The Hungry Swimmer: Healthy Carrot Cake Muffins

by Sophia Vale 2

April 24th, 2024 Hungry Swimmer

I make these low-sugar, tasty muffins year-round and never get tired of them! They are packed with carrots and nuts, low in added sugar, and the recipe can be easily tweaked to meet your specific nutritional preferences.

Some of my favorite ways to enjoy them are:

  • As a grab-and-go snack any time of day—throw them in your lunch box or swim bag for a quick fill-up before/after practice!
  • With a side of whole fat Greek yogurt or scrambled eggs for a delicious breakfast.
  • Warmed up with a tablespoon or two of dark chocolate chips for a guilt-free dessert.


  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat or white flour
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup real maple syrup (Trust me on this one–leave Mrs. Butterworth in the cupboard and reach for the real stuff. It’s worth it for both taste and nutrition!)
  • ½ tablespoon cinnamon
  • ¼  teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼  teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Scant ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups freshly grated carrots (Pre-grated, store bought carrots tend to be too dry. If this is the case for you, add some more whole milk or water to bring back the lost moisture.)
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans
  • ¼ cup whole milk

Possible Variations

  • Vegan: Swap out the eggs for ½ cup applesauce (¼ cup per egg) and the whole milk for unsweetened plain almond milk.
  • Extra Protein: Replace ½ to 1 cup of the flour with almond flour. You can also add a scoop or two of vanilla protein powder. If the mixture becomes too dry, simply add an extra splash of whole milk or almond milk to loosen it up to a good batter consistency.
  • Lower Sugar: Replace the ¼ cup brown sugar with more maple syrup or honey, or a natural sweetener such as stevia.
  • Extra Fiber and Carbs: Add ¼ cup of oats to the mix. Like the optional protein powder, if the oats makes the batter too thick, an extra splash of whole milk or almond milk will make things right.


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a muffin tin with paper or silicone cupcake liners (or spritz with cooking spray). This recipe yields 12 muffins.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the wet ingredients: carrots, oil, brown sugar, maple syrup, eggs, vanilla and milk.
  • Slowly, add in the dry ingredients: flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg, baking soda and powder. Stir until combined. Then, gently fold in your nuts until well combined as well.
  • Scoop the batter into your muffin liners until they are just shy of the top of the liner.
  • Bake your muffins in the oven for 20-22 minutes. You know it’s time to check them when you can smell them in the next room! Insert a toothpick or metal knife. If it comes out clean, then they are fully cooked and ready to come out.
  • Remove muffins from the oven and let them cool.
  • Enjoy!

Storage and Reheating

Store your muffins in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days or in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. These muffins can be easily reheated in the toaster oven or microwave.

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24 days ago

Flax meal can also be used as a vegan replacement egg. 1 tablespoon flax meal, two tablespoons water (let sit for 5 minutes) = 1 egg. Awesome source of omega-3s and works perfectly for baking.

Sophia Vale
Reply to  greg
5 days ago

Thanks for sharing, Greg! I haven’t used flax meal before, but now I definitely want to give it a try.