Carrot cake is a master food at hitting that stride between fresh and decadent. And come to think of it, that’s how I want my mornings to be: I want to feel awake and energized yet comfortable and slightly luxurious. Maybe that’s why these quinoa carrot cake muffins make such a great breakfast. They give me what I need to hit the ground running, but they make me feel like I’m doing it in fuzzy slippers.
If you just want the recipe, skip to the bottom. I’m about to go on at length about how these came about.
The inspiration for these muffins didn’t come from the usual place, the usual place being an insane personal craving of mine which must be fulfilled. This time it was from a real live carrot cake Graeme and I made for his co-workers’ birthday. It was the library’s first celebration with Graeme as manager (woohoo!) so we wanted to make an extra great cake everyone would love. It wasn’t healthy, but it was good. OMG we worked hard on it. I snapped this pic after about 4 hours of caking, at 11 p.m. Delirium was setting in.
So I had carrot cake on my mind (and recently, in my mouth) and a wealth of carrots in my possession, having bought about 10x more than I needed to make the library cake. A healthy carrot cake creation was clearly in my near future, and I was heartset that quinoa would be in it too. For some reason I’ve been really hot to bake with quinoa lately.
I figured muffins were my best bet for a healthy carrot cake-inspired creation because they’re a lot more fool-proof than cakes, and also I was pretty much caked-out. I may remain caked-out until October, at which point I know I won’t be able to resist making something fun for Graeme’s dad’s birthday. My idea of ‘fun’ is leaning in the direction of chocolate and chili at this point. Probably no quinoa in that one though.
But anyway, I tried several version of quinoa carrot cake muffins: vegan, gluten free, vegan and gluten free, and none of them worked well. The last batch I tried came out like carrot and quinoa hockey pucks and would totally hurt if someone threw them at you. I know when I need help, so I looked around a bit and found a quinoa carrot cake muffin recipe on She Knows that’s neither vegan nor gluten free but still looked pretty reasonable so I made some tweaks and gave it a try. Their recipe says it yields 6 muffins, but I came up with 8. I could have made mine more hulking, I guess.
So here’s my version, made with agave instead of sugar, Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, almonds instead of walnuts (no reason except I like almonds) and some extra seasoning. I also used pureed roasted peaches in place of unsweetened applesauce because I had some on hand. The muffins are sweet, nutty and nicely filling, and perfect with a hot morning beverage. I found they’re also a great afternoon snack, and wonderful at the end of a light dinner. And a nice treat before bed. In other words, I can’t leave them alone. They’re like carrot cake’s cousin who works out a lot but still, carrot cake. Nom.
Eat Healthy Eat Happy
5 minPrep Time
25 minCook Time
30 minTotal Time
- 1/2 c whole wheat flour
- 1/2 c cooked quinoa
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 c agave
- 1/2 c fat free Greek yogurt
- 1/4 c pureed roasted peaches (or use unsweetened applesauce)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1 egg
- 1 medium-large carrot, grated
- 1/4 c raisins
- 1/2 c roasted almonds
- 1 Tbs agave (for topping)
- Heat the oven to 350. Spray 8 cups of a 12 cup muffin tin with nonstick. Grate the carrots and squeeze them by fistfulls to remove some of the excess water.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, quinoa, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking powder. In another bowl, combine the agave, yogurt, pureed fruit, vanilla, orange zest and egg. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in the carrot and raisins.
- Even portion the batter into the muffin tin and top each portion with almonds. Drizzle a little agave over the almonds. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the muffins feel firm and springy when touched.
Plan to cook 1/2 c or more dried quinoa to get the 1/2 cup cooked quinoa you need. br]
Adapted from [She Knows Quinoa Carrot Cake Breakfast Muffins
Per 91g muffin: 203 calories (18 calories from fat); 2.0g fat (3%)(0g trans); 21mg cholesterol (7%); 21mg sodium (1%); 43.3g carbohydrates (14%); 3.3g fiber (13%); 4.9g protein; Vitamin A 26%; Calcium 6%; Vitamin C 1%; Iron 18%; Potassium 7%