Carrot Oat Mini-Muffins

These carrot oat mini-muffins are the perfect after-school snack or lunch box addition.

Key ingredients

Whenever I develop muffin recipes, I always try to make sure they include bananas or applesauce. Why? Who doesn’t have a ton of bananas in their freezer? Also, we always have a ton of homemade unsweetened applesauce on hand that we make with apples from our friend’s tree. Applesauce is also a more economical choice and a pantry/freezer ingredient, versus using butter, so I like that too!

Food waste tip: Make your own applesauce from bruised apples

Did you know that you can make your own applesauce? Drop chopped skin-on apples in your slow cooker with 1/2 cup of water. Cook it on low for about 6 hours, puree and freeze!

I also like to use whole wheat flour and oats in my muffin recipes because I know my kids will take them for snack, lunch, or even breakfast sometimes, and I want them to be filling and satiating so the kids aren’t asking for another snack right after they have one.

We always have carrots in the fridge, so it’s an easy ingredient to include.

These Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins with Salted Caramel Chips also contain whole wheat flour, oats and applesauce. A few other muffins on my regular roster are these Chocolate Zucchini Muffins these Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins. Both contain bananas!

Meal prep tip: Shred carrots while you chop carrots for another meal or snack

One of my favorite meal prep tips is to touch ingredients once for all uses. That means, shred the carrots for the muffins and bake them while you chop carrots for your weeknight meals and for lunches. This saves on dishes and time!

Mini-muffins or standard size?

I used to make standard sized muffins for the kids to take to school all the time, but I was always sending them in plastic bags. I have a personal goal to try to send zero-waste/low-waste lunches as much as I can, so these mini-muffins fit perfectly in the containers I have for the kids’ lunch boxes.

Waste-reducing tip: Avoid paper muffin tin liners

You can reduce waste by simply greasing your mini-muffin tins with cooking spray and skipping the paper liner. You can also purchase silicone mini-muffin liners.

If you’d like to make standard sized muffins, simply increase the cooking time by 5 minutes.

The kids couldn’t keep their grubby little fingers off these muffins.

Meal prep tips for Carrot Oat Mini-Muffins

If you want to pre-measure your ingredients, then bake them later, use three containers: One for the dry ingredients, one for the liquid ingredients and one for the carrots. You can whip together a batch quickly while your dinner is in the oven, then bake them while you eat. When they’re ready, you clean up once! Plus, your oven will already be pre-heated from cooking dinner.

Warm or cool?

I typically enjoy a warm fresh-baked muffin right out of the oven, but these muffins are a lot more flavorful when you let them cool and allow the flavors to concentrate.

Carrot Oat Mini Muffins

Carrot Oat Mini Muffins are the perfect bite-sized treat.

Course Breakfast, Snack
Keyword carrot, mini muffins, muffins, oatmeal
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 24 minutes
Servings 40 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups carrots

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.

  2. Combine brown sugar, applesauce, egg and vanilla. Mix until thoroughly combined.

  3. Add flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and mix until combined.

  4. Stir in carrots.

  5. Use a cookie scoop to drop into greased or lined mini muffin tins.

  6. Bake at 375 F for 15 minutes.

Test Kitchen – Battered Cauliflower

I’ve been on the hunt for a baked, crispy battered cauliflower. I tested out a few different batters to see which one would satisfy my requirements.

The criteria I wanted to fulfill was:

  • Baked
  • Stays crisp in a variety of sauces
  • Uses basic pantry ingredients

It turns out, all of the batters I tested turned out crispy but paired better with different sauces. I was inspired to try this test when I saw Half Baked Harvest’s recipe for Beer Battered Cauliflower Nuggets, which look amazing as well and I will definitely be trying. I had also purchased a bag of rice flour to use and hadn’t found enough uses for it, until now!

I seasoned all of the batters in the same way, with onion and garlic powders so that they will pair well with almost any sauce. Each recipe should be enough for one head of cauliflower. I love that these recipes use basic pantry ingredients. I ended up using lime flavored sparkling water because that is all we had, but I didn’t notice the lime flavor at all in the battered cauliflower.

Top row: Flour batter, middle row: rice flour, bottom row: cornstarch.

Flour batter

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sparkling water
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil

Flour batter results

The flour batter resulted in a thick all-around coating for the cauliflower. It had maximum coverage and was crispy, yet puffy, almost like a crispy pancake. This one would work best for a “wing” style cauliflower, with buffalo or BBQ sauce.

Rice flour batter

  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 2 cups sparkling water
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil

Rice flour batter results

The rice flour batter had a loud, hard crunch. It has great coverage, similar to the all-purpose flour battered cauliflower. It reminded me of tempura, except not as light and fluffy. I enjoyed this one with a light, soy dipping sauce.

Soy dipping sauce for rice flour battered cauliflower

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp ginger, chili, garlic paste (or more if you like it spicy)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (add more if you like a sweeter sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar

Cornstarch batter

  • 2 cups cornstarch
  • 1 cup sparkling water
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil

Cornstarch batter results

The cornstarch batter was light and dripped off of the cauliflower, pooling at the bottom. This resulted in a roasted cauliflower with a crunchy base. With that said, the coverage was minimal, so if you’re looking for a light batter with a bit of crunch, this one is for you. I enjoyed this one with a sweet and sticky sweet chili sauce.

Top row: Flour, middle row: rice flour, bottom row: cornstarch.

Baking the cauliflower

I baked all of the different batters at the same temperature (425 degrees F) for the same amount of time (20 minutes) and the crispiness was quite similar. I did not flip them, as I didn’t want any of the batter to crumble off if it wasn’t yet fully cooked. If you like your cauliflower soft, I would extend the cooking time to 25-30 minutes.

Meal prep tips for battered cauliflower

The reason I wanted to find a battered cauliflower that bakes well, is because baking is what I like to call a “hands-off” cooking method. Which means, while the cauliflower is baking, I can use my hands for prepping other meal components or completing other tasks while I wait.

If you were going to make this on a weeknight and wanted to prep the ingredients ahead of time, you could chop the cauliflower, and measure out the dry ingredients for the batter to speed things up.

If you’re making this as an appetizer and don’t use the whole head of cauliflower, you could add it to this mac and cheese, or these lunch bowls.

How to set up a DIY Chicken Toast Bar

This post was written in a paid partnership with Manitoba Chicken Producers. As always, all opinions are my own and I only promote products and services that I use and love.

May Long Weekend is just around the corner.  You may be one of the lucky ones who scored a campsite for this unofficial start of summer or you may be heading to a family cottage to open up for the season.  You might also be staying home, enjoying the comfort of your own backyard like I am. Wherever you choose to celebrate the long weekend, this DIY Chicken Toast Bar featuring three toast recipes from Manitoba Chicken Producers is a great option for a lunch or a snack.

The basics

To set up this toast bar, all you need is shredded chicken, toasted baguette slices and a few fresh toppings.  Here are three toast recipes that you can make:

You may have seen these recipes featured on Great Tastes of Manitoba Season 31, Episode 6- Toast to MB Chicken. If not, you can watch it here to see how they’re made.

Setting up your Toast Bar

Here are some recommended ingredients for your toast bar:

  • Toasted baguette slices
  • Chicken (roasted, shredded, sliced or chicken fingers)
  • Two spreads
    • Hummus
    • Pesto
    • Olive tapenade
    • Baba ghanoush
  • One or two soft cheeses
    • Ricotta
    • Brie
    • Fresh mozzarella
    • Goat cheese
  • Two to three fresh toppings
    • Tomatoes (fresh or roasted)
    • Greens (arugula, cilantro, dill, sprouts)
    • Avocado
    • Roasted red peppers
  • Finishing touches
    • Fruit preserves or jam
    • Balsamic reduction
    • Capers
    • Pine nuts
    • Dried fruit (blueberries, apricots, cranberries)

Meal Prep Tips for your DIY Toast Bar

You can set up your toast bar to be as simple or elaborate as you want.  Most of the ingredients can be prepped ahead of time, to make this a quick and easy snack or lunch, perfect for a day of yard work, camping or sitting on the dock.

Here are some steps that you can take to prep your toast bar ahead of time:

  • Slice the baguette (toast it just before serving for maximum crispness)
  • Cook and shred or slice the chicken
  • Make hummus
  • Roast tomatoes
  • Other fresh toppings need minimal prep, like fresh arugula or herbs, tomatoes, avocado & capers

Store-Bought Shortcuts for your DIY Toast Bar

Store-bought ingredients

If you’re looking for maximum time-savings, here are some store-bought shortcuts that you can try:

  • Rotisserie chicken from the deli
  • Chicken fingers
  • Crostini rounds (find them in the cracker aisle)
  • Store-bought hummus (try a few flavors)
  • Guacamole
  • Oil packed sundried tomatoes
  • Olive tapenade
  • Capers
  • Flavored goat cheese spread

What to do with the leftovers?

What happens if you finish off the baguette and you have a bunch of toppings leftover?

This is why this is the perfect weekend meal.  The ingredients are so versatile that you can pack everything you need for the toast bar and have leftovers for lunch the next day.

Show us your toast bars! Tag @manitobachicken and @toobusylivin204 so we can see which ingredients you chose!