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Healthy Carrot-Bran Muffins: Not Just for Breakfast

Carrot-Bran Muffins--a favorite of my family--can be mixed up quickly and contain all sorts of good, nutritious things besides carrots and bran flakes. White whole wheat flour gives them texture and beneficial nutrients as well as fiber. Coconut, walnuts, dried cranberries, orange zest, and lots of warm spices keep the simple, not too sweet muffins interesting. You'll need to use the food processor or a blender to grate the carrots--preferably pretty finely--but otherwise the preparation for the muffins is quick and easy. The recipe makes a big batch--24 muffins--so you'll have plenty to eat for breakfast, snacks, and, if you're like my husband, for dessert. The muffins go quite nicely with coffee and tea. They're also great if you need a special treat to share that's not cupcakes!

Healthy Carrot Muffins

Carrot-Bran Muffins -- Makes 24

2 cups of white whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice

2/3 cup of sugar

1/3 cup of brown sugar

1/2 cup of canola oil

2 eggs

1 cup of low-fat milk

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1 cup of raisin bran

1/2 teaspoon of coconut extract

Grated zest of an orange or a couple of clementines

2 cups of grated carrots

1/2 cup of shredded coconut

1/2 cup of dried cranberries

1 1/2 cups of chopped walnuts, divided

Raw (turbinado) sugar, optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and coat 24 muffin wells with non-stick cooking spray or line them with cupcake liners and spritz the liners with a bit of spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the white whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. Stir in the raisin bran. In another bowl, whisk together the sugars, canola oil, eggs, milk, vanilla, coconut extract, and orange zest. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir just until everything is barely moistened. Stir in the carrots, shredded coconut, dried cranberries, and 1/2 cup of the walnuts. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Sprinkle the remainder of the walnuts evenly over the filled muffin cups, and, if you'd like, sprinkle a little raw sugar over top of the walnuts in each filled muffin cup. Bake the muffins for 20-24 minutes or until golden and a pick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Healthy Kitchen Sink Carrot Muffins

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