Your search for the perfect healthier carrot cake is over! These pineapple carrot muffins with cream cheese frosting are naturally sweetened and completely oil free. The best part? They taste SO good you won't even know they're healthy.
Think of the perfect carrot cake. You take a bite of it and your mouth is instantly hit with the most moist cake you've ever had. Then the flavours hit... warm cinnamon and nutmeg with a subtle hint of honey. And to make it even better it's topped with the perfect amount of lightly sweetened cream cheese icing... THAT is exactly what you are in for when you bite into these pineapple carrot muffins with cream cheese frosting and you WILL NOT be disappointed.
I LOVE carrot cake. If someone were to ask me what my favourite cake is it would be carrot cake hands down. It's just the perfect cake. It isn't too sweet, but it's still packed with flavour AND it has vegetables? I don't know whose idea it was to add carrot into cake but I will eternally be indebted to them. Is that dramatic? Probably but honestly the drama is needed to explain how GOOD these carrot cake muffins are.
If you're keeping track I also love this white chocolate cake but that gives me more birthday vibes whereas this is more every single day of the year vibes.
What does refined sugar free mean?
Refined sugar free is a term that's been thrown around a lot recently in the health and wellness world. If I'm being honest I feel like a lot of the times when people say it they don't even know what it means. What is refined sugar? Is it bad? Is it something we want our baked goods to be free of? Let me just put on my Registered Dietitian hat to answer all your questions.
Refined sugar comes from sugar cane or sugar beets, which are processed to extract the sugar. So essentially refined sugar is just processed sugar. It's your typical table sugars, white sugars and brown sugars that you normally bake with.
Naturally occurring sugars are sugar naturally found in foods such as maple syrup, honey, dates etc. Basically it's just any sweetener that hasn't been "processed".
Now the $1000 question... is refined sugar bad? My answer is a big NO. In my personal opinion there is absolutely nothing wrong with refined sugar. Sugar is sugar and our bodies can't tell the difference between refined sugar or natural sugar. I do think there are some very small benefits such as added nutrients and micro nutrients in naturally occurring sugar. ie. dates have added fibre which can help decrease our blood sugar spikes. But overall I do not think refined sugar is better than or worse than natural sugars overall.
I know some people like to minimize the amount of refined sugars in their diets and I just like changing up what I use in my baking from time to time HENCE why these pineapple carrot muffins with cream cheese frosting are refined sugar free!
What ingredients do I need for pineapple carrot muffins with cream cheese frosting?
Carrots- I say this in the recipe below but make sure you shred your own carrots! I know it can be super tedious ( I hated shredding carrots until I got my food processor... which is ON SALE and now my #1 kitchen gadget btw) but I promise it's worth it! Pre-shredded carrots lose all of the natural moisture we want to save to help make these muffins the mot moist muffins you've ever had!
Flour- For this recipe I just kept it simple and used good ole' all-purpose flour!I have not personally tried substituting this flour with any other substitute. I believe it would alter the texture and moist factor slightly however if you try please let me know how it turned out!
Apple sauce- The secret to increasing the moist texture, while also reducing the amount of oil (to ZERO) needed in baked goods. I just buy regular unsweetened applesauce! I have not tried but coconut oil MAY work as a substitution for this but like I said I haven't tried so I can't comment on the ratio!
Pineapple- Another secret to sweetness and moistness. Canned, crushed pineapple is the perfect addition to these muffins! Just make sure you drain your pineapple first because we don't want the batter to be too wet.
Spices- Cinnamon and nutmeg are all you need to make these the perfect healthy carrot cake muffins with cream cheese frosting!
Eggs- I have not tried to substitute the two eggs with any egg replacement or flax egg so I cannot comment on the effectiveness! I personally love how fluffy the eggs make these pineapple carrot muffins but feel free to try an alternative and let me know how it goes!
Honey- For natural sweetness! You'll find honey in both the pineapple carrot muffins and in the cream cheese frosting.
Mixins- Walnuts and raisins are completely optional (because I know how some people feel about raisins). I personally love adding both of them in for a little surprise when you bite into the muffins but that's up to you.
PS. I love seeing my recipes in action! If you make these pineapple carrot muffins with cream cheese frosting don't forget to snap a picture and tag me on Instagram @nourishedbynic or comment below how they turned out!
Pineapple Carrot Muffins with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 + ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
- 1.5 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅓ cup +2 tbsp honey
- ½ cup applesauce unsweetened
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 +¾ cup carrots freshly grated (the pre-shredded ones aren't the same!)
- ½ cup canned crushed pineapple drained
- ½ cup chopped walnuts optional
- ½ cup raisins optional
Honey Cream Cheese Frosting
- ½ cup cream cheese room temperature
- 2-3 tablespoon plain greek yogurt
- 3-4 tablespoon honey
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin tin.
- In a large bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
- In a separate bowl combine honey, applesauce, pineapple, eggs, and vanilla extract. Whisk to combine.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until the mixture is combined, being careful not to over mix. Add carrots, walnuts, and raisins and stir until combined, be careful not to over mix.
- Pour approximately ¼ cup of batter into each lined muffin cavity (recipe should make 12 muffins) Bake for 19-22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow to cool, prepare icing by combining cream cheese, yogurt, vanilla and honey with an electric beater.
- Once muffins are cool, ice with the frosting and top with crushed walnuts.