Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gluten Free Carrot Muffins

This post is dedicated to my dear friend, Nanci, who has known me almost as long as my own sister. I have great memories of sleeping over at Nanci's house as a kid. We started a little tradition of baking a carrot cake every time I came over. Her mom always had a Betty Crocker cake mix stocked in her pantry. We'd get the mix all ready and then stir in a can of chopped pineapple. I remember it being moist and delicious-especially the whipped cream frosting!

When I realized I was hyperglycemic, I gave up flour, refined sugars, and starchy foods. I had pretty much given up on the idea of baking...until I stumbled upon Elana's Pantry, a wonderful gluten-free cooking blog. I don't have a gluten alergy, but the recipes on Elana's blog are a great match for me. She uses coconut flour and almond flour, which are high-fiber flours that are low in digestible carbs. AND her sweeteners of choice are low-glycemic as well.

Last night I had a carrot cake craving, so I made carrot muffins, one of my favorite recipes from Elana's blog. I have made a few changes to her recipe to make it a bit more like the carrot cake I grew up loving. What I love most about this recipe is that it is healthy. First of all, I recommend everything coconut-coconut water, coconut oil, coconut flour...more on this later. Coconut flour is high fiber, high protein, and gluten free (click here to find out what makes this flour so special). The carrots are a great source of the antioxidant betacarotene, which helps reduce the risk of cancer, heart attacks and cataracts. And the nuts add even more protein, fiber, and other nutrients.

Coconut flour is a bit tricky to bake with and I don't have much time to experiment. Lucky for me, Elana has already done all the work. Here is my adaptation of her muffin recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Gluten Free Carrot Muffins

1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon, ground
1 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
6 eggs
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup agave nectar (can also be substituted with yacon syrup)
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 cups carrots, grated
1/3 cup finely chopped nuts (I like to mix macadamias and pecans)
1/3 cup "macaroon" coconut (very finely shredded)
3/4 cup canned or fresh crushed pineapple

1. In a medium bowl, combine coconut flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg
2. In a large bowl, blend together eggs, oil, agave and vanilla
3. Blend dry ingredients into wet, then fold in carrots, nuts, coconut, and pineapple
4. Grease a muffin tin with grapeseed oil and then dust with coconut flour
5. Pour batter into each greased muffin cup about 3/4 full
6. Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes
7. Cool and serve

(makes about 16 muffins)

*You may notice that I have doubled the ingredients in Elana's recipe and I am not calling these "mini muffins". With all of the added ingredients in my version, I recommend using a regular size muffin tin-and if you use a silicon muffin mold, you can skip the greasing part. I have one and I love it. Just let the muffins cool, and they pop right out!

I have mostly given up dairy, but I just cannot resist topping these delicious muffins off with Elana's recipe for Cream Cheese Frosting!
Cream Cheese Frosting

¾ cup heavy cream
1 cup cream cheese
¼ cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Whip heavy cream until stiff
2. In a separate larger bowl, whip cream cheese until smooth, then blend in agave and vanilla
3. With a rubber spatula, gently blend whip cream into cream cheese mixture

*My vegan readers may enjoy Elana's vegan Coconut Cream Frosting. It is very yummy, but a bit of a challenge to make in warmer climates.

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