April officially marks Spring here on the Central Coast which, when it comes to our local markets, is a beautiful thing! Spring produce is great as many of the vegetables coming into season are ones that need little preparation and are often better fresh than cooked for long periods like we get used to over Winter. Topping the list in Spring is asparagus, artichokes, carrots, avocados, fennel, radishes, and peas. There are also fresh herbs, spring onions, spring greens, and one of my favorites, spring garlic. So much goodness! On the fruit front, there are still some last season citrus, as well as strawberries, and late season apples. Fresh season strawberries alone are worth getting excited about as few things smell better than a freshly picked strawberry!
This month’s recipe is an all-rounder in the baked goodness category as it is easy to make and full of pure, whole food goodness. Carrot Harvest Muffins with Apples and Walnuts also incorporate a lot of what is in season. That said, I came up with this recipe in wanting to incorporate what we had on hand, combined with what is at the market, which left me with a delicious muffin, good for snacking and enjoying any time of the day. I had some homemade applesauce on hand which worked great for these muffins and added a little bit of sweet. If you don’t have any applesauce on hand, you can substitute a natural yogurt for a similar effect. I’ve been baking more and more lately with different flours- be it less grain-based and more nut-based as they seem to sit less like a brick in my stomach after being consumed, and provide a more even fuel (read: no sugar highs or lows). Switching more to nut flours also results in inherently fewer carbs which some can take or leave, but usually bringing in more whole food goodness as often the whole nut is used for flours, which makes for more nutrients and fiber, which is a very good thing!
The carrots in Spring are pretty special and taste different than the rest of the year as they are fresh from the ground, as opposed to be picked and stored for months as they often are. Take time to find ones that have been grown organically, or biodynamically, or even better, in your own backyard as the quality of the soil is what lends to more flavorful carrots, but also more nutrient dense as they are usually grown with a mixture of compost and richer soil than a soil that has been depleted of its nutrients. Grating the carrots and apples with a more fine setting on your grater works great because it helps them cook quicker, which is important as raw and crunch wouldn’t be great when the rest of the muffin is cooked. Walnuts are the proper crunch in these muffins and not only lend good flavor but also great nutrients with Omega 3 and fiber, so try to find some local walnuts if you can. These muffins are also dairy free which is good as they are light and easy to digest. Coconut oil is used instead of butter, which adds healthy components while it has high anti-microbial properties, as well as providing medium chain triglycerides for good, sustained energy. Lastly, these muffins are low in sugar as they only have a tablespoon of maple syrup for flavor in the whole recipe. They are naturally sweet from the carrots and apples which keeps for even energy. I love them not only for breakfast, but also for a healthy low-sugar snack any time of the day. Enjoy your Spring!!
Carrot Harvest Muffins with Apples and Walnuts
Makes 12 muffins
For the Muffins:
1 cup almond flour
¼ cup coconut flour
¼ cup tapioca starch
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
⅓ cup coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 T maple syrup or honey
1 cup carrots, finely grated
1 cup apple, finely grated (with skin is good)
½ cup walnuts
*Optional- ½ cup currants or raisins
Preheat oven to 375degrees. While oven is warming, place walnuts in for 15-20 minutes, until toasted. Coarsely chop and set aside. Line a standard 12-muffin tin.
Place eggs, coconut oil, vanilla, and maple syrup in medium bowl and whisk until incorporated. Sieve in almond flour, coconut flour, tapioca starch, salt, cinnamon, and soda. Lightly mix, then fold in carrots, apples, toasted walnut pieces (set aside a couple tablespoons for muffin tops), and currants.
Spoon into muffin tins and sprinkle with reserved walnuts, a pinch of cinnamon, and a little brown sugar if you like. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until slighlty firm to the touch. Remove from oven and enjoy!