Pumpkin Cupcake-Muffins Out-Riddle Grumpy Old Troll


As a baby, she devoured every food we offered, but as soon as she got a taste of sweet and salty, it was all over. Now she governs passage through those lips like Dora’s Grumpy Old Troll.

“If you want to cross my bridge, you have to solve my riddle.

In her case, though, there are three. Three riddles (challenges, that is) to solve, and I get over the bridge.

We’ll never know if it tastes good to her until we get past the troll.

One day I discovered she likes pumpkin muffins (I lied a little and called them cupcakes). Three mini “cupcakes” later, she asked for more. My OT brain started churning.

“Hmmm. . . pumpkin is a pretty healthy ingredient, and there are plenty of spices in there she likes, too. The color is forgiving, too. I bet I could hide a few veggies in there without her noticing.”

Food chaining is a practice I use regularly in my work as a pediatric occupational therapist. Now I also use my skills to help nourish my granddaughter. She’s a picky eater with mild hypo-sensitivity and a higher need for oral input than average. Mostly, though, she’s just a sweet and salty nut.

Every picky eater has their own, unique set of riddles. Here are her three riddles (challenges):

First, how does this mystery food sound?  Cupcake, not muffin. Yummy, not good for you.

Second, how does it smell? Cinnamon passes. Sweet passes.

Third, how does it look? Cake texture passes, with pumpkin color.

Equipped with a great idea, I came up with this:

Start with the already-accepted Quick Pumpkin Bread Mix

This pic nabbed from Walmart website below

This pic nabbed from Walmart website

(nutrition facts here: http://www.walmart.com/ip/Pillsbury-Pumpkin-Quick-Bread-Muffin-Mix-14-Oz/10308265)

Instead of putting the eggs, milk and oil in a bowl, though, put them in a blender with:

1/2 can pumpkin (not the large can, silly)

1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, or 1/4 cup spinach purée, if you’re into making purée for your Deceptively Delicious recipes)

1/4 to 1/2 cup finely grated carrots (or half of that, if purée)

1/2 cup added sugar (yes, I know, but I have to start somewhere and gradually decrease to healthy). At least I use organic, raw sugar.

1/2 to 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I just threw some in there, sorry).

Blend. Now you will see it is green. Green does not satisfy the Troll’s requirements. I added red food coloring. I know, not so great, but we can work on color chaining too. Gradually.

Now, turn this into the bowl with the cake mix to blend with a spoon until the flour mixture is wet.

Spray your mini muffin tins or use liners. I usually use liners, they come with princesses or Dora, whatever pleases your Grumpy Old Troll. It makes them more believable as cupcakes.

Bake as directed, but shorten the time (about half) for mini muffins. Check with a toothpick–they will be heavier than regular muffins, but the toothpick will still come out pretty clean when they’re ready.

Now, the pièce de résistance, pour some confectioner’s sugar in a bowl and place it RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER! She loves that stuff, loves white powdered donut holes, so I took a muffin (Pumpkin Muffin, I accidentally said. Drat! Almost foiled it all! I changed it quick, “Pumpkin Muffin-CUPCAKE! Take the Pumpkin Muffin-Cupcake, and dip it in the white powder, look! It looks just like a donut!”

The result:

"You solved my riddle. Now you can cross over my bridge!"

“You solved my riddle. Now you can cross over my bridge!”


Related Links:

My Pinterest page (FUNctional Kids), where I post finds for Problem and Picky Eaters:


WordPress weekly writing challenge:



For a different sort of fare, visit my other blog at http://joantwarren.com


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