Originally, these healthy kids snacks were supposed to be “scary” Halloween muffins for my 3-year-old to share with her classmates at preschool. In the end, she made most of them happy faces. They were a HUGE hit.
We chose a healthy banana oat muffin recipe, but any muffin recipe will do. As it’s Halloween season, we also used Halloween baking cups.
These faces were pretty easy to make, once we got the hang of it. I laid down a sheet of wax paper and had her practice faces for a little while prior to actually making the muffins. She was silent (remember she’s 3) and focused on this project for almost an hour. On hindsight, I’m grateful we practiced. When it was time, we were able to execute the faces quickly.
You can use:
- Dried cranberries
- Dried blueberries
- Sunflower seeds
- Trader Joe’s High Fiber or All Bran cereal
- Mini chocolate chips
You are only limited by your imagination, and perhaps what’s in your pantry. For example, I could not find dried blueberries so I subbed in mini chocolate chips. I also wished I had Cheerios for eyes. And when you’re done, put the leftover dried fruit and cereal in a baggie. It makes yummy trail mix.
- Cook the mini muffins for a few minutes in the oven until they start to rise. If you apply the faces before you put the muffins in the oven, the heavier dried fruits might sink. However, if you the top gets too hard then the faces might not stick. I did a test run with only a few muffins in the pan to identify the amount of time in the oven necessary to reach this point. In our case, it was 3-4 minutes.
- Apply faces. The pan will obviously be much too hot for a child to help you with this.
- Cook for remaining time. I slightly undercook mini muffins because they keep cooking as they cool. I take them out the second they start to brown, sometimes even before that.
The part that took the most time was teaching La Jolla Girl how to put the faces together. I left some muffins plain, just in case some of the kids weren’t into dried fruit. The plain ones went uneaten. I was told that no one picked the faces off and I sent way more than were necessary.
This also is a much healthier dessert option than a cupcake. I would love suggestions for other common food items to use for the faces.
Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).
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