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

These banana carrot muffins made with homemade date syrup are nutritious enough for breakfast, but just as satisfying as dessert.

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banana carrot muffins with chocolate ganache frosting

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 friends with these banana carrot 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, these easy banana 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 healthy banana muffins are nutritional enough for breakfast but satisfying enough for dessert. And even scrumptious enough to bribe your friends with.

healthy banana carrot muffins

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 aisle 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.

homemade date syrup

What’s Needed for Banana Carrot Muffins?

This healthy banana muffin recipe has three components: the banana carrot muffins, the chocolate ganache topping, and the homemade date syrup that’s used to sweeten everything. Here’s what you’ll need to make these healthy banana muffins:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Nutmeg
  • Coconut oil
  • Eggs
  • Banana
  • Grated carrots
  • Vanilla extract
  • Buttermilk
  • Cocoa powder
  • Dates
healthy banana muffins with ganache frosting

How to Make Banana Carrot Muffins

I’ve included detailed instructions on how to make these healthy banana carrot muffins in the recipe card below. Here are the basic steps to making these this ultra moist banana muffin recipe:

  1. Let the dates soak in filtered water for 1 hour, then blend until smooth.
  2. Whisk together the banana carrot muffin batter, then distribute between 12 muffin cups and bake.
  3. Once the muffins are cool, make the chocolate ganache frosting. Frost each muffin and dig in!

Can I Use Regular Sugar Instead of Date Syrup?

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).

banana carrot muffin on plate with fork

Tips for Making Banana Carrot Muffins

Do not, under any circumstances, skip soaking your dates. The dates need time to soften, otherwise your date syrup won’t be smooth enough.

To make this recipe vegan, you can try substituting 1/4 cup applesauce for each of the eggs called for in this recipe (so you’d wind up adding 1/2 cup applesauce total). I can’t guarantee this substitution will work, but this is what I always do when I don’t have eggs on hand.

These banana carrot muffins freeze well, minus the chocolate ganache frosting. Set them on the counter to thaw or reheat them in the microwave for a quick breakfast!

Want More Easy Muffin Recipes?

Banana Carrot Muffins
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Soak Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 35 mins

These banana carrot muffins made with homemade date syrup are nutritious enough for breakfast, but just as satisfying as dessert.

Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: banana muffins, muffins
Servings: 12
Carrot Banana 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 grated carrots
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or seeds from 1 vanilla bean)
Chocolate Ganache Frosting:
  • 1/2 cup homemade date syrup (recipe follows)
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil , melted
Date Syrup:
  • 8 ounces medjool dates , pitted
  • 1 cup filtered water
Make the Date Syrup:
  1. 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.

For the Muffins:
  1. Whisk together the flours, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg. Set aside.

  2. In another mixing bowl, whisk the date syrup, vanilla extract, and coconut oil until incorporated.

  3. Next, add in the eggs and bananas and whisk until combined. Finally, fold in the carrots.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Remove from oven and let cool.

For the Chocolate Ganache:
  1. Use an electric mixer to mix all the ingredients until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Spread over muffins and enjoy!



  • Sandra
    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!!!

    • Shellywest
      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!

  • Olivia
    September 29, 2013

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

    • Shellywest
      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!

  • Sarah | The Sugar Hit
    September 29, 2013

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

  • 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…

  • Harriet
    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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

    • Shellywest
      phi @PrincessTofu
      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!

  • 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.

  • Manpreet Gill
    February 6, 2014

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

  • Spiced pumpkin beetroot muffins - Caroline's Cooking
    November 15, 2014

    […] but gave me a few ideas to play with. I had also previously used date puree or syrup (in some great carrot muffins on Vegetarian Ventures) which is a great sugar-replacement in muffins. Putting these together with […]

  • bridget
    April 11, 2015

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

    • Shellywest
      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!

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