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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Butternut Squash Soup
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I love butternut squash in the winter. It’s a nice hearty veggie and there are so many different flavor options. You can go sweet, salty, or even spicy. It is also chock full of nutrients like vitamin a, potassium, and fiber, and is low in calories. Per the USDA, 1 cup of cooked cubed butternut squash has only 82 calories, 6.6g of fiber, and 582mg of potassium.

Anyways, I have been meaning to try making a butternut squash soup for some time but just had not gotten around to it. So, a few weeks ago I was attempting to make my whole grain butternut squash risotto (which you can find here) and it did not turn out exactly as expected. My butternut squash risotto ended up turning into a mushroom risotto because I accidentally fell asleep with the butternut squash in the oven, and it got a bit over cooked…whoops. It was pretty mushy by the time I woke up and both myself and my husband prefer more firm chunky pieces of butternut squash in risotto (he hates mushy foods). So the overcooked butternut squash was transformed into a delicious velvety, smooth, soup. If you saw my facebook live video today about what is in my freezer, you may have seen me pull out a tupperware containing this soup. I am saving some for when I inevitably catch another cold from Baby V.

 

Butternut Squash Soup

 

Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients

2 Cups Cooked and Mashed Butternut Squash

2 Cups Unsalted Vegetable Broth

1 Teaspoon Olive Oil

1/2 Teaspoon Ginger

1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg

Pinch of Salt

1/4 Cup Apple Juice

 

Directions

Throw everything in a pot and cook on medium heat until warmed to your liking.

 

Butternut Squash Soup

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Mediterranean Quinoa Bake
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When I’m short on time or I’m running low on fresh vegetables, I like to combine fresh veggies with canned ones for a quick and easy meal that still helps me meet my nutritional needs. When buying canned ingredients, I compare different brands and choose the one that is lowest in sodium, preferably no salt added, if possible. I also drain and rinse my canned beans and veggies that do have salt added to help further decrease the sodium level. If you like to use a lot of canned ingredients I would suggest investing in a little mini colander so you can easily rinse off your canned beans and veggies without having to use your bigger one. That way you can save precious dishwasher space and you may be more likely to actually take the time to rinse them off 🙂

 

 

Mediterranean Quinoa Bake

 

 

This week was pretty busy so I wanted to make a really easy, healthy and delicious meal that would be able to feed both me and my husband for two nights. Throwing veggies, beans, and whole grains into a pan and baking it seemed like a really good way to accomplish my goal. I also wanted to do a vegetarian dish because 1) I love vegetarian dishes, 2) Adding meat seemed like an unnecessary extra step, and 3) My friend Stephanie is a vegetarian who loves casseroles/bakes and is always looking for healthy recipes…so this recipe was partly for her. I chose to use mediterranean flavors in this recipe because I love them… annnnd I also happened to have a can of artichokes in my pantry I wanted to use. So if you like easy healthy recipes, veggies, chickpeas, and quinoa, this recipe is just for you.

 

Mediterranean Quinoa Bake

Mediterranean Quinoa Bake

Ingredients 
1 Cup Uncooked Quinoa
1 Can (16 oz) Reduced Sodium Chickpeas- Drained and Rinsed
1 Can (14 oz) Quartered Artichoke Hearts- Drained and Rinsed
1 Can (12 oz) Roasted Red Peppers- Drained and Rinsed
3 Cups Raw Baby Spinach
4 Plum Tomatoes – Sliced
1 Cup Low Sodium Vegetable Broth
1 Teaspoon Minced Garlic
1 Teaspoon Dried Basil
1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
3/4 Cup Reduced Fat Crumbled Feta Cheese
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar

Directions
Cook quinoa according to package directions and preheat oven to 350 degrees. While quinoa is cooking, add remaining ingredients except for feta cheese and balsamic vinegar to a large mixing bowl. Toss ingredients together mixing well. After quinoa is done cooking, spread quinoa evenly in a 9×13 inch glass baking pan. Top with veggie mixture. Cook in oven for 20 minutes or until veggies are warm and soft. Remove from oven, sprinkle feta cheese and drizzle balsamic vinegar over the top of casserole. Place back in oven for about 5 more minutes until cheese is warm and slightly soft. Remove from oven and serve. Enjoy!
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