These easy, super-moist Paleo chickpea apple carrot muffins are a wholesome, low-sugar treat. They’re almost a meal, with good-quality protein from the chickpeas and eggs. Gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, with vegan option.
A holiday muffin
And, with this garnish of carrot roses and white haupia, these muffins were our Easter treat this year. See below for a note about making the roses. You can top with any frosting or pudding – or eat them without a garnish.
An elimination diet recipe
I first encountered a similar recipe when I was following an elimination diet some years ago. That low-allergen recipe called for garbanzo flour as a high-protein ingredient. Chickpea flour is less likely to trigger inflammation than, say, wheat or soy flour.
I found the garbanzo flour gave the muffins both a grittiness and slight bitterness. I had to battle with myself about whether I’d try to use of all that chickpea flour (miserly me) or find something else.
I decided to sub cooked garbanzos as an alternative to the flour. That took care of both of the grit and the bitterness – you just have to adjust the moisture a bit. And I’m sorry to confess I don’t recall what happened to the rest of the flour.
Yet the garbanzos don’t jump out at you like some “odd” additions to baked goods. Your taste-testers will notice the carrots and the apples well before thinking there is something else you’ve sneaked in.
I use my own home-cooked chickpeas for this recipe, saving out the half-cup needed when I prepare a larger batch for hummus or soup. Chickpeas freeze well, so if you are not making the muffins right away, just tuck them into your freezer until you are.
As with most of my recipes, I’ve reduced the sweetener to our taste. I’ve noted where you can make it sweeter if you prefer.
Are these muffins healthy?
We consider these to be healthy in the sense that they do not contain high glycemic-index flours and are relatively low in sugar. They do contain some semi-refined sugar in the molasses. They also have a slight sweetness from natural sugars in the dates, apples and carrots.
The muffins have no added oil, though there are naturally occurring fats in the almond flour and the egg yolks. If you are allergic to almonds and/or other nuts but don’t want to use gluten-free baking mix, sunflower seed meal would be the most similar to almond.
Do you have to use a food processor for these muffins?
I use my food processor for the wet ingredients because it’s the easiest way to chop the carrots, chickpeas, dates and apples. But you could do the chopping by hand as well, especially if you don’t mind larger bits of the fruits. I’d suggest mashing the chickpeas to avoid larger chunks, though.
Can these muffins be made vegan?
With flax eggs, these muffins are vegan. A flax egg is made from 1 tablespoon ground flax meal + 3 tablespoons water, allowed to gel for 15 minutes. You can also make a vegan “egg” using ground chia seed the same way.
How are the carrot roses made?
But that page doesn’t really give enough detail on how to form the roses – at least I’d be pretty impressed if you can figure out how to make them from that!
Prepping the strips: Cut strips of a long (about 8 inch), peeled carrot using a cheese slicer or use a sharp peeler, pressing down firmly.
Simmer the strips in simple syrup (1 cup water + 1 cup sugar) for about 30 seconds and let the liquid cool. This will soften the strips so that you can wrap them into rose shapes. Note that we found the strips/roses very sweet and would try cutting the amount of sugar in half the next time.
I learned how to make similar roses during my “hula life” from Hawaii lei-makers using a variety of plant materials. If you would like to see how to make the roses, this video by Kuana Torres shows how to make ti leaf roses for lei-making. This is the clearest video I found, by far – but it takes practice! Start with paper before trying something as fragile as a carrot strip. The same technique works for ribbon. It’s a good stay-at-home project – I used to teach high school students to make these roses so you can make them too!
If you have a chance to try this recipe, please let me know in the comments how it went!
Other baking recipes on A Meal In Mind
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Carrot-Chickpea Apple Muffins
- 1/2 cup tart apple like Granny Smith
- 1 cup carrot 1 medium-large carrot
- 1/2 cup cooked garbanzos
- 2-3 dates pitted (2 for less-sweet muffins)
- ¼ scant cup molasses
- 2-3 eggs room temperature, or flax eggs, see note
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups almond flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans for topping optional if you don't frost or make roses
- Haupia topping optional
- Carrot strip roses optional
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Dice the carrots, dates and apples. Place the carrots and dates into a food processor and pulse until evenly chopped, about 15 seconds. Add the apples and chickpeas and pulse until all are finely chopped, about 10 seconds more.
- Add the remaining wet ingredients: eggs, vanilla, molasses and pulse until mixed, about 20 seconds more. Using a spatula, remove the wet ingredients to a large mixing bowl.
- Mix the dry ingredients (almond flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt) together in a separate bowl.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until fully combined (don't overmix).
- Scoop batter into lined muffin tins. The batter will be thick. (I like to use an ice cream scoop.)
- Bake for 26-28 minutes; if you have used just 2 eggs, set for 22-24 minutes. Please watch your oven because all ovens are different.
- Remove and check centers with a toothpick, which should come out clean when they are done.
- Allow to cool before serving - though they are marvelous warm with butter.
- For a special occasion, top with your favorite low-sweetener frosting (I used Haupia), carrot roses and mint leaves.
- Store refrigerated in an airtight container.
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