She Bakes! She Bakes! Vegan Carrot Raisin Bran Muffins

by Gena on October 24, 2010

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Hey all!

Hope you’ve had beautiful weekends so far. New York is balmy and mild today, and I’m enjoying the mellow breeze through my apartment windows right now.

Last week, when I wrote about my spelt cornbread, I mentioned that I’m not a born baker. A true statement, but the last week or two would seem to contradict it. I’ve been making vegan muffins, you see, and while I’m hardly an Ange or a Mama Pea, I think I’ve done a pretty good job! Many readers have written me in the last year and a half, asking for recipes for vegan baked goods, and I’ve never once obliged, so let this be a watershed CR moment: my first baked good recipe. All vegan, naturally, and as healthy as I could make it without sacrificing taste.

That last bit is important: I’m not into overwhelming baking substitution. As a vegan, I already substitute a bunch of stuff: eggs, milk, butter. I also always opt to use healthier flours (spelt, whole grain pastry flour) and sweeteners (brown rice syrup, agave, maple syrup). But I’m not into using stevia in baking; I just don’t like the taste, and moreover, I eat sweets rarely, so when I do eat them I’m happy to enjoy the natural sweeteners that go into them. Therefore, any of you who feel like leaving me nasties in the comments section about how evil agave or brown rice syrup is, try to restrain yourself. Eat sugar moderately, and sanely, and you’ll eat it without remorse.

I’m also happy to bake with oils and Earth Balance; I’m not on a diet, and neither are the special people I enjoy baking for, so the notion of making muffins with only 1.6 grams of fat per serving isn’t important to me. If you are on a diet, keep in mind that most recipes will work if you substitute prune purée or applesauce for about half of the oil – try it, and see what happens!

I was not born a vegan baker. No one is – like any other kind of specialized cooking, vegan baking takes a bit of practice. It’s good to have a mentor, which is why I’m grateful that Isa Chandra Moskowitz exists; it was her cookbooks that first taught me how to make flax eggs, substitute for animal fats, and generally whip up the most amazing vegan baked stuff EVER. Her muffin and scone recipes are illegally good, and if you’re looking for a primer in vegan baking, or just some inspiration, I’d definitely recommend checking out Vegan with a Vengeance. The recipe below—carrot raisin bran muffins—were inspired by the bran muffins and carrot muffins, both from that book; I simply made a few tweaks and combined the recipes into one. The result? Major morning deliciousness, cruelty free.

Carrot Raisin Bran Muffins (makes 12)

1 1/2 cups spelt flour (whole wheat pastry or all purpose will do, too)
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsps cinnamon
2 tsps powdered ginger
3/4 cup oat bran
1 cup rice milk
1/3 cup safflower oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
2 cups grated carrot
1/2 cup raisins

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2) Sift dry ingredients together, and set aside.

3) Mix wet ingredients together, and add to the dry ingredients. Mix till just combined (there should still be little pockets of flour), then add the carrots and raisins and incorporate.

4) Bake for 18-20 minutes (check your oven earlier if it runs hot) in a lined muffin tin. Let cool for as long as you can stand it, and serve!

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These are among my favorite muffins ever. They’re sweet, soft, and although they feel definitively treat-like, they also taste and look pretty darn healthy. See?

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They’d be a good way to impose orange veggies on kids who don’t like them, too!

I served mine for breakfast at the office this week with a fresh Braeburn apple (new favorite variety!).

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…and it was a pair made in heaven. I especially liked putting a little smear of raw almond butter on the muffin!

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I enjoyed making these muffins not only because they were tasty, or because it was fun, or because a certain someone enjoyed them as much as I did, but also because it reminded me that old dogs can always learn new kitchen tricks. I may think of myself more as an uncook than cook, and more of a cook than a baker, but that doesn’t mean I shy away from mastering any part of vegan food preparation. Who knows what new skills I’ll have up my sleeve in a year or two?

Do you think of yourself as a baker, or a cook, or both? What’s your favorite kind of cooking, and why do you prefer it? And when’s the last time you went out of your kitchen comfort zone?

See you tomorrow, all. Have a restful Sunday.


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{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

Evan Thomas October 24, 2010 at 4:42 pm

You say you’re not a baker, but I see a little promise in you yet ;-)
I love baking. I’d say I’m a cook and a baker but if it came right down to it I would choose baking in a heartbeat. I have two types of vegan, gluten-free brownies, a gluten-free shortbread, and a gluten-free vegan nut shortbread all on my counter right now. I just love baked goods!


Gena October 24, 2010 at 4:44 pm

From you, E, that means a lot!


Mo@MommyRD October 24, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Those look delicious!
Do you think agave would work in place of brown rice syrup? (It would save a trip to the store.)


Gena October 24, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Sure would. You could decrease the amount by a tiny bit — say 1/3 cup, instead of 1/2.


crunchy granola gal October 24, 2010 at 4:53 pm

these look like bangin’ good muffins! ;) love the reference, and inclusion of ginger. it’s nice to surprise ourselves in the kitchen every once in awhile. :)


Melissa October 24, 2010 at 4:58 pm

I consider myself a baker… I can remember being in the kitchen with my mom from a young age baking cupcakes and pies galore. I started experimenting with unbaking a few months ago and I love the concoctions I’ve come up with… many are inspired by Ani’s Dessert book, which is fabulous!


bitt October 24, 2010 at 5:08 pm

One of the reasons I have loathed vegan baking is because for me is requires swapping on a gluten-free recipe or a vegan one to make it fit both my dietary requirements. Nowadays it is easier with the gluten-free all purpose flours, I simply use them in vegan recipes. I have been doing more baking lately but I feel much more comfortable in the raw bakery than the cooked one.


Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) October 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm

I am in 1 million percent agreement!
Vegan BAKING usually just adds another step b/c I have to account for the Gluten, too, and remove that.

As I said in my comment I just left, too, that’s why I am drawn to raw unbaking.



Blaine October 24, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Oh man, Vegan with a Vengeance has a special place in my heart. It was my first ever vegan cookbook that I got out of desperation because I would starve in Fort Worth, Texas if I couldn’t make vegan food for myself.
I love that you’re throwing some baking into the mix! I believe it’s healthy to not be so dogmatic about eating “100%” this-or-that all the time (namely: raw). Although I will always eat mostly raw foods, it brings me such happiness to pull oatmeal raisin cookies out of the oven when it gets chilly outside!


Molly October 25, 2010 at 12:32 am

Hey Blaine,
I’m in Fort Worth, too! How cool is that?! FTW is a small town – united by way of NYC. ;)
- Molly


Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) October 24, 2010 at 5:23 pm

You’re right, this IS the first ever baked good recipe from you! Or that you’ve posted about…and they look delish!!!

I consider myself a raw unbaker first. I would prefer to whip up dessert-ish things using only my Vita, or a bowl and a spoon, and not have to worry about baking, or dehydrating. Freezer or any other shortcuts are the name of my game!

I also like to cook with SIMPLE ingredients as you and I have chatted about…no organic goji berries or raw cacao powder from the amazon or maca or whatever. All those things are lovely, but I ask myself…could my parents in (rural) Minnesota find these ingredients easily? And if the answer is no, I dont post the recipe. I just don’t like to get too complex on stuff b/c no one wants complex at 5pm on Tues or at 10am sunday morning.

Your food is always straightforward, too. Amen :)

Have a super weekend my dear!! (what’s left of it!)


Daniel October 24, 2010 at 5:29 pm

I consider myself more of a cook than baker but I’m getting a bit more in touch with my baking side. I prefer hands on things when I’m at home and I have time (sauteing, stir-frying, hummus creating, etc.) and things that require a less watchful eye when I’m in my dorm because then I can do my homework at the same time (granola, roasting squash, baking beans, boiling grains, etc.).

This past Thursday I actually went out of my comfort zone because I had to make a chocolate souffle for my cooking lab and I had never done that – or anything that requires stiff peaks from egg whites. My cooking lab really does get me out of my comfort zone and next week (though I’m 99% sure I won’t eat any of it) we’re doing seafood and poultry, so I’ll get to learn how to prepare those for others as well.


Gena October 24, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Congrats on getting out of that comfort zone, Daniel! I’m proud of you :)


Mara @ What's For Dinner? October 24, 2010 at 5:33 pm

I’m so proud :) These look fab!


Gena October 24, 2010 at 9:30 pm

I was actually hoping you’d comment, darlin :)


Alayna @ Thyme Bombe October 24, 2010 at 5:53 pm

These look yummy! In the past I would have said that I’m more of a baker, but these days I really enjoy cooking more. I go out of my comfort zone at least once a week! I’m really into recreating Japanese homestyle dishes lately, so I’m still learning those those techniques by feel. I’m starting to really get it though!


Angela October 24, 2010 at 6:12 pm

These look great! Bookmarked to try very soon – thanks!!


Ian October 24, 2010 at 6:16 pm

<3333 vegan muffins! I'm going to bake these tonight ;)


Namaste Gurl October 24, 2010 at 6:17 pm

I’m much more of a cook than a baker– cooking seems to be more where my creative juices flow :)

These muffins look yummy, and better yet vegan and whole grain. For the ginger, is it ground ginger or fresh, grated ginger?


Gena October 24, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Powdered — will list that! Thanks for asking.


Heather October 24, 2010 at 6:19 pm

So, I have some wholemeal organic spelt flour, freshly ground by the local baker, kicking around in the pantry. Did you use wholemeal spelt flour or unbleached white? I ask because your muffins look deliciously light and I’m wondering whether using my wholemeal spelt will turn these gorgeous morsels into heavy clunkers or throw off the solid-liquid balance or whether, in fact, it’s what you used and the recipe will work out fine.

Thanks for posting the recipe — always looking for freezable treats for emergency on-the-go snacks for my son.


Gena October 24, 2010 at 9:30 pm

I’m not sure! I used Bob’s Red Mill spelt. I think that heavier would be fine — I actually like really dense, grainy baked goods — but you’d have to experiment.

As an FYI, whole wheat pastry would work nicely, too.


VeggieGirl October 24, 2010 at 6:22 pm

YOU BAKED, YOU BAKED!!! Gena, I’m enthusiastically proud right now.


Gena October 24, 2010 at 9:29 pm

Hehe. I knew you’d appreciate.


melissa October 24, 2010 at 6:26 pm

yum! those look great! i’ve been a baking nut lately too and i NEVER do it! seriously, i think something is wrong with me


FoodFeud October 24, 2010 at 6:43 pm

I’m definitely more of a baker – my meals are pretty simple salads or rolls or sandwiches or soups that you don’t need recipes for, but I like having a home-baked good to round a meal out. It seems to make the meal that much more satisfying.
This CAN get dangerous, so I like to share the majority of what I bake and then people seem to expect and enjoy what I share, so I end up making more! Terrible cycle, obviously ;)
Today however, I adapted a few recipes and made a chard-fennel-onion tart and am waiting to see how it turns out. Occasionally it’s nice to eat something more than what you usually have. Salad on the side, still, though.


Lauren October 24, 2010 at 6:45 pm

I am def. not a baker! I hate measuring!:) I’ve been enjoying more vegan baked goods in my last trimester, I am lucky enough to have an awesome vegan baker at my farmers market. And she doesn’t use any yucky ingredients, only the good stuff like you did! :) ENJOY!


Stefanie October 24, 2010 at 8:01 pm

Thank you for solving my craving for carrot cake. This sounds even better then what I was looking for. I’m a baker at heart and enjoy being in the kitchen. My family think I am crazy when I visit them since I am in the kitchen 2+ hours a day. I bake breads, cookies, and cakes but I do enjoy cooking too.


Amy Skretta October 24, 2010 at 8:13 pm

Veganomicon has a pineapple sunshine muffin that includes shredded carrots and raisins, too. I make that a lot when I’m anxious about my cracker-eating munchkin not eating enough vegetables. And I agree with your statement about Mama Pea being an awesome baker (though I think you’re also doing just fine!); I just made her pumpkintervention pumpkin scones… *dreamy sigh* SO good.

Have a great week!


Ricki October 24, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Yum! And congrats on that watershed moment! ;) They look great. And Braeburns are one of my very favorite apples, too. As you know, I bake all the time. . . but I do love my raw meals as well! (and thanks again for introducing me to those nori rolls. . . still drooling at the thought!) ;)


Sangria October 24, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Funny to have a choosing raw site with so much cooked food! And meat and canned cooked bean adverts on the side. Lots of mixed signals here!;)


Gena October 24, 2010 at 9:28 pm

I’m pretty open about the fact that I’m semi, not all raw. In addition, most of my cooking lately has been for two, so my raw endeavors are mostly simple lunches and breakfasts. My readers know that, and they appreciate the variety.


Molly October 25, 2010 at 12:35 am

Indeed, we do! That’s why is *Choosing* Raw. Life is all about choices, and sometimes those choices include cooked food, sometimes they don’t. Personally, I love that Gena gives some screen time to cooked recipes, while still devoting a lot of attention to raw ideals, as well. It’s healthy for the body, the mind and the soul.


Gena October 25, 2010 at 10:48 am


You said it better than I could have. Thanks.



Sangria October 28, 2010 at 1:05 pm

i can understand the occasional cooked food, but still can’t see how you’d allow advertisements of meat and dairy on your page. especially when you claim to be passionate about veganism.

KRISTEN'S RAW October 24, 2010 at 8:48 pm

Those look FABULOUS! Yum. Great job!


BroccoliHut October 24, 2010 at 9:11 pm

These look delicious, particularly with a smear of nut butter!
Oddly enough, I started out as a baker–I used to bake something new every day back in high school. Then, I discovered the joys of cooking, and I NEVER bake anymore.


Gena October 24, 2010 at 9:27 pm

I wonder if it’s an ED recovery thing? I used to bake constantly as I struggled, and then I think for a long time baking left a creepy taste in my mouth for that very reason. Glad I’m reclaiming it as an activity.


Molly October 25, 2010 at 12:37 am

Wow, I’m glad you said that. I used to bake constantly *for other people*, when I was in the throes of my disease. Now that I’m recovering, I don’t want to bake at all, because I can’t/won’t eat those foods (at least, not yet). I hadn’t made the connection until you mentioned it.


jenny October 27, 2010 at 3:51 am

god, how i can relate to baking as a sign of still struggling with ED.


Namaste Gurl October 25, 2010 at 1:26 am

Sorry to “but” in, but I totally think it’s an ED- related behavior. When I was really struggling a few years ago, I baked day and night- constantly watching the Food Network for new low- fat baking ideas. Now, similarly, I almost never bake. Once in a while I will, for some peanut butter cheesecake or cornbread or such….

Glad you noted on that, Caroline!


Namaste Gurl October 25, 2010 at 1:28 am

And Gena- both of you. Well done staying on note :)


Teresa October 24, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Gena, these look delish! I have to admit, I didn’t expect to see a baked good on your blog anytime soon.

I used to bake quite often, although now I almost never bake (can’t remember the last time). Although, just last month I made all the desserts for my brother’s wedding rehearsal dinner. Enough raw desserts for 80 people! (I had just gotten back from working on a date farm so I had something like 20 pounds of fresh medjools, and my omnivore brother loves raw desserts) I was so nervous because I’d never done anything like that! But I didn’t have to worry, because people loved it, and most importantly my brother was stoked.

These muffins just might lead me back to the baking path… Although I’ll have to try using yacon, because it’s all I have at the moment.


Laura C October 24, 2010 at 10:28 pm

I think one of my problems with baking is that I know I will have a very hard time not overeating what I have made- it works a lot better for me to whip up an uncooked dessert (not necessarily raw). I can make a stir fry for one or two, but it’s harder (or perhaps feels like too much effort) to bake muffins for one or two. I view baking as a treat activity and preferably a social one- I love baking cookies or muffins with friends or family. I also find baking less forgiving, and my food prep needs a lot of forgiveness!


Ravenous Rowie October 24, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Great looking muffins!


Casey October 25, 2010 at 4:42 am

Yummy! I love to bake occasionally too. Recently I made some awesome pumpkin scones for my dad with a combo of millet and spelt flour. I did use stevia and they tasted fab still.

Thanks Gena!


Brigid of Vegging out in T-Town October 25, 2010 at 9:40 am

If only I didn’t hate raisins, I would definitely try out your recipe. Maybe I’ll swap in apple chunks and give it a go. It sounds delicious!

I definitely think of myself as a baker, though I love cooking, too. Baking is my favorite stress outlet, plus it keeps me in friends. :)


Annie October 25, 2010 at 10:04 am

I started out as a baker… when I went gluten free and mostly vegan (always vegan in baked goods) I started doing a lot of experimenting so that I wouldn’t have to rely on packaged foods. As I’ve incorporated more raw and vegan foods, I’ve craved cookies (let’s be honest, cookies are what it’s all about :)) less and less and become more of a cook/uncook.

It’s getting cold, though, and there’s nothing I love more than showing up as a guest at someone’s home with warm _____, so I’ll likely get back into it soon.

BTW, long time-lurker, first-time commenter. Love your blog and read every post!


Mama Pea October 25, 2010 at 12:49 pm

I knew you had it in you!


Christine (The Raw Project) October 25, 2010 at 12:53 pm

These look wonderful, awesome job! I consider myself more of a cooker over a baker when I do cook.


Jean@RoastedRootsandPumpkinSpice October 25, 2010 at 3:13 pm

These look so great! Congrats on your baking! I’m more of a cook myself, but I think it’s also because I make too many substitutions while baking to “healthify” the recipe, and it doesn’t always end up so good.


Allison October 25, 2010 at 3:46 pm

I love that cookbook and Isa:) Veganomicon is my “go to” vegan cookbook!

I totally agree about the stevia, not my thing. I’d rather use agave or maple syrup or brown rice syrup!!


Samantha October 26, 2010 at 12:27 am

Hi Gena!
I would definitely categorize myself as a baker. I think it speaks to that kind of neurotic, OCD part of me that thinks that if I do not have all the exact measurements of ingredients, then the recipe will. not. work.
It’s been hard since I recently discovered my wheat (and chickpea!!) allergies, though I did manage to adapt Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s chocolate gluten free cupcakes for my sister’s birthday, after some testing.
I’ve been trying to delve into the more savory world of cooking, though. I live at home (I’m 16) and although I consider myself a bit of a “foodie” it would always be, at dinner time, my mom would start cooking dinner in the kitchen, I would stand and watch, carefully, as she freely and without measuring things threw things in a pot or a pan and tasted the salt or the garlic or whatever. Now I’m trying to channel my inner cook. Because a girl can only have so many chocolate cupcakes.


Joy October 26, 2010 at 6:12 am

I am more baker than anything else (but I do make soups in the crockpot A LOT) but I don’t bake stuff I can eat. I bake for the hubs and the pups (my dog is allergic to wheat and corn and I try to keep him with minimal meat products)


Meghan (Making Love In The Kitchen) October 31, 2010 at 8:53 pm

There is absolutely nothing my mother, sister-in-law or myself love more than an amazing carrot cake recipe and I am pretty sure these muffins will do just fine on that front. ‘Tis the season for baking warming treats. Well done on this one Gena!


delaney November 19, 2010 at 9:35 am

I didn’t have some of the ingredients so I made some subs: coconut milk instead of rice milk (SO brand), ground flax seed meal instead of bran, olive oil instead of safflower. I had to put them in teeny-tiny-loaf pans because I couldn’t find muffin tins. Oh my GOODness. I had to give most of them away because I knew I’d eat them all. I’m not a big raisin fan so I may leave those out next time but these were so dang delicious. I even managed to get my non-vegan friend to eat one in front of me (proof that they were good) and take three with him. Next time I’ll make them as prescribed. Thanks for the recipe. I’ll be making these for Thanksgiving day FO-sure!!


Yelena February 23, 2011 at 4:19 pm

These look great. Do you think I can use the ground up carrot that comes out of my juicer, or will it be too dry?


Gena February 23, 2011 at 8:11 pm

I think that’ll work!


Gena October 28, 2010 at 2:29 pm


This is a fair comment. I AM passionate about veganism, I don’t claim to be; the question is whether or not my being a part of Foodbuzz is a public contradiction. I don’t mind having my consistency challenged, but not the depth of my commitment.

It’s not ideal, many of the advertisements on my site. I know that, and I wish it were different. Then again, there’s a lot to be said for foodbuzz beyond their obvious support of what I do. Foodbuzz is the single program that helps so many new bloggers get their bearings and share their words and ideas with the world. They help foster communication between food bloggers, and offer people like me the chance to share my work with bloggers/readers who wouldn’t otherwise care about veganism (and hopefully give them incentive to care). It was meaningful to me to have Foodbuzz’s interest when I had virtually no readership, and I like that they support fledgling and big blogs alike.

The content of ads is not ideal, and in fact I’ve brainstormed on ways to work on that. For now, I accept that Foodbuzz facilitates what I do and is a blessing to many other bloggers. Molly was right: it’s about weighing choices, and I weigh the virtues of Foodbuzz against the inherent moral conflict (for me) of it’s being a decidedly omnivorous brand.



Sangria October 28, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Gena, I appreciate your thoughtful response. Now I do see why you allow the advertisements, but I do hope you find a way to keep the meat/dairy ads from your site! Maybe you could start your own partnership with vegetarian, earth-friendly brands. After all, it’s more about the message you carry than the money, wouldn’t you agree?


Lethe April 12, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Hi, Gena, OPP sent me! I know this is an old post, but I just had to respond to this dialog between you and Sangria. I just don’t get the whole issue with the ads. I generally never look beyond the original content of a website, and I didn’t even notice the ads until Sangria pointed them out. Ads are a necessary evil of publishing content on the internet, and they are aimed at people who really can’t make their own choices. Since most people on a food site like this one have already made their choice, I’m guessing any non-compatible food ads are irrelevant to them, so why worry? You don’t like meat? You don’t like dairy? DON’T BUY IT. Vote with your pocketbook, and don’t go on a jihad against ‘nonbelievers’. ^_^


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