Cocoa Banana Bran Muffins

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Let’s just say that I’m a bit Type A.  You might even use the word perfectionist. I’ll take it as a compliment.

That’s all fine and great… And, when it comes to developing recipes, it can be a good thing.

Enter the toddler.

Too tired to walk all the way over to the couch? Why not just lie down in the middle of the floor! Don’t want that last bite of your snack? Just put it on the counter. Partially chewed. Messy hands? No problem. Wipe them on the clean kitchen towel. Or on the cabinets. Or on your shirt. Hey, you have options!

Toddlers are not Type A.

(I can say this with assurance because I have plenty of first-hand experience. Sticky hands all over my countertops… and clothes… and walls… You get the idea.)

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Let’s consider my kitchen a few years ago… Things were in their place. The counters were clean and uncluttered. It was highly unlikely that you would find any partially eaten food just lying around.

Fast forward to today… Almost all of the time I have in the kitchen is spent with my favorite sous chef. She’s 2 (going on 22) and she loves to help. No, she demands to help. She can stir, dump, pour, and taste with the best. She may or may not actually keep the ingredients in the bowl or measure accurately, but that can’t possibly be important, right?

Until very recently, this was a constant internal struggle for me. Every good mom/blogger should love cooking and baking with their kids, right? Blog posts should be written on the joys of baking with a toddler. Get your kids in the kitchen in 10 easy steps… Stress? What stress?

Except, I was stressed. I wanted accurate measurements, clean counters, and efficiency. Sadly, toddlers are the very antithesis of efficiency.

For a long time, I attempted to hold on to my need for perfection. There has been frustration (lots of it) when an undeterminable amount of perfectly measured flour has flown out of the bowl with an overly excited stir. I hate to think how many times I’ve said, “just don’t touch!” And, there have been tears. The kiddo has gotten upset, too.

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That’s part of why I haven’t done much blogging lately. I don’t know how a lot of the moms out there do it. Based on their blog posts, Instagram pics, and happy Facebook statuses, it appears that blogging with kiddos in tow is not just easy, but enjoyable.

Clearly, I’ve been doing something wrong.

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Well, today, I am here to offer up a good dose of honesty. Don’t let my Instagram feed or my Facebook updates fool you. I may paint a cheery picture, but I don’t have a perfectly organized and clean house. Nope, there are toys all over the floor. My once clean kitchen counters? They’re probably cluttered with sippy cups, partially eaten bananas, and other assorted things. And, I may be smiling in that selfie, but it was probably followed by a few tears of frustration.

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I’m learning to let go of the need for perfection, but it’s a constant struggle. Every day, I remind myself to just be present and enjoy the fact that I get to spend lots of time with my sweet little girl. But, that doesn’t always make it easy.

Let’s face it… Raising kids isn’t easy. And, if you’re anything like me, cooking and baking with kids is even harder.

It’s not always pretty… But, I’m learning that in the end, it’s absolutely worth it.

That said… Can we please get that partially eaten banana off the counter?

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Cocoa Banana Bran Muffins
Makes 24 regular muffins or 12 jumbo muffins
Adapted from Cook without a Book: Meatless Meals by Pam Anderson (Used with permission)

Need a recipe that can stand up to a toddler? This one’s for you. I’ve made these muffins 4 or 5 times now, and I can assure you that the measurements haven’t always been exact. But, they always turn out beautifully.

Also, a few extra chocolate chips serve as a great distraction, keeping the kiddo busy long enough to wipe up the counters. I’m just saying. Learning to bake with toddlers is like a 12-step program.

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (white or traditional)
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups unprocessed wheat bran
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1 cup mashed banana (approx. 3 bananas)
  • ¾ cup coconut oil, melted
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark unsulphured molasses
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375F. Line muffin pans with paper liners (either regular or jumbo sized muffins) and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the whole wheat pastry flour, whole wheat flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, combine the wheat bran, milk, mashed banana, coconut oil, brown sugar, molasses, and eggs. Beat until the mixture is smooth and everything is well combined.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture, and stir together gently until the dry ingredients are incorporated.  Gently fold in the chocolate chips.

For regular muffins, scoop ¼ cup of batter into each muffin cup (24 total). For jumbo muffins, scoop ½ cup of batter into each muffin cup (12 total).

Bake regular muffins for 18-20 minutes and jumbo muffins for 25-27 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the muffins in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Please Note – The link to the Cook Without a Book: Meatless Meals cookbook in this post is an Amazon affiliate link. If you make a purchase after clicking on my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale price, which helps to keep My Kitchen Addiction up and running. Thanks!

4 Responses to Cocoa Banana Bran Muffins

  1. THANK YOU Jen for this dose of reality. As another Type A person who cooks and bakes with kids (not my own) all the time, I know how hard it can be to “let go” of the need for perfection and everything in its place. Cooking with kids is messy, sometimes frustrating, always more time-consuming than if you made it yourself and sometimes things go wrong. But as you say, all that is pushed aside because it’s SO worth it in the end. I just wish more people would show the real picture and not just clean, organized perfection all the time which can be intimidating to many novice parents wanting to cook with their kids. Embrace the mess!!!

  2. Those *other* posts with the immaculate kitchen, perfectly clean and orderly home in the background, spotless kids and pets…probably not as honest as they could be and certainly not the true reality in the lives of most families.
    Raising young children and cooking with young children will be untidy, imperfect and yes, can create a mess. But what a beautiful mess and oh the skills and lessons you are passing on let alone the memories! Thanks for sharing your perfect imperfections and real adventures with your daughter.

  3. Such a cute post and because I am a perfectionist as well I can totally understand how you feel! But the smile on your daughter’s face is priceless and the memories you are creating with her you will for ever treasure.