Need a sweet treat?! These quinoa carrot cake cupcakes should be just the thing to satisfy a sweet tooth without being too unhealthy… after all, they do have carrots! 😉 This recipe is surprisingly easy and super delicious!
Quinoa is one of my favorite foods right now, and I would never have thought to use it to make a cake had I not stumbled on a quinoa chocolate cake recipe (that also looks delicious by the way). I’m not a huge chocolate fan (I know, who doesn’t love chocolate?!), so I started thinking about what other kinds of cakes could be made with quinoa… and that’s how this recipe was born!
You may not know this, but quinoa is a complete protein. That means that it has all the necessary essential amino acids within itself to provide exactly what you need in a protein. This is a rarity for a plant source, which is what makes quinoa so cool. I will mention however, that although it’s a complete protein, it’s not exactly the best way to get protein into your diet. For example, a cup of quinoa has about 8 grams of protein in it, which is great, but when compared to chicken which has about about 25 g or grass-fed ground beef which has about 23 g, it may not be the best source for protein, if that’s what you’re after. (source)
The rest of the ingredients are pretty straight forward. I did include organic cane sugar in the batter mix, which is something I rarely do, but allowed for two reasons… 1. This was a special treat, which for us is not something we indulge in often & 2. (in my opinion) a little bit of the right kind of sugar is okay sometimes.
What do I mean by the “right kind of sugar”?
Sugar is getting a really bad wrap right now, and for good reason! Conventional refined white sugar can cause all kinds of issues like inflammation, digestive problems, liver disease, & insulin resistance… just to name a few. Unfortunately this is the type of sugar that is commonly used in households and you’ll find hidden in all kinds of processed food products. It makes it kind of confusing that our bodies actually need a little bit of sugar, but the key is to get the right kinds of sugar that our bodies can actually process and utilize. Luckily there are several sources for sugar that actually aren’t so bad. My family chooses to mainly stick with raw honey, sucanat (where to buy sucanat), real maple syrup, fruit, and stevia (on occasion) for any sweetening needs… and limiting even those!
The main things I look for in a good sugar source are… organic, mildly refined or unrefined… basically as close to nature as possible. The conventional refined white sugar you find in the grocery store is from either of 2 sources, sugar cane or sugar beets. Both of which, if unspecified, are not organic (meaning they have been grown and likely sprayed heavily with pesticides) and are almost undoubtedly genetically modified. I’d say it’s safe to say that avoiding refined white sugar (like the plague) is a really good idea.
With that being said, I would highly recommend only using organic cane sugar, like I did, for the bit of sweetness added to the batter 😉
Quinoa Carrot Cake Cupcakes
- 2 cups cooked quinoa* (where to buy quinoa)
- 1/3 cup milk
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract (like this)
- 3/4 cups butter
- 1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar (where to buy)
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3 cups raw, finely ground (or shredded) carrots
- 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (optional)
*To prepare quinoa: Bring 2/3 cups quinoa & 1 1/3 cups water to boil. Reduce heat & simmer for 10 min. Allow to cool for at least another 10 minutes, or refrigerate to cool completely.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- In a High-powered blender or food processor (like a Blendtec or a Ninja), combine the milk, eggs & vanilla
- Add the cold, cooked quinoa, butter, & shredded carrots and continue to blend until smooth
- Add the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, & cinnamon and blend well to combine
- Distribute the batter evenly into your pre-lined muffin tin (I really like using my scoop for this part)
- Bake on a center rack for about 45 minutes
- Test with a toothpick to make sure they are done
- Allow to cool completely before frosting & enjoying!
*This recipe made 24 large cupcakes for me, but I think you could probably reduce that number by adding more batter to each cup since they don’t rise very much.
**Store cupcakes for up to 1 week in the fridge, or up to 1 month in the freezer… if you can even make it that long without eating them all!
Cream Cheese Honey Frosting
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 cup cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup coconut oil (really good coconut oil)
- Blend all ingredients together using a hand mixer until stiff peaks form
- Place in the fridge for about 20 minutes for an easier spread
- Slap that goodness straight onto your cupcakes, or use a decorating tool (like this one) to make them especially irresistible!
Bon Appétit! 🙂