Double-Pumpkin Muffins

Double Pumpkin Muffins (3)

These are easily the biggest muffins I’ve ever baked at home. Loaded with vitamins and minerals, they’re sure to fuel kids through the transition back to school and can easily carry them from breakfast until snack break.


  • 3 and 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Scant 1 and 1/2 cups soy milk
  • 2 Ener-G eggs
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
  2. In a second bowl, whisk together the sugar and pumpkin.
  3. Whisk the flaxseed into the cold water and let stand for 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, pour the lemon juice into a liquid measuring cup. Add the soy milk to equal 1 and 1/2 cups and let stand for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the flax mixture, soy milk mixture, and Ener-G eggs to the sugar mixture, whisking to combine.
  6. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring just until combined.
  7. Divide the batter among 12 oiled muffin cups. The cups will be very full. Sprinkle evenly with the pumpkin seeds, pressing in lightly into the better.
  8. Bake at 375 degrees F for 24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool before serving.

Double Pumpkin Muffins (2)

A is for Apple Smoothie

A is for Apple Smoothie

Playing off the old teacher-and-apple theme, you’ll get kids off on the right foot on a school morning with this nutrition-packed smoothie.


  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint
  • 1/2 Granny Smith apple, chopped
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  1. Combine the almond milk, water, spinach, and mint in a blender; process until smooth.
  2. Add the apple, banana, and agave; process until combined.
  3. Divide among two glasses and serve.

Layered Play Dough Excavation

Play Dough Food Tracks (10)

After excavating through Jell-O, today Veronika could pretend to be an archaeologist with play dough instead.

Okay, maybe she didn’t know exactly what we were pretending, but I like to introduce imaginary scenarios into sensory play at this age, as Veronika nears age 2. First up, we explored various ways to make “fossil” marks, and for this we turned to food in our kitchen.

Play Dough Food Tracks (1)

I showed Veronika how to press various items into flat portions of play dough to see what marks they left behind. She was interested in the bumpy lines left by Twizzlers.

Play Dough Food Tracks (3)

And by the swirls from corkscrew pasta.

Play Dough Food Tracks (4)

We tested out nuts as well as rolling bigger items like apples over the play dough, more like a rolling pin, but these weren’t as interesting. Triscuit crackers left a cool print…

Play Dough Food Tracks (2)

…but since she was tempted to eat them, I nixed the idea!

Play Dough Food Tracks (5)

Older toddlers can pretend these are real fossil finds. Prehistoric fish bones perhaps! You can have lots of fun with other items too, like ears of corn, little fruits like grapes or blueberries, or even utensils like a fork.

Play Dough Food Tracks (7)

Next up in the fun, I layered all the colors of play dough together like the strata of an archaeological dig. At first I placed them in a jar, but this proved too tricky for her to “dig” down into with a plastic fork and spoon.

Play Dough Food Tracks (8)

Instead, we mushed all the colors together on a tray. She called these her “rocks” and enjoyed poking at them with the fork and spoon.

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Needless to say, the game kept Veronika quite busy, even if she didn’t always understand the pretend that went with the play.

Play Dough Food Tracks (9)

Salt Indoor Sandbox

Salt Sandbox (4)

If your child is missing the beach only one week after the unofficial end of summer, this indoor hack will save the day. Make a beach-y sandbox with salt instead.

A box of coarse salt is cheap and scoops up just like sand (although you’ll want to save this particular material for toddlers who aren’t tempted to nibble, else they’ll receive a yucky surprise).

I poured the salt into a craft tray, laid down a towel to catch (most of) the overflow, and set out Veronika’s familiar toys from the beach. She was instantly delighted.

She loved scooping into her sifters that come in fun shapes like a crocodile and crab.

Salt Sandbox (5)

And she could use the shovel to fill a beach bucket.

Salt Sandbox (6)

The sand rake made neat tracks through the salt, just as with the sand at the beach.

Salt Sandbox (2)

In sum, she looked just as pleased as if she was having a sunny day at the beach again!

Salt Sandbox (3)