Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Carrot-Banana Whole Wheat Muffins (or cupcakes)

My little girl turned one year old a few months back. Since family and a few friends came from across the US to celebrate her when she got baptized the month before and then we spent 3 weeks in Fiji leading up to her birthday, we really just wanted to keep her birthday very low-key. 

We also knew that our little one year old didn't need to have a real cake made with sugar. She didn't know any better, and we figure she'll have the rest of her life to be addicted to sugar like her mother. 

I stumbled upon 101 cookbooks's delicious recipe for a "cake" made with no sugar. It's naturally sweetened with dates and bananas. I had never had a date before, but I thought I'd give it a try.

This is the kind of recipe that makes you want to turn up your favorite music, open the windows to let the breeze flow in, and celebrate the ingredients. It feels good.

{Those are carrots on the right, not cheddar cheese, despite what it looks like.}

What we ended up with was something like 18 rustic muffins, and I think John had 2. One year old LE and I ate 16 muffins in 7 days, and I think it was pretty evenly split between the two of us. She loved them. They made the perfect snack and breakfast for pre-molar toddlers who need something more nutritious than Cheddar Bunnies to snack on and less messy than things like yogurt and fruit. 

Since posting about LE's birthday, I've been asked for the recipe a few times by friends. Here it is in all of it's glory! Please visit 101 cookbooks's site to see the original or if you think you'd rather make it in a loaf form. 

I opted for cupcakes for LE's birthday. They are cupcakes when they were frosted and muffins when they weren't. Of course, I prefer frosting to no frosting, but this last time I didn't make it at all. Frosting or not, they turn out very moist and slightly sweet. They don't self-level while baking, so if you're looking for something a little less rustic, you will want to take the time to smooth them out on top after spooning in the batter.

To save a little prep time, I used my food processor to process the nuts first, then the dates, and then the carrots. I didn't wash the bowl between processing and just did the chopping in order of driest to wettest ingredient.

Banana Carrot Cupcakes (or Muffins)
From 101 Cookbooks; for the loaf version, go to the original recipe

Makes 18 regular muffins, or 12 regular + 12 mini

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or white all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2-2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
4 ounces unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup dried chopped dates
3 ripe bananas (1 1/4 cups)
1 1/2 cups grated carrots (about 3 medium)
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (2% or lowfat is ok)
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350. Use paper or silicone cups, spray with cooking spray, or use butter to prep the muffin tin. 

Into a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the walnuts.

In a small bowl, combine the dates and melted butter. Mash with a fork and try to break down the dates as much as possible. 

In a large bowl, mash the bananas (I used my hands), add the carrots, and combine. Add the date/butter mixture. 

In the small bowl used for the dates/butter (or use a separate bowl if you like to wash dishes), whisk together the eggs and yogurt. Add the mixture to the large bowl with the carrots/bananas/dates/butter, and stir well to combine.

Add the sifted flour mixture to the wet ingredients, stirring until it's just combined. Streaks of flour are good, but make sure you don't have pockets of flour. It's better to undermix a tad than overmix.

Spoon into the prepared muffin tins, filling to almost the top since the muffins won't expand too much. Place in the middle of the oven, and bake for 30-35 minutes. They're ready when the tops are turning golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let it cool on a rack. 

These are delicious topped with a basic cream cheese frosting to serve as cupcakes. For a refined sugar-free frosting, see the original recipe. Personally, I don't care for that one.  Or, serve warm with or without butter as a muffin for breakfast or a snack.


  1. Happy birthday to the lil cutesy one! I love how rustic these look. I'm a fan of dates, and with whole wheat and carrot, I can only imagine how wholesome and hearty these would be! And just between you and me, this would probably make the cut to sneaking in some non-sugar-loaded muffins for the mister's lunchbox without him scrunching his face :P

  2. Mmm, I love that bread. Your muffins look fantastic! I will try making that loaf into muffins next time. I would think they would be better to freeze, that way I can take one or two out at a time.
    I know exactly what you mean about giving a one year old a sugar filled cake. Your daughter is adorable!

  3. mmm muffins special for my little brother))) i think, perfect with cottage-chesse and honey
    thanks for the recipe ^)

  4. Heidi- Yes, I imagine that would make freezing these would be much easier than the whole loaf.

    ovenhaven- I seriously doubt he'll know there's no sugar. ;)

    Диана - I never had thought of that combination before. I'll have to try that sometime!

  5. Yum! I have a few bananas that would be perfect for this right now. I think I may have to add a little bit of cream cheese icing to the tops though:)

  6. Yum!! Sounds great! Thanks for linking up with Lemon Tree Creations today!

  7. I love this recipe, I think I am going to make it for my little girl's 1st birthday in October. I also wanted to say that the photography on your site is absolutely beautiful! Can I ask what camera you use, I am looking to get a new one.

  8. I just made these this morning and they were delicious!

  9. kelli-- yes, they are sooo addicting with cream cheese frosting. Beware! ;)

    serenity2222-- I think it'd be perfect for the 1st birthday, especially if no one is expecting the sugary traditional kind! Thank you for the sweet comment on the photography! I found your email on your blog, and I'll email information to you about the camera and lens.

    anonymous-- thanks for coming back to let me know!

  10. This is just a recipe I'm looking for. Will try it. I'm sure it will be delicious! Love the look on your daughter's face. She is so adorable!


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