It’s not quite fall, but I’m already seeing Pumpkin Spice everything. Advertised in coffee shops and stores, pumpkin spice is like a retail cue of the fall season. Have you seen the Pumpkin Spice ads yet? Lattes, coffee creamers, nail polish (not kidding). While some new pumpkin spice products are questionable, I know Pumpkin Muffins are a winner. Honestly, I think Pumpkin Spice Lattes (or “PSLs”)) are kind of disgusting-tasting, even though I love pumpkin. 😝 And, if you’re trying to reduce sugar intake, PSLs are something you might not want to drink.
Nutritious, Delicious, Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Muffins
Pumpkin itself, spiced or not, is an amazing vegetable packed with nutrition and flavor. What I also love about using pumpkin in recipes is it’s smooth texture. In baking specifically, pumpkin also makes and keeps muffins and breads moist.
Recently, I wanted to make pumpkin bread but didn’t have enough time, so I modified another muffin recipe and came up with these Pumpkin Power (PP) muffins.
In this post, I’ll highlight the nutritional features of these muffins and go over how to make a perfect muffin (with this or any muffin recipe).
Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins are Healthy!
This recipe is easy (or else I wouldn’t make it or share it) and delicious. However, what I really love about these muffins is that they are nutrition and energy powerhouses. Pumpkin itself is packed with Vitamin A (also known as the antioxidant beta-carotene). Add in sources of healthy fats and/or protein – like almonds, nuts, eggs, and butter or coconut oil – and you have one nutrient-dense muffin!
On the Macro level:
Each muffin has 21 grams of natural fats, 5 grams of fiber, and 8 grams of protein. Also, each PP muffin has less than 15 grams of sugar, which less than half the sugar in an average pumpkin muffin!
On the Micro level:
One PP Muffin contains all the Vitamin A you need for a day, plus it’s high in Vitamin E and manganese, and a good source of iron and magnesium.
*For reference, a food that is “high” in a nutrient contains at least 20% of an average person’s daily need for that nutrient. Foods that are “good sources” have 10 – 19% of the daily need.
How A Gluten-free Muffin Recipe Works
Do you know The Muffin Method?
(Not to be confused with “The Muffin Man!”)
Sorry, couldn’t help it.
If you’re not familiar with the Muffin Method, allow me to introduce you …
The Muffin Method is basically a way of mixing ingredients (usually for muffins) so that you get those nicely-domed muffin tops we all know and love. The basic steps are:
- Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl.
- Mix all wet ingredients in another bowl. (Insider tip: sugar is considered a dry ingredient.)
- Make a well (dig a hole in the middle of) in the dry ingredients, and then pour wet ingredients into the well.
- Stir until just combined, usually about 15 times. This means, grab a hefty spoon/spatula and stir all the way around the inside edge of the bowl, then cut through the middle. *Eighteen good stirs is my magic number.*
- Place, don’t drop from on high, batter into muffin pan.
Why Do We Care About the Number of Stirs?
Great question! It all has to do with gluten formation. Although we don’t have gluten in this recipe, it’s worth knowing about the method. Plus, following the Muffin Method, even in gluten-free muffin recipes, will give you the best result.
Basically, 15 or so stirs in typical muffin batter (made with wheat flour) will make for the perfect gluten formation and those beautiful domed muffins. Note the following pitfalls:
- If muffins are under-stirred, gluten will not develop enough. During baking, steam will escape, rather than being trapped inside the batter, resulting in flat-topped muffins.
- If muffins batter is over-stirred, gluten formation will go too far. This results in what’s called “tunnelling”, or large tunnels of air inside the muffin (trapped by all that super-strong gluten). Your muffins will be too peaky.
Without gluten, this recipe in particular achieves the desired dome-shaped top by:
- Having a lot of liquid, which produces steam during baking.
- Including extra eggs. When eggs cook, the protein hardens, providing structure to trap steam inside the muffin, making it puff up, or rise.
- Using baking soda, a strong leavening agent (much stronger than baking powder). Pumpkin and maple syrup tend to be slightly acidic, which will increase the action of baking soda, giving a nice rise in volume.
These muffins are full of delicious nutrition! They are a perfect grab-and-go breakfast, snack or fuel for before/after a workout.
Almond flour replaces regular flour and maple syrup is used instead of white granulated sugar, so these are gluten and refined sugar free.
2 cups almond meal or flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1/2 cup unsweetened dried fruit such as raisins, chopped dates; or chocolate chips (optional)
3 eggs, beaten
1 16-oz can pumpkin puree (or 2 cups fresh)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup (or honey)
1 teaspoon vanilla
- Position a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 350’F.
- Grab a standard 12-muffin pan. Using non-stick cooking spray or fat, coat the inside of each muffin well to prevent sticking. If you have a silicone muffin pan like the one I just got, you don’t need to grease the pan – just get it out! 😀
- In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients – almond flour, oats, spices, baking soda, salt, nuts, chips, and dried fruit (if using).
- In another large bowl, mix together all the wet ingredients – eggs, pumpkin, melted fat, syrup, and vanilla.
- Using a spoon, spatula or your hand, make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, filling the well you just made.
- With a sturdy mixing spoon or spatula, mix the dry and wet ingredients together until just mixed, 15 – 20 stirs. The batter will be lumpy – that’s OK.
- Gently fill the muffin wells all the way to the top.
- Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, let cool until you can handle them, and then enjoy!
I’ve made these with both butter and coconut oil, so I know those work. Ghee or lard should be OK, too. However, I would use caution with oils that are liquid at room temperature. There is already a lot of liquid in this recipe, and I think that having a semi-solid fat helps with the integrity of the finished product. Let me know if you try a liquid-at-room-temp fat!
I’ll bet you could use almost any standard-sweetness (not artificial or concentrated) sugar, syrup, or honey. I haven’t tried anything other than maple syrup so far. Again, I’d love to know if any of you try a different kind of sweetener, and how it turns out!
The nutrition stats below are based on this recipe made with coconut oil as the fat, and with 1/2 cup each walnuts and raisins added.
- Category: Snacks
- Method: Muffin
- Serving Size: 1 Muffin
- Calories: 312
- Sugar: 14.4 g
- Sodium: 224 mg
- Fat: 21.4 g
- Saturated Fat: 7.4 g
- Unsaturated Fat: 14 g
- Trans Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 27.2 g
- Fiber: 4.7 g
- Protein: 7.8 g
- Cholesterol: 46.5 g
Keywords: Gluten-free, refined sugar-free, dairy-free, less sugar
Who’s Ready for Fall?!
Football, lots of pumpkin (for the PP Muffins), and Thanksgiving on the horizon – that’s all I think I need for a pretty awesome fall season. How about you? What do you look forward to most this fall, or any fall?
Let me know if you make the muffins, even share a pic on social media or in the comments!