Gluten free healthy carrot cake muffins
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Who wants to have their cake and eat it too? Definitely me. I have a big sweet tooth and love love love cookies, brownies, cake, chocolate…basically any dessert. I will eat it. And that’s ok. I don’t say no to something if I really want it, except of course if it is something that I know will wreak havoc on my intestines. And even in that case I just find something comparable that I can eat and enjoy. So when I realized easter was coming up and I was craving carrot cake, I wanted to make my own version that was gluten free, not super sweet, and full of those carrot cake spices. So I made these healthy carrot cake muffins for myself, and I guess my husband too, but mostly myself.

 

Perfect for breakfast, brunch, or a snack, these healthy carrot cake muffins are made with almond flour so they are also gluten free!

 

When I first made these healthy carrot cake muffins, I made a version that was a little higher in sugar (1/2 cup maple syrup instead of a 1/4 cup). It was good, but a little too sweet for a muffin, it reminded me more of a cupcake. And while I don’t really give my 15 month old daughter things with added sugar very often, I did put a few pieces of the muffin on her plate towards the end of dinner. I expected her to gobble it all down immediately but she didn’t. She had a few bites and then actually left some on her plate. While she did eat some of it, and enjoy it (she indicated this by making “mmmm” sounds), she listened to her body and stopped when she was full. I feel like that is a great lesson for us all!

 

Gluten free healthy carrot cake muffins

 

So how can you stop eating more than what you need? You are likely not a baby if you are reading this post (If you are, congratulations on reading so early!), so you might feel like you have lost some of your ability to self regulate. Most of us preserve this function until about 2 years old but after that, external instead of internal cues can be more influential if we are not careful. I’m sure many of you were told growing up that you needed to “clean your plate,” and that there were “starving children” somewhere, and you were being wasteful. It was a different time then, and we know so much more now how these practices undermine our ability to self regulate. One thing I like to do is to take smaller portion sizes. If I am hungry I allow myself to get more, but it gives me time to pause and ask myself “am I still hungry?” or “do I really want more?” instead of just mindlessly eating everything off my heaping plate.

 

Gluten free healthy carrot cake muffins

 

Anyways…lets get to those healthy carrot cake muffins. In order to turn a carrot cake with a limited amount of nutrients, into something healthier that is absolutely still delicious, I changed up a few ingredients and made it into muffins for easier portion control. Instead of all-purpose flour (very little nutrients) I went with an almond flour. Never tried baking with almond flour before? It’s amazing. It is basically ground up almonds so you are getting healthy fats, protein, fiber plus other vitamins and minerals. It is really light and fluffy and…I just love the almond flavor. Because the almond flour contains fat in it, I don’t usually see the need to add any extra oil. So instead, I used some applesauce to give it some natural sweetness so I can cut back on the maple syrup.

 

Oh and if you do want more of a cupcake then a muffin, just follow the recipe below but increase the maple syrup to 1/2 cup.

 

Healthy Carrot Cake Muffins

Ingredients

2 Cups Almond Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Ginger
1 Teaspoon Nutmeg
2 Eggs
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Applesauce
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Finely Shredded Carrots (about 3 carrots)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12 muffin-muffin tin with cooking spray. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices in a large mixing bowl. In a separate medium size bowl lightly beat eggs, maple syrup, applesauce, and vanilla. Stir wet ingredients slowly into flour mixture until consistent throughout. Fold in carrots.  Fill muffin tin with batter evenly, about 1/2 to 3/4 way. Place in preheated oven and cook for 18-20 min or until edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Use a knife or fork to loosen edges of muffins and remove from tin. Serve or keep in an airtight container until ready to eat.
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Breakfast Quinoa
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Quinoa is a delicious whole grain that has been around since pretty much forever, but has become more popular over the past several years. It is gluten free, high in protein, high in fiber, and readily available at the grocery store. I actually prefer it to brown rice for quick weeknight meals because it cooks faster. But until recently I didn’t think that “breakfast quinoa” was a thing.

 

Over the past few days I had been craving a warm bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, but unfortunately oatmeal does not agree with me…Even gluten free oatmeal makes me feel like a giant ball of trapped gas. And I was out of buckwheat cereal. So I thought why not make quinoa for breakfast? I could use fruit and warm breakfasty spices to make it similar to oatmeal! So I went to work and made a batch adding whatever ingredients I could find. I was able to rustle up some gala apples and dried cranberries which went together perfectly with the quinoa and spices. It turned out great and I even had leftovers for the next morning! It kinda reminded me of the McDonald’s Oatmeal but with much less sugar.

Breakfast Quinoa

Because of the higher protein content than oatmeal, quinoa may even help you feel fuller for longer! I definitely will be making quinoa for breakfast again. I think I will play with the flavors and try different types of fruits/spices/milk in this recipe. You should too! Let me know in the comments what different flavors you tried…I want to know! I think next time I might try it with pears, pecans and almond milk. Or maybe a tropical fruit with coconut milk when the weather gets warmer…

 

Breakfast Quinoa with Apples and Cranberries

 

Ingredients

1 1/2 Cups Water

1/2 Cup Uncooked Quinoa

1/2 Teaspoon Allspice

1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon

1 Medium Apple – Washed, Cored and Diced

2 Tablespoons Dried Cranberries

1 Teaspoon Brown Sugar

Milk of Choice (Optional for topping)

 

Directions

Bring water to a boil in a medium pot. Add quinoa, allspice and cinnamon to boiling water. Stir, cover, and reduce heat to simmer for 10 minutes. Add apples, cranberries and brown sugar. Stir, recover and all to simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat and serve. Top with milk (skim, almond, rice, soy…) if desired.

 

Breakfast Quinoa

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Banana Bread
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I hate wasting food and 3 bananas have been sitting in my fruit basket, getting browner and browner every day…. Instead of throwing them out, I decided to make some banana bread. When looking for a good recipe I noticed that a lot of them contained white refined flour, lots of sugar and butter or oil. So I made some simple substitutions to make a healthier banana bread that I could enjoy without too much guilt.

First, I used a gluten free all purpose flour to replace the white flour. But….just because a product is gluten free it does not mean it is healthy! There are a lot of gluten free flours made with mostly refined white rice flour which lacks nutrients, just like regular all purpose flour, so you have to be careful which kind you select. I like Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour because its main ingredient is garbanzo bean flour. This adds some fiber goodness and other nutrients to the flour mix. Another easy substitution I used was applesauce for oil or melted butter. This decreases calories and fat and adds natural sugar so I am able to decrease the amount of added sugar I use without compromising the taste of the banana bread.

Overall, I was pleased with how well my healthy substitutions worked out and how easy this recipe was to make. I hope you enjoy it!

Gluten Free Banana Bread

Ingredients
Cooking spray
2-3 Over Ripe Bananas – about 1 heaping cup mashed
1/2 Cup Applesauce
1 Egg
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 1/2 Cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9×5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside. Mash the bananas in a large mixing bowl with a fork until fairly smooth. Stir in applesauce and then add and mix in remaining ingredients, adding flour last.  Pour batter into loaf pan and cook in oven for 60 min. Allow to cool and serve.

Gluten Free Banana Bread
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