Healthier Banana Cupcakes, Class Birthday Parties, Norma Rae????

Hi everyone and please click on the title of this post to read more. To start, here is a quick link about brining meat, as a TBK blog reader asked me to mention it. It makes meat very tender! Also, a reader asked me to tell you the yield of my carrot-ginger dojo dressing from a few posts ago-about a pint.

So, it was my son’s birthday this week and because I am on the Health and Wellness Committee, it was time to put my money where my mouth is when I was asked by his teacher if I wanted to bring cupcakes into school. I was faced with the challenge: do I bring junk food like the other 25-30 parents every birthday, or do I go out on a limb and try to bring in a healthier treat or NO treat at all?

Because it is the start of the year, actually of his school career as he is in Kindergarten, and I don’t want him to feel left out, I decided to compromise. I made healthier banana muffins with applesauce substituted for some of the sugar. Believe me, I did not think there should have been cupcakes at all, but until the cupcake plan is abolished (do you know that there is an actual law on the books that parents are NOT allowed to bring in food with sugar as the first ingredient in our district?) , I do not want him to feel so different from the other kids.

A conflict, correct? Do we give in to the societal norms so our kids can fit in or do we act on what we truly believe is best for our children and society? It ain’t easy. I decided to give the sweet but healthier alternative to hydrogenated oil and high fructose corn syrup cupcakes but ALSO planted the seed for the teacher and the teacher’ s assistant as well as the kids by standing on a soap box and declaring, “these cupcakes are great , kids, but I think a really special treat would be for all of you to tell my son what you like about him”. Many of the kids raised their hands and said all sorts of wonderful things about my son, such as “I love him”, (even though they have only known him for a few weeks) and he loved it. Even better, they all loved the healthy muffins! A win-win and not even a conflict. Who knew it wold be that easy?

Maybe we can stand tall and be the Norma Raes of no-junky-cupcakes celebrations 30 times a year and focus on more festive and emotionally productive ways of celebrating our children’s birthdays in school. I want to control the junk food my kids eat (like the Costco cupcakes I served at my home birthday party for my son) and would rather not have the schools hand it out freely. If they hand it out freely, we , in turn, can’t. Then, to whom will I serve all my fabulous baked goods??? There, I said it!

Healthier Banana “Cupcakes”

1 cup sugar
1 cup Applesauce
2 sticks butter (I know, it’s a lot but you can substitute one stick for 1/2 cup canola oil)
6 very ripe bananas (perfect excuse to use those blackening bananas on your counter-even freeze the blackening ones without the peel and use them later for banana bread/cupcakes)
4 large eggs, beaten
2 1/2 cups flour, sifted if possible
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
By all means, add chocolate chips, carob chips,orange zest, lemon zest, cream cheese frosting or anything else you want to make them more appealing…

Optional frosting:
10 oz. cream cheese
6 TBS maple syrup
Whip in mixer or puree in food processor until fully whipped together

This is a large recipe and can make 24 regular sized cupcakes in addition to 20 mini cupcakes. Make sure to grease the tins first with canola oil or an oil spray
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar together. Add bananas, eggs, applesauce and beat until blended.
Sift or stir together dry ingredients and fold into wet ingredients. Pour batter into the cupcake tins and bake for about 25 minutes to 1/2 hour or until a knife comes out clean. The mini cupcakes will take a little less time so watch to make sure they don’t burn.


6 Responses

  1. Hi! I have started the empanada theme for birthdays, in the school, and outside the school. Two varieties, one of them vegetarian. Kids are happy, and teachers love them too. There is no rule that says it has to be cupcakes. Maybe next time I could try knishes????

  2. Hooray for you! How very brave of you to introduce public appreciations – I hope that catches on. And I like Deborah’s suggestion of empanadas – I wish I’d thought of that when I was in the corporate world (another sugar-littered environment).

  3. Hi Alma – I love this recipe and the ideas behind it…and happy birthday to your son! Two questions: do you think these would be good with whole wheat pastry flour or do you think they’d be too dry? I’ve been doing alot of ww pastry flour baking lately, but sometimes it backfires on me. Also, what’s your rule of thumb for adjusting cooking time between regular muffin size tins and minis?

  4. Hi Suzanne. I think you could use WW pastry dough but it won’t be as good! I would reduce the time by 10 minutes for mini muffins but keep checking them with a knife inserted through the center.

  5. we’ve done mini whole wheat bagels for birthdays in school with colored cream cheese. Once I even put the cream cheese in a few small bowls and let the kids do the spreading…they loved it!

  6. Because of the new state law, Glen Ridge schools do not allow birthday goodies in school. We don’t have a choice in the matter. Even the sweets sold at the annual bake sale have to be sold to kids after school hours. These new rules make it much easier for parents who don’t want their kids eating cupcakes 30 times a year. I was surprised to hear Montclair hadn’t adopted the same policy.

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