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Quick and Healthy Carrot Muffins

Friends, hello — those of you who are still here, anyway. Despite my best intentions writing regularly here never quite pans out. The will is there … it’s just the free time that is lacking. We’ve eased into spring here in Northern California, one that has been marked so far with rain and lots of it. Thus, our grass is green, our puddles robust, and our heating bill high because we’ve forgotten how chilly and damp being nearish to the coast can be. As I type this rain is pounding down on our house, water is piling on the low-lying areas of our property, and the enormous oak tree in our back yard is gently unfurling its new leaves. We’ve discovered to our delight that there are calla lilies and forget-me-nots growing freely along the back fence, tucked in among the ferns and trees. We are planning to plant flowers but it is a treat to have ones already growing wild without any effort from us.

I’ve written a few articles this year for the local daily and as miner’s lettuce shyly blooms under the redwood trees in the backyard I’m reminded of my story years ago for NPR about nettles and eating from the wild . A lifetime ago ago and yet. Sierra has been loving nibbling on the tender, vividly green lettuce and feeding what she doesn’t consume to the neighbor’s goat. We hope to plant a vegetable garden next year, though some of those hopes may depend on the neighborhood deer who cavalierly leap fences to nosh on whatever strikes their fancy. Still, homegrown greens have a strong appeal and when we get around to building raised beds we’ll embark upon growing our own and deal with the deer if necessary.

We certainly will plant carrots too, as that root veg makes an appearance in nearly every dinner I cook either as carrot sticks for the smallest among us or in stew/soup/roasted/etc. Last night the girls and I made an unorthodox move of baking a batch of lightly sweetened carrot muffins after dinner — the light lingers so late now it feels like we have more time in the day to do the things we love to do. Warm muffins and a little play outside in the chilly March twilight and then straight to bed – this is the stuff that makes up my dreams.

These muffins are simple and healthy — coconut oil in the batter is a must, along with a trio of warming spices including cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. I adapted the recipe from Cookie and Kate, and omitted the nuts and raisins for the discerning palates in the household, though a walnut crunch would be ideal. I’d love to incorporate some applesauce either in place of the oil or eggs, but as written this recipe is a lovely end of day or breakfast option. I’m partial to eating the muffins warm, and on the day they’re baked, though they will keep for a few days. Try lightly toasting before serving if you eat on the second day.

[print_this] Carrot Muffins, adapted from Cookie and Kate

These can be made vegan using two flax eggs and coconut or another non-dairy yogurt.

Makes one dozen muffins.

1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups peeled and grated carrots – I needed 2 1/2 large-ish carrots
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup or brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin with coconut oil.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, ginger and nutmeg. Blend well with a whisk.

In a medium bowl, combine the oil and maple syrup and beat together with a whisk. Add the eggs and beat well, then add the yogurt and vanilla and mix well. (If the coconut oil solidifies in contact with cold ingredients, gently warm the mixture in the microwave in 30 second bursts.)

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix just until combined. Fold in the carrots. Divide the batter evenly between the 12 muffin cups. Bake muffins for 13 minutes, or until the muffins are golden on top and a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

Place the muffin tin on a rack to cool. If you have leftover muffins, store them in an air-tight container at room temperature for two days, or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Freeze leftover muffins for up to 3 months. [/print_this]

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