Morning Glory Breakfast Muffins
Delicious and satisfying morning glory breakfast muffins, packed with apples, carrots and cranberries. Naturally sweetened with no added sugar! The perfect weekday breakfast to eat on the go. Vegan & Gluten Free. <jump to recipe>
Let's talk about weekday mornings. And not just any morning – I'm talking about those mornings where you might have slept in a little longer than you should have, and now you're madly dashing around the house trying to get ready for the day. And as happy as you are about leaving the house with a moderately wrinkle-free outfit – in record time, for that matter– there's one thing keeping you from rock-star status. Tummy grumbles. That's right, you forgot breakfast. But I don't need to be the one to remind you. I'm sure your stomach already does a good job of that. On a bad day, mine could growl so loud that it's heard by colleagues, friends, or that random guy on the sidewalk…it's terribly embarrassing. And, I don't know about you, but when my stomach is mid war-cry, it's tempting to eat almost anything to make it shut up.
Enter, this recipe. It’s the perfect solution for a quick, nutritious on-the-go breakfast. Sure, you could buy a quick takeout item on your way into work – but we both know it isn't nearly as healthy as it should be. And once you see this recipe, you'll agree: these muffins are nothing like the mini-cakes (er, I mean muffins) masquerading as "breakfast" at your local cafe.
The great thing about this recipe is that a little bit of weekend baking can set you up for the whole week. Morning glory muffins are known for having a little bit of everything – so don't be deterred by the long list of ingredients. Once weekday mornings roll around, you're going to be thanking yourself that you have these little lifesavers on hand. They're delicious, satisfying and filled with bright flavors. So you can feel good about nourishing your body, even when you're pinched for time!
I'll put it out there now: this isn't just any ordinary morning glory muffin. Sure, they're loaded with the classics, like carrot, apple, cinnamon and nuts. But they're also so much more. After much experimenting in the kitchen, I finally landed on an even 'better-for-you' version that I love. These muffins are vegan, gluten-free and have no added sugar! And they even have an extra oomph of protein from my (soon to be) not-so-secret ingredient. It took me some time to get there – four batches if we're counting – but it was totally worth it. The end result is a perfectly sweet breakfast muffin that makes you feel ready to conquer the day.
The base for this muffin is oats, because who doesn't like oats in the morning?! To replace processed wheat flour, we use a combination of oat flour and whole oats for texture. If you haven't made your own oat flour before, I highly recommend it. Oat flour is a great gluten-free option – and it's much cheaper to make your own than buy it in the store. All you need is a food processor or blender.
The vegan aspect of this recipe is achieved by using applesauce to replace egg as the binder in the batter. And, applesauce does double duty by making a moist muffin that requires less oil. It also pairs well with the cinnamon flavors and bits of shredded apple we have mixed into the batter – which is enough to make any fall-loving heart happy.
And even the most well-intentioned breakfast muffin can get sidetracked when it comes to sweetness. In my quest for a healthy breakfast muffin, I used dates to provide natural sweetness instead of sugar. For my taste, they provide the perfect amount of sweetness. But if you know you like your muffins on the sweeter side, you could substitute 1-2 tablespoons of applesauce for maple syrup.
And last but not least, the red lentils. Not a typo, I'm serious. I put lentils in a muffin – and I liked it. You'll like it too. Except that you wouldn't know they were in there, by taste alone. And since the color blends in with the orange from the carrot, so you won't see them either. So if you're making these for kiddies, no need to worry about scaring them with the lentils. You'll be the only one who knows they're there - delivering an extra bit of protein and fiber to these already spectacular muffins.
So, get your sweatpants on, crank up the oven and get cozy. Take advantage of the weekend and get baking. When the work week rolls around, you'll be so much happier that you have these yummy muffins to start your day! Now the challenge is to make sure you don't eat them all before the week actually starts…does anyone have a good trick for that?
MORNING GLORY BREAKFAST MUFFINS
MAKES 12 LARGE MUFFINS (VEGAN, GLUTEN FREE)
1/4 cup red lentils (uncooked)
2 1/4 cup oats (9 oz / 255 g), divided
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons arrowroot powder*
1 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (room temperature)**
24 Deglet Noor dates
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted (plus extra for greasing)
1 3/4 cup grated carrot (~3 medium carrots)
1/2 cup grated apple, with peel (~1 medium apple)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
Preheat oven to 350 °F.
Rinse lentils thoroughly. Put in a small pot and cover with 1-2 inches of water. Bring water to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for ~20 minutes, until soft. Once cooked, strain thoroughly to remove all excess water.
In a food processor, add 1 1/2 cups oats (~6 oz / 175 g) and process until it’s the consistency of a fine powder. Add cinnamon, cardamom, salt, baking powder, baking soda and arrowroot powder. Pulse until blended. Empty mixture into a large bowl. Add remaining 3/4 cup oats (whole) and stir to combine.
In the food processor (no need to clean), combine applesauce, dates and lentils (strained). Pulse until a smooth puree is formed. It might take a minute or two before the dates become pulverized. Stop when the dates are fully blended into the applesauce. Add vanilla, orange zest and coconut oil. Pulse a few times until well mixed.
Pour wet ingredients into dry. Gently fold the batter until mostly combined. Stop when there's about 1/4 of the dry ingredients still visible. Add grated carrot, grated apple, cranberries, walnut and coconut. Mix everything just combined and there's no longer any oat flour visible.
Transfer batter into lightly greased muffin tins, filling each tin until slightly heaping. Bake for ~35 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool for 10-15 minutes before removing from the pan. Place on a baking rack to cool completely.
-*Arrowroot powder (or arrowroot flour) can be found in either the health-foods or gluten-free section of your store. Arrowroot helps act as a thickener and binder in baked goods. It's neutral tasting and a handy product to have in vegan / gluten free baking. Try to buy pure arrowroot (i.e. a brand that doesn't add in cornstarch); and buying bulk arrowroot flour is often cheaper than small containers of arrowroot powder (despite being the same thing).
-**Bring your applesauce up to room temperature so it mixes with the coconut oil. Cold applesauce can cause your coconut oil to solidify.
-This recipe makes 12 large muffins or 18-24 small muffins. For large muffins, you'll need to have the batter heaping above the tin. The batter is sturdy so you can shape with your fingers for pretty muffin tops and they'll stay put during baking. For smaller muffins, don't fill the tin as much and reduce baking time accordingly.