Spring is in the air! What better way to celebrate the start of the season than to surprise your family with a fun, healthy treat? These moist and spicy carrot muffins are studded with plump raisins (or dried cranberries—your choice!) then topped with organic shredded coconut to create mini “birds’ nests.” Decorate them with organic jellybeans or use my recipe for raw macaroons to create your own candied “eggs.”
Vegan “Bird’s Nest” Carrot Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
1-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries
2 tsp. organic cinnamon
1/2 to 1 tsp. nutmeg (to taste)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
(Optional: 1/2 cup baking nuts such as chopped or slivered almonds)
1 cup shredded carrot
1-1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce or homemade applesauce*
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Organic shredded coconut, unsweetened
Organic jelly beans (optional)
Raw Macaroon “Eggs”
1 cup organic shredded coconut, unsweetened
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup coconut manna
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Pinch of salt
Coloring: turmeric powder; blueberries; raspberries; avocado or fresh peppermint leaves
*To make homemade applesauce: peel and cube two to three apples. Place cubes in small pot with about a cup of water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Cook and stir until apples are soft, adding a small amount of water if needed until done; mash with hand masher or submersion blender.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In separate bowls, combine dry ingredients/wet ingredients. Pour wet into dry and mix.
3. Line muffin tin with 12 paper liners; fill with batter. Bake for about 12 minutes; remove from oven. Use back of spoon to indent each muffin top slightly. Place shredded coconut in each indentation. Continue baking for an additional 10 to 20 minutes.
4. Remove muffins from oven. If topping nests with jellybean “eggs,” place them into nests while still warm so they stick. If making macaroon eggs, continue with step 5.
5. To make macaroon eggs: Mix together all macaroon ingredients and divide into four balls. Color as follows: For yellow; mix in 1/4 tsp. turmeric powder; for blue, mix in 10 mashed blueberries; for pink/red, mix in 10 mashed raspberries; for green, mix in a small amount of avocado or finely ground peppermint leaves. Roll into small egg shapes and place in nests.
Dana Zucker is a home cook that likes to do it her way! She gets creative with nutritious ingredients to keep her active family—teenage twins and a vegan, triathlete husband—healthy and happy. Cooking with organic, local and whole food ingredients is key, whether she’s whipping up an early-morning breakfast, prepping afterschool snacks or getting dinner on the table at 10 p.m. Dana says, “We do eat out sometimes, and even cheat with some pre-made foods. But I try to balance making delicious foods with the reality of a busy schedule.” Dana’s recipes are a great starting point to find a style of cooking that works for your family. Her advice? Keep it real—and keep it easy!