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Featuring spring carrots, these muffins are a healthy alternative to sweet morning confections. I started with a Carrot Apple Muffin recipe from Whole Foods, and tweaked it a good bit to make them vegan. The whole wheat pastry flour makes the muffins tender, applesauce keeps them moist, and coconut oil gently perfumes the end result.

1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup grated carrots (from about 3 medium carrots)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbsp flax meal, soaked in 6 Tbsp water
1/4 cup almond milk (or any other milk alternative)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. “Butter” (with coconut oil) and flour a 12-cup standard muffin tin or use muffin papers. Set aside. (I used a non-stick muffin tin and omitted this step with great results.)
3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
4. In a separate bowl, combine carrots, applesauce, soaked flax meal mixture, almond milk, coconut oil and vanilla.
5. Add half the carrot mixture to the flour mixture, stir until blended then add the rest of the carrot mixture.
6. Spoon batter into muffin cups and bake about 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Serve warm.

photo

Notes from attempt #1: (Baking time: 20 minutes) Delicious, tender, moist, lovely! The only problem is the muffins are tiny tiny tiny–they barely rose in the oven. Definitely worth re-doing again (and again and again) to figure out what went wrong, because they are that delicious!

Notes from attempt #2: (Baking time 16 minutes) The muffins are still very small, but a tad bit larger than the previous attempt–but I’m okay with that! It’s a great guilt-free treat that compliments breakfast or completes a mid-afternoon snack.

Estimated nutrition facts: 130 calories, 6 g fat, 16 g carbohydrates (2 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 2 g protein, vitamin A 30%

Here’s a spin on these Pumpkin Chocolate Cranberry Muffins, sans cranberries. I doubled the recipe and froze half to send to my brother, who is serving in Afghanistan in the USAF; the other half I froze and will send with my boyfriend, who will be away in DC for a month of lectures.

I used whole wheat pastry flour, which will boost the fiber and nutrient content, but still yield a tender crumb. I also used less honey than the previous recipe. Note: I didn’t have buttermilk, so I combined skim milk with 1 Tbsp of white vinegar.

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup honey
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, spice, and salt and whisk.
3. In a small bowl, combine honey, pumpkin puree, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and egg and whisk.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
5. Stir in the chocolate chips.
6. Divide the batter evenly among muffin cups (standard 12).
6. Bake for 14-17 minutes, rotating halfway, until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

Notes: Unfortunately, the sides and bottoms got too brown. Next time: reduce heat to 350 F. Also, increase honey back to 1/2 cup. Though I don’t want an overly sweet muffin (nice excuse to have it for breakfast), I feel like it needed a boost. Maybe not. Needs more work!