Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Random Recipe Wednesday: Carrot Cake Breakfast Bites

Sometimes I get things a little backwards and eat cookie dough for breakfast.  This time I made what some would call breakfast cookies and ate them for supper, snacks and pretty much everything but breakfast.

I hesitate to even say breakfast cookie, because these really aren't cookies.  Let's call them breakfast bites.  Without any butter, oil or sugar you can not have a cookie.  What we do have is a hearty and satisfying breakfast/snack that leaves you feeling full, healthy and energized.  Dried fruit, nuts and oats are ground in the food processor then mixed with shredded carrot and apple and a mashed banana.  See, it's breakfasty but it's not a cookie.

When I heard about a blog called The Vintage Mixer I knew I had to check it out in honor of my own vintage mixer and Flashback Friday series.  While gazing through Becky's recipes I was intrigued by the methods in her carrot cake breakfast cookies.  Instead of stirring in nuts and dried fruit at the end, the nuts, oats and dried fruit are finely ground together for the base.  Our family tradition of carrot cake with peanut butter frosting led me to use peanuts rather than walnuts.  Then I started thinking of peanut-ginger themed foods and added some candied ginger.  I used the spices from our traditional family carrot cake plus some nutmeg (because peanut butter and nutmeg work).  With a little inspiration from the millet in Joy's carrot cherry cookies I added toasted quinoa for an extra nutty flavor and a little crunch.

My brain just wouldn't stop thinking of all the variations to try here. (At this point you should just be glad I skipped the whole peanut butter and basil combo.)  Cranberries and toasted almonds would be lovely along with some orange zest.  Or perhaps walnuts, figs and dates with some cloves and cardamom.  Probably a good thing I don't keep pistachios or dried cherries and blueberries on hand.  After far too much thinking I ended up using golden raisins and cranberries plus some candied ginger for added punch.  The result was warm and fruity with a pleasant zip from the ginger.  When I made these again using only dates and regular raisins, the carrot and nutty flavors were more apparent.  Really it's up to you to vary the nuts, dried fruits and spices.  Find inspiration from your favorite granola or cookie.

But remember, these are not cookies.  We've got fruits, a vegetable and whole grains packed into every bite.  They're dense and not overly sweet, but in a feel-good way.  Whether you eat them for breakfast or, ummm, not for breakfast, these wholesome bites will leave you feeling satisfied about what you put in your body.

Carrot Cake Breakfast Bites
heavily adapted from The Vintage Mixer
makes 12 bites

1/3 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
3 Tbsp golden raisins
3 Tbsp dried cranberries
2 Tbsp chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 Tbsp uncooked quinoa, toasted until golden brown
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp + 1/8 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1 medium carrot, finely shredded
1/2 apple, shredded
1/2 ripe banana, mashed
2 Tbsp almond milk

* Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet and set aside.
* Pulse peanuts, golden raisins, cranberries, crystallized ginger and oats in food processor until finely ground. Add toasted quinoa and pulse 2-3 more times.  Transfer mixture to a bowl and stir in flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice.
* In a small bowl combine carrot, apple, banana and almond milk.  Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until evenly mixed.  Scoop rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets.  Press tops down with fork to form desired shape, cookies will not spread in oven.  Bake 22-25 minutes or until bottoms are golden and centers are baked through.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Food for Thought: "We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything, than when we are at play." -Charles Schaefer

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