Your kids will love that these muffins are sweet, moist, chewy, and bite-sized. You'll love that they are packed with vegetables and whole grains instead of tons of sugar. Whether you want a portable, poppable breakfast or tasty health snacks, with the spring and summer veggies starting to show up in gardens and farmers markets, it's time to make a few batches of Healthy Carrot Zucchini Mini Muffins.
Healthy Carrot Zucchini Mini Muffins
I have to say, I'm a lucky mom. My kids are both awesome eaters. They love a variety of foods, and are pretty good about eating their fruits and vegetables. Actually, I don't think either of them will ever turn down pretty much any fruit. Veggies, though, while I don't typically have to resort to sneaking them into things, can occasionally be a battle, especially with a strong-willed 4-year old. Cauliflower he will happily eat, even when it isn't in Cauli-Tot form. But when I made this Turkey Sausage & Mushroom Spaghetti Squash Casserole, just the sight of the squash on the counter made him declare that he would not be eating dinner that night. And he stuck to his guns. Broccoli or carrots, he is cool with those.
Zucchini, though, forget it. Unless I make tots… or muffins..
Shred it up and mix it into a sweet little muffin, and he is all over that dreaded zucchini. Sure he might prefer some Raspberry Chocolate Chip Muffins or Funky Monkey Cupcakes (though I did find ways to make both of those a bit healthier, too), but he will happily devour two or three of these. Heck, he would probably polish off a half dozen if I let him. But that's why I'm a huge fan of making mini muffins. I'll give him a couple, and he thinks I'm an awesome mom because I am letting him have two snacks, but they are also just the right size for his one-year-old brother to munch on.
And what I love about these muffins is that they are really packed with veggies. Some carrot or zucchini muffins (or breads) are really a whole lotta muffin and very little of the vegetable. Really just cupcakes masquerading as muffins. Which is fine if you want a cupcake as a treat. But these truly are a healthy snack filled with carrots and zucchini and just enough batter to hold it all together. That also makes them super moist and tender.
If you or your kids aren't big fans of the flavor or texture of whole wheat baked goods, try white whole wheat flour. I was just looking it up on the Whole Grains Council website, and while I knew that it was more nutritious than standard white flour, but also lighter in both color and flavor than regular whole wheat flour, I didn't know that it was considered nutritionally identical. It also provides a texture closer to white all-purpose flour, so it is easy to substitute into most recipes.
In order to keep these a bit healthier without ending up with a dry, bland muffin, I used pure maple syrup in place of any refined sugars, which I think always adds a nice flavor as well. Honey would likely work just as well, but since honey is not recommended for babies less than year old and I made these a little before my little guy turned one, I went with the maple syrup. Plus you have the natural sweetness from the raisins and carrots.
In a few months we will all be looking for things to do with the inevitable abundance of zucchini in our gardens, CSA shares, and farmers markets. So keep this recipe on hand, and in late summer you can make up a few batches to throw in the freezer. They freeze really well - I've kept them in the freezer for months when I once went on a muffin baking binge. Then pull out a few at night to pop into lunch boxes or to grab on the way out the door and off to school in the morning.
Healthy Carrot Zucchini Mini Muffins - Adapted from Fix Me a Snack
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
- ½ cup pure maple syrup (or honey)
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup grated zucchini
- ½ cup grated carrot
- ½ cup raisins
- Preheat oven to 350°F and place rack in the center of the oven, and coat a mini muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- Combine the flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda in a mixing bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the butter, maple syrup (or honey), egg, and vanilla extract.
- Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir together until just barely combined.
- Add the zucchini, carrot and raisins and stir gently until just distributed.
- Fill each cup in the mini muffin pan approximately ¾ full (I use a small cookie scoop slightly overfilled).
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.