest or patience while I fumble through the recipe. When Oden woke up from his nap, I told him I had a surprise and showed him our kitchen scene. He was so happy to bake with me!
Our first order of business was to put the liners in the cupcake tin. I had them separated and thought he would enjoy this toddler-friendly activity. The more things I let him do himself, the more he feels like he’s really helping. Then, bit by bit, we poured the dry ingredients in the big bowl and Oden worked on stirring. We combined oats, chopped walnuts, shredded coconut, and mini chocolate chips (a big hit). I also added Arbonne vanilla protein powder. I recently started using a few Arbonne products and it was super easy to add protein into these little cupcakes.
Oden couldn’t really help mash the bananas like I’d planned, but he helped pour in some maple syrup, coconut oil, and water into the bowl. I mashed while he kept mixing (and picking out a chocolate chip here and there).
He played with a bit of water and practiced pouring while I combined the dry and wet ingredients. I showed him how I scooped the yummy mixture into the cupcake liners all the way to the top, since they wouldn’t be rising. He helped me put the pan in the oven and set the timer. Waiting for the finished product is always the hardest part of baking something delicious- especially when what you’re baking makes your house smell like a scrumptious oatmeal cookie!
I had to distract my little helper with his vacuum while we let the cupcakes cool, but then it was time to taste the goods! At first, I think the oat-y texture of the dense cupcake confused Oden- these weren’t like the “muffins” he’d made with me in the past. I might actually pulse the oats in my mini food processor next time to break them down. That said, he kept going in for more bites!
I love that they are full of yummy things, sweetened with good stuff (plus chocolate chips), and have a boost of protein from the protein powder. Healthy and delicious. I set a few aside for the week and put the rest into a freezer bag. I’ve already thawed a second little batch- they are really tasty and surprisingly filling!
This is one of those recipes that can be customized using different sweeteners, omitting protein powder or nuts, adding dried cranberries or fresh blueberries…you get the idea. There’s no flour, no eggs, no refined sugar. The original recipe (linked below) provides options like that- my recipe reflects what I had on hand and what I think tastes yummy. I personally don’t care for oatmeal, but these are more like treats! Plus it made for a fun memory with my son. WIN-WIN.
Baked Oatmeal “Cupcakes” (recipe adapted from this one)
- 4 cups oats
- ½ cup vanilla protein powder (I used Arbonne’s)
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- ½ cup shredded coconut
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2/3 cup mini chocolate chips
- 3 smashed bananas
- ¼ cup melted coconut oil
- 5 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 ¾ cup water
Preheat your oven to 380 degrees. Line a cupcake tin with paper liners. (My batch made 16 cupcakes.) In a large bowl, combine the oats through the chocolate chips. In another bowl, combine the bananas through the water. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. Scoop the thick batter into the liners to the top (they won’t rise). Bake for 17-18 minutes until the cupcakes begin to brown slightly and the batter is set. Allow to cool completely before removing the paper liner so it doesn’t stick. Bonus points for having your toddler help in the kitchen! Extra cupcakes freeze and thaw well. YUM.