Claire’s Spiced Carrot Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

I’ve been on the market for a new breakfast food.  Around this time I’m kind of done with oatmeal and its variants.  Granola and cereal just don’t seem appealing these days.  I can only eat so many eggs per week and the fun breakfast foods, i.e. pancakes, waffles and the more decadent players, are pretty much reserved for weekends.  Then I thought about a breakfast muffin.  I wanted something substantial, in that it was filling, nutritious, delicious and minus all the sweetness.  As I was thinking about this fantasy muffin, my daughter Claire was chewing on a raw carrot, an impromptu teething ring.  From there my imagination grew to include nuts and spices and oats.  No, these are not seasonal flavors, but they certainly satisfied my need for another breakfast option!

Let’s talk about carrots.  Most of us associate this incredible vegetable with good vision.  While they may be beneficial for our eyes (surprisingly not so much research has been done in this particular area), it seems carrots have much more to offer.  They are super-high in Vitamin A which is good for lung health and are potent anti-carcinogens, too.  All carrots, purple, red, orange, yellow, have incredible anti-oxidant properties.  This is important because anti-oxidants protect our cells from oxygen-based damage, especially critical in our cardiovascular systems.

“Antioxidant nutrients in carrots are believed to explain many of the cardioprotective benefits provided by these root vegetables. The many different kinds of carrot antioxidants are most likely to work together and provide us with cardiovascular benefits that we could not obtain from any of these antioxidants alone if they were split apart and consumed individually, in isolation from each other. The synergistic effect of carrot antioxidants is a great example of a whole food and its uniqueness as a source of nourishment.“*

That last bit is really important to keep in mind.  Read it again!  I couldn’t have said it better!

You’ll need:

3/4 C whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 C spelt flour

1/4 C oat flour

1 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1 t cinnamon

1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 t ground cardamom

1/4 t ground ginger

Pinch of sea salt

2 organic eggs

1/2 C maple syrup

1/3 C olive oil

1 t vanilla extract

2 cups grated carrot, (about 4-5 carrots)

1/2 C pecans, chopped and toasted

1/2 C golden raisins

a handful of rolled oats to top muffins

To make:

Preheat oven to 350.

1. Toast the pecans in a small sauté pan over low heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes.

2. Combine dry ingredients (first 10) in a large bowl.

3. In the meantime, whisk eggs, maple syrup, olive oil, in a small bowl.  Add carrots and stir well.

4. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and stir gently until just incorporated.  Fold pecans and raisins into batter.  (The trick to moist, yummy muffins is to NOT over mix!)

5. Divide the batter into 12 muffin cups and top with some oats.  Bake for about 25 minutes.

6. Enjoy!

* (emphasis, mine)

Carrot Fennel Soup

Serves 6

This is one of only 2 recipes that I don’t adapt, change, or alter in any way simply because it is so delish as is!  (Except that I eyeball amounts for everything instead of measuring…it’s a soup thing!)  It’s such a refreshing departure from the overused Carrot Ginger Soup.  Of course that one is quite delicious too, but it seems no one cooks carrot soup any other way these days!

I came across this recipe while working for a client.  She loved this soup so much, she even ate it for breakfast!  Rebecca Katz’s cookbook, “The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen”, is a wonderful cookbook for everyone.  I have used several of her recipes in my own kitchen and have adapted many depending on who I’m cooking for.  But, leave this one alone.  I highly doubt anything can make this one better.

Fennel is a lovely, if peculiar looking, vegetable.  It’s delicious raw, pickled, sautéed, braised, you name it.  It is a digestive aid and is anti-inflammatory, thanks to its unique phytonutrients.  Anethole, a specific phytonutrient, has been linked to reducing inflammation and the occurrence of cancer.  Fennel also boasts high levels of Vitamin C (yay, more anti-oxidant power), fiber (think healthy colon and lower cholesterol) and folate (a good choice for you pregnant mamas).  It’s also a good source of potassium.

I just get so excited when something SO delicious is SO good for you, too!

You’ll need:

2-3 T olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped (about 1C)

1 medium fennel, chopped (about 1C)

3 lbs. carrots, cut in 1″pcs (OK, I don’t think I ever used exactly 3 lbs.  1 big bunch of carrots ought to be enough)

Zest from 1 orange

1/4 t ground cumin

1/8 t ground cinnamon

1/8 t ground allspice

7 C water or vegetable stock

1-2 T freshly squeezed orange juice

2 t freshly squeezed lemon juice

Sea salt, to taste

To make:

1.  In a soup pot, heat oil over medium heat and add onion and fennel with a  pinch of sea salt and sauté until tender and fragrant.  Add the carrots, orange zest and spices and another pinch of salt and sauté until combined well.

2.  Add about 1/2 C of water/stock and cook for about 5 minutes before adding the rest of the water.  Cook until carrots are tender, about 20-30 minutes.

3. Let cool a tiny bit.  Ladle one cup at a time into a blender and blend until creamy.  Be sure to hold the lid down with a dish towel or the steam will send your soup all over the kitchen.  Repeat until the soup is completely creamy.  (I prefer to use a blender as opposed to an immersion blender because I have more control over the consistency of the soup.)

4. Return the creamy soup to the pot over low heat and add the orange juice and lemon juice.  Heat for a few minutes to incorporate the flavors.

5. Enjoy!  (We love this soup paired with The Ultimate Grilled Cheese.)