In the world of diet books and health talk, muffins tend to get a pretty bad rap. We hear lots about their high sugar content, their enriched flour and their deliciously butter-filled insides. And then there are the stats that say that eating one large muffin for breakfast is akin to putting away a mega-sized ice cream Sunday or half a bag of cookies. Blurg. Why can’t they leave our muffins alone?
But alas, there is a compromise! Unlike a lot of muffins that are really just glorified cake (and so, so yummy because of it), these little carrot numbers are arguably more worthy of the healthy breakfast label. With only 1/3 cup of sugar dispersed among the dozen, they’re just sweet enough. And they’re packed with carrots, which is another vitamin-filled plus. Throw in the winning (not to mention generous) combo of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves, and there’s definitely no skimping on flavor.
• 2 ½ cups whole-wheat pastry flour
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon (I upped this from the original 2 teaspoons.)
• 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
• ½ teaspoon ground allspice
• ½ teaspoon ground cloves
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 2 eggs
• 1/3 cup raw brown (turbinado) sugar
• 1/3 cup canola oil
• 1 1/3 cups buttermilk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2/3 cup golden raisins, tossed with 1 teaspoon unbleached all-purpose flour (or you could use 2/3 cup chopped pecans instead)
• 1 ½ cups grated carrots
Preheat oven to 375 degrees (oven rack should be in upper third of oven). Oil or butter 12 muffin tins, or line them with muffin cups.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, sugar, oil, buttermilk and vanilla. Using a whisk or spatula, stir in the dry ingredients, and mix until well combined. Do not beat; a few lumps are fine, but you don’t want any flour left on the bottom of the bowl. Fold in raisins (or pecans) and carrots.
Spoon batter into muffin cups until they’re about 4/5 full. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until lightly browned and well risen.
What healthy spins do you take to make muffins a healthier option for a weekday morning? Do you go the whole-wheat route? Downplay the sugar? Or maybe throw in some extra ingredients that up the protein, fiber or overall good-for-you-ness? Share your best tips!