It’s fun, actually. Cooking with your kids. My kids love cooking, especially my son, Logan. He’s been in my kitchen since he was about four. Standing on stools, covered in an apron and oven mitts “to here”. My daughter, Zoe, well she is more of a restaurant manager. She is just like Mommy.
Our old kitchen was super small, and even just Logan and I felt crowded in the space. There was no counter for chopping or mixing. Half our “tools” were hidden in other rooms. The kitchen made me super miserable, and eventually, after living in our home for just a couple of years, the joy of cooking became the need to feed my family. It was a chore. A dark, uncomfortable space that my kids and I would never be able to rise to our true potential in.
So when we renovated our home, the kitchen was almost the only think I cared about. I spent a long time working that space out on paper and in my own head.
We are not unique. Almost every home I go into, for a kitchen renovation, tells the same story.
Not enough space. No storage. Dark. Dingy. No space for baking. Sink too small. Family does not fit.
And we end up ordering pizza too often, and the chore of cooking hurts our well being, and the lack of home-made limits some of our potential to teach our children what a truly healthy lifestyle is.
That may mean something different to us all. For some it’s following a food guide, or being vegetarian, or vegan. For some it’s kosher or halal. Restrictions or not, healthy is healthy. And home cooking can be much healthier that take-out. To make things even better, cooking as a family can make that healthier living more fun.
This muffin recipe is a staple in our home. We love to bake and the kids will eat these for breakfast without me worrying about all the sugars that come in cereals.
Banana Chocolate Chip Flax Muffins
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 22 minutes (depending on your oven. My convection takes about 10 mintues)
- Total Time: 27 minutes
- Yield: 12 muffins
- 1 large egg
- 3 large (1 1/2 cups) very ripe bananas
- 1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened
- 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
- 3 tbsp olive, avocado or coconut oil (melted)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp baking powder, aluminum free
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour (here you can tweak. I use 1 cup whole wheat and 1/3 cup of flax meal. You can use pulverized oatmeal or any other type of flour you like).
- Put bananas and egg into mixer on low until well blended
- Add applesauce, honey, oil and vanilla
- Incorporate dry ingredients slowly, fully incorporating before adding more
- Toss in any additional fun ingredients like chocolate chips, nuts or seeds, cranberries, blueberries etc.
- I prefer to use paper cups with my muffins, so no greasing necessary. Scoop a full icecream scoom into each one.
Bake at 400 degree pre-heated oven until stick inserted comes out clean.
Here are some basic kitchen design principles that contribute to healthy living:
Your appliances matter. Mine don’t match, everything but my fridge is GE. I love GE. I love my gas stove so much, I bought a second one which I use in my basement kitchen. It has 5 gas burners, including that amazing long center one with a grill! Can you say pancakes?? It has a full-size upper convection oven, and a lower narrower one. You know that bottom drawer people use to store their cookie sheets in? Well mine actually cooks! Pizza, roasted vegetables etc. And when I have twenty plus people coming for dinner, it’s a life saver. Especially because I was not willing to give up storage room for wall ovens. Counter depth fridges tend to be very small inside, and with our hungry family, our many dinner parties, and my cake baking, there was no way I could give up that much space. I elected for an Electrolux fridge. It has an internal ice maker in the freezer and no water feature. Again, lots of storage space.
Two Full Sinks
I love two sinks for one very simple healthy reason. When cooking chicken, I can use one sink for my cutting board, and cut right over that sink, or even on a cutting board right in it, so that raw chicken liquid doesn’t “infect” other parts of my kitchen, and I am sure that it’s cleaned up because it’s contained. Meanwhile, in sink number two, I can prep salad or veggies with no fear of cross contamination.
Big sinks are also great for washing giant pots or pans!!
Decorate with Fruit
When you see photos of beautiful kitchens online, there is always a giant bowl of fruit somewhere. It looks and feels healthy. Because IT IS! So, fill a favorite bowl with bright fruit and put it in your direct view, so every time you walk into your kitchen it’s the first thing you see. You will be surprised as to how inspired, your family will become to eat more apples.
Turn up the tunes!
Maybe speakers in the ceiling, or a smart fridge, or your phone tuned into a music app. Listening to music while you cook is inspiring and thinking about designing that media into the space before a renovation is definitely going to lead to some ‘Satisfaction’.
Light it up
Who am I kidding anyway? At 47, my eyes ain’t what they used to be. I need a lot of light to cook now. My husband thought the lighting was a little extreme, but he’s the clean-up, not the food prep. Pot lights mixed with pendants and under-cabinet lighting provide lots of light throughout your day. Work stations that are very well-lit leads to less frustration, or maybe cayenne instead of paprika…
Think about the things you use most when creating your design. Is it a bread-maker? Your blender? You want items easily accessed…I don’t want to lift my super heavy mixer every time I bake, so it has a spot on my counter. Other items I use often are very easy to access.
My spices are arms length from my cooking space. My oils next to my stove. We installed our microwave oven is in the island so the kids can reach it easily. Our baking station has every single thing we need in it so we can make banana oatmeal-flax muffins whenever we want. A crockpot is two feet from it’s cooking spot so homemade soups can cook while I am at work. It’s all hyper-organized. It makes cooking a zero-frustration event. Small stools hidden in the toe-kick of our island so the kids can use them to reach anything too high. This really helps when they unload the dishwasher.
Whatever it is you enjoy doing in your kitchen, the ultimate goal is for it to be a place you enjoy. Have fun with it. Life’s too short to miss out on any fun you can squeeze out of it.
For more reading on this kitchen’s design and build, click here. https://www.monacointeriors.ca/torontohome/
And, for more photos from this day, see our instagram page. https://www.instagram.com/monaco_interiors/
Have a terrific day!