Nutmeg Banana Carrot Muffins /// Some Words on Sugar Substitutes


Today is Sunday, September 29th. Today is a very very special day. Or should I say tonight? Yes, tonight is a very very very special night. Tonight is the season finale of Breaking Bad. It is when three (four?!) years of pain-stakingly frustrating tension is finally resolved (or at least we hope it will be). There is only one problem: we don’t have cable. How did we watch all the other 61 episodes then, you ask? Well you can stream them on the network’s website the followig day after an episode has aired. Which I am usually totally fine with. But this is the season finale of the whole series. And I can’t stop thinking about it. I don’t want to go into work tomorrow and have to keep my ears shut the whole day. Or spend the next 24 hours avoiding my newsfeeds on facebook and twitter. I want to experience it along with the rest of America.

So, how will I do this, you ask? Well, I’m not sure. But I sure as hell want to be prepared with baked goods when I figure it out. I’m thinking…bribing frineds with these muffins? Or the bartender to turn it to AMC with these little handheld cakes. Or maybe even going over to our new neighbors house and using these muffins as a ‘welcome to the neighborhood’ peace treaty right when the show is starting (that way I can peep in the door and see if they are watching it. ‘OH! You guys are watching Breaking Bad?! We were just about to put it on. Maybe we should all watch it together. I also have some local cider and whiskey I can bring over, if you’d like….’). You know, those kinds of things.



Oh no. This post was supposed to be a distraction from thinking about Breaking Bad. Okay, what were we talking about before I so rudely changed the subject to a drug-ring-themed-pop-culture-television-drama? Oh yeah, muffins. And not just any muffins – muffins exploding with nutritional benefits like dates (fiber, iron, calcium), bananas (potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C), nutmeg (iron, magnesium, calcium), and carrots (vitamin A). These are nutritional enough for breakfast but satisfying enough for dessert. And even scrumptious enough to bribe your friends with.




I used a homemade date syrup as my sugar in this recipe. Want to talk about sugar substitutes for a second? Okay, cool – me too. I used to be a pretty die hard agave nectar fan when it came to baked goods. But then there was all that controversy over whether it was even better for you than sugar and how it was just as processed. As you can imagine, this started to really turn me off from agave. I’ll still use a little agave now and then but have replaced it with maple syrup, for the most part. Maple syrup is wonderful – so sweet and so natural. Heck, if you live near the forest (like me!) chances are you’ve even been to a park where they let you tap your own maple tree and get it straight from the source. But, although its oh so delicous, it is still crazy expensive and a little unrelastic to be using cup fulls in recipes. There’s always the non-dyed cane sugar which is less processed than the regular stuff you get in the baking isle but it’s not really benefiting us either (I mean…it’s still sugar). So, when I found out I could make my own homemade date syrup that works perfectly as sugar in baked goods and taste just as delicious on it’s own, I was hooked. I used it in this gluten free tart I made for my friend a few months back and in many other baked goods since.

Date syrup is amazing. It’s simple to make, only has 1 ingredient, and will not only make your baked goods sweet BUT will also supply you with several health benefits (energy, fiber, potassium, etc etc). You can substitute it for sugar at a 1:1 ratio; so, for example if you need a cup of sugar to make those cake donuts – you can just soak 8 ounces of dates in water overnight to create enough date syrup for your donuts. Easy. Are you sold yet? Dang, the dates society (does that exist?) should hire me to push their product. I seem to already be doing a fine job of it for free.

If you’ve never used date syrup before than this is the perfect recipe to try it out. I made enough date syrup to put it in both the muffins and the chocolate genache so you can see how to play around with it in two different types of sweet goodies. Cool? Cool! BUT…if you  REALLY aren’t sold (which I am totally offended if you aren’t), you could *technically* sub in a 1/2 cup of sugar in this recipe and these would be just as delicious. But you better not think about enjoying them for breakfast if you go that route! (Yes, I am judging you).


Nutmeg Banana Carrot Muffins with Chocolate Ganache

Makes 12 muffins
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup homemade date syrup, recipe follows
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1 cup of grated carrots
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or seeds from 1 vanilla bean)
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (I used coconut milk to keep vegan and used this substitution for buttermilk)

For the chocolate ganache frosting:

  • 1/2 cup date syrup, recipe follows
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil, melted

For the date syrup:

  • 8 ounces of mardjorn dates, pitted
  • 1 cup filtered water

To make the date syrup: stick dates in 1 cup of filtered water and let soak for 1 hour or up to 24 hours (I stick it in the fridge if they are going to be soaking for more than an hour). Once softened. Throw the dates in a food processor or blender (with the soaked date water) and process until smooth.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake pan with cupcake tins.

For the muffins: whisk together the flours, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg. Set aside. In another mixing bowl, whisk the date syrup, vanilla extract, and coconut oil until incorporated. Next, add in the eggs and bananas and whisk until combined. Finally, fold in the carrots.

Pour half of the flour mixture into date mixture and whisk until combined. Next, add in the buttermilk and stir. Finally, add the rest of the flour mixture until everything is incorporated and you are left with a thick batter.

Evenly distribute the batter between 12 cupcake tins (they should end up about 3/4 full) and bake for 20 minutes or until golden on the top.

Remove from oven and let cool.

To make the ganache: Use an electric mixer to mix all the ingredients until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Spread over muffins and enjoy!



Shelly is the creator of Vegetarian Ventures. She is also the Creative Director of Driftless Magazine and likes to wear wolf shirts, drink peppermint tea, and dance to Stevie Nicks.



  1. Reply


    September 29, 2013

    I jumped on the breaking bad bandwagon a little late so I hope I can avoid finding out about how it end…good luck, right! Hope your bribery worked and you get to watch it somewhere tonight!!! You could have totally bribed me with these muffins…but since It is too late now I’m totally going to give that date syrup a try. I have heard of date syrup before but I didn’t realize you could substitute at a 1:1 ratio…awesome!!!

    • Reply


      October 1, 2013

      At least you jumped on the bandwagon – the show is SOO good! I did get to see the finale and it didn’t disappoint!

  2. Reply


    September 29, 2013

    Do you think it would be possible to sub in dried dates? fresh dates are so expensive over here 🙁

    • Reply


      October 1, 2013

      Oh – you should try it! I’ve never worked with dried dates but I’m assuming it will work if you A) have a powerful enough blender / food processor and B) if the dried dates soften after a good soaking. I’d definitely soak them overnight before trying. Let me know how it turns out if you try it!

  3. Reply

    Sarah | The Sugar Hit

    September 29, 2013

    OHHH, the crushing judgement! These photos look fantastic – love the styling.

  4. Reply

    maria | pink patisserie

    September 29, 2013

    Hope you were able to get to watch the show! Love the idea of using dates as sweetener! These look scrumptious…

  5. Reply


    September 30, 2013

    Yum! These looks absolutely DELICIOUS. I love the look of the ganache as well – and it’s practically a health food. I’ve never made my dates into a syrup, but you’ve definitely encouraged me to try it soon. I can almost taste it amping up a banana bread to a tasty new plane.

  6. Reply

    Ash- foodfashionparty

    September 30, 2013

    HOPe the new episode didn’t disappoint you.
    These cupcakes look great and it is a fantastic idea to use date syrup, I am assuming there’s a new dimension to the cupcakes with that. We use date syrup quite lot in India, so I know I will love this.

  7. Reply

    phi @PrincessTofu

    September 30, 2013

    So I’ve been looking at egg substitutes for cakes – any thoughts? There are so many it’s kind of overwhelming. At the end of the day, I just want to make cake, not do chemistry experiments, but I want perfect cake. You know?

    • Reply


      October 1, 2013

      Haha – I know exactly what you mean! I was a vegan for several years and always used applesauce (still sometimes do) in my baked goods. 1/4 cup of applesauce = 1 egg in a baking recipe. I usually just keep those little cups of it on hand (you know – those packs of 6 that most people feed to their kid’s in their lunchboxes?) so that I can store them for months without worrying about them going bad & always have some on hand. The cups are more than 1/4 cup but then it just gives you an excuse to HAVE to eat the leftover applesauce. I personally think that the applesauce makes some of my baked goods moister than eggs. Let me know how it goes!

  8. Reply

    Allison (Spontaneous Tomato)

    October 6, 2013

    Okay, you sold me on date syrup! That was unexpected. : )

    I am not the biggest fan of dates, and can only eat like half of one, tops, in a sitting since they’re so super sweet, but my fiancée loves them and our farmer’s market does have some amazing dates (tons of varieties, too!). I’ll try to remember to buy some the next time I’m there.

  9. Reply

    Manpreet Gill

    February 6, 2014

    I love fruit and spice muffins, you never go wrong with them! Can’t wait to try these:)

  10. Reply


    April 11, 2015

    This looks awesome! If I wanted to use this in cakes, do you think I should adjust the liquid amounts?

    • Reply


      April 16, 2015

      Good question and I’m not completely sure. You may just have to play around with it but I might start just making it as is without upping the liquid content. Hope that helps!