Happily Whole

Living well from the inside out

Vanilla Whole Grain Cupcakes with Maple/Vanilla Buttercream

According to, well, ME, there's no reason to completely compromise nutrition when you want to indulge a little. Like, for example, in the case of a seven year old birthday celebration! Yes….my first born turned seven this past week and I don’t know how that sweet little thing got so old (especially when her mama is only twenty…)!

For a little birthday treat sweet is simple necessary, right!? Oh and don’t forget the smooth and creamy frosting…perhaps some sprinkles adorning the top of the desired indulgence, too!  It’s all required to create the eating ambiance we’re going for in our house of three dessert-loving girls!

But, now, let’s be real about our food choices—in more ways than one! If we tossed all eating clean concerns to the wind each time a special occasion arrived, we’d compromise good nutrition far too often to maintain good health. Between birthdays, picnics, holidays, office parties, the first day of this and the last day of that we are always faced with reasons to deviate from eating what is real, pure and natural. I’ve found even playdates become the exception to our healthy eating standards—especially in the summer!

I further want to make the distinction between a junk food indulgence and a REAL, nourishing way to indulge in something sweet and satisfying. So often we think of ‘treats’ as nutritionally empty, processed, refined, artificially dyed and altogether unnecessary parts of our diets. But, when I started thinking about what a true indulgence is differently, it was so much easier to stay clean in our eating…yes, even in the case of my seven year old daughter’s birthday.

Changing my thinking on what makes for a real treat allows us to indulge regularly!

To me, truly indulging means savoring something wonderful, relishing a richly satisfying treat or pampering my mouth with a flavors I adore. Sometimes sweet, other times salty or savory (often a combination!), a real indulgence makes eating special!

However, pleasing my palate does not give me follow-up guilt or physical ramifications that so many of the highly processed foods do. Experiencing a true indulgence means making my mouth AND my body happy by using real ingredients even if they possess sweet or rich properties. Go ahead, check the ingredients in these cupcakes out—100% real!

And since I LOVE to indulge, you’ll often find baking recipes here on Happily Whole. It excited me to make something nourishing that my girls gobble up! And I may or may not secretly love the taste testing portion of my recipe creation process…..  But, really, I love knowing that even their birthday cupcakes and the ice cream I often make offers their little bodies benefits.

Just take a look at the pictures! I’m pretty positive everyone loved the birthday cupcakes we just enjoyed. Vanilla, maple cakes topped with a thick yet creamy thin layer of frosting (so you can still taste the cake!) made all of our mouths happy!

Since Stella loves strawberries, she requested that her cupcakes would be topped with them. Their sweet, freshness added a lot to the cupcake-eating experience so I think next time, I might just add some right to the batter before I bake them! 

With a moist, spongy pound cake-like texture and a slightly sweet, maply-vanilla flavor, these cupcakes really made the mark for our birthday celebration! But, these would be good for ANY gathering since sprouted whole grains and pure, real ingredients fill them. They can be enjoyed with or without this thick, smooth frosting…but frosting makes everything a little better, right? 


  • Cupcakes:
  • 1 ½ cups whole grain flour SIFTED well. I used sprouted whole wheat flour*
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon unrefined sea salt (I often use Pink Himalayan)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted or very soft (yep, the REAL stuff--I use grass fed/pastured butter)
  • 1 cup coconut sugar (you can use brown sugar--but that's typically highly processed and refined)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ½ tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup almond milk (or you can use dairy milk)
  • Frosting:
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (again, grass fed/pastured is best nutritionally)
  • 1 ½ cups organic powdered sugar, SIFTED (I love the texture of organic, plus it's not bleached or refined)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (start with one and add for consistency if desired)
  • ½ tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon unrefined sea salt
  • Optional: Strawberries or all natural sprinkles for topping the frosting

Recipe Instructions


  • Preheat your oven to 350 and line your cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
  • In a bowl, whisk together sifted flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Pour melted butter in a seperate large bowl along with coconut sugar and beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds; add eggs one at time, beating after each addition. While beating, add vanilla extract
  • Next, you are going to mix the flour mixture and milk, alternatively. You'll want to make sure you start with flour first and end with flour; don't overmix and make sure to scrape sides of bowl down often
  • Fill liners ⅔ of the way and set in the oven to bake for 15 minutes. If toothpick is still wet when put in the middle of the cupcake, bake for a few more minutes, checking frequently.
  • Allow to cool before frosting.


  • Place room temperature unsalted butter in bowl of stand mixer and beat with whisk attachment until creamy
  • Add sifted powdered sugar and beat until blended
  • Add vanilla, maple syrup and salt and beat on high. This frosting will get very creamy and slightly fluffy. But it will remain thick. I like to beat it on high for at least 4 to 5 minutes. 

Frost the cupcakes, add toppings if desired and INDULGE!

Recipe Notes

*Since I wanted to bake a cupcake with 100% whole grains, I made sure to sift the flour well. This time, I actually put it in my Ninja food processor to airate it even more and make it as fine as possible. Also, here is why I choose sprouted flours when possible: LINK Here

Buy a good sprouted whole wheat flour here. (store in the fridge to keep it fresh) 

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