Heart and Soul Paleo Muffins

By Ann Fulton

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These muffins are made with no sugar or syrups and are bursting with wholesome ingredients. A few minutes of easy meal prep will provide a week’s worth of filling, grab-and-go breakfasts or snacks. 


These muffins are incredibly tender, filling, lightly sweet, and exploding with good-for-you ingredients. They’re just what I, for one, need after the decadence of last weekend’s flourless chocolate cake and perhaps a few too many crispy buffalo wings while watching the big game. (!!!) 

A big batch can be whipped up in the blender or food processor, and did I mention there’s not a single grain of sugar or drop of syrup?

Despite the best of intentions, I do manage to enjoy my fair share of sugary desserts. So when I prepare daily meals and snacks, I try to keep added sugars to a minimum. I’ve received lots of positive feedback from my awesome readers when I share this sort of recipe, so I’m trying to keep them coming.

So what makes these muffins special?

  • No sugar or syrups – sweetened with whole fruit
  • Use of almond flour and flax meal in place of all-purpose flour
  • Grain- and dairy-free for those who need it
  • Loaded with fruit and a healthy dose of carrots
  • They’re super tasty so you truly want to eat them!

The taste of these wholesome muffins is best described as a cross between banana bread and a bran muffin.  I’ve made many, many batches for my family and have also demoed them in cooking classes.  The feedback has been consistent thumbs up, so this recipe was the first thing that came to mind when my friends at Barlean’s requested a recipe using their butter flavored coconut oil for a Valentine’s Day treat.

Extra virgin coconut oil has always been my go-to for these muffins for the way its light flavor complements the other ingredients.  However, the butter flavored coconut oil provides an option for those who don’t care for a light underdone of coconut, while still keeping the recipe dairy-free for those who need it.

The addition of flaxseed meal sneaks in added fiber, plant-based protein, and a variety of minerals. Flaxseeds are also one of the richest sources of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids.  That said, if you don’t flaxseed meal on hand, it can be replaced with additional heart-healthy almond flour.

One large muffin is filling on its own, but for a more substantial meal, I often serve one with a small side of yogurt and fruit.  It’s makes a satisfying, well-rounded breakfast to which I truly look forward.  These muffins freeze well, too, and the big batch allows for built-in meal planning.  I always stick a few in the freezer after they’ve completely cooled to pull out as needed.

Though wholesome Paleo muffins might not seem like a traditional Valentine’s Day treat, I decided that it is a treat to reward ourselves with something that nourishes our heart and; therefore, our soul.  That’s something we can feel good about on so many levels…and it leaves room for a little dark chocolate, right?

Heart and Soul Paleo Muffins
Yield: 12 large muffins (or 18 medium-size muffins)
These muffins are made with no sugar or syrups and are bursting with wholesome ingredients.  A few minutes of easy meal prep will provide a week's worth of filling, grab-and-go breakfasts or snacks.  I usually make these without any of the optional add-ins but do list them as they provide a great way to customize according to taste.
  • 1 1/2 cups (150 grams) almond flour or almond meal
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) flax meal (see notes for options*)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 medium over-ripe bananas (about 1 1/3 cups or 320 grams mashed)
  • 1 cup pitted dates**
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (regular virgin or butter flavor; no need to melt)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots, shredded (about 5 – 5 1/2 ounces)***
  • Optional add-ins: about a 1/2 cup raisins, chopped nuts of choice, shredded coconut, chocolate chips, etc.

Grease or line a muffin pan(s) for 12 or 18 muffins as preferred; set aside.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine the almond flour, flax meal, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  Set aside.

In a food processor, blend the bananas, dates, eggs, coconut oil, and vinegar until smooth.  (I have also used a high-powered blender, but be aware: the batter is thick, so this method may require some stirring by hand to fully incorporate the dry ingredients. If using a blender, make certain to blend the banana-date mixture until very smooth before adding the dry ingredients.)

Add the dry ingredients, and process until just combined, scraping down the sides as needed.  Sprinkle the shredded carrots over top and pulse a few times to incorporate, taking care not over-process them.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tins and bake for approximately 30 minutes for 12 larger muffins or 25 minutes for 18 medium muffins.  Check a few minutes early and/or add a few minutes as needed, as all ovens vary.

Cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan, and then remove to a rack and cook completely.  Muffins may be stored on the counter for a day or so, after which I recommend covering and refrigerating.  Muffins will keep in the fridge for about a week and freeze well.


*If you don’t have flax meal (ground flaxseed) on hand, you may substitute with an additional 1/2 cup/50 grams of almond flour.  Either way, you will be using a total of 2 cups “flour.”  Also, the color of the muffins may vary from the pictured batch based on whether you use golden or brown flax meal (both work well and there’s no difference in taste), almond flour vs. meal, and/or the variety of dates used.

**In order to break down and fully incorporate into the batter, the dates should be fairly soft.  If they’ve been around for a while and seem dry, soak them in warm water for 15 minutes and then drain well before using.

***I prefer to use freshly shredded as opposed to pre-shredded carrots, which can be coarser and not as moist.  I grate with a hand grater, but you could use the shredding disc of the food processor before mixing the remaining ingredients with the standard blade.

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    1. Ann Post author

      I’m delighted you enjoyed, Becky, and appreciate the mention regarding the raisins. So glad you gave that a go!

  1. Tammy Post author

    I baked these with my kids last night. Everyone happily gobbled one up last night and again for breakfast this morning. Will make again for sure!

  2. Christina Post author

    I made these the same day you posted and have so enjoyed breakfast the last two days! They are soooo tender and delicious with the perfect amount of sweetness. I served with fruit and yogurt as you mentioned and stayed full through lunchtime. I am in love!

    1. Ann Post author

      The bananas add a certain texture and sweetness, but that said, I think you could substitute, Helen. Since there is a good bit of it, I might use pumpkin, or a combination of applesauce and pumpkin. Pumpkin has a velvety texture that should work well although it is much less sweet. In other recipes, I have used pureed sweet potato–even apple butter or pumpkin butter–in place of bananas. I hope this provides some good options!

  3. Gail

    The pictures of these moist looking muffins alone make me want to make them, but more importantly the fact that they have no sugar in them. I am always looking for recipes without added sugar. As soon as I purchase all the ingredients for them I will definitely be making them. Pairing it with some yogurt sounds like a good breakfast for me.

    1. Ann Post author

      I’m so glad these appeal to you, Gail. This was our breakfast this morning, complete with yogurt and fruit!