I hope you all have been having an incredible holiday break! I know I have! We spent Christmas with Jake’s family in Alabama which was great fun! One night, Jake’s sister Jess and her fiance Bill made an incredible dinner and dessert for everyone to share! For dessert, we had a red velvet trifle with cream cheese whipped cream – like, what? It was amazingggg. Needless to say, ever since then (for some reason) I have been CRAVING carrot cake! But with the New Year around the corner, I thought why not make some Healthy Carrot Muffins instead?
What makes a muffin healthy or unhealthy?
Honestly, its not easy! Most people thing that “healthy” means either low-fat, low-carb, low sugar, or low-preservative (minimal use of processed ingredients). Achieving all the above and still having a muffin taste good is nearly impossible! But, finding a balance can create a delicious and healthy baked good!
I wanted these muffins to use MINIMAL oil – but see, muffins without oil can get a REAL funky texture. Like I am talking gross.
I have made my fair share of muffins batches with oil substitutes that have honestly turned out pretty terrible! They come out too dense and almost sticky – I wish I was kidding! Through experimentation, I have learned that having at least some fat in your baked goods can do wonders!
Oil in this Recipe
These Healthy Carrot Muffins have 1/4 cup of olive oil for fat content – yes, that’s right! I said olive oil! Worried about the taste? I promise you don’t have to with this recipe! Olive oil is a great healthy addition to this recipe because it is rich in monounsaturated fats, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties.
In order to only use 1/4 cup of oil, I had to provide an additional substitute. I chose to use a combination of apple sauce and mashed banana. Apple sauce can be a great substitute for oil – it provides great moisture and you don’t even taste the apple! However, too much apple sauce can provide too much moisture and cause the baked good to become dense and heavy in texture.
Eggs are another important feature in baked goods. Substituting eggs whites or egg alternatives can work in certain recipes! But, you have to be careful – not all recipes will turn out as well with a substitute.
In this Recipe
I chose to use two eggs to help with texture since I was already eliminating so much oil (if you are vegan, feel free to substitute flax eggs in this recipe!).
There are two different types of sugar substitutions – sugar substitution with natural ingredients like honey, maple syrup, and agave nectar OR sugar substitution with artificial sweeteners like stevia and sucralose. People choose to substitute with natural ingredients in order to eliminate the number processed ingredients whereas people substitute with artificial sweeteners to eliminate the use of sugar altogether (often for dietary reasons).
In this Recipe
I decreased the amount of brown sugar in this recipe and added maple syrup for some sweetness instead.
Let’s be real here – if you are looking to eliminate carbs, a muffin is probably not the right way to go. At least, not if you want it to taste anything like a normal muffin.
Now there are plenty of alternatives to all purpose flour – whole wheat flour, almond flour, sprouted flour, coconut flour, rice, flour, chickpea flour – the list goes on!
In this Recipe
Since I was already playing with the fat and sugar content of my recipe, I chose to stick with all-purpose flour. I did add 1/2 cup of rolled oats for some additional texture, flavor, and fiber!
OF COURSE WE CANNOT FORGET THE CARROTS! Carrots are a RICH source of beta carotene which can be converted into vitamin A – vitamin A helps the body to maintain healthy skin and more. Carrots also can help with digestion due to their large supply of essential minerals, vitamins and enzymes.
In this Recipe
Carrots provide moisture and texture to this Healthy Carrot Muffins recipe and should not be substituted – unless you never wanted to have carrot muffins in the first place!
These muffins were an incredibly fun experiment that I think actually turned out GREAT! They are moist and full of texture, yet they still have a nice crumb. The carrot provides some flavor but is not overpowering. I love the cinnamon and nutmeg combination here as it just makes me think of winter time! Toast them up with a little butter, cream cheese, or jam and you have got yourself a healthy and delicious breakfast or snack!
Moist and full of texture, these Healthy Carrot Muffins are amazing for breakfast or a snack! Add a little butter, cream cheese, or jam for a treat!
- 2 cups carrots grated
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup banana mashed
- 1/4 cup olive oil yes I said olive oil!
- 1/2 cup apple sauce
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar packed
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 3/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts optional
Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin pan, set aside.
Chop off green stem, then clean and peel 3-4 large carrots (4-5 small/medium). Grate carrots over cutting board.
In a large boil, beat eggs. Add mashed banana, olive oil, apple sauce, maple syrup and light brown sugar. Stir to combine.
In a small bowl, remaining ingredients. Stir.
Add half of dry ingredients to wet, stir until all ingredient have become moistened. Add remaining dry ingredients, stir again until moistened.
Gently fold carrots into batter until evenly distributed.
Spoon batter into muffin cups. Each cup should be about 2/3 full of batter.
Bake at 375F for 18 minutes or until an inserted wooden toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely in pan. Enjoy warm or at room temperature with butter, cream cheese, or jam!
Storage: Line the bottom of an airtight container with paper towel, place muffins into container then cover muffins with another layer of paper towel and seal container. Paper towel will absorb extra moisture in keep muffins fresh for 3-4 days.