These banana and lentil muffins are light, fluffy, moist and sweet. You can't tell that we've snuck lentils or veggies in to them, and the kids don't have to know either.
They're a child-friendly, quick and easy, 'grab and go' kind of breakfast.
Our children don't always eat what we'd like them to, so sometimes you need to get creative with how their food is served. And adding green lentils to muffins, is a genius way of giving them a big fiber and protein boost.
Lentils are also a great iron source for Vegetarians and Vegans. Because we don't get iron from animal-based sources, we need to be making sure plant based sources are consumed regularly. The fun thing about that is how different that can look each day.
- Banana - For best results, always use ripe bananas for making muffins/cakes/sweet breads. You want some that look like those pictured above - quite well covered in brown spots, with minimal bruising.
- Baking Powder & Bicarb - Two raising agents to get those muffins light and bouncy.
- Carrot - We've added this in as a tasty way of increasing the veg intake for our toddlers and older kids.
- Chocolate Chips - We use dairy-free chocolate chips. You could easily change these for an unrefined sugary option such as berries, raisins, currants or chopped dates.
- Ground Flaxseed - It's important to use ground flaxseed, and not whole. It's inexpensive, and if you haven't got access to it at a local health food store, you can easily find it online. Alternatively, you can sub it out for chia seeds.
- Lentils - Full of plant protein, iron, and many other essential minerals. They are undetectable in our muffins - even the fussiest of eaters won't know they're in there. We use cooked green lentils in this muffin recipe. Read below for further information on using Lentils.
- Olive Oil - We use this instead of butter/margarine. When feeding our children, we try to use the least processed ingredients as practically possible. Olive oil is easily accessible, neutral in flavour, and great for heart health. It's a win win. Alternatively you can use avocado or (refined) coconut oil.
- Rolled Oats - Oats are a great way to add in more fiber and iron to baking recipes. You can also easily make your own oat flour to keep on hand in the cupboard for use in cakes and muffins - just whiz it in a blender until you have a fine flour. Oats are a fantastic source of fiber, which helps to maintain a healthy gut.
- Spelt Flour - You’ll get very similar results as baking with all-purpose flour, but spelt adds a little something 'extra'. By that we mean it adds a little bit more texture, a nuttier flavour, a better nutritional profile, and adds little more dimension to your baking.
- Sugar - You can use any type of granulated sugar, whether it's caster, light brown or coconut. If you want to make these without added sugar, take a look at our substitutions and variations section below.
- Vanilla - You can either use vanilla extract, or vanilla bean paste.
- Food Processor
- Muffin Tray (12 cup, or 2 x 6 cup trays)
- Ice-cream Scoop (optional), or a Spoon
How to make them
Making the flax-egg is the first step in this recipe. To do this, add the ground flaxseed and water to a small bowl, and mix together well. Leave for 10 minutes until thickened. It should resemble the texture of egg whites when ready (photo 2).
Add the banana, sugar, flax-egg, lentils, vanilla and olive oil to your food processor. Blend until smooth.
Grate and add the carrot to the muffin mixture in the food processor. Blend again until smooth.
Add in the dry ingredients to the food processor - Spelt flour, oats, baking powder and bicarb. Pulse a few times until just incorporated. You don't want to over mix at this stage.
Add the chocolate chips and pulse again 2-3 times to mix through the muffin batter.
Line your muffin tray with 12 muffin cases. Then divide the mixture evenly in to each case. We use a 5cm ice cream scoop to do this.
Bake in the center of the oven until golden (picture 12), and toothpick comes out clean after inserting in to the middle of one of the muffins. See the recipe card below for full cooking instructions.
How to cook Lentils
Cooking dried lentils: Soak them overnight (or for 8 hours). Next, drain the lentils, then add to a saucepan and fill with water until the lentils are covered. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. Drain, and then set aside to cool, before adding them to the food processor.
The benefit to soaking the lentils, is to reduce the amount of bloating that they can cause to some people. However, if you aren't sensitive to them, you can skip the soaking and follow the cooking instructions above, straight from dried.
Skip the cooking and buy some canned/pre-cooked lentils: You can find canned lentils in most supermarkets. Lentils are also sometimes in cartons, depending on the brand you buy. Be sure to double-check that the packaging confirms they are cooked lentils. And then all you need to do is drain and rinse them, before adding them to the food processor.
How to make these muffins baby friendly
You can leave out the granulated sugar and the chocolate chips. Instead, swap the chocolate chips for a sugar free alternative such as raisins (using the same cup quantity), or a few of your childs favorite berries.
For another baby-friendly muffin recipe, we recommend trying these mini baby-led weaning muffins by My Kids Lick the Bowl. They're another healthy and fun way to serve new foods to your little ones.
Substitutions & Variations
- Sugar Free - instead of using granulated sugar, you can simply leave it out of the recipe. See below for healthy chocolate chip substitutions.
- Gluten Free - you can substitute the spelt flour for gluten free flour, and you can use certified gluten free oats.
- Chocolate Chips - use chopped dates or raisins to keep these free of added sugars. Use the same cup quantity as the chocolate chips. If using either of these, it's also really nice to add in a little cinnamon to the recipe - we suggest ¼ tsp.
- To make Double Chocolate Muffins - add in ¼ cup of cacao or cocoa powder to the food processor at the same time as adding the flour and oats.
Store these in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
You can also freeze these muffins for up to 3 months. They are still lovely and light after defrosting. One batch usually gets eaten up pretty fast at home, so it's a good idea to make a double batch of muffins and freeze half of them. That way you can get a few out of the freezer the night before, when you know you've got a busy morning head of you.
When mixing cake and muffin batters, it's really important not to over-mix at the stage of adding the dry ingredients. Over-mixing can lead to flat, heavy, muffins. That's why the other ingredients are blended together first in the food processor. It doesn't affect the raising agents that are added in along with the flour and oats.
Yes you can use cooked red lentils instead of green. The colour will vary quite a bit once cooked, but they will still taste great.
Other toddler friendly recipes to try
Healthy Chocolate Chip Banana and Lentil Muffins
- Food Processor
- Muffin Tray (12 cup, or 2 x 6 cup trays)
- Ice-cream scoop (optional), or a Spoon
- 1 cup Cooked Green Lentils
- ⅔ cup Spelt Flour
- ⅔ cup Rolled Oats
- 2 Medium Ripe Bananas
- 1 Medium Carrot
- 1 tablespoon Ground Flaxseed
- 2 tablespoon Water
- ¼ cup Olive Oil (or avocado/coconut oil)
- ¼ cup Sugar any granulated variety of choice (light brown, coconut etc)
- ½ cup Dairy Free Chocolate Chips
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
- In a small bowl, make one 'flax-egg' by mixing the ground flaxseed and water together well with a fork. Then set aside for 10 minutes to thicken. When ready, the 'flax-egg' should resemble egg whites in texture.1 tablespoon Ground Flaxseed, 2 tablespoon Water
- Pre-heat your oven to 175c fan/Gas Mark 5/375f.
- Line your muffin tray with 12 muffin cases/liners.
- Add the bananas, cooked lentils, sugar, olive oil and vanilla to the food processor.1 cup Cooked Green Lentils, 2 Medium Ripe Bananas, ¼ cup Olive Oil, ¼ cup Sugar, 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- Blend until smooth.
- Grate the carrot and add to the food processor.1 Medium Carrot
- Blend for a further 20 seconds, until well incorporated.
- Next, add the oats, spelt flour, bicarbonate of soda, and baking powder to the food processor.⅔ cup Spelt Flour, ⅔ cup Rolled Oats, 1 teaspoon Baking Powder, 1 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
- Pulse a few times until all the ingredients are *just* combined. It's important not to over-mix at this stage. Usually 3-4 pulses on our food processor is enough to do this.
- Add the chocolate chips to the food processor, then pulse a further 2-3 times until the chocolate chips are mixed through the muffin batter.½ cup Dairy Free Chocolate Chips
- Using a spoon, or ice-cream scoop, divide the muffin batter equally between all 12 muffin cases.
- Place the muffin tray in to center your pre-heated oven, and bake for 16-18 minutes.
- If the muffins are fully cooked, they will be light brown colour on top, and an inserted skewer or toothpick will come out clean.