I can’t believe Easter is just around the corner, a week from Sunday. 2013 is flying by! Easter is most definitely my favorite time of year. Not only is it a powerful reminder of God’s love and the sacrifice He made for me on the cross, but it is also a time to remember the new life I have in Christ. I don’t know where I’d be without Jesus, and that is why I love this time of year more than any other. ”Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~ Romans 8:39
Easter also comes with it’s own food traditions, including desserts. A favorite of mine is carrot cake, so I made these grain free carrot cupcakes to celebrate the season. Carrot cake became a traditional Easter dessert because little children wanted to leave a sweet treat for the bunny when he comes around to fill their baskets with goodies. Just in case the Easter bunny is minimizing his grains like I am, I made these carrot cupcakes without them (although I don’t think they’ll last long enough for him anyway!).
For my grain free carrot cupcakes, I used a blend of 2/3 almond flour and 1/3 sweet potato flour . Using sweet potato flour helps the cupcakes have a more desired texture, and it also reduces the amount of almond flour. Almond flour is a heart healthy flour to use, but it also has a lot of omega 6 fatty acids. You may remember from an earlier post that omega 6 fatty acids are important for our bodies, but not in the huge quantities in which we eat them, as they are the ones that promote inflammation. Omega 3 fatty acids are those that have an anti-inflammatory effect, so the healthiest way to eat is to strive for a 1:1 ratio of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids. Including sweet potato flour in this recipe helps reduce the omega 6 intake from the almond flour. Sweet potato flour also carries with it all the health benefits of one of my favorite foods, the sweet potato – lots of fiber, vitamin A or beta-carotene, vitamins C, Bs, and E, potassium, and manganese. Plus, as a bonus, sweet potato, like its name, is sweet, so it lends a sweet flavor to any baked item.
Carrots, besides being a favorite of the Easter bunny and being famous for benefitting our eyesight, are also naturally sweet and contain lots of fiber, vitamin A or beta-carotene, vitamins C, Bs, K, and E, potassium, manganese, phosphorus, and lots of other phytonutrients. Carrots are a hard root vegetable, so to use them in my carrot cupcake recipe, I must first shred them with a standard grater.
Traditional carrot cake spices are similar to pumpkin pie spices, cinnamon and nutmeg, with the addition of cardamom. Cardamom is a spice made from the seed pods of a ginger-like plant that is used whole or ground and comes in two varieties, green and black. It also lends a warm and sweet flavor when added to gingerbread, banana bread, pancakes and other desserts and combines just as well with savory dishes like risottos, other grains, soups, stews, and sauces.
I used maple syrup and raisins pureed in my Magic Bullet to sweeten these carrot cupcakes. Some carrot cake recipes call for the whole raisin, but I know many people who don’t care for the texture of raisins in their baked goods. The pureed raisins are sweet, so not only can I reduce the amount of syrup but I can also avoid the raisin texture in the cake. I happen to like the taste of raisins in baked items, so this option allows me to please everyone.
After blending the wet and dry ingredients together and adding the shredded carrots and chopped pecans, I lined my muffin pan with unbleached cupcake liners and filled them each with a large spoonful of batter. These liners are free of chemicals, so my cupcakes will be as well. We come in contact with so many different chemicals everyday, making simple switches like these cupcake liners is one small way I can reduce my family’s exposure.
These cupcakes turned out so yummy! While they were baking, I pulled out my Easter decorations and set them out around the house. The kids always notice when I decorate for each holiday, and even though they are getting so old, they still think it’s fun to have a festive home and some festive goodies – chocolate eggs are their favorites and never last long. I have a feeling these cupcakes won’t last long either, as Kayley has already eaten one and let me know they are way better than the last dessert I made. Gotta love her honesty. Happy Palm Sunday everyone!
grain free carrot cupcakes
1 cup almond flour
½ cup sweet potato flour
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cardamom
¼ cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons coconut oil (warmed to a liquid)
1½ cups shredded carrots
½ cup pureed raisins (soak in warm water for 30 minutes before discarding the soaking water and pureeing in a blender or food processor)
1 cup chopped pecans, extra for garnish
½ cup coconut oil
⅓ cup maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Combine the dry ingredients – almond flour, sweet potato flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom – in a large mixing bowl.
Combine the wet ingredients – eggs, maple syrup, coconut oil, and pureed raisins – in a small mixing bowl.
Mix together the wet and dry ingredients in the large mixing bowl.
Add the shredded carrots and chopped pecans.
Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.
Spoon batter into each liner. Makes 12.
Bake for 20 minutes, and then let cool.
To make the frosting, blend together coconut oil and maple syrup in a Magic bullet, food processor, or other blender.
Chill for at least 15 minutes, so frosting solidifies.