Make Your Morning Fun With Healthy ‘Cupcakes’ For Breakfast

Carol Kicinski
Carol Kicinski

There are times when I can think of nothing better to eat for breakfast than a gluten-free cupcake. After all, we eat muffins for breakfast all the time and a muffin is really just an ugly cupcake, right? I am sure if you ask any 8-year-old, they will agree with me wholeheartedly!

But there is a down side to having a “normal” cupcake for breakfast. The typical cupcake is filled with sugar, refined flours and starch, and often “bad fat,” and despite that feeling of euphoria that comes from consuming all of that, the price will be paid later on when the crash comes. If I do indulge in a cupcake for breakfast, I quickly become overtaken with mental fog and am ready for a nap by midmorning. Not a productive start to the day and certainly no way to send the kiddos off to school.

This recipe is really a muffin recipe that can look like a cupcake if you choose. (I may add that serving a kid something healthy that looks like it’s not increases your chances of getting them to eat it by about 10 fold). It is packed with fiber, low in fat, dairy-free, includes vegetables and is refined sugar-free.

The fiber (and whole grain goodness) comes from a combination of brown rice flour and coconut flour. There is a bit of tapioca starch mixed in to lighten them up but less than a teaspoon and a half per muffin. Carrots are packed with vitamins and minerals and are actually a fat-burning food.

The sweetness for these muffins comes in some usual sugar replacement ways such as maple syrup and coconut sugar and one unusual way—freeze dried pineapple. Look for a brand that is not coated with sugar, does not contain nitrates, and has minimal ingredients—some contain just pineapple and nothing else, which is ideal.

I made a little dairy-free “cream cheese” maple topping that can go on the muffin (making it look like a cupcake) or used as a spread, like butter—but better. If dairy is not an issue for you or your family, low fat cream cheese is a good, low fat substitute.

Both the muffins and topping can be made the day before so you can grab and go.

Gluten Free Carrot Pineapple Muffins
They’re muffins, but with a fun topping to make them into a healthier version of a cupcake—perfect for a special breakfast or on-the-go snack.

Gluten Free Carrot Pineapple Muffins

Makes 12

For the muffins:

1 cup superfine brown rice flour
⅓ cup coconut flour
⅓ cup tapioca starch
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 cup coconut sugar
½ cup grapeseed (or other
neutral tasting) oil
½ cup low fat coconut milk (or other dairy-free milk)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 ½ cups grated carrots (from approximately ¾ pound)
1 (1.5-ounce) packet freeze dried pineapple

For the topping:

8 ounces dairy-free cream cheese (or low fat cream cheese), at room temperature
4 tablespoons maple syrup
¼ teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt

Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Preheat oven to 375 F.

Sift the brown rice flour and coconut flour into a large mixing bowl; add the tapioca starch, baking powder, ¾ teaspoon salt, and the cinnamon. Whisk to combine.

In another mixing bowl, lightly whisk the eggs. Add the coconut sugar, grapeseed oil, coconut milk, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons maple syrup and whisk to combine.

Combine the grated carrots with the pineapple in a bowl, add about ¼ cup of the flour blend, and toss to coat.

Add the liquid ingredients to the flour mixture, whisk to combine, then add the carrot/pineapple mixture and fold in. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin tins, filling each cup to the top. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.

With a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese substitute with the 4 tablespoons maple syrup and salt until smooth. Refrigerate until serving.

Either spread the topping on the muffins or serve the topping on the side.

Can be made 1-2 days ahead. Store the topping in the refrigerator and muffins in an airtight bag at room temperature.

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Carol Kicinski
Carol Kicinski is a chef and the editor of


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