Quarantine Life recipe of the day: whole grain breakfast muffins

About ten years ago, I went on a quest for the perfect breakfast muffin. You know the one I’m talking about, that you buy at the coffee shop: dark brown, rich with just enough sweetness to balance out all the oats and wheat. I sampled a lot of muffins (and put in a lot of hours on the bike machine afterwards), tried a number of recipes, found the one closest to what I wanted, then proceeded to make substitutions for all the unhealthiest ingredients. While this muffin is never going to make a list of “things that are good for you,” it’s probably the healthiest muffin you’ve ever eaten — and super tasty. This is the ultimate breakfast comfort food — serve them with berry jam and a cup of hot coffee, and your day is off to the best start ever.


The fillings:

  • 1 large granny smith apple, coarsely grated (including peel)
  • 1 large carrot, coarsely grated
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • ½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut

The dry ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup oat bran
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt

The wet ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 3/8 cup honey
  • ¼ cup unsulphured molasses
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 tablespoons apple juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the oven rack in middle position. Line muffin pans with paper cups or treat with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, grate the apple and carrot. Mix in the raisins, almonds and coconuts.

In a small bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Pour the dry ingredients over the apple/carrot/raisin/almond/coconut mix, and stir until the fruit mixture is thoroughly coated and broken up into small chunks.

In the small bowl, beat the eggs (45-60 seconds). Add the rest of the wet ingredients, and mix together with a fork or whisk  until the egg is fully incorporated and the other ingredients are well mixed. Pour over the other ingredients in the large bowl and stir until it forms a batter.

Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate pans, and bake for another 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven; allow to cool in muffin pans for 5 minutes then move muffins to a cooling rack.

Makes approximately 18 muffins.

Notes and tips:

  • This is another great example of the principle of “mix all the dry ingredients together, then all the wet ingredients together, the mix the two together.”
  • Don’t overfill the muffin cups!  The muffins will rise when baking, and might overflow.
  • Be careful grating the apple; it can get slippery.
  • Make sure to thoroughly preheat your oven first (let it sit for 10 minutes after the oven tells you it’s preheated, to allow the oven walls to preheat as well). Also, if you haven’t recently, it’s worth verifying with an overn thermometer the accuracy of your oven’s thermostat.
  • This is one of the few recipes I make where I don’t mess with it much any more, since I spent months fine-tuning it to get the flavors balanced. Also, baking soda requires a certain amount of acid to do its thing and generate enough gas to make the muffins rise, so changing the balance of ingredients can easily throw it off. Though you could try different kinds of apples, or perhaps walnuts instead of almonds.
  • These freeze really well, in a ziploc bag, and will thaw overnight on your kitchen counter at room temperature (still in the bag).