These Spiced Orange Carrot Muffins are crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside. A tasty winter breakfast treat!
Back in college, I hosted a Rainbow Foods Dinner Party. Each invitee was asked to provide a dish featuring a particular color for an ultimate Roy G. Biv spread. (Oh, and they were supposed to wear their color too!) There was a grape salad for purple, spinach soufflé for green, and maybe something with strawberries for red? It’s been awhile. All told, it was a goofy, fun, sorta random event–the stuff college memories are made of. Somewhere I have a picture of eight or so of my floormates dressed in chromatic order, each holding a tray of homemade food.
If I had to choose a single color of food to consume most often, though, I think I’d have to go with orange. I mean, you’ve got pumpkin, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, citrus fruits, orange bell peppers, and more. Even mac and cheese is orange, and who could live without that?
Choosing orange foods was something of the inspiration behind these Spiced Orange and Carrot Muffins, since orange foods have a tendency to be nutrient-dense. In fact, many orange foods are rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants like lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. At least, naturally orange foods have these nutrients. Can’t say the same for orange Sour Patch Kids or orange Jell-O.
Anyway, since I’m currently slightly under the weather, I wanted to bake up something for breakfast that would combine the healthy, vitamin-rich goodness of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables–and, not surprisingly, ended up with an orange finished product.
When it comes to baking, you really only have a short list of options for veggies (carrots, zucchini, um…are there others?) My go-to is almost always carrots. From there, which fruits complement carrots? Why, oranges, of course! And when you wrap it all up with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and cardamom, plus whole wheat flour and oats, you get a muffin that’s not only orange-hued, but sooooo delicious.
These Spiced Orange and Carrot Muffins are a little heavy on the prep side (zesting and juicing an orange, shredding carrots, etc.) but definitely worth the effort. Fresh out of the oven, their tops are perfectly crunchy, giving way to a moist, tender crumb beneath. They’re not too sweet and their warming blend of spices make for a magical winter breakfast. Plus (fingers crossed), their ample nutrients could help you–and hopefully me, too–bounce back from winter illness.
Spiced Orange Carrot Muffins
- 1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
- 1 c. whole wheat flour
- 3/4 c. white whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour
- scant 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
- 2/3 c. brown sugar
- 3/4 c. fresh-squeezed orange juice
- 1/2 c. almond or other milk
- 2 eggs
- zest of 1 large orange
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/2 c. vegetable oil
- 1 c. shredded carrots
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
- In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients: oats, flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and brown sugar.
- In a small bowl or large measuring cup, combin the wet ingredients: orange juice, almond milk, eggs, orange zest, vanilla, and vegetable oil.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring until just incorporated, then stir in shredded carrots.
- Divid the batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Bake 20 minutes. Cool and store in an airtight container.