Chocolate Flax Mini Muffins: Back-to-school brain boosters

Yes, we’re cancer survivors. But we’re other things, too. We are employees. We are volunteers. Some of us are parents or grandparents. We’re busy! But we must remember that even when we’re busy, healthy eating is important.

My daughter started high school this year – how did that happen??!! – and she starts school at 5 a.m. UGH! This means that I’m up at 5 a.m. too. Sometimes, I am a substitute teacher. When I’m not doing that, I’m writing for Pink Kitchen. So, I try to bake snacks that will last us a few days.

In general, my daughter truly enjoys eating healthy foods. But being a teen, she worries that she might be embarrassed because her lunch looks so much different than the junky stuff the other kids will be eating. So I’ve started working on some stealthy treats for her to take to school…foods that look delicious on the outside, but that are actually packed with nutrition.

These Chocolate Flax Muffins are just that. Not only do they contain flax seed, which is great for mental focus; they also contain a secret ingredient – butternut squash. Shhhhhhh. You can’t see or taste the squash, but it’s in there! Butternut squash adds to the brain power in this snack because it it loaded with B vitamins, which the brain needs for healthy memory and mood regulation.

Whether you’re a kid or an adult, in school or not – we’d all benefit from a brain boost. And the fact that it tastes like chocolate makes it all the better!!!

(Note: I prefer to use barley flour when I bake – it’s much lighter than whole wheat flour. But if you don’t have any barley flour on hand, you can substitute whole wheat.)

 

Chocolate Flax Mini Muffins
(Makes 12 mini muffins)

1 1/2 c. barley flour
1/2 c. cocoa powder
4 packets of NuStevia
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. ground flax seed (I used golden flax seeds here, but if you want the flax to be less noticeable, use brown flax seeds)
1/4 c. water
3/4 c. milk of your choice
2 tbsp. refined coconut oil
1 tsp. natural vanilla extract
1 c. puréed butternut squash

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly oil a twelve-cup mini muffin pan.

In a small glass, pour the 1/4 c. water and add flax seed. Beat with a fork and then let sit. The flax/water mixture will thicken somewhat.

In a large bowl, stir together all dry ingredients.

In a smaller bowl, combine milk and coconut oil. Add flax mixture and squash. Mix well.

Slowly pour the contents of smaller bowl into larger bowl. Mix gently only until moistened (The batter will still be lumpy. This is just fine for muffins!)

Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 full with batter.

Bake until toothpick inserted comes out basically clean (no wet batter attached to toothpick). Depending on your oven, this should take approximately 20-30 minutes. Cool in pan at least 5 minutes before removing.

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