Banana Cupcakes with a hint of Cinnamon

Banana Muffins

I love baking so that my kids have home-baked items in their school lunches each day. The problem with being a busy, working mum is that I simply don’t have time to bake on school nights. So, I make these cupcakes whenever I get a chance, then freeze them. Make sure cakes are totally cool before freezing. Then, each night before school, as I’m preparing school lunches, I take one of these little lovelies out of the freezer and pop in a lunch box. Too easy!

These cupcakes are light, fluffy and sweet. They are best made with bananas that are very ripe. I usually pop the ripe bananas that the kids haven’t eaten in the fridge, this way they last a few more days, until I have time to bake with them. The skins may turn dark in the fridge, but when you peel, they’re still white and fresh inside.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 160g butter
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 4-5 ripe bananas
  • 3 cups of self-raising flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp bi-carb soda
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Magic Method

  1. Pop your butter and sugar in a bowl and beat.
  2. Add your eggs.
  3. Mash your bananas and add these too. Mix.
  4. Take bowl out of beater.
  5. Add your flour, salt, soda, milk and cinnamon. Mix with wooden spoon.
  6. Pop your mixture into muffin cup trays.BANANA MIXTURE
  7. Bake in moderate oven for around 22 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

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Make pancakes/pikelets for lunches!

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Aside from baking and freezing muffins for school lunches – see my Banana, Choc Chip, Oat Muffins post – I also love making pancakes on the weekend and freezing leftovers for school lunches. They freeze really well and I can’t taste the difference. Take them out of the freezer the night before school and move into the fridge. In the morning, pop in lunchboxex and they’re perfect by lunch time.

I call them pancakes on the weekend when we eat them fresh, then pikelets when I pop them in school lunches. Just a bit of fun.

This is my staple pancake recipe. When I feel like I need a bit of a change, I mix it up by using some buckwheat flour in with the self-raising flour. I also throw in different types of fruits, whatever I have on hand that’s ripe in the fruit bowl, especially bananas and berries: blueberries are our favourite. I love this recipe because it uses ingredients that I have in my household and don’t need to especially buy, so I can make pancakes whenever I feel like it. It also doesn’t use a lot of sugar. If you love almond meal, you could throw a little of this in too.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsps caster sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten with fork
  • 11/2 cups milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

My Method

All you need to do is mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl – the flour and sugar. In another bowl, mix the wet ingredients – the milk, vanilla and egg. Then combine wet and dry together and whip with a whisk until a smooth batter. Add in your fruits if you wish. Pan fry in some butter. Add whipped cream if you wish. Enjoy!

Note: None of my cooking has artificial preservatives, so these need to be eaten within 24 hours from the fridge.

 

 

 

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Scrumptious Salads

 

 

Salads really are a working mum’s best friend! I know so many mums whose kids won’t eat fresh vegetables, but I’ve been giving my kids this kind of dinner since they were little, and they love the different colours on the plate, and I’ve never had a problem with them not eating their veggies.

The key is to always offer kids a variety of fresh vegetables. Don’t pester them about eating it all. Instead, talk about all the pretty colours. Eat together and say how yummy the avocado is etc. They many not eat it all immediately, but over time, you’ll be surprised how they develop a taste for fresh foods. If you don’t offer it, they can’t eat it. If you offer it, they have the choice to eat healthy. Simple.

I always consider that I need to offer a carb of some sort, protein of some sort, and vegetables. The photos above are an example of the types of salads I throw together.

Let’s start by talking about carbs. I have wholemeal pasta in one, soba noodles in the other, and my favourite barley in another. Others to consider include beans and brown rice. I like to mix it up, so we don’t get bored.

Protein. I know that I feel sluggish if I don’t eat enough protein. Growing bodies need protein, as do… um… aging mums! Basically, think meats. Eggs are my favourite as you can boil a whole lot, use some on the day, then pop them in the fridge for the next few days to use in lunches etc. I love salmon too because this can be easily baked in the oven with no fuss and no washing up!

Veggies. Veggies are great because you can buy up big at the grocers and then leave them in the fridge to use through the week. If you’re really keen to time-save, you can cut them up on the weekend and have them ready to use through the week. My favourites include: lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrot, broccoli (raw), mushrooms and avocado.

Yummy extras. My kids and I are totally in love with pomegranates. They are the prettiest dark pink colour and they taste sweet. I throw them over salads. I like telling the kids that they have been eaten since the beginning of time – since the garden of Eden. We aren’t religious, but I’m sure I read somewhere that they were eaten way back when… The other thing we love in salads is bocconcini: soft, cheesy, creamy balls of deliciousness. You can throw in any other cheese really. Persian feta is another one you should try.

Salad dressing: My kids aren’t fans of salad dressing. I usually pour a little Apple Cider Vinegar over mine as I find it refreshing, it has health benefits, and can help you lose weight, apparently!

School lunches. You’ll notice the image in the top right is a salad in a lunch box. I make these ahead of time and bring them to work. They have two sections, one with  the salad you can see, and another smaller one sits on top, where I put barley. At work, I add them together. So delicious and healthy!

 

 

 

 

 

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Real Time-Saving Food Tips for Busy Working Mums

 

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Working and raising kids is no easy feat, especially if you are a single parent on your own, juggling both. The reality is difficult to comprehend. You have demands placed upon you from the minute you wake up, with hungry children, you go to work and have to pull your weight there, then you arrive home, tired, and need to tend to your kids again. This continues, day in day out. It’s not easy.

I can’t underestimate the fatigue many mums feel and this can impede motivation to spend time preparing and cooking food at home. There’s no time during the day and little at night, which makes buying food all the more appealing. However, most bought food has preservatives and additives that you would not put in your own cooking, including high levels of salt, sugar and fats, not to mention the numerical additives, symbolising colours etc.

By eating and preparing your own meals, you can be sure that you are eating well. This does take time. Since the working week is a write-off, set aside some time on the weekend to plan and prepare your food for the coming week. Here are some tips for things that I do to make my life easier through the week, while ensuring that the kids and I are eating foods that I’ve prepared. It will also save you money!

  • Set Sundays aside to cook a big batch of something that will give you dinner both Sunday and Monday nights. Try casseroles and soups – see my casserole posts. Soups will follow soon.
  • Cut up salad items and store in the fridge, so that through the week, you can pull them out, pop them on a plate, and just add some kind of meat and carb with it (like grilled fish and black eye beans from a can) – see my Too Tired To Cook! post
  • Use a steamer to cook rice and vegetables (pre-prepared on weekend and stored in fridge ready to throw in steamer) and just add a meat to the side, like boiled eggs – too easy!
  • Freeze leftovers, especially steamed rice and veggies, in little containers. These can be taken out of the freezer the night before and then re-heated. Perfect to give to your daughter if she has ballet classes on until late!
  • Make cheese or Vegeminte rolls or sandwiches and freeze these for school lunches. All you need to do is take them out the night before and throw in a lunch box. If you don’t know what Vegemite is, you’re probably not an Aussie. Curious? See my link below.
  • Bake cakes or muffins on the weekends and freeze portions for school lunches. Again, take out the night before and throw in lunch boxes. See my Banana, Choc Chip, Oat Muffin post for starters.
  • Pre-prepare school lunches as best you can for the coming week by adding the fresh fruit in, some dried fruit and nuts. Just add in the sandwhich and baked item the night before.
  • If you’re bringing a salad to work, and you’ve pre-prepared this, boil some eggs and keep these in the fridge to take too. Better still, boil some barley and keep in the fridge to add for your carb component.

Note: Eggs are really, really good for you. Apparently the Queen and Prince Phillip eat an egg each every day. I read that somewhere. Many people who live long lives also eat eggs regularly – read that study too somewhere. Moral of this story? Eggs are an easy option to add protein to your meals and they are full of amazing goodness. I usually eat one every day and have boiled ones in the fridge for the kids to snack on.

Note 2: Vegemite. 

Never tasted out national Australian food? Even Amazon stock it. Amazing! Tip: do not put too much on your bread and butter. Only a sprinkle is needed. This is a staple spread in every Aussie household and it contains vitamin B.

 

 

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Bake & Freeze Muffins! Banana, Choc Chip, Oats & Cinnamon

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Make and freeze muffins for school lunches!

My holidays consist of a lot of baking. I’m currently on holidays until the end of January – lucky, I know; beauty of being a teacher!

There’s no way I have the energy to bake after a busy working day. So, I bought myself a second freezer. Brilliant! I bake myself silly during the holidays, and this way, when I return to work, the children’s lunch box snacks are ready to roll. Simply take them out of the freezer the night before school, as you’re making lunches, and pop them in!

First up is my cover photo recipe. I loved this recipe the minute I saw it. I like to include whole foods in the kids’ lunches as much as possible. Rolled oats are nutritious, packed with energy, and take time for the body to digest, meaning the kids feel full after eating them. If you’re interested in reading more about oat nutrition, see here: https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Oats_nutritional_value.html

The banana in the recipe provides potassium and other vitamins and minerals. See here if you don’t believe me: https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Bananas%2C_raw_nutritional_value.html

I don’t mind adding a little chocolate to the kids’ foods, as I admit, I’m a chocoholic myself! And cinnamon? Seriously, who doesn’t love this spice!

So, here’s the recipe by Recipe Rebel: https://www.thereciperebel.com/banana-chocolate-chip-baked-oatmeal-cups-recipe-video/

After you’ve baked these beauties, cool on a wire rack as in my photo, then once totally cooled, pop them in a little freezer back and put in the freezer. I made 16 muffins in this batch. That’s 16 nutritious snacks all ready to go in the freezer for the beginning of the new school year. It’s a start!