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Toddler Baking: No-Bake Pumpkin Power Balls

Baking with Toddlers: A Recipe for Success

I love the idea of baking with my toddler, but in practice, things can get pretty messy. Considering my son, who is not yet three, is still developing his attention span and his fine motor skills, it can be a challenge. But I believe there is so much value in cooking, and specifically, baking with children for the sake of building pre-math skills (measuring, combining ingredients), that I am always on the lookout for ways to get him involved in the kitchen.

I have made a recipe for Pumpkin Energy Balls in Stephanie Middleburg's Big Book of Organic Toddler Food several times but I did not have all the ingredients on hand so I got creative and came up with my own recipe. Also, halfway through I decided I didn't want to be left with 1/3 a can of pumpkin so I decided to more than double the recipe and make three batches: enough to refrigerate, freeze and share with my nephew. The best part of this recipe is the instant gratification, since there is no baking. It is just a matter of measuring and mixing the ingredients, then rolling into balls.

The flaxseed, pumpkin, oats and nut butter make these no-bake pumpkin power balls tasty snack that packs a punch of protein, whole grains, antioxidants, healthy fats and omega-3s. The maple syrup is natural sweetener you can feel good about and the pumpkin spice is just enough flavor to make it appealing to a toddler's taste buds.

STEP 1: Add 1 Can Pumpkin

STEP 2: Add 1 Jar Cashew Butter (or Almond Butter, Sun Butter or Peanut Butter)

STEP 3: Add 4 cups Rolled Oats

STEP 4: 1/2 Cup Ground Flaxseed

STEP 5: Add 2/3 cup Maple Syrup (or substitute Honey)

STEP 6: Add 3/4 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

STEP 7: Add 2 Pinches Sea Salt

STEP 8: Stir, Stir, Stir

STEP 9: Roll into Balls and Refrigerate or Freeze

If you are looking for an easy recipe for baking with toddlers, this is it. My toddler doesn't love to get messy, but this was a sensory experience that he was fully immersed in. When I offer these No-Bake Pumpkin Balls for snack time, he is not only eager to eat them, but proud that he helped make them.

Here is the full recipe:

No-Bake Pumpkin Power Balls

1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree

1 12 oz. jar cashew butter

4 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup ground flax seed

2/3 cup maple syrup

3/4 teaspoon pumpkin spice

2 pinches sea salt

Combine ingredients, roll into tablespoon-sized balls and refrigerate or freeze. Optional: Roll in shredded coconut or finely chopped nuts.

What should we make next? I'd love more inspiration on baking with toddlers.

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