Last weekend, we changed our Easter plans at the last minute. My parents had planned to drive to Southern California for the holiday weekend, along with their two golden retrievers, but two days before, they took their young puppy on an unexpected trip to the vet for a procedure.
The surgery went well without any hiccups, but the vet prescribed lots of rest, a cone of shame, and no running or jumping… And since their puppy is incredibly energetic, driving down with her and trying to prevent her from sprinting around the backyard with Grandma’s dogs would’ve been nearly impossible!
Instead, Grandma and I met up for a low-key afternoon coffee date. (Thank you, Starbucks, for staying open on Easter!) She ordered iced tea, I opted for iced decaf coffee, and we spent an hour sitting outside in the beautiful spring weather.
As a surprise, Grandma put together a cute little pink Easter basket for me to bring home! It was filled with Reese’s peanut butter eggs, a ginormous egg-shaped dark chocolate truffle from See’s (yum!), and a stuffed squeaky toy for my dog. So sweet!
But when I woke up on Monday morning, I realized I still had a huge bag of carrots in my fridge because I had planned on baking this carrot cake for my parents’ visit… So I turned them into these Healthy Carrot Raisin Bran Muffins instead!
These healthy muffins are hearty yet tender, with a generous amount of cozy spices and bright pops of sweetness from the raisins. They basically taste like carrot cake for breakfast — but they’re easy to make with entirely wholesome ingredients!
HOW TO MAKE HEALTHY CARROT RAISIN BRAN MUFFINS
Let’s go over how to make these healthy bran muffins!
You’ll start by using my secret trick to making extra moist bran muffins… You’ll soak the oat bran (this kind — or this for a gluten free version!) in a mixture of milk, Greek yogurt, and vanilla extract. It may seem like an odd thing to do, but…
Nerd alert! Soaking the oat bran helps it soften and turn more tender ahead of time! The oat bran acts like a sponge and soaks up the moisture from the other ingredients in the bowl. This trick also helps ensure your muffins turn out really moist without lots of extra butter or oil, like in many traditional recipes!
Next, you’ll whisk together whole wheat flour (or gluten free, if you prefer!) with baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Those spices are the same ones I use in carrot cake: cinnamon and nutmeg! This is my favorite cinnamon because it tastes stronger, warmer, and slightly sweeter than regular cinnamon. I highly recommend it!
When the time comes to sweeten your muffins, you’ll skip the refined sugar and use a combination of molasses (like this!) and pure maple syrup (like this!). Molasses is actually what gives bran muffins their iconic flavor — deep, rich, and comforting — so I don’t recommend substituting for it, if at all possible. It’s shelf-stable and keeps for ages, and you can usually find it on the baking aisle!
I probably should’ve given you a Nerd alert! for the molasses bit above… Oops! But below, we’ve got a final baking Nerd alert!
Make sure you use the real kind of maple syrup that comes directly from maple trees. Skip the pancake syrup and sugar-free syrup because those typically contain other ingredients or water, which affects the texture of your muffins (and not in a good way!). Pure maple syrup, like this, typically comes in thin glass bottles or squat plastic jugs.
Now for the fun stuff… The mix-ins! Use freshly grated carrots, rather than store-bought pre-shredded carrots (also called matchstick carrots). The latter are thicker and drier, which means they don’t have as much flavor and don’t soften properly while your muffins bake. I promise it’s worth the extra effort of grating your own!
Before starting the recipe, check to see how fresh your raisins are. Ones that have been sitting in your pantry for a few months (or maybe even a year — no judgments from me!) tend to be stiffer and drier compared to a box of freshly opened raisins.
If yours are older and drier, then hydrate your raisins first! Add them to a small microwave-safe bowl, add enough water to fully cover the raisins, and place a lid or plastic wrap on top. Microwave your raisins on HIGH for 1 minute; then let them rest while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Just before it’s time to stir them in, drain your raisins. They’ll be so plump and juicy — and they’re quite possibly my favorite part of these muffins!
Tip: I do this almost every time I bake with raisins, whether in cakes, scones, quick breads, oatmeal cookies, or anything else. It’s my special raisin trick — and I’m obsessed with how sweet and juicy they turn out!
Good-bye boring breakfasts… Hello healthy bran muffins that taste like carrot cake! 😉 And when you make your own, remember to snap a picture and share it on Instagram using #amyshealthybaking and tagging @amyshealthybaking IN the photo itself! (That guarantees I’ll see your picture! 🙂 ) I’d love to see your healthy carrot raisin bran muffins!
Healthy Carrot Raisin Bran Muffins
- 1 ½ cups (180g) oat bran (measured like this and gluten free if necessary)
- ½ cup (120g) plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- ¾ cup (180mL) nonfat milk, divided
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup (120g) whole wheat flour or gluten free* flour (measured like this)
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 2 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp coconut oil or unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 large egg whites (room temperature)
- ¼ cup (60mL) molasses (room temperature)
- ¼ cup (60mL) pure maple syrup (room temperature)
- 1 ½ cups (160g) freshly grated carrots (peeled first!)
- ¼ cup (40g) raisins (see Notes!)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F, and lightly coat 12 muffin cups with nonstick spray.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the oat bran, Greek yogurt, ½ cup of milk, and vanilla extract. Let the mixture rest for at least 10 minutes while preparing the remaining ingredients.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. In a third bowl, whisk together the coconut oil and egg whites. Stir in the molasses and maple syrup. Add the oat bran mixture, stirring until fully incorporated. Alternate between adding the flour mixture and remaining ¼ cup of milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, and stirring just until incorporated. (For best results, add the flour mixture in 3 equal parts.) Fold in the carrots and raisins.
- Evenly divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups. Bake at 350°F for 18-20 minutes or until the tops feel firm to the touch. Cool in the muffin cups for 5 minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack.
View Nutrition Information + Weight Watchers Points
You may also like Amy’s other recipes…
♡ Healthy Morning Glory Bran Muffins
♡ Healthy Double Chocolate Zucchini Bran Muffins
♡ Healthy Blueberry Buttermilk Bran Muffins
♡ Healthy Chocolate Chip Banana Bran Muffins
♡ Healthy Carrot Cake Oatmeal Muffins
♡ Healthy Carrot Oatmeal Scones
♡ …and the rest of Amy’s healthy bran muffin recipes (and all of her healthy muffin recipes)!
What can I use instead of the yoghurt? Would applesauce or pineapple work?
Stacey @ Amy's Healthy Baking says...
I really appreciate your interest in these muffins, Ella! We haven’t tried using applesauce, so I’m not personally sure about that one. I’d recommend staying away from pineapple. It’s likely not going to give you the same texture as yogurt in these muffins. If you’re wanting to make these muffins dairy free, I would recommend just using a non-dairy yogurt as a substitution. I know any of those will work just fine and still give you the moist texture I love about these muffins! If you end up trying this recipe, I’d love to hear what you think! 😉
Hi Amy – new user and I really love your recipes!
I made the carrot cake muffins yeasterday (had to use a 8 x 8 pan since my muffin tin is MIA). I like nutmeg a lot do I switched up the spice amounts a tiny bit – but it was delicious! I cannot believe the texture was so moist and true to a less-healthy conventional baked good. I also made the recipe using crushed, drained & blotted pineapple for one of my daughters because she doesn’t like raisins. It was a success!
Next in the oven: zucchini & lemon muffins and zucchini oatmeal snack cake.
Stacey @ Amy's Healthy Baking says...
Kersten, you are so sweet to take the time to share your thoughts and rate this recipe! I love the idea of the pineapple in place of raisins, I’d love to try that myself sometime! I’m so happy you enjoyed these muffins and we can’t wait to hear what you think about the next recipes you try too! 🙂