Adding vegetables to baked goods always makes them sound a little bit healthier. Zucchini bread and carrot cake, for instance, sound less indulgent than chocolate cake does, even though vegetables alone don’t make a recipe healthier. But even though they’re not turning your baked goods into health food, those veggies can put you on the right track to make a few other changes that actually do. My Whole Grain Carrot Muffins could easily have become carrot cake muffins, but I decided to make a few changes to my basic recipe that made them just a little bit healthier.
The muffins are made with white whole wheat flour and oatmeal, which both give the muffins a nice texture and a slightly nutty flavor. I also added ground flaxseed to the mix. They’re sweetened with brown sugar and flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla, and while they have a good spice flavor to them, they’re not as sweet as a regular carrot cake would be. These muffins have a slightly hearty feel to them, so you will feel satisfied when you eat one for breakfast and not like you just ate a piece of cake. That said, they’re still soft and moist, and lack the heavy texture that some other whole grain muffins can have. I like to serve these with a little bit of butter or cream cheese, although they are also tasty just as they are.
I prefer using white whole wheat flour because it has a softer texture and a lighter flavor than regular whole wheat flour, although you can certainly experiment with regular whole wheat or a mixture of whole wheat and all purpose if those are the flours that you keep in your kitchen. You could also put a twist on these by adding some shredded coconut into the muffins in place of part of the shredded carrots, or by mixing up the spices with ginger and cardamom instead of cinnamon and nutmeg.
Whole Grain Carrot Muffins
1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
2/3 cup quick cooking oatmeal
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp ground flaxseed
1 large egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/3 cups shredded carrots
Preheat oven to 375F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together white whole wheat flour, oatmeal, baking soda, baking powder, salt and flaxseed.
In a large bowl, whisk together egg, vegetable oil, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.
Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the buttermilk. Stir in the remaining flour mixture until no streaks of dry ingredients remain, then quickly fold in the shredded carrots.
Divide evenly into prepared muffin cups.
Bake for 16-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed.
Turn muffins out onto a wire rack to cool completely before serving.
Cookin CanuckMarch 22, 2013
We try to pack our muffins with whole wheat flour, oats and flax seed, too, but we haven’t given carrot muffins a shot yet. I would love to give these a shot!
Miss KimMarch 23, 2013
What an interesting choice. Sounds lovely with a cup of coffee in the morning!
Joshua Hampton (Cooking Classes San Diego)March 24, 2013
I haven’t made muffins in a while, ever since my wife and I resolved to eat healthier, mostly because I haven’t really figured out how to make muffins healthier. It’s a great thing I found this recipe of yours. I’m looking forward to adding muffins to our usual breakfast fare again.
Obsessive Compulsive Baking DisorderMarch 24, 2013
Vegetable based cakes are amazing and always so super moist, I’ve made many recipes very similar to this. Personally though, I can’t eat carrot cake without walnuts in it and on top, delicious! Maybe pecans too.
FrancesApril 19, 2013
I like that you added the ground flaxseed to your recipe. Flaxseed has so many health benefits and is easy to add a little into recipes such as this one. Like you I don’t like my carrot muffins to be sweet like cake. The carrots and spices add enough to the sweetness to not have to add so much sugar. I always think of muffins as having more of a texture than cupcakes and the oatmeal would really make the texture perfect. I would say this recipe looks spot on and I can’t wait to try it with the fresh carrots this summer 🙂
NSApril 23, 2013
Hi. Is the oatmeal ground (powdered) or whole?
KimOctober 1, 2013
The vegetable oil can be substituted with coconut oil which has the same fat properties for baking purposes but much healthier properties as way as body absorption goes. Also, buttermilk could easily be substituted with yogurt for a healthier outcome.