Carrot Quinoa Muffins


Today, we are being good.

We’re shopping with reusable bags. We’re raising our fingers in a sign of peace when a Porsche cuts us off in traffic, instead of raising something else. We might even be so generous as to leave the last slice of cake.

We are wheat grass, coconut water, hot-yoga good.

In fact, our commitment to personal health and purity today is so strong, it will be as if we didn’t gleefully stuff our faces with pork belly pancakes, pork nachos, bacon spaghetti, fried pickles, onion rings, smoked fries, a cupcake platter, and {insert your lucky number here} cocktails Saturday night.


A sweet sampler from Molly’s Cupcakes. Yes, I tasted all eight. No shame.

Or was that just me?

Ben and I visited friends in Chicago over the weekend, and our group bankrupted the pantry at Little Goat diner, Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard’s new restaurant. Holy moley. Our meal was so freak-out good, I did not regret my body forcing me to loosen my belt two notches. Immediately afterwards, I celebrated the birthday of my dear friend Jess (middle, below pic) by eating all of her cupcakes (all over, above pic).

Friends at Little-Goat-ChicagoSee these smiles? We are thinking about fried pickles and bacon.

Today, however, is a new day, and I really should moderate my fried pickle/gin consumption. Enter Carrot Quinoa Muffins.


Carrot Quinoa Muffins are the yin to a gloriously excessive weekend’s yang. As their name suggests, Carrot Quinoa Muffins are choc-full-o good things your body is craving after a weekend spent enjoying fried objects: veggies, fruits, protein, and whole grains.


For this Carrot Quinoa Muffin recipe, I used one of my favorite healthy-baking strategies: capitalize on the natural sweetness of the ingredients themselves. Loading the batter with carrots, orange juice, applesauce, and raisins allowed me to skip 3/4 of the refined sugar used in typical muffin recipes.


{Tangent: The word moist totally grosses me out, but I have yet to find an acceptable substitute when describing food. “Gooey” sometimes works, but who wants a gooey muffin? Help!}


Speaking of the “M” word, these muffins are m***t to the max, thanks to an ingredient that may surprise you: quinoa. Though I frequently serve quinoa with stir-fries in place of rice or mix it with roasted veggies to create a quick salad, this was my first foray into baking with quinoa. Verdict: I have been missing out. Though quinoa makes the muffins more dense than flour alone, it also makes them incredibly filling and, you know…moist.


{Really, can someone please come up with a different word?}

We may not be able to restrain road rage, complete a full “sun salutation” in yoga, abstain from onion rings, or surrender the last slice of cake. We can, however, make muffins. Healthy, bright, feel-good, do-good Carrot Quinoa Muffins.

Carrot Quinoa Muffins

Carrot Quinoa Muffins combine natural sweetness, bright citrus, and protein-packed quinoa to create a healthy, whole-grain breakfast or snack to power your day.

To ensure your muffins stay fresh all week, don’t forget to follow my How to Store Muffins and Other Quick Breads.

In Step 3, you will see that I direct you to PLUMP your raisins. Plumping—covering the raisins with hot liquid—transforms them from chewy, dry nuggets into soft, fruity morsels. Please, don't skip it!

Yield: 12 muffins


  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (1/3 cup uncooked)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded carrot, lightly pressed dry
  • 1/2 cup raisins


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. To make the quinoa, rinse 1/3 cup of uncooked quinoa for 1 minute. Place in a small saucepan, add 2/3 cup water, and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to low, cover, and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for an additional 5 minutes, keeping quinoa covered. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.
  3. To plump and soften raisins, place them in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand 10 minutes, then drain and let cool.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
  5. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a large mixing bowl) beat together eggs and sugar. Beat in applesauce, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla extract. Reduce speed to low. Add carrots. Mix in quinoa a little at a time (if quinoa is still warm, this will prevent it from scrambling the eggs) until combined. Add carrot-quinoa mixture to the flour mixture, stirring by hand until just combined. Fold in raisins.
  6. Coat a muffin pan with cooking spray, then divide batter evenly among the 12 cups. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove muffins from pan to cool.

About Erin Clarke

I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, lover of bourbon, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN...


  1. i have so much to say about your post so bare with me as i blab… Girl& The Goat restaurant…hubby and I ate their for our anniversary weekend. LOVED! we were so stuffed… like beyond stuffed…we didn’t even have desert which is crazy for us. i loved the different food choices she had..and the atmosphere there is so fun too.

    and that is SO funny about the “m” word…my dear cousin hates the word as well so when I use it in my blog posts i always start laughing…and so agree with you.. what other word could be used? I checked with thesaurus
    Synonyms: clammy, damp, dampish, dank, dewy, dripping, drippy, drizzly, humid, irriguous, muggy, not dry, oozy, rainy, soggy, teary, watery

    HA HA
    none of those will do any good for these yoga peace keeping muffins – which I WILL be making!
    the end

    • Angela, this comment totally made my day!
      Girl and the Goat is next on my Chicago eats list. Excited to hear that you liked it so much, and now I’m even more intrigued!
      Also, I burst out laughing when I read all of the synonyms. I mean, seriously: a dripping, clammy, humid muffin? lol. I might just have to stick with the “M” word for now…

  2. Fabulous post my dear! Thanks for the lovely shout out. And I am right on board with the M word. Let’s just use delightful.

    • Thanks so much Jess! And “delighful” might just have to do. PS. Sorry I ate all of your cupcakes. I have dessert-control issues ;)

  3. That meal sounds amazing! I love fried pickles. I have never been to Girl in the Goat but really want to try her new place. Funny story, my BF once bumped into Stephanie Izard…she lives in her building! These muffins look perfect for starting out on the right foot and waving peace signs in traffic! Happy Monday!

    • AH, if I were your friend, I’d probably have accidentally invited myself over for dinner, lol. So jealous!
      The meal was incredible indeed. If you ever have a chance to visit any of Stephanie’s restaurants, do it. You should probably order everything too :-)

    • Seems like it was perfect for a group to share all of those amazing meals. Yes, I agree…I would be stalking her too!

  4. What a fun weekend you had!! I’ve been telling myself since Christmas that my “indulgence” time is over. I have days where I’m exceptionally good… but that Mac N Cheese lunch with wine with my girlfriend last week didn’t make me think twice.
    These muffins sound wonderful! I’ve baked with quinoa flour once, and I have to admit that even a small amount of the flour made the muffins not a favorite with everyone I served them too. I’ve not, however, tried baking with the whole quinoa seed. I think I’m inspired! Hopefully it will counteract that mac n cheese…

    • Mac ‘n’ cheese + wine nights are too special to miss any time of year! All about balance, right? Let me know if you try the recipe. I’d love to hear your thoughts! Thanks Kim.

  5. Sounds like an awesome weekend! Bacon spaghetti? Cupcake platter? That might just be my weekend too! I love trying different quinoa recipes so I’m happy to find another delicious-sounding one!

  6. Pork belly pancakes???!! If I’m ever in Chicago I’m gonna need to track those down…

    These muffins look great! So many muffins are just unfrosted cupcakes, but these actually seem like an acceptable breakfast!

    • Maggie, this restaurant proved that anything with bacon (or derivatives thereof) is better. If you ever have the opportunity, I HIGHLY recommend the entire menu. Goodness knows I sampled enough to be able to say that!

  7. These look great, Erin! I have yet to bake with quinoa, and now I’m feeling like the leftover quinoa in my fridge might be destined for these…

  8. I’m dying to get to little goat! We ate at the girl and the goat twice and both meals were to-die-for! Your muffins sounds super healthy and perfect for a mid-day treat :-)

  9. Her restaurant sounds delish!
    Chicago is fun, huh? We just went for the first time a few months ago.

    I bring muffins about once a month to work for a sneaky breakfast. See, there’s only a few people in the office who like healthy food. Everyone else eats McDonalds for breakfast. So, once a month I bring healthy breakfasts for the 4 of us. I’ll be making these for sure! :)

    • Everytime I visit Chicago, I ask myself why I don’t go more! We are spoiled living only a 2.5 hour drive away.
      Good for you for sneaking in those healthy breakfasts! I run into that same issue at the office too, and I’d bet my boots that anything you whip up would put an Egg McMuffin to shame. Keep it up girl.

  10. It’s all about balance anyway, right? These muffins look fantastic! I’ve never thought to add quinoa to batter before.

    • Thanks so much for your comment–I could not have said it better! This was my first time testing out a baking recipe with quinoa. I’m a believer!

  11. So, I also kind of don’t enjoy the “M” word, like so many of this.
    This dude I know (that I may or may not have agreed to marry…) finds everyones hatred for the word so hilarious that he created a custom tshirt on Spreadshirt that is just the word “Moist”, THIRTEEN TIMES, in various fonts down the front.
    I kind of hate him and kind of find it hilarious. It’s all very confusing.
    These sound delicious and I am all for:
    1. Baking with carrots and
    2. Putting quinoa in my belly
    Can’t wait to try!!

    • Allie, this is hysterical! I started giggling the moment I read your comment. Thanks so much for sharing that story, and I hope you enjoy the muffins!

  12. I would die to eat at Chef Stephanie’s place. I suppose as a Chicago native, it’s necessary that I make that happen. Well, not the dying part.

    Also – I’m loving these muffins. I have yet to try baking with quinoa, but this recipe may have to be my first attempt. Thanks :)

    • Morgan, you’ve got to head over there ASAP! Consider it an appetite emergency :) So glad you like the look of the muffins. Hope you enjoy them–if you try them, please let me know what you think!

  13. Made these this morning to go along with my scrambled kale and egg whites! The muffins are delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe!!

    • Dawn, this just made my morning :) I am thrilled to hear that you enjoyed the muffins. Thanks for taking time to share your comment and enjoy every bite!

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  15. Hi there Erin, we are having an Iron chef at work and the special ingredient is quinoa so I googled, found your recipe, tried it and now I can’t get enough! It has become my breakfast staple. Thank you for sharing :-)

  16. I’m not much for following directions, but I will use your recipe today as the basis of another experiment in the kitchen. Thank you for posting it and for being such a good– and fun–writer.

    • Thanks so much for your kind words Philip! I’d love to hear how your “experiment” turns out. Hope it is delicious!

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  18. Well, how about succulent? You probably couldn’t apply it to cake, but still worth consideration…

    • Hi Hannah! I agree that putting quinoa in cake batter would be tough, as it would make the cake too heavy (I’d probably just add chocolate chips to these muffins if I needed a little something to satisfy my sweet tooth.) If you are looking for healthy cake recipes, I have quite a few on my site–check out this week’s banana cake, my blackberry buttermilk cake, or my chocolate beet cake. All of them are lightened up (but I promise you’ll never be able to tell!)

  19. Is there an orange juice substitute? More applesauce? These look amazing, thanks!

    • Hi Kate! I would probably go with something a bit more liquid, such as milk. You will be missing some of the natural sweetness and flavor that the orange juice provides though. For this reason, I would up the amount of orange zest. Subbing another fruit juice you may have on hand-such as apple juice-would be a great idea too. Hope that helps!

  20. I just made these muffins yesterday and they were amazing! Thank you SO much for the recipe. Not only were they great for breakfast this morning, but they were coach-approved for pre-game snack for the athlete in the family.

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  22. Leanne Rondeau Reply

    Love the muffins but I had to bake them much longer than 20 minutes – actually 45 …. and they stick to the muffin liner paper.

    • Hi Leanne! I’m not sure why these would have taken longer to bake for you (perhaps your muffin tins are a bit larger than mine or there was a bit more moisture in your batter), but I am so happy to hear that you liked the taste in the end. Thanks for trying the recipe and letting me know!

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