Monday mornings: I can guess your reaction to those two seemingly innocuous words, and it’s not great. They usually provoke an emotional response that ranges from mild annoyance to full-blown anxiety. And believe me, I’m right there with you. Any mornings, for that matter, can be hectic, stressful and anxiety-inducing. This breakfast turmeric muffin recipe that I developed can help kick your morning anxiety to the curb.
These turmeric muffins taste just like carrot cake and are jam-packed with anxiety-relieving ingredients such as turmeric, carrots, oats, pumpkin and chia seeds, with warm spices and flavors that are sure to wake up your brain and your tastebuds. They’re also free of gluten and refined sugar (which can contribute to anxiety and depression). Even better, this easy recipe takes the stress out of breakfast prep.
Before we dive into the recipe, let’s talk about some of the key ingredients and how they play a role in regulating your mental health.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that helps elevate the levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin while lowering the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol. Plus, it’s a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. In fact, turmeric is considered one of the most promising natural therapeutic remedies for depression and anxiety.
Carrots contain the natural painkiller phenylalanine, and lack of this hormone is said to cause anxiety, depression and muscle/body aches. Additionally, carrots offer lots of calming magnesium, which helps your body regulate hormone balance, enzyme activity and neurotransmitter functions. And vitamin B6 helps the body create mood-boosting neurotransmitters.
Oats contain high levels of the amino acid tryptophan, which is converted to serotonin in the body and helps promote relaxation and anxiety relief.
Pumpkin seeds are packed with antioxidants such as carotenoids and vitamin E. These help reduce inflammation and harmful free radicals, both of which are believed to contribute to anxiety and depression. The seeds also contain L-tryptophan, magnesium and healthy fats that support brain health and mood regulation.
Chia seeds are packed with several anxiety-fighting substances. For starters, omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation and anxiety. Ditto for magnesium and tryptophan.
Other ingredients in this recipe — cinnamon, blueberries, coconut and coconut oil — contain additional brain-boosting and anxiety-reducing properties, too. So, if you’re ready to start combatting those mornings, let’s get to the recipe!
I recommend wearing an apron while cooking these muffins. Turmeric has a strong yellow pigment and will stain clothes bright yellow.
1 cup gluten-free rolled oats, blended into a flour (or use store-bought GF oat flour)
1/2 cup gluten-free or regular all-purpose flour (I used Trader Joe’s GF)
3 tablespoon chia seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon pepper (which helps activate curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric)
1 cup carrots, shredded (or grated)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1 tablespoon vegan butter
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons coconut sugar (optional)
3 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup unsweetened nondairy milk, such as cashew
1/2 cup frozen blueberries (optional)
1/3 cup gluten-free rolled oats
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1 tablespoon agave syrup
Begin by mixing the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl; set that aside. In a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, combine all of the wet ingredients except for the blueberries until everything is fully incorporated. (Fold in the blueberries last so the blueberry juice and turmeric don’t turn the muffins turquoise!) Once mixed, add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, and stir until everything is fully incorporated and there are no clumps in the batter.
Allow the mixture to sit for 30 minutes to an hour to allow the chia seeds to swell up and bind the batter, as eggs do in typical recipes. While you are waiting for the batter, preheat your oven to 375 F and mix the ingredients for the topping.
When the batter is ready, gently fold in the blueberries. Fresh blueberries are fine but a little too wet; frozen berries maintain the consistency of the muffin much better.
Next, spray a muffin pan with cooking spray and fill each cup about 1/2 to 2/3 full. Sprinkle the topping over the batter and bake for 25 to 28 minutes.
Remove the muffins from the oven and allow to cool. These muffins keep well in the fridge for a week, or in the freezer for up to three months. The great thing about freezing them is that you can make a large batch and just pop them in the microwave for about a minute whenever you want a quick breakfast.