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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Gluten Free Almond Chickpea Blondies, Healthy, Dessert
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It has been a bit of time since I posted a new recipe…between going on vacation with my family, having a sick baby, hurricane Irma, and of course work, time has been pretty limited. But the hurricane is gone, things have calmed down and we have survived. Irma didn’t cause any damage on our property and our electricity was only off for a little more than a day so we were pretty lucky. Especially when considering all of the downed trees and fences in our neighborhood.

 

Gluten Free Almond Chickpea Blondies

 

Because of all our hurricane prep, I now find myself up to my eyeballs in canned beans. I used a can of black beans to make burrito bowls for dinner last night and me and Baby V both had leftovers for lunch today… But i still have like 10 cans of various kinds of beans taking up precious space in my pantry. So I’m sure many of you in Florida are also facing a similar problem. And I have a few solutions. 1) Hurricane season is not over yet so you can always save them in your garage or some other place, or 2) Slowly try new recipes and experiment with them. If you choose option 2 (which is way more fun), I have some links to a few of my recipes for you and will also share my Almond Chickpea Blondies recipe. It is super almondy – so if you love almonds you will loooooove these. If you are not a huge fan of almonds then definitely check out the list below for other options for using up those canned beans. Oh and also I just want to mention how super super easy this recipe is. I love recipes where I dirty minimal dishes and basically just mix everything together and bake…these Almond Chickpea Blondies are just that type of recipe.

 

Gluten Free Almond Chickpea Blondies, Healthy, Dessert

 

 

Some of My Favorite Recipes with Canned Beans

Mediterranean Quinoa Bake – I use a combination of fresh and canned ingredients (including chickpeas) to make this simple flavorful vegetarian bake. Perfect for Meatless Monday or any other busy weeknight.

Coffee and Cream Brownies – Black bean brownies made with coffee and cream cheese to help hide the “bean” taste. Great for coffee and/or chocolate lovers.

Turkey Chili – Uses both kidney beans and black beans, and has some pretty great flavor.

Chicken and White Bean Soup with Veggies – The name pretty much says it all…

Peanut Butter Black Bean Brownies – Definitely one of my favorite brownie recipes – classic combo of peanut butter and chocolate. Also… super easy.

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers – These are kinda like burrito bowls, except the bowl is a pepper. My favorite part though, is all the melty cheese…

 

Ok…and now for a new recipe 🙂

 

Gluten Free Almond Chickpea Blondies, Healthy, Dessert

 

 

Almond Chickpea Blondies

Ingredients

1 Can (16 oz) Reduced Sodium Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans – Drained and Rinsed

1 Egg

1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder

1/2 Cup Honey or Maple Syrup

1 Cup Almond Flour

1 Teaspoon Almond Extract

1/3 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray glass pan (8×8) with cooking spray. Add all ingredients except the chocolate chips to a good blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Fold in chocolate chips and spoon onto prepared pan. Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until edges start to brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool before slicing.

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Black Bean Brownies
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Replacing all purpose flour in brownie recipes with black beans can be a great start to make brownies more nutritious (less refined flour, more plant based protein and fiber), but sometimes they can turn out less than appetizing. After trying my hand at many different desserts containing beans, I have found two important rules. First, you need to mask the bean flavor with other stronger complementary flavors. Second, make sure you have enough dry ingredients.  If you don’t follow those rules, you end up with mushy bean dessert. Lucky for you, I already did all the baking and testing so you don’t have to subject yourself to some of my previous awful recipes 🙂

 

Black Bean BrowniesBlack Bean Brownies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you like peanut butter, you can check out my peanut butter black bean brownies here. But if coffee and cream brownies sound more your style read on…

 

 

Black Bean Brownies

I originally shunned away from the idea of using coffee in black bean brownies because I was afraid it would be an overpowering flavor and I am not a huge coffee drinker. However, coffee does have a lot of antioxidants and research suggests health benefits, including reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes and alzheimer’s disease. Additionally I received a sample of Kohana Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate from Kohana Coffee to participate in their recipe contest, so it seemed like the perfect time to give it a try. I’m really happy I did try because the coffee really amped up the chocolate flavor, masked the beans and didn’t make the brownies taste overly coffee-like. Bonus antioxidants in your dessert are always something to celebrate!

 

Coffee and Cream Brownies

Ingredients
1 Can of Reduced Sodium Black Beans- Drained and Rinsed
2 Large Eggs
3 Tablespoons Strong Coffee (I used Kohana Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate)
4 Ounces Reduced Fat Cream Cheese
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
3/4 Cups Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/3 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 inch glass baking pan with cooking spray. Add all ingredients except for chocolate chips into a good blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Pour into prepared glass pan and sprinkle chocolate chips over batter evenly. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool, slice and enjoy. Cover and keep refrigerated if saving for later.

***If you would like to vote for this recipe and/or my Berry Chocolate Iced Coffee recipe (it’s delicious too!) go to http://kohanacontest.com/contest/ and vote!

Black Bean Brownies
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