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Jan 18 / suzanne

Healthier Banana Cupcakes

Alma's Healthier Banana Cupcakes

I love, love, love the birthday food policy at my boys’ preschool, Circle of Friends: The class makes healthy, kid-sized muffins together, and the birthday boy or girl gets the honor of cracking the eggs with the teacher.

No softball-sized, high-fructose-corn-syrup laden, chemically frosted, parentally-delivered cupakes allowed!

If only elementary schools had rules like this. More often than not, it’s the homemade treats that are banned, in favor of store-bought desserts that look like they belong in a wax museum.

On the up side, some school districts have been declared cupcake-free zones altogether — a sane reaction, if you ask me, to our alarming childhood obesity rates.

Change is happening thanks to people like Alma Schneider, this week’s featured Good Neighbor Cook. Alma and fellow concerned parents persuaded their school’s principal to adopt a birthday policy that allows for only mini-sized cupcakes or muffins.

“My kids were getting these gargantuan birthday cupcakes 25 times a year, and that was on top of the Halloween party, the Thanksgiving party, the Christmas party, Valentine’s Day and on and on. Plus, we found out some teachers were giving Skittles, Starbursts and Jolly Ranchers to kids for good behavior.

“There are no special occasions anymore— it’s constant.”

These scrumptious Healthier Banana Cupcakes are Alma’s answer to the store-bought cupcakes that have become the norm at many schools. She substitutes some of the sugar with applesauce, which makes them super moist.

They’re plenty delicious without frosting, though Alma’s optional cream-cheese frosting makes the cupcakes prettier and can serve as a base for festive knick-knacks. Plus, without the frosting, you’re probably not going to convince a kid that they’re cupcakes rather than muffins.

Alma created this recipe for her son’s birthday in kindergarten. “The kids asked me to come back again with more cupcakes,” she says.

Alma reports that her school’s new mini-only policy has so far escaped backlash from parents and students.

Healthier Banana Cupcakes
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Total time: 30 to 45 minutes
makes 24 regular or 72 mini muffins

2 sticks butter (you can substitute one stick for 1/2 cup canola oil)
1 cup sugar
6 very ripe bananas
4 large eggs, beaten
1 cup applesauce
2 1/2 cups flour, sifted if possible
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
By all means, add chocolate chips, carob chips,orange zest, lemon zest, or anything else you want.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil, spray or line muffin tins with paper liners.

Cream the butter and sugar together. Add bananas, eggs, applesauce and beat until blended. Sift or stir together dry ingredients and fold into wet ingredients. Pour batter into the cupcake tins and bake until a knife comes out clean, 20 minutes to 25 minutes for regular size or 12 to 15 minutes for mini size. Let cool completely before frosting.

Optional frosting:
10 ounces cream cheese
6 tablespoons maple syrup

Whip in mixer or puree the cream cheese and syrup in a food processor until fully whipped.

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