Saturday, February 1, 2014

Heart Healthy Valentine Muffins

Make these whole-wheat, sugar-free muffins (sweetened with honey and carrots) to show your loved ones you really care this Valentine's day!

Whole wheat, carrot, honey, applesauce muffins. Yum!
You'll be surprised at just how good and easy they are. They are amazingly sugar free, but no need to tell your loved ones this little secret, as they will never know. They are sweet and delicious, with or without the optional walnuts. They have a nice crumb but are not chewy and rough the way some whole-grain baked goods can be. They are easy to assemble, bake quickly and make a lovely presentation. The carrots and unsweetened applesauce keep them moist for nearly a week when not refrigerated. On top of all of that, each muffin is only 150 calories, so they can be enjoyed guilt free by those that are still following New Year's diet resolutions.

Ingredients (makes 12 muffins)
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
click to enlarge
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup honey
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup carrot, shredded (about half a large carrot)
1/2 cup, chopped walnuts, (optional)
sanding sugar for decoration (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with liners and set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.  Shred the carrots using a fine grater, such as a cheese grater or a food processor with the fine grating blade. If you grate them very fine as shown below, they practically disappear in the muffins and no one will know they are there.

Using a cheese grater to grate the carrots.
In a large electric mixing bowl beat the butter until creamy. Using a spatula, wipe down the sides and on medium speed, beat in the honey, egg and vanilla. Wipe down the sides again, and turn the mixer to its low speed. Slowly add in the flour mixture until well combined. With the mixer still on low, mix in the applesauce followed by the carrots until just combined. Add 2/3 of the optional nuts and mix in gently. Reserve the remaining nuts for the topping.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. I used my No. 40 cookie scoop, and it took about 1 1/2 scoops per muffin. You can use a spoon or other device to fill the cups as well. Sprinkle the tops with the optional nuts and some sanding sugar for decoration, if you desire.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and the muffins are beginning brown.

Julian's Heart Healthy Muffins

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