I’ve recently discovered my baby loves cinnamon. I had some leftover egg mix for French toast the other week, so I cooked it up to give to her with breakfast. Of course, it had cinnamon in it. She couldn’t get enough. I’d been planning to come up with a recipe for mini muffins to make for her at snack and meal times – I wanted something that I could put some iron-rich foods in to help ensure adequate intake. So I decided apple cinnamon it is.
These muffins are a good source of iron, making them great for babies, toddlers and kids of all ages. They freeze well and are perfect for packed lunches at daycare and school.
Babies Need a Lot of Iron to Support Growth and Development
Babies have high iron needs because they are doing so much growing. Did you know that a 7-12 month old baby needs more iron in a day than an adult man? That’s a lot of iron! There are many foods you can give to baby that are high in iron. Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, lentils, and tofu are all great options. Iron-fortified cereal is also a convenient option, as are hemp hearts and wheat germ. I use the cereal in baking and to roll slippery foods in, like banana slices and avocado slices, to provide some grip while adding a little extra iron. Heme iron is found in meat, poultry and seafood, and is better absorbed than non-heme iron, which we find in some plant foods and eggs. It’s important that baby eats what the family eats, so if you follow an exclusively plant-based diet, you don’t have to offer animal foods, but you’ll have to be a bit more conscious about providing iron-rich foods. Offer iron-rich foods with all meals and snacks and serve alongside vitamin C containing foods, like broccoli, red peppers, tomatoes, kiwifruit, mango, or strawberries. Vitamin C helps the body absorb more iron from plant-based foods. You can learn more about iron-rich foods for baby here and here.
Iron Containing Mini Muffins for Baby
These muffins are made with as many iron-rich baking friendly ingredients I could think of. I substituted some of the flour with iron-fortified cereal. You can do this with your baking too, substituting up to 1/3 of the flour. The cereal I had on hand contained chia flour, which absorbs a lot of water, so I only replaced 1/4 of the flour with it. The muffins are sweetened with blackstrap molasses, which contains iron, and grated, peeled apple. Soft tofu is used in place of milk, and I added in some hemp seeds for even more iron.
The recipe is simple and follows the basic muffin method – mix dry ingredients together in one bowl, the wet ingredients in another, then add the wet to the dry and stir until just combined. The muffins are the perfect size for little hands and are easy to eat. I make a big batch to freeze and take a few out at a time to have ready for snacks or to add to a meal. These would also work great in packed lunches for daycare or school. You could also bake them in regular sized tins for larger muffins – be sure to increase the baking time to 20-25 minutes.
Mini Apple Cinnamon Muffins
- 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup iron-fortified infant cereal
- 1/4 cup hemp hearts
- 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 package (150g) soft tofu (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 medium apple, peeled and grated
- Preheat oven to 350⁰F. Grease 24 mini muffin tins and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
- In a separate bowl, add all the wet ingredients except the grated apple and stir with a fork until well combined. It’s okay if the tofu is still in small lumps – it will smooth out when baked. Mix the grated apple in.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold together until just combined. Do not over mix or the muffins will be tough.
- Fill each of the mini muffin tins with the batter and bake 12-15 minutes until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
- Cool before removing from muffin trays. Muffins can be stored for up to 1 week in an airtight container, or 3 months in the freezer.