Hearty Breakfast Cupcakes

Hearty Breakfast Cupcakes

Here’s the thing about feeding families….it’s filled with good intentions and constant marketing. We all intend to feed our families healthy food. We all intend to cook more at home. We don’t intend to feed them take-out pizza three nights in a row, but sometimes that happens. We’re busy. They’re busy. No one has much time to cook.

And if we do have time, and we want to try something new, we’re never sure how it’s going to be received. We have to add on a marketing plan for that dish. How are we gonna sell it to them so they’ll at least try it? The whole thing can be downright exhausting.

And then, there’s the bane of my existence: making school lunches. I whined about it way back in 2009 in this Heirloom Tomato Sandwich post when I still called my second grader, “the baby.”

I’m still whining about it.

The problem is that I am not a morning person. And the older I get, the longer my brain needs to warm-up. I liken it to a beloved old station wagon that you have to start-up on cold mornings and let run for awhile before you can actually drive it. That is my brain. There is no amount of creativity coming out of my brain at 6:30 am when I’m pulling sandwich bread out of the pantry.

To help myself out, I got organized and wrote an on-line article called Easing the Cold Lunch Routine  for 1859 Oregon’s Magazine. The article is filled with all of my good intentions. I even have it taped to my cupboard door. My thought is that it will alleviate the need to think in the mornings. I simply have to refer to “the plan.”

I’m going to come clean and admit that my children have had turkey sandwiches and apples slices four days in a row this week. So no, I have not implemented the new routine; however, I intend to.

Hearty Breakfast Cupcakes, Take 2

As part of easing into this new routing, I decided to test out some muffin recipes that can be used on the Breakfast/Appetizer Day I talk about in the article. Now, I’m not really much of a muffin person. If they are just a bunch of white flour, lemon, and some poppy seeds, I’d rather have a chocolate chip cookie.

I like my muffins hearty. Full of nuts and whole grains and carrots and apples. The problem is most kids would rather have the ginormous Lemon Poppy Seed muffins from Costco. So, how do you sell the hearty ones on the kids?

You put them in polka-dotted baking cups and call them Breakfast Cupcakes. (This works especially well on second graders.)

My children are chowing them down before school. Granted, I zap them in the microwave for about 12 seconds, cut a slit down the middle, and put a little butter in there.

Now that I have them sold on the actual “cupcakes,” I will now move into marketing the Breakfast/Appetizer Day school lunch. Maybe I’ll call it a “Breakfast Party.”

“Hey, kids, how did you like that ‘Breakfast Party in a Lunch Box’  I packed for you today?”

I don’t know…something tells me I’m going to have to come up with something a little more creative than that. I’ll let you know how it goes.

In the meantime, I’d love to know what you do to ease the cold lunch making routing whether it’s for school lunches or work lunches. Do share. Thanks, my friends!

Cheers, Carrie

Hearty Breakfast Cupcakes, Take 3

Some more lunch inspiration from around the web:
Easing the Cold Lunch Routine by Yours Truly at 1859 Oregon’s Magazine
Ready for School Lunches…Again! by Gina Rau at Feed Our Families
100+ Healthy, Delicious and Easy Lunchbox Snacks by Marla Meridith at Family Fresh Cooking
Lunch Box Blues by J.M. Hirsch

Hearty Breakfast Cupcakes
Course: breakfast, snack
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
I was inspired to make these "cupcakes" thanks to the talented Miss Hannah Queen over at Honey & Jam. She posted a recipe for Morning Glory Oat Muffins a few years ago and I had been meaning to try them ever since. I made a few of my own adjustments but the overall recipe is the same. For the unsweetened coconut, I like to use Bob Red Mill's. If you can't find unsweetened and must use sweetened, I would decrease the amount of brown sugar a bit. Also, I have a kiddo with a nut allergy so for him, I leave the nuts out initially. I fill his baking cups and mark them with a toothpick that I leave in while they bake. Then, I add in the nuts, and fill the rest of the cups. Enjoy!
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • ¾ cup old fashioned oats
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 large apple, peeled cored, and grated
  • ½ cup unsweetened, shredded coconut, plus more for topping
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ⅓ cup wheat germ
  • 3 large eggs
  • ⅔ cup applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin, or line it with paper baking cups.
  3. In a large bowl, combine your flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  4. Stir in your carrots, apple, coconut, nuts, and wheat germ.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together your eggs. Add in your applesauce, vanilla, and orange juice, and whisk until combined.
  6. Carefully, pour the contents of your small bowl into the flour mixture.
  7. Gently stir together until evenly moistened.
  8. Fill each muffin cup ⅔ full with your batter.
  9. Sprinkle the tops with coconut.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  11. Let cool in the tin for about 5 minutes, then remove and let them finish cooling on a rack.

Recipe adapted from Morning Glory Oat Muffins by Miss Hannah at Honey & Jam



  1. Nice story Carrie.

  2. Carrie, I love this story. As I sit here at 9:10am, drinking my coffee while catching up on my morning news and email, I can totally relate. I too, need to ease into the day and am confident that I run in an autopilot mode during the morning rush routine. My kids don’t have school today so it’s taking me a bit longer to “wake up”.

    These muffins, or cupcakes, look delicious and just how I like them too. I have a baking weekend coming up and I’m embracing that we need to eat less gluten so there will be a lot of gluten free baking coming up. Any thoughts on what I could use to replace the wheat germ? Would flax seed work, all ground up? I’ve not baked with wheat germ so I’m not familiar with the consistency or purpose, if any, but would love your thoughts.

    Thanks for including the lunch link. We’re still getting back into the groove with lunches but leftovers for a hot lunch, and “snack lunch” for cold lunch days are what has always worked for me so I stick with it. Anything to ease the morning rush.

    • Gina, Can’t wait to hear how the Gluten free baking went this weekend…or is it still in the future? You’ll have to let me know if you stumble on any fantastic recipes.

      As for the wheat germ, I don’t know of any GF substitutes but you can definitely just leave it out.

      Thanks for stopping by!