Carrot-Parsnip Muffins

December 3, 2011 in Categories: by

Print Friendly

This recipe starts with the carrot cake recipe that my mom found in the archives while doing a paper on traditional French Canadian cuisine for a college paper.  The original recipe is approximately 400 years old.  Over the last few years, I have played with this recipe to make it healthier, even substituting parsnip for some of the sugar (inspired by episode of Alton Brown’s Good Eats focused on sneaking vegetables into kids’ diets).  Now, with my desire to get my girls eating paleo, I have played with this recipe even more.  Although the ingredients vary substantially from the original recipe, the flavor and texture are remarkably preserved.  Everyone in my family loves these muffins.  They are probably my toddler’s favorite food!  Yield: 1 dozen

Carrot-Parsnip Muffins


1.    Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease a muffin pan.
2.    Grate parsnip and carrot finely.  I like to just pulse them in a food processor until finely ground.
3.    Combine eggs, parsnip, carrot, oil, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl.  Stir to form a batter.
4.    Combine almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and spices in a small bowl.
5.    Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until combined into a very thick batter.  Fold in walnuts, if using.
6.    Spoon into muffin cups and bake for 35 minutes.
7.    Let cook a few minutes in the muffin pan before removing.  Enjoy!

Do you need help finding any ingredients?  Check out  Important Pantry Items for the Paleo Baker.


Hey Sarah – love your posts and the info you send out there BUT I am really struggling to see your recipes with the emphasis on sugar and how they can be paleo/primal? It’s not just you (just happened to be reading your blog tonight, it’s raining in Yorkshire and we built a fire but I digress)! I see this more and more on other sites plugging buns and cookies and frosting and cakes and treats and cheat days and there just feels to be a blurring……just a thought but would love to know the answer? warm regards from the UK, Katie 🙂

Thank you so much for your comment, Katie! I completely agree with you that part of eating paleo/primal is also eating low carb. But, even the strictest paleo diet guru will allow for an occasional treat (seems like the definition of occasional varies quite a bit, of course!). I personally don’t eat many of these sweet recipes. They are more geared for my kids (and while no one seems to want to commit to exactly how many more carbs kids need, it is generally agreed that those growing brains need more glucose than we do). You’re right that alot of people (me included) are paleofying recipes and including more sugar than optimal. I think there is a need for the types of recipes though. While eating too many sugary paleo treats might completely derail one persons efforts, they also can keep someone struggling with a feeling of deprivation committed to Paleolithic nutrition. They also help folks new to paleo/primal ease into it.

Well, a lot of experts can agree on something and still be wrong. I would say that when a child is nursing they have some need for sugar, otherwise there wouldn’t be so much lactose in human milk. But at some point you’ve got to consider that back in the Ice Age they wouldn’t have had much access to sugar in winter, especially after weaning–and yet they had bigger brains than kids do today. So what grew those brains? Fat, probably. We make the amount of glucose that we actually need, a point that I wish would be more heavily emphasized in the Paleo community–I see a trend toward people talking up “safe starches” and the health benefits of sugar and it makes me really sad. The actual data do not bear those things out. The more starch and sugar a traditional population had in their diets, the less healthy they were, overall.

I should also add that I’ve been planning a post just about sugar intake. Maybe I’ll get that one up sooner rather than later! Thanks again for starting an interesting discussion!

Hi….ok but I fundamentally disagree. You are simply keeping a sugar addiction going and perhaps I would argue that if people are feeling deprived eating paleo then that is because of this (sugar) and paleofying recipes is diluting the whole point of going paleo (did our ancestors eat ginger frosted muffin cookies) – the answer is surely to up the fat intake which I know from experience will give an enormous sense of satisfaction and wellbeing and as for the argument regarding carbs for growing brains I would argue that sugar is a horrible way of getting carbs into kids? Oops rant over – great to open discussion up? Katie

LOL! Rants can either open up a discussion or close it, depending on who you’re talking to. 🙂

There are different recommendations for carbohydrate intake depending on your goals. Generally, if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s best to stay under about 30g per day. If you’re a healthy weight and active, you can safely consume about 100g a day without increasing oxidative stress or messing with your insulin and hunger hormones. Of course, carb quality is important and the best sources are whole, organic vegetable and maybe some fruit. But even the complex starches in yams boil down to approximately half fructose and half glucose… the same ratio as table sugar.

I agree that loading children full of sugar is never a good thing (whether in a paleo framework or not). And I absolutely do not feed my girls tons of sugar. These muffins are a good example. Each muffin contains about 12.6g of carbohydrates, less than half of this comes from the sugar itself (the rest is from the flours and veggies), Of that 12.6g of carbs, 2.3g are actually from fiber and only 7g are sugars (the rest are starches). I would argue that, given the protein from the eggs and almonds, the vegetable content from the parsnips and carrots, that this is a very good food to give a picky toddler.

Regardless, you have hit upon an important point, and that is that more education regarding the detrimental effects of high carbohydrate intake is needed.

Starch will turn into glucose. It’s sugar, it just hasn’t been broken down yet. (Although, fiber is also sugar, but the reason that doesn’t matter is we don’t make cellulase.) Now, with all that in mind, these muffins ARE really low-carb. So that’s good.

Well, our ancestors may not have been eating ginger frosted muffins, but they were missing out! My husband and I definitely enjoyed this recipe, and while my kids were a little hesitant, they did eat them and liked them. I’d say it’s a keeper!
-Jennifer K.

These look great, thanks for posting them! I agree(and my kids very naturally minded pediatrician agrees) that the kids need more carbs, not just fats/proteins. Just making the decision to go Paleo, although we have been very healthy, low carb eaters for awhile now. Love reading your blog 🙂

Thanks Ryanne! Good luck with your transition to Paleo!

Rachel-You can definitely try these with honey. You might need to add a bit more flour to balance out the liquid. Let me know how it works for you!

I’m anxious to try out this recipe! I’m thinking a sub for the sugar may be a date paste mixed with some applesauce if it’s too thick. Thanks for the recipe idea!

I made these muffins yesterday, and they were a hit! I was surprised since parsnips didn’t sound great in a muffin.

In response to the commenters who are really concerned about carbs, I would argue that 10g of digestible carbs in a muffin is not a disaster. I get and agree with the possibility of people using something like this as a crutch to keep eating too many carbs. I think that is currently a big problem with sweet potatoes, which half of the Paleo community seems to think have magic carbs that don’t count. But I found this recipe looking for snacks for my kids. My kids are about 2/3 paleo, and don’t have any fat on them. These muffins don’t contain anything that is likely to cause inflammation or digestion problems, and certainly contain no gluten. Finding a snack bar that isn’t garbage is almost impossible. And even Larabars, which are gluten and soy free, contain 23g of carbs! Twice as many as one of these muffins.

So let’s keep it in perspective.

I made these today and they’re so tasty! It looks like, from the comments, that you had calculated the nutrition information for these? Could you share that with me/us?

Sugar-free version: leave it out! I added 1/4 cup chopped raisins instead. I also used 2 tsp cinnamon since we love it and left out the nutmeg. I ground my own almond meal in the blender (it takes 1-1/3 cups whole almonds) so they were a little dense, no big deal. In case anyone is curious, the 1-1/2 cups shredded parsnips/carrots was half a pound of each. They took 40 minutes to bake and now my house smells awesome.

I thought these were great and my 4 & 9-yr kids gave them thumbs up! My 6-yr finished his sample piece but said please don’t send it for a school snack. He’s my picky one though. As a disclaimer, none of us are paleo but I do try a lot of whole-food recipes like this. I was pleased that it worked without the sugar. Mom needs healthy snacks too!

There are actually a lot of concepts in common between a Paleo diet and a vegan diet. I discuss the basics and the details in a variety of posts on this blog (look under the eating paleo and living paleo menus) so that would be a great place to start.

I like the recipes and the concept on this way of eating but we can’t have eggs in our house fire to allergies, and eggs are heavily used in paleo recipes. You can replace a couple of eggs but 4 is to many…

I love the idea of sneaking veggies into food, do it all the time with my son. I will definitely try the parsnip idea. Just another idea over that sugar debate, I sometimes use a little coconut sugar, which only raises the sugar level to half the processed sugar level, from what I have read. It tastes almost exactly like less sweet brown sugar, of course, honey is good too, but it will, as you said, change the liquid to solid ration in the recipe. i have also pureed soaked dates or used raisins like the other person mentioned. Since I went paleo over a year ago, I have never felt cleaner, more healthy, I have no allergies, do not crave sugars, and have dropped my sugar levels and cholesterol into thenormal range. I also happened to lose 50 pounds. My son has lost 40 as well. We feel fantastic! In order to stay on a paleo eating style for life, you have to toss in a few things that bring back memories of childhood, etc., and this looks like a great recipe to try, thanks!

I really wonder why so many of the Paleo sites are emphasizing ever more baked goods. I love your site and the excellent information about overcoming autoimmue conditions, but why so many baked goods lately? Part of the switch to better eating is to break some of those old habits of constantly needing comfort food, bready, soft, sweet stuff that so often pops into our consciousness. Would love to see more emphasis on vegetables, good fats, and meat, fish, eggs — back to basics and help us continue to feel good! Thanks for all your work.

Well, this recipe is from over 2 years ago, so that’s a tough question to answer. Paleo baked goods are always popular recipes because the chemistry is very tricky so it’s harder for people to come up with something at home (compared to say, cooking a steak), and because these recipes can be so helpful during transition and for families. Baked goods are typically around 1/3 of my recipes.

I don’t think Paleo sites do over-emphasize ‘baked goods’… i think WE are drawn to them more and WE gloss over all the other recipes, then we conclude there is a surfeit of ‘goodies’ 🙂

Thank you for coming up with recipes we can share with our children (who may be picky, especially at younger ages) and friends/family/co-workers who are not paleo. I am excited to try these before an upcoming pot luck at work. Reading the comments people leave can be helpful for variations to recipes (although I always try them as written first) but can also provide a needed smile sometimes. I hope they provide you a smile as well! Thanks for sharing your talent for cooking and baking with those of us who are only talented at following recipes. 🙂

Hi Sarah, these are delicious! Two quick questions – can you freeze them and how long do you think they keep for.

Thanks for all you do


Hi Sarah, I am interested in trying this recipe. I am not able to tolerate eggs due to my Hashimoto’s so I was wondering what could I use in place of the eggs? Thank you so much, Deborah

I have read her post on eggs and am unclear as to what kind of egg substitute works well for this since it calls for 4 eggs. I used flax to replace eggs in a cupcake recipe that only called for two. The cupcakes fell and were chewy, even though I baked them longer than the recipe called for. Cakes and muffins in particular seem to be difficult. I would be so appreciative of more information on this, my 2 year old son has egg allergies, and it’s been a steep learning curve for this egg loving family.


Hi I love this recipe, but I was wondering if I would be able to add powdered protein to the recipe some how, I have recently had bariatric bypass surgery and need to have the extra protien. If I can add the protein, would I need to change anything else in the recipe? thank you in advance, Brenda

hi, i live in holland and over here cream of tartar is virtually unknown, and therefore impossible to come by. since i don’t want to have to wait for someone to bring it over from the states, i was wondering: can i just leave it out? or replace it with something else, in that case, with what? (what does it do, why is it added to the recipe?)
thank you so much, can’t wait to make and eat these!…

Hi there,

So you think this recipe would work as a cake? I”be got my daughters first birthday cake to make next weekand wondered if I could use this?

Thanks so much


Hi – I cannot tolerate any eggs and would love to make this recipe also!!! Another fan asked the same question as me about substitutions for four eggs. I would really appreciate it! I am on disability and have had to throw out things which didn’t work when I tried to substitute for several eggs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *