One of my favorite ways to increase the nutritional value of baked goods is to add fruits and vegetables. Many of the sweeter vegetables (carrots, winter squashes, sweet potatoes, zucchini) work particularly well and are not unknown ingredients, but beets also deserve a little shelf space in the baking aisle.
The original beet still grows wild in the Mediterranean, although its cultivated cousin has become a part of cuisines around the world. Beets are often enjoyed for their natural high sugar content, but also serve as a beneficial blood tonic. With significant values of vitamin A, B and C as well as calcium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus, and available in many tantalizing colors from the common dark-purple-red, to golden-yellow, sunny orange and even white, how can you resist?
The inspiration for this recipe comes from Zephyr Community Farm, in From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce published by the Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition in 1996. I doubt this gem of a cookbook is readily available, but I just found it from independent sellers on Amazon (see link above). If you are interested in a collection of great vegetable recipes, this is one I highly recommend. For this recipe, I took the original one for a cake, and made it a bit sturdier. With a few adjustments, these muffins can step-in for a healthy snack any day, be a significant part of breakfast or lunch, or they can be frosted and served as a much healthier alternative to your typical sugar high-inducing chocolate cupcake.
- 2 cups white whole wheat flour
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed*
- 3/4 cup raw sugar or sucanat
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3/4 cup unsweetened powdered cacao
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1/3 cup olive oil or melted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/3 cup maple syrup (if you want a sweeter treat, you can add some more)
- 1 1/4 cup beet puree
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)
- 1/4 cup walnut pieces, chopped (optional)
Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting
Equal amounts of:
- cream cheese
- raspberry preserves
- 12 whole raspberries (as garnish)
- Wrap beets in aluminum foil and roast in a 400˚ oven or cook in a saucepan just covered with water until soft (times will vary between 30-60 minutes depending on size). Allow to cool.
- Combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, and mix in wet ingredients.
- Peel beets and puree in a food processor or vitamix blender.
- Pour wet ingredients into dry, add beet puree and combine. Fold in cranberries and/or walnuts if using (increasing the muffin’s healthy omega-3 fats, antioxidant and fiber content).
- Pour into greased muffin pans or paper baking cups, and bake at 325˚ degrees for 20-30 minutes.
- If adding frosting, while the muffins are in the oven, mix together the cream cheese and raspberry preserves.
- Allow the muffins to cool and frost. Complete the treat with a fresh raspberry on top.
* Flaxseeds are a great source of both healthy fats and fiber. However, we can not digest them when they are whole. You should grind them first. I recommend designating a coffee/spice grinder for this, keeping your whole flaxseeds fresh in the refrigerator, and grinding small portions daily, or as often as you need them.