Carrot – Sweet Potato Spice Cakes

These tender little cakes are perfect to tuck into a picnic hamper or school lunch box. There’s not much difference between these and a muffin — just a little extra sugar. If you want, reduce the amount by up to 1/4 cup and you’re back in muffin territory. I like to purée the carrot with the sweet potato so it’s completely smooth. This not only disguises the healthy vitamin A-loaded roots, but makes for a moist, delicate crumb. For a little flourish, finish off with a dusting of powdered sugar before serving.

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Orange-Chocolate Chip Muffins

This recipe arrived in our kitchen via a windfall when a friend moved years ago. I had always admired how she whipped up a batch of muffins for her kids on a school morning. Sometimes even Monday. My friend Jane’s orange juice-sweetened muffins were inspired by another Jane — Jane Brody, a nutritional guru of the eighties. When the first Jane moved she left me her well-loved copy of the second’s cookbook, Jane Brody’s Good Food Book: Living the High-Carbohydrate Way, complete with it’s cherished recipe for these moist (and easy) morning muffins. The title of the cookbook seems a bit dated given current nutritional trends, but it’s all about healthy whole grains, legumes, and vegetables, and still surprisingly relevant.

This favorite has been doctored over years, first by Jane M. and then by me. The chocolate-studded handfuls are sweetened mainly by an ample measure of orange juice, so they’re on the conservative side of sweet. If you like something sweeter, add a bit more sugar. You can substitute raisins for the chocolate chips (or add both). I’ve mixed in granola and walnuts for fiber, flavor and nutrition. You could stir in some ground flax seeds or wheat germ if you like.

Enjoy these muffins fresh from the oven, still slightly warm with a mug of milky tea. Heaven.

(Makes 11-12 muffins)


  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk (or plain yogurt)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons mild-flavored oil, such as canola
  • 1-1/4 cups fresh orange juice (or tangerine)
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup granola, crushed to small bits (plus more for topping – optional)
  • handful of raisins (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Grind the oatmeal to a coarse texture (I use a small-sized food processor).
  3. In a large bowl, combine flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  4. In a small bowl, combine sugar, buttermilk, beaten egg, syrup, oil and juice. Add wet ingredients to dry, stirring the mixture until flour is just moistened. Do not over mix. Fold in nuts, chocolate chips, granola and raisins (if using).
  5. Scoop batter into greased muffin tin cups using a small measuring cup. Sprinkle more granola on top if desired. Bake for about 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool slightly before serving.

Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread

A great use for the largest giant zucchini, that have a way of turning up in the garden just when you turn your back.   This is a moist spice bread that uses whole wheat flour, agave and honey.   You can increase the whole grain content, by reducing the white flour and increasing the whole wheat flour by the same amount.  I would not vary by more than 1/2 cup or so though, or the texture will not be nearly as nice.  Agave nectar is a mild tasting sweetener made from the desert agave plant.  It has a lower glycemic index than sugar or honey and therefore has a less negative impact on blood sugar levels.  You can easily substitute sugar for the agave though, if you don’t have it.  A little grated apple is nice in this loaf (it’s always great to sneak in more fruit and veggies when you can), and if you like nuts increase to as much as one full cup.  If you prefer a sweeter bread sift some confectioners sugar over the cooled bread, or dress it up with a simple sugar glaze.

For muffins, bake at 375 degrees in prepared muffin tins (greased or lined with paper liners) for about 20 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean).


  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts (either finely or coarsely chopped as you prefer), optional


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a loaf pan.
  2. In a bowl, sift the dry ingredients together.
  3. In another bowl mix water, honey, sugar, agave, eggs, oil and vanilla until well blended.
  4. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just moistened.  Do not over mix.  Add shredded zucchini and nuts, and gently stir to combine.  The batter will be thick.
  5. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.
  6. Cool to touch in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack.  Cool completely before storing.  Cover in plastic wrap or store in an air tight container.