carrot muffins

My Dad bought a 5 pound bag of baby carrots that was about to go bad, so I had a lot of fun experimenting with various carrot recipes — carrot cake Lara bars, carrot cake granola, carrot pancakes… but my carrot-fest would definitely not be complete without a real carrot cake! 

This is the famous, perfected recipe by Grandpa Sam, which has been tested and loved by many
I altered the perfect recipe ever so slightly, adding some cloves, allspice and a bit of freshly ground ginger root.

These are extremely moist, tender and sweet, with a rich, warm, spicy aroma. Simply put, the best carrot muffins I have ever had. Delicious with a big shmear of cream cheese. Oh, and these get even better with age, so pop them in the fridge for a while for an even better treat (if you can wait that long!).
What’s the best muffin you’ve ever eaten?
With love,
Erica

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp fresh ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice
  • 1 cup raisins

Directions


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line 2 muffin tins with a paper liners.

  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, allspice and cinnamon. Set aside.

  3. In a large bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, oil, sugar, ginger and vanilla. Mix well. Add flour mixture and mix well.

  4. In a medium bowl, combine shredded carrots, coconut, walnuts, pineapple and raisins.

  5. Using a large wooden spoon or a very heavy whisk, add carrot mixture to batter and fold in well.

  6. Pour into muffin tins, and bake at 350
    degrees F (175 degrees C) for 20-25 minutes. Check with toothpick.

  7. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving. 

Adapted from Sam’s Famous Carrot Cake

carrot cake lara bar copycat

 Bars are one of my favorite snacks to pack myself during the day, they are compact, non-messy, and delicious! Lara bars are some of my favorite bars to carry around with me because of their simple, pure ingredients and delicious flavors (unlike the dreaded Power Bar!). The one downer about these bars is that they are so expensive (a $2 price tag per bar!). That’s why I learned how to make them even better and cheaper at home!

Sometimes I find Lara bars a little too sweet from all of the dates. Although these bars are sweetened with dates (no refined sugar!), dates are not the main ingredient. I used some of the huge bag of carrots (the same one that led to a carrot cake, carrot pancakes, carrot cake granola, and some moist carrot muffins), some spicy cinnamon, sweet plump raisins and some shredded coconut — and they  tastes just like big slices of carrot cake. 
These bars are moist, dense, and a little bit chewy. They have no refined sugar (naturally sweetened by dates and raisins). They are full of fiber, beta-carotene, vitamins A, C and K, and potassium, thanks to the carrots.  These could also easily be made gluten free by subbing in GF flour. Are you sold yet? Oh, and they taste kind of like pumpkin pie. Now you’re sold. I was surprised that this homemade version ended up tasting much better than the packaged bars. Healthy has never tasted this decadent before! These little bites are perfect for a pre/post workout snack, 3-o’clock pick-me-up, or even breakfast, as they are natural and full of nutrition.
What is your favorite Lara Bar flavor?

With love, 
Erica

Ingredients

  • 10 medjool dates, pits removed (about 5.5 ounces)
  • 2 cups shredded carrots (from about 5 medium carrots)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 banana, mashed
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried coconut
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour, white whole wheat flour, or gluten-free flour (I used Arrowhead Mills Sprouted Wheat Flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pecans (optional)

Lightly spray or oil an 8×8-inch baking pan. Preheat oven to 375F.
Place the pitted dates in a food processor and pulse until the dates
are chopped and begin to form a paste (or pound them with a rolling pin if you are like me, and don’t have a food processor). Scrape them into a bowl and add
all ingredients EXCEPT flour, baking powder, and pecans. Stir until all
ingredients are well-blended.
Combine the flour and baking powder in a small bowl and mix well.
Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir until just
blended. Spoon it into the prepared pan, sprinkle with pecans if
desired, and press them lightly into the batter with the back of a
spoon. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting into 12 bars and
serving.

Nutrition (per serving, including walnuts): 128 calories, 9 calories
from fat, 1.1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 57.2mg sodium, 309.7mg
potassium, 30.3g carbohydrates, 3.6g fiber, 18.5g sugar, 2g protein, 3.9
points.

Adapted from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

carrot cake pancakes

So I told you about that huge bag of carrots sitting in my fridge? I’ve been going to town making all sorts of carrot treats, like carrot cake Lara bars, carrot muffins, carrot cake granola, and a big ol’ carrot cake. But I was forgetting about one of my favorite kinds of cake… pancakes.

These are extremely moist, fluffy pancakes with the warm and spicy aromas of carrot cake.  Carrot cake has always been a favorite of mine, probably because it is usually covered with luscious cream cheese frosting.
Although there is no frosting on these pancakes, I made a killer cream
cheese and Greek yogurt glaze to slather on top of them. Cake for
breakfast anyone?

Plus there are a ton of fun add-ins you can throw in these pancakes, I added some big, buttery walnut pieces, some sweet, plum raisins, and topped it all off with some toasty coconut shavings. These are such a fun twist on traditional pancakes (because some one can only eat blueberry pancakes for so long…)
Do you have any funky pancake recipes?
With love,
Erica

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves 

  • 1 egg lightly beaten

  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar


  • 1 cup milk

  • 1 cup

    grated carrot

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese 

 In a bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients. Combine the egg, brown sugar, carrots, milk and vanilla in another bowl. Stir carrots into dry ingredients until just moistened. Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a greased griddle or skillet. Turn when bubbles form on top of the pancake, and cook until golden brown. For the cream cheese glaze, place cream
cheese, powdered sugar, and Greek yogurt in a bowl and whisk until
smooth. Add water or milk until you achieve desired consistency.

Adapted from here 

carrot cake granola

Yes, I’ve been going crazy for carrots lately — carrot Lara bars, carrot pancakes, some carrot muffins and a big moist carrot cake slathered with cream cheese frosting. I can say that my dad’s 5 pound bag of carrots was a blessing in disguise, as it left us with a ton of carrot flavored treats.

I always feel ripped off buying granola at the store. Its so expensive, and I can’t help thinking “I could have made this even tastier at home for much cheaper” with every spoonful I eat. Plus, who knows what really goes into the store-bought varieties? (even those super-pricey organic ones). Personally, I find the aroma that fills my kitchen when a batch of granola is toasting in the oven incentive enough to make it at home. (check out my tropical hawaiian granola here)

This granola captures the essence of carrot cake perfectly — full of rich toasty coconut flakes, big buttery pecan pieces, and chewy, sweet raisins . In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if my neighbors thought I had a big ol’ carrot cake baking in the oven. It looks like regular old granola, but its a mouthful of crunchy carrot cake in every bite! Some mornings I wake up and think “Man, all I want today is a big bowl of cake for breakfast” — I’m sure some of you can sympathize. When I pour some cold milk on a big bowl of this granola, the clusters soften ever-so-slightly and the milk resembles cream cheese frosting. Full of rich coconut flakes, big buttery pecan pieces.

So yes, I am proud to say I am a borderline hippie who loves to make her own granola.
Do you have any funky granola flavor ideas for me to try? I am up for a challenge!
With love,
Erica

Ingredients

  • 2  cups old-fashioned oats
  • 2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1 cup honey puff cereal
  • 2 cups puffed brown rice cereal
  • 2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 inch ginger root, grated
  • 1 cup apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup (a little less than) agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup dried coconut
  • 1 cup raisins

How-To

  1. Place two oven racks on the top and bottom 1/3 of the oven.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300°.
  3. Set aside two baking sheets with sides lined with a silpat liner, parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  4. In a large bowl, combine both oats, honey puffs, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and ginger.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the apple sauce, honey, brown sugar, agave, canola oil, vanilla extract and carrots.
  6. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
  7. Pour the granola on the baking sheets, splitting evenly between the two baking sheets.
  8. With a silicone spatula (or any other flat tool), push down the granola to make a compact, flat and even layer of granola.
  9. Place the baking sheets in the oven for 20 minutes (one on the top, one on the bottom).
  10. While that is in the oven, chop your nuts and combine them in a bowl and set aside.
  11. With a large spatula flip over the granola, cut the larger clumps in half and add the nuts and coconut to the baking sheet.
  12. Bake for another 20 minutes stir around and break up any clumps that wouldn’t fit in one bite.
  13. Bake for a final 20-30 minutes, until completely dry and golden brown.
  14. Let the granola cool completely on the baking sheets.
  15. Once cool, add in the raisins
  16. Store in airtight containers and enjoy!

Adapted from Chocolate and Carrots
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