Let's talk about weekday mornings. And not just any morning. I'm talking about those mornings where you slept in a little longer than you should have, so now you're madly dashing around the house trying to get ready. And as happy as you are about leaving the house with a moderately wrinkle-free outfit, 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: your stomach is already doing a good job of letting you (and everyone in the vicinity) know it. And when your stomach is mid war-cry, you want to eat anything in arms-reach to just make it shut up. Right?
Mornings like these are inevitable, which is why these morning glory muffins are the perfect solution for a quick and nutritious breakfast on the go. Sure, you could buy breakfast from the cafe near work, but we both know it isn't nearly as healthy as it should be. In fact, these homemade morning glory muffins are a far cry from the mini-cakes masquerading as "breakfast muffins" at your local cafe. They’re loaded with nutritious fillings, pack a punch of flavor, and supply you with long-lasting energy to fuel you through your day - even when you’re pinched for time.
As you’ve probably come to expect from us, this recipe isn’t just for any old morning glory muffin. It took many rounds of testing to get these vegan, gluten free, and no-sugar-added muffins just right. But now they’re so much part of our regular routine, that frankly it’s hard to imagine how we lived without them.
Morning glory muffins are known to have a little bit of everything - like apple, carrots, nuts, coconut, cranberries - so don’t be deterred by the long list of ingredients. Oats keep these muffins gluten free, without the need for expensive gluten free flour blends. Pureed applesauce and dates help bind the dough, and also provide just the right hint of sweetness. We call for Deglet Noor dates (not Medjool) in this recipe. Deglet Noor dates are smaller and cheaper, and often come in larger volumes suitable for baking. Costco has the best priced bag that we’ve found, but they can also be found in the bulk aisle of your regular grocery store. And lastly, these muffins have red lentils in them (yup, lentils!). Don’t worry, nobody will be able to tell there’s lentils inside, but you’ll know they’re doing double duty in the background. First, lentils add a nutritional boost, in the form of protein and fiber. And, secondly, they also keep the muffins moist, meaning we need very minimal oil. Since red lentils cook very quickly, they won’t hold you up from baking, so embrace the lentils and don’t look back!
These muffins mean business. Texturally, they’re sturdier than their white-flour-sugar-loaded muffin counterparts. In order to get large, rounded muffin tops like the ones pictured, it’s important to divvy up the batter so that it’s literally heaping out of the muffin tin. It’ll look like a fair bit of batter for 12 muffins, but what you see is what you get, so overfill the tins and use your fingers to smooth out the tops. Once baked, the muffins can be enjoyed on their own (as we most often have them). But if you’re feeling fancy, they’d be great eaten alongside a cup of tea or coffee, and served with a smear of honey, jam, or whatever your heart desires.
Morning Glory Breakfast Muffins
- ¼ cup dry red lentils, rinsed and picked over
- 2½ cup rolled oats, divided (more for garnish)
- 3 tablespoons arrowroot powder
- 2½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1¼ cup unsweetened applesauce (at room temperature, see note 1)
- 1 cup packed pitted Deglet Noor dates (see note 2)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- ¼ cup melted coconut oil
- 1¾ cup grated carrot (about 3 medium carrots)
- ½ cup grated apple, peel on
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup roughly chopped walnuts
- ½ cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
- Preheat: Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
- Cook lentils: Add lentils to a small pot and cover with 2-inches of water. Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cook until soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain lentils thoroughly to remove all excess water (see note 3).
- Dry ingredients: Add 1½ cups (135 g) of the oats to a food processor. Pulse until oats are a fine powder. Add arrowroot powder, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Pulse to mix. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the remaining 1 cup (90 g) oats.
- Wet ingredients: To the food processor (no need to clean), add applesauce, dates, and cooked lentils. You may wish to put a kitchen towel over the lid of the food processor, to prevent any liquid from leaking out. Pulse until the mixture is a smooth puree (no visible pieces of dates). Add vanilla, orange zest and coconut oil. Pulse a few times to incorporate.
- Combine: Pour wet ingredients into dry. Fold the batter until about one-quarter of the dry ingredients are still visible/streaky. Add carrot, apple, cranberries, walnuts, and coconut. Fold just until the last streak of dry ingredients are incorporated.
- Bake: Heap batter into lined muffin tins (see note 4). Use your fingertips to shape the muffin tops into smooth round domes. Sprinkle some extra oats on top. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out clean. Let muffins cool for 15 minutes before removing from the pan. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
- Applesauce: Room temperature applesauce prevents the coconut oil from solidifying, and help your ingredients incorporate better.
- Dates: Opt for Deglet Noor dates (rather than Medjool) for this recipe. Deglet Noor dates are smaller and a bit drier than Medjool dates...and often less expensive. Pre-pitted dates sold at conventional grocery stores are usually Deglet Noor (or similar).
- Lentils: Drain the lentils thoroughly so you don't introduce extra water into the batter.
- Overfill muffins: These muffins do not rise like a traditional muffin, so you’ll need to overfill each muffin cup. The batter is sturdy so you can shape with your fingers for pretty muffin tops and they'll stay put during baking.
- Baking by weight: For the most reliable results, we recommend measuring by weight when baking. Ingredient weights are provided in metric.
Can split peas be used instead of red lentils?
Hi Katie! We haven't tested it this way, so unfortunately can't guarantee it'll work. I have made these muffins before...and accidentally forgot to put the red lentils in...and they still worked. So, if you can't eat red lentils, perhaps skip them rather than swapping them with split peas. Split peas might not "disappear" as much as red lentils do in the batter, because they're a bit heftier. But if you give it a try, let us know how it goes.
andrea mennella says
24 dates? Is that correct?
Hi Andrea - Yes, 24 Deglet Noor dates (~175 g). We write about it in more detail in the post, but Deglet Noor (sometimes labelled "baking" dates) are much smaller than Medjool. They're also less moist and a lot cheaper. Hope this answers your question. If not, let us know!
Can you substitute red lentils for green lentils?
Tiffany O says
Hi! What is the arrowroot powder used for? And can it be omitted? Sorry I’m new to healthy baking for my family and never heard of it but dying to try these.
Hi Tiffany! Arrowroot powder is necessary here, so please don't omit! Arrowroot powder (also often sold as arrowroot flour) is often used in gluten free baking. It's quite easy to find these days, so recommend trying to track it down if you can!
You can make delicious unsweetened applesauce by peeling, coring, and roughly chopping a few apples into a pot with a couple tablespoons water, bring to the boil, then simmer for about 15-20 minutes. The time depends on the size of the apple pieces. You'll never go back to store-bought again!
Hi Edel! Yes, homemade applesauce is delicious. I love adding rhubarb at this time of year as well. To keep the recipe as simple and accessible as possible, we didn't include instructions for homemade applesauce; but you could most definitely it instead! Your method sounds lovely. Have a great rest of your week!
What is the right amount to substitute the arrowroot powder for Xanthan gum?
thank you 🙂
Hi Quyen! I haven’t tested this recipe without arrowroot (or with xanthan gum), so I don’t have a substitution amount. Gluten free baking can be quite finicky when you change the recipe, so unfortunately can’t guarantee it’ll work out. But if you do experiment let us know how it goes!
Jessica Kelley says
I love this recipe! When do you add the lentils?
Brianne B. says
Hey Jess! Once cooked, the lentils go into the food processor with the applesauce and dates. So sorry it wasn't clear - I updated the directions to correct it. Let me know how it goes and feel free to reach out with any other questions:)
Jessica Sweeney says
These look so good! I LOVE that you added lentils! Thanks for posting! xo
Brianne B. says
Thanks so much Jessica!! Lentils are a bit different, I know - but they work so well in this recipe! Glad you like the post:)