Antioxidant Muffins (Chocolate, Orange, and Kale!)

Surprise, surprise – still not feeling well.  I’m ready to try any sort of crazy voodoo ideas anyone has, so send suggestions my way!  Started as a cold/cough kind of deal and triggered some recurring stomach issues I have.  On the bright side, feeling crummy has gotten me to include all kinds of leafy green veggies (kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts) in my diet that I wouldn’t normally eat raw.  It also inspired these muffins.


When I’m sick, I’ll go in phases of not wanting to eat anything at all to wanting to eat everything in sight.  Normal? Probably not.  I think my body just takes advantage of feeling not miserable for a minute and wants to pump as much nutrition in as possible.  And so, these muffins were born!  I took all the things I should eat when I’m sick (leafy greens, oranges) and combined it with what I want to eat when I’m sick (Uh, chocolate. Duh).


You’ve realized by now that there’s kale in these muffins and yet you’ve stuck around.  Either you’re intrigued or you just want to see where this train wreck is going.  Let me tell you, kale is GREAT in muffins.  The chocolate/orange flavor combo shines right through and you actually can’t taste the kale while it still provides a nutritional boost and moisture.  I’m calling them “antioxidant muffins” because kale, oranges, chocolate, and flax are all sources of antioxidants (kale and oranges being pretty great ones!), just what everyone needs in their life.


Antioxidant Muffins (Chocolate, Orange, and Kale!)

  • ~2 c kale, very finely chopped (can subsitute spinach or shredded zucchini, skipping step 2 for zucchini)
  • 1 large orange
  • ¼ c unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ c sugar (see notes for naturally sweet substitutes)
  • ¼ c brown sugar (coconut sugar is a great substitute)
  • 1 ½ tbsp flax meal
  • ⅔ c unsweetened almond milk (or milk choice)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ c cocoa powder
  • 1 ¼ c whole wheat pastry flour
  • ¼ – ⅓ mini dark chocolate chips (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Prepare a cupcake tin with liners and spritz with nonstick spray to prevent sticking.
  2. Put the kale in a bowl with ~ 1 c water, cover, and microwave for 1 ½ minute (or boil/steam for a few minutes) to soften. Let cool and drain completely.
  3. Finely zest the entire orange into a large bowl. Cut the orange into segments and squeeze out as much juice as you can (approximately ¼ c, add a little water if your orange wasn’t very juicy).
  4. Add applesauce through flax to the orange and mix completely. Add the milk, vanilla, and kale and stir until well combined.
  5. Add the baking soda, cocoa powder, and flour. Stir until just almost combined. Add the chocolate chips, if using, and stir until just combined. If desired, reserve some chips and sprinkle on top.
  6. Divide the batter between 12 cupcake liners. Bake for 15 – 17 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Be sure to spritz your liners with nonstick spray! Low fat recipes tend to stick more. Nutritional value includes optional chocolate chips and unsweetened almond milk.
Coconut sugar makes a great naturally sweet swap for brown sugar. For the white sugar, any sugar swap that melts will work great — you can even use 3 tbsp of agave nectar instead, just decrease the almond milk to ½ c + an extra splash).

Nutrition Information
Calories: 125 Fat: 2g Carbohydrates: 24g Fiber: 3g Protein: 3g


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    Antje Nov 06, 2013

    I am making these and the recipe doesn’t say when add the sugar and brown sugar?

      Antje Nov 06, 2013

      Aw just figured out when I add flax

        Kelly Nov 06, 2013

        Glad you figured it out! I’ve a few questions when I try to say use this through that, so I think I need to reword the post. Hope they turned out great!

    Anne Oct 30, 2013

    Think you missed out where to add in the sugar in the recipe! Tried to make these with my little boy ‘helping’ (which is completely the opposite usually!) so although I got the sugar out the cupboard I didn’t realise until we tasted them that it doesn’t say where to add it in…. so we’d forgotten all about it! Will be trying these again soon, as I think they would be great with some sugar in them!

      Kelly Oct 30, 2013

      Hi Anne, in the recipe where it says add the apple sauce “through” flax, you want to add all the items in the list between them as well, which includes the sugar. I’ll clarify better in the notes, thanks for the feedback! sorry they didnt turn out 🙁

        Anne Oct 30, 2013

        Ah I understand now! That will be me reading it in a UK rather than US way! definitely try them again soon, they looked really nice when they were cooked 🙂

    Jeanette Sep 08, 2013

    Hi! Did you measure the kale before or after it was chopped?

      Kelly Sep 08, 2013

      Good question! Measure after

    Jessica Jun 05, 2013

    Thanks so much for the recipe. Made them today with fresh kale from our CSA. I used a combination of AP flour and white whole wheat, since I didn’t have the graham flour on hand. They took longer to bake for me (around 23 minutes) but came out moist and perfect. My veggie-hating son ate his in 2 seconds flat. Makes it a success in my book!

      Kelly Jun 05, 2013

      I wonder why they took longer, but I’m glad you loved them and could trick your son into eating some veggies!

    Christy@SweetandSavoring May 15, 2013

    Although I initially thought the kale part was weird when I first saw the recipe link on FB, I am definitely intrigued. I love the rest of the ingredients and the pictures are so appetizing!

      Kelly May 15, 2013

      The kale flavor is totally masked by the chocolate and the orange — it’s just there to sneak a little extra nutrition in. If it’s any less scary, you could try spinach or any other dark, leafy green (report back your results if you try something else, I’d love to know how they work!) May 14, 2013

    I am so intrigued by these muffins with the kale in them. Can you taste the kale or is it more like zucchini muffins where you can’t really taste it but just gives it a little something.

      Kelly May 15, 2013

      They’re a lot like zucchini muffins. The kale adds some moisture and nutritional value, but the chocolate and orange flavors shine right through. No kale flavor.

    moderngirlnutrition May 13, 2013

    Your blog is so aptly named! You are the best at sneaking in veggies haha. Feel better!

      Kelly May 13, 2013


    navane64 May 12, 2013

    Amazing with the power of kale combined with the rest. I would love to have one piece of cake for myself.

    Nicole @ Young, Broke and Hungry May 10, 2013

    I am sorry your still not feeling better yet! But hopefully one or two of these muffins will get you back on the fast track to recovery.

      Kelly May 10, 2013

      Thanks! I’ve a few over the last couple days, and I think I see blue skies ahead. It’s just not fair to be not feeling 100% on a Friday!

    Marcie May 10, 2013

    I’m sorry to hear you’re still not feeling well, but these muffins sound like the trick! I love kale, and find it interesting to add it to the muffins! Chocolate can make anyone feel better. Hope it helps!

    Tina @ Tina's Chic May 10, 2013

    Kale in muffins?! I’m intrigued. They look delicious so I’m up for getting my veggies in with a dose of chocolate. 🙂
    Hope you feel better soon.

    cleaneatingveggiegirl May 10, 2013

    Kale in muffin form? I would never think to do that. But seeing as how I love other vegetables in muffins (zucchini, carrots, sweet potatoes, etc.), this sounds like a pretty darn good idea. The addition of chocolate doesn’t hurt, either ;).

      Kelly May 10, 2013

      mmm Sweet potato muffins? Send me a link!

    Joanne May 10, 2013

    aww i’m so sorry you’re not feeling well chica! Hopefully things resolve soon. Love how many superfoods there are in these muffins! Such a great way to start the day.

      Kelly May 10, 2013


    crazyforcrust May 10, 2013

    I love that you made these muffins! They’re gorgeous, and I would never have put kale in a muffin but now I really want to! Feel better!

      Kelly May 10, 2013

      Thanks. You really can’t taste the kale, I promise! It’s sort of like putting zucchini in a choolate muffin (which.. is something everyone does, right?) moisture and nutritient levels go way up, but the flavor is still decidedly chocolate (and in this case, orange too).

    Em @ Love A Latte May 10, 2013

    Wow, for being sick you make incredible looking muffins! I would absolutely try these! I hope you feel better!!! When I’m sick, I try to drink lots of tea and get lots of sleep (although sometimes I find sleeping really tough). I hope the weekend gets you feeling better!

      Kelly May 10, 2013

      Thanks, Em! I’ve been sleeping as much as possible. It’s a chilly day today, so I’ll try to get my fill of tea, thanks for the suggestion.