Healthier apricot carrot cake

Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes

Cake with vegetables sounds healthy, but is usually far from it. This version lightens up the traditional recipe with dried apricots, applesauce, and coconut sugar; reduces the fat and swaps in coconut oil; and swaps out half of the white flour for whole wheat. Add in walnuts for Omega-3s (or leave them out to make this school safe) and you have a healthier option for your Easter table that’s equally delicious and showstopping.

Take me to the cake!

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I’m still struggling with the eternal question: Is it worth it to healthify desserts? If my kid factors into the equation, then yes. He’s often satisfied with a “healthy” sweet. I, on the other hand, really wanted a doughnut for breakfast and no amount of healthy treats was going to cut it.

However! If there’s a recipe ripe for healthifying, a dessert starring a vegetable is it.

I started recipe testing this cake by dumping everything into a bowl and calling it a day. The results were delicious, but dense, so I decided to do as others have done and whip the eggs and sugar at the start to make the crumb a bit lighter. Often, cake directions tell you to cream butter and sugar / butter and eggs / sugar and eggs (as in this case) until they’re “light and fluffy.” Unfortunately, the coconut sugar is so dark that you’ll never really achieve this. What you want instead is just to aerate the eggs, sugar, and other liquids. Don’t worry about it too much, just make sure that you see lots of bubbles once all of the liquid is combined.

Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes
Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes

Alone, this cake is delicious, but tastes like a muffin or a quick bread, not a cake. But slathered in cream cheese frosting, this is a CAKE.

Can I tell you a secret about making the frosting? I don’t measure the sugar. You heard that: I don’t measure the sugar. I mix in a couple of large spoonfuls and then add more to taste. I like a frosting that isn’t too sweet and the beauty of cream cheese frosting is the tang, which gets totally masked by too much sugar.

Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes
Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes
Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes
Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes

Apricot carrot cake

Adapted from Bake from Scratch and Natasha’s Kitchen

Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes (about 45 minutes of active time, including frosting the cake)
Yield: 8 GIANT slices, 10-12 normal slices

1 cup apricots, chopped
1 Tbsp flour (AP or Whole Wheat)
4 eggs
1 cup coconut sugar
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour (pastry or white whole wheat are also great)
1 cup AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
1½ tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
¼ tsp fine sea salt
12 oz carrots; trimmed, peeled, and shredded (about 3 cups, lightly packed shredded carrots)
1 cup walnuts, toasted (optional)

 

Preheat the oven to 375.

Grease two 9-inch cake pans, or a 12-cup muffin tin liberally with melted coconut oil or cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a small bowl, chop the apricots and toss with 1 Tbsp of flour (either AP or whole wheat). Set aside.

Toast your walnuts in the preheating oven, keeping an eye to ensure that they don’t burn while you continue prepping your other ingredients. Set aside.

Trim, peel, and shred your carrots. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together the eggs and sugar for about 3 minutes on a medium high setting (or on high if your hand mixer isn’t very strong). The eggs won’t get lighter in color because the coconut sugar is quite dark, but you will see lots of little air bubbles formed and the volume of the liquid should increase.

Reduce the speed of your mixer to low (medium-low for a hand mixer) and slowly add the oil, applesauce, and vanilla extract.

Sift the dry ingredients together into the wet ingredients. Fold until just combined and no lumps remain.

Fold in the carrots, apricots, and toasted walnuts (if using).

Pour half of the mixture into each cake pan (or, fill each muffin cup until about 2/3 full).

Bake, rotating halfway through, for 20-23 minutes for the cakes or 15-18 minutes for the muffins. You want the cakes to be springy when touched and for a tester to come out with a few crumbs or clean.

Let the cake cool entirely before icing.


Cream cheese frosting
2 blocks cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter (1 cup), softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus more to taste

Combine the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment on your mixer or your hand mixer, combine and whip the butter and cream cheese on high for 3-4 minutes. Add the vanilla and salt and whip on medium to combine.

Add the powdered sugar a few Tbsp at a time and SLOWLY whip the sugar into the rest of the mixture on low (otherwise you’ll have powdered sugar all over your kitchen). Once the initial amount of powdered sugar is incorporated, add more, a few Tbsp at a time, to taste. When all of the sugar you want is incorporated, turn the mixer back to high and whip for 3-4 more minutes.

Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes
Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes



Sweet potato muffins

Sweet potato muffins | Me & The Moose. These one-bowl, whole grain muffins sneak in some vegetables at breakfast, lunch, or snack time. #sweetpotatomuffins #meandthemoose #sweet potatorecipes #thanksgiving #healthybaking

Thanksgiving is here! I love this holiday and the season that follows, but there are definite downsides. I’ve talked about keeping expectations in check with kids and holidays. And while it’s exciting and fun that there’s always something going on: Making cookies, making gifts, buying gifts, wrapping gifts, listening to music, decorating, holiday events, holiday parties, holiday-themed school things, concerts, visiting relatives, etc, it can be…a lot. And for a little one like mine who’s always searching for his equilibrium, it can be.. A WHOLE LOT.

Sweet potato muffins | Me & The Moose. These one-bowl, whole grain muffins sneak in some vegetables at breakfast, lunch, or snack time. #sweetpotatomuffins #meandthemoose #sweet potatorecipes #thanksgiving #healthybaking

So, let’s not add even more by completely abandoning our commitment to balanced eating, mkay?

These sweet potato muffins are a fantastic “sweet” to have around. They feel festive and would certainly make a fitting Thanksgiving breakfast to watch in front of the parade or DOG SHOW (!!!!!!!), but are just sweet enough thanks to the applesauce, a few Tbsp of brown sugar divided between the batter and the muffin tops, a handful of golden raisins, and sweet potatoes.

And did I mention that they only require one bowl? You’ll have enough dishes this week.

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A couple of notes:
- Chop the sweet potatoes into 1/3-1/2 inch chunks. Any bigger and they may not soften enough during baking, but if you shred them, they disappear and make the batter a bit too wet.
- This is a thick batter, almost dough-like in consistency. Don’t worry. It always puffs up well in the oven and results in an airy, light muffin.

Sweet potato muffins | Me & The Moose. These one-bowl, whole grain muffins sneak in some vegetables at breakfast, lunch, or snack time. #sweetpotatomuffins #meandthemoose #sweet potatorecipes #thanksgiving #healthybaking

Sweet potato muffins

4 Tbsp butter or coconut oil, partially melted
½ cup applesauce
1 egg 
1/2 cup brown sugar, divided  
3/4 cup yogurt 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup wheat flour 
1 cup white flour 
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda 
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt 
1 medium sweet potato, cut into tiny squares (about 1.5 cups)
¼ cup golden raisins

Move your oven rack to the bottom or lower middle portion of the oven. Preheat to 375.

In a large bowl, partially melt the butter or coconut oil. Microwave it for a few seconds until it just begins to liquify, but is still partially solid.

Mix in the applesauce, egg, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, yogurt, and vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined and no streaks of flour remain.

Add the chopped sweet potatoes and raisins and stir again to combine.

Spoon the batter into the cups of a muffin tin, filling about 3/4 of the way. Top each muffin with a large pinch or two of brown sugar.

Bake for 18-22 minutes until firm to the touch and a tester in the middle comes out clean. Check after 12-15 minutes and cover if the sugar browns too fast.

Sweet potato muffins | Me & The Moose. These one-bowl, whole grain muffins sneak in some vegetables at breakfast, lunch, or snack time. #sweetpotatomuffins #meandthemoose #sweet potatorecipes #thanksgiving #healthybaking

Almond butter quinoa muffins

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What these muffins have: Good fats, protein, Omega-3s, deliciousness.

What these muffins don't have: Gluten, dairy, refined sugar, wheat, eggs, soy.

Bonus feature: The muffins only require one bowl!

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The new school year already started for lots of the country, but here in CT, M's preschool starts again on Monday. I've been thinking about quick ways to begin our day with protein that don't require cooking in the morning. These muffins are the answer!

Half of the flour is ground quinoa, which has lots of protein. The other half is oatmeal. I originally made these muffins with almond flour instead of oats for even more protein, but the almond flour was so dense that the muffins stuck to the roof of your mouth. You could just feed your kid a spoonful of almond butter and save yourself the trouble.

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With the oatmeal, the muffins are still substantial, but they're no longer dense. They're actually a smidge crumbly because I omitted eggs and any other binding agent. I wanted them to stay vegan and I don't always have the patience to make a flax egg. Letting them cool completely before eating them made them sturdier too. 

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For the first day of school, I thought it might be nice to add some blueberry chia jam and a quick icing to make the muffins more special. (I also called them breakfast cupcakes, which went over VERY WELL.) The jam is simple and free of any added sugar. I used cream cheese and maple syrup for my frosting, but you could also use coconut cream or a pre-made dairy-free topping.

You could also mix the chia jam with some yogurt for a delicious breakfast for the younger set (or the parental set, if I'm honest).

If you're avoiding nuts, substitute coconut or rice milk for the almond milk and use sunflower seed butter in place of the almond butter. Still delicious!

Important note: These muffins are best when fresh, so I recommend freezing 3/4 of the batch and then either defrosting a serving at night for breakfast the next morning, or toasting a frozen one right before eating it.

 

Almond butter quinoa muffins

2 large mashed banana
1 cup creamy natural almond butter, well mixed (or nut butter or seed butter of your choice)
½ cup maple syrup
¼ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or rice, coconut, or other non-dairy milk of choice)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup quinoa flour
1 cup quick oats
½ tsp salt
1½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp pie spice (or cinnamon)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas. Add the almond butter, maple syrup, almond milk, and vanilla extract and mix well.

Add the flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. Mix well. Add the apple cider vinegar and mix again. Let the mixture sit while you prep the muffin tin and prepare the jam and icing (if using).

When ready, spoon the mixture into your muffin tin until each opening is half full.

Bake for 12-14 mins or until the tops turn golden brown and the muffins are firm to the touch.

Let cool completely in the muffin tin before serving.

Yield: 18 muffins

 

For the Blueberry chia jam:
1 pint blueberries
1 ½ Tbsp chia seeds

Put the blueberries into a small sauce pan and cook over a medium low flame until the berries have broken down and become syrupy, about 15 minutes.

Let cool for 5 minutes and add the chia seeds. Mix well.

Place the mixture in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes or until ready to use.

Yield: 1 Tbsp per muffin

 

For the frosting (optional):
2 ¼ cups whipped cream cheese
6 Tbsp maple syrup

Mix the cream cheese and maple syrup well with a spatula. The mixture will look curdled at first. Continue mixing until the two ingredients have come together. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Yield: 2 Tbsp per muffin

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Mexican chocolate zucchini muffins

We had an I-ONLY-WANT-TO-EAT-CAKE-FOR-LUNCH episode recently, so I decided to give the people what they really want: Cake for breakfast. But not!

In honor of Cinco de Mayo tomorrow, I added some cayenne for the slightest of kicks in these healthy-ish breakfast/snack/anytime muffins. In honor of wanting to maintain balance in our diets, I added whole wheat flour, coconut sugar, avocado oil, zucchini, applesauce, and blackberries.

These muffins are really incredibly easy. No need to drain the zucchini or use separate bowls for the mixing. They're also free of dairy and refined sugar if you skip the chocolate chips, and can easily be made vegan by swapping in two flax eggs. The batter is thick (almost like a brownie batter), but puffs up with a light, airy, and not at all dry crumb.

This batch only made 11 muffins because Sticky Fingers here kept munching on the blackberries and chocolate chips I'd measured out. All of my other batches made an even dozen.

This batch only made 11 muffins because Sticky Fingers here kept munching on the blackberries and chocolate chips I'd measured out. All of my other batches made an even dozen.

Mexican chocolate zucchini muffins

1-2 cups shredded zucchini (from one medium zucchini)
2 eggs
1 cup coconut sugar
½ cup avocado oil (coconut and olive oil also work fine)
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
¾ cup white flour
¾ whole wheat flour
3 Tbsp cocoa powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp cayenne or chili powder
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
½ cup semisweet chocolate chunks
1 small container fresh blackberries, or 1 cup frozen berries (not defrosted)

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the shredded zucchini with eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla, and applesauce. Mix well. Add the flours, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cayenne, cinnamon, and salt, and stir until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks (if using) and the blackberries.

Line or spray cupcake tins with coconut oil. Fill each opening ¾ full and bake for 23-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

Yield: 10-12 muffins

Honey, lemon, and ginger spelt muffins

Honey, lemon, and ginger spelt muffins | Me & The Moose. These soothing muffins are healthier than the average morning treat because they contain no white flour and are sweetened with honey. #meandthemoose #muffinrecipes #healthymuffins #speltflourmuffins #lowerglutenrecipes #ancientgrainsrecipes #breakfast #breakfastrecipes #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes

I had a really cliched parenting day yesterday. I spent 30+ minutes tearing around our apartment frantically trying to find M's lovey that was NOWHERE. I finally found her (him?) in my camera case. I forgot that M can do zippers, so I threw the bag back into the closet while straightening up not realizing that he had put lovey in there while I photographed these muffins. Guys. I even picked through the garbage. THE GARBAGE. And then had an entire conversation with Ethan about how we can lojack the thing.

Before someone suggests that we get multiple lovies for this exact scenario, be assured, we're way ahead of you. But our smart cookie knows that the replacement lovey is an imposter and is not soothed.

Honey, lemon, and ginger spelt muffins | Me & The Moose. These soothing muffins are healthier than the average morning treat because they contain no white flour and are sweetened with honey. #meandthemoose #muffinrecipes #healthymuffins #speltflourmuffins #lowerglutenrecipes #ancientgrainsrecipes #breakfast #breakfastrecipes #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipesHoney, lemon, and ginger spelt muffins | Me & The Moose. These soothing muffins are healthier than the average morning treat because they contain no white flour and are sweetened with honey. #meandthemoose #muffinrecipes #healthymuffins #speltflourmuffins #lowerglutenrecipes #ancientgrainsrecipes #breakfast #breakfastrecipes #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes

The (thankfully temporary) loss of lovey was especially harrowing because today is M's first sick day in months. I don't mean to brag, but he hardly ever gets sick. I can say that out loud now because I'm not worried about jinxing myself anymore. Of course he got sick the week that all of our classes were cancelled thanks to a mid-winter school break AND it was 65-degrees, so we spent the entire time outside. Go figure.

Honey, lemon, and ginger spelt muffins | Me & The Moose. These soothing muffins are healthier than the average morning treat because they contain no white flour and are sweetened with honey. #meandthemoose #muffinrecipes #healthymuffins #speltflourmuffins #lowerglutenrecipes #ancientgrainsrecipes #breakfast #breakfastrecipes #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes

When I get sick, Ethan makes me his mom's home remedy of chopped fresh ginger and lemons boiled to death in a few cups of water and then combined with honey. I don't know why it's so soothing, but it makes my throat feel better, eases my coughs, and generally feels warm and cozy. M isn't so into this strong tea, but I put the flavors into a muffin that's also tasty and soothing.

Spelt flour replaces white flour in this recipe and the muffins are only sweetened with honey, so they're on the healthier end of the muffin spectrum. Have I talked about spelt flour here before? I really like it as a replacement for white flour in breads and baked goods because it has a very similar taste and texture. However, it has far more protein, fiber, and vitamins than the plain old AP variety. You can really replace white flour with spelt flour in most baking recipes with little or no modification. (Disclaimer: I haven't tried EVERY recipe with spelt flour, but everything I've tried has worked well. I would not replace cake flour with spelt flour as I think it would change the texture of the finished product, if you care about that sort of thing.)

Honey, lemon, and ginger spelt muffins | Me & The Moose. These soothing muffins are healthier than the average morning treat because they contain no white flour and are sweetened with honey. #meandthemoose #muffinrecipes #healthymuffins #speltflourmuffins #lowerglutenrecipes #ancientgrainsrecipes #breakfast #breakfastrecipes #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes

One more note: These muffins really benefit from fresh ginger. I have this ginger grater and it's a really handy tool. I made my last batch with powdered ginger and they weren't the same. They're fine though, so if powdered is your only option, use 1.5-2 tsp depending on how strong a ginger flavor you want.

Honey, lemon, and ginger spelt muffins

Healthified/Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 scant cup of full fat Greek yogurt
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup honey
zest of 1 large lemon (or 1.5 small lemons)
¼ cup lemon juice
2 eggs
1½ tsp baking powder
½ baking soda
2 cups spelt flour
1-1.5 tsp fresh ginger, grated or minced
¼ tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 400. In a large bowl, whisk to combine the yogurt, olive oil, honey, lemon zest, lemon juice, and ginger. Whisk each egg individually into the batter. To the same bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and stir until just combined.

Prep your muffin tins by either spraying or wiping with olive oil or adding cupcake liners. Do this after mixing the batter in order to let your leaveners (baking soda and baking powder) start to work. Fill cupcake tins about 3/4 full. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Yield: 12 muffins

Honey, lemon, and ginger spelt muffins | Me & The Moose. These soothing muffins are healthier than the average morning treat because they contain no white flour and are sweetened with honey. #meandthemoose #muffinrecipes #healthymuffins #speltflourmuffins #lowerglutenrecipes #ancientgrainsrecipes #breakfast #breakfastrecipes #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes