“Mommy, I want to see the leaves in all the different colors,” my son begged of me the other day. “Oh, you will soon–the cool weather will come and all the leaves will start to change,” I answered hopefully (glancing at the temperature on the dashboard–only 85 in October!) They had been talking about Fall in his kindergarten class and the topic of the week was “Apples”. On one of our long drives home from therapy, I quizzed him: “Hey, Sweetie–can you name some different types of apples?” My eyes misted with pride as he shouted from his car seat, “Granny Smith and Red Delicious… and Fuji!”
Amazing, I thought to myself…this little munchkin who could not speak a word at age four, who has had to work so hard just to learn to point and then wave, to greet people and look them in the eye, to learn a wealth of vocabulary and sentence structure in 2 short years…to have him respond so articulately–well, every cell in my body sings with joy and gratitude during moments like that! Raising a child with Autism has forced me to slow down and appreciate and savor the simple things in life (sounds like a total cliché, I know, but it’s so true!) Remarkable, considering I was once one of those 100 mph., go-go-go types.
Take these apple spice muffins, for example. Pretty basic. I made these for my son’s class during apple week. Before I became a Mom, I often daydreamed (while cooking for others) that someday I would be happily baking all sorts of treats for my own child. I would be the cooler, hipper Martha Stewart. Ha! Well, fast-forward and I’m living that fantasy, but it’s just a little skewed.
After a day of work (cooking), carpools, therapy, and tantrum management, I’m hastily throwing together some muffins at 9 pm. But, the big smile from my son the next day and the cute way he rubs his chest instead of his tummy to signify “yum” makes it all worth it. We may not have red and yellow leaves falling from our trees yet, but these moist fragrant muffins are the perfect taste of Fall. The chef in me was tempted to dress these up with a streusel topping or at least stir some dried fruit and nuts into the batter. However, I opted to keep the recipe simple for the kids, which, as it turned out, was simply perfect.
Recipe for Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free Apple Spice Muffins:
yields: 12 regular or 36 mini muffins
1 1⁄2 C. GF Flour Blend
1 1⁄2 t. baking powder
1⁄4 t. xanthan gum
1⁄2 t. baking soda
1⁄2 t. cinnamon
1⁄4 t. ginger
1⁄2 t. allspice
1⁄4 t. nutmeg
1⁄4 t. salt
2 T. molasses
2/3 C. light brown sugar
1⁄2 C. unsweetened organic applesauce
1 C. grated organic apple (1 med. apple–Jonagold, Rome, Braeburn are all good)
1⁄3 C. sunflower oil (or canola)
Preheat oven to 350° and line muffin pan with liners or spray with your choice of oil.
In large bowl, stir together all of the dry ingredients (GF Flour, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt and spices). In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar, oil, molasses and applesauce. Stir in the grated apple. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients with a spatula, stirring until just combined. Fill muffin cups approximately 2⁄3 full. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 22 minutes or when toothpick inserted near the center can be removed cleanly. Store well-wrapped in the freezer.