A deliciously, plant-based dessert, these pumpkin muffins are perfect for a fall night or a Halloween celebration!
This recipe is shared by guest blogger, Nicole Smolen*. Every autumn, her taste buds leap at the thought of pumpkin muffins. Plenty of tasty recipes have been created in this dessert’s honor. This plant-based version is packed with nutritious ingredients that will keep you fuller longer.
RECIPE (Makes 12)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Grease your 12-count muffin pan with non-stick spray or fill each spot with a cupcake liner.
Combine the dry ingredients. Start by sifting your flour into a large bowl. Whisk in your coconut sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice, sea salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
Mix your wet ingredients in a medium bowl. Start by melting your coconut oil. Add the pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and vanilla extract.
Mix 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed meal with 6 tablespoons of water. Allow the flax “eggs” to rest and thicken for 5 minutes in the fridge. Once ready, add them to the other wet ingredients and stir well.
Pour the wet ingredients into the larger bowl with dry ingredients. Combine everything without over-mixing!
Use a cookie scoop (approx. 3 tablespoons) to evenly distribute the batter into each cupcake liner—about two-thirds of the way up!
Make the delicious streusel topping. Combine your coconut sugar, oats, almond flour, and cinnamon together. Slowly incorporate the room-temperature vegan butter with a large fork until the mixture reaches a crumbly consistency, similar to wet sand.
Top each muffin with a tablespoon of the streusel topping. Be sure to press down, so every mouthwatering crumb stays in place!
Bake at 425 degrees F for 8 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for an additional 17-22 minutes.
Let your muffins cool for at least 10-15 minutes before enjoying them!
Pumpkins aren’t just great for carving! They offer a wide array of health benefits. PUMPKINS…
Happen to be a low-calorie food made of 94% water
Are high in beta-carotene, a carotenoid that your body turns into vitamin A. Along with Vitamin A, the presence of lutein and zeaxanthin can help protect eyesight.
Contain antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals and prevalent cellular damage
May benefit heart health
Promote healthy skin
Instead of being treated with chemical agents, unbleached flour whitens naturally as it ages. With a denser texture, this pantry staple provides more structure for baked goods.
Coconut sugar is paleo and has a lower Glycemic Index. Since it won’t spike your blood sugar, it makes a better sugar alternative for those with diabetes.
Cinnamon has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. With prebiotic properties, it can also improve gut health!
Nutmeg is a rich source of antioxidants. It may also reduce chronic inflammation in the body, which is a leading cause of heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
Ginger is known for reducing pain and inflammation. It can also alleviate many forms of nausea, especially early morning sickness.
Cloves can protect your stomach from ulcers and improve liver function.
Allspice relieves nausea, inflammation, and pain. It may also prevent infections.
Fiber-rich ground flaxseed meal helps you feel fuller longer and improves digestion. It is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, lignans, protein, and potassium.
Do NOT open the oven until the very end! Insert a toothpick to make sure the muffins are officially done. If you put a toothpick in the middle, it should come out clean.
Be careful not to overmix your batter. It may create a gummy texture.
I used Miyoko’s European Style Cultured Vegan Butter, which adds a nice depth of flavor.
Nicole’s muffins baked for 8 minutes at 425 degrees F. They continued cooking for an additional 22 minutes at 350 degrees F.
* Nicole is a nutrition enthusiast as well as an avid recipe developer. She is a self described foodie who enjoys creating plant-based recipes with a cinematic twist (utilizing her background in cinema, she combines it with her passion in food and nutrition to create fun recipes).
In this blog, guest blogger, Nicole Smolen, discusses plant based diets. Nicole is a nutrition enthusiast as well as an avid recipe developer. She is a self described foodie who enjoys creating plant-based recipes with a cinematic twist (utilizing her background in cinema, she combines it with her interest in food and nutrition to create fun recipes). Read on to learn what a plant based diet is all about and see if this is right for you.
Over the past 15 years, the number of plant-based Americans has increased by 9.4 million, surpassing 9.7 million. Big brand names, ranging from McDonald’s to Starbucks, now offer vegetarian and vegan options across the globe. However, there is an abundance of conflicting information surrounding this lifestyle, so let’s start from the beginning…
What is a plant-based diet?
A regimen that encourages the consumption of whole, plant-based foods while limiting meat, eggs, dairy, and processed products. This style of eating and living is not restricted to fruits and vegetables. It welcomes a rich variety of whole grains, legumes, beans, as well as a moderate amount of nuts and seeds.
Following plant-forward eating patterns does not automatically make you a vegetarian or vegan. As outlined below, a wide range of diets may fit the definition.
A flexitarian only eats meat, poultry, fish, or seafood on rare occasions. However, they regularly incorporate eggs, milk, and cheese. Vegetarians consume eggs and dairy products but do not include are not particularly fond of meat, poultry, fish, or seafood in their diet. Vegans stay away from any and all animal products—including milk, eggs, honey and gelatin! Raw vegans exclude all foods of animal origin. They also embrace the concept of raw foodism. Popularized in the 21st century, this dietary practice stipulates that food should only be consumed raw or heated at temperatures below 104-118℉ (40-48℃).
The key distinction? While prioritizing unprocessed, plant-sourced ingredients, plant-based eaters limit their intake of animal products, for maximum health benefits. Additionally, a traditional plant-based consumer typically resists abundant consumption of refined grains, sweets, sugary beverages, fried foods, and the like. Here is a typical day in their life:
Breakfast – Coconut vanilla chia pudding with fresh berries Lunch – Greek salad with mixed greens, garbanzo beans, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, cucumber, feta (optional), extra virgin olive oil, and balsamic vinegar Snack – Sliced apple with natural peanut butter Dinner – Quinoa bowl with black beans, corn, avocado, and salsa Dessert – Two squares of dairy-free dark chocolate (sweetened with coconut sugar)
The good news? A plant-based diet is flexible. You can adapt it to fit your needs. There are countless benefits associated with plant-forward eating habits.
Maintain a healthy weight.
A plant-based lifestyle lowers the risk of obesity. Our bodies digest whole grains and vegetables at a slower pace, since they rank lower on the glycemic index. Antioxidants and fiber, commonly found in fruit, help you feel fuller longer.
Boost your immune system and reduce inflammation.
Plants contain essential vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals (phytonutrients), and antioxidants. Nutrient-dense meals not only satisfy cravings. They restore cells and protect against toxins from environmental pollutants, processed foods, bacteria, viruses, and more. Over time, widespread inflammation may damage your body’s cells and tissues. Cancer, arthritis, and other diseases proliferate in these inflammatory states. However, antioxidant-rich, whole foods can combat free radicals, defend your DNA, and promote optimum cellular function.
Lower your blood pressure.
Several studies prove that hypertension, or high blood pressure, can be reduced with a plant-based diet. In other words, heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes are far less likely. Potassium-rich fruits and vegetables significantly lower blood pressure. In general, plants are low in fat, sodium, and cholesterol. Less meat, dairy, and “bad” fats can decrease the blood’s viscosity (thickness), enabling our hearts to pump more efficiently.
Improve your gut microbiome.
Did you know that our brain and the gastrointestinal (GI) system are intimately connected? For example, gut distress can be the cause or symptom of powerful emotions, ranging from anxiety to depression. In addition to regular bowel movements, vegetarian and vegan diets support metabolic function, immune health, and hormonal balance. How exactly? The proliferation of beneficial bacteria! That’s why prebiotics and probiotics are also key!
Strengthen your brain.
Polyphenols—readily abundant in fruits, vegetables and whole grains—may halt the progression of neurodegenerative disorders, including but not limited to Alzheimer’s disease. What are some delicious sources? Cloves, dried peppermint, star anise, cocoa powder, berries, beans, nuts, vegetables, and even red wine!
Lower the risk of certain cancers.
According to Mayo Clinic, a third of cancer cases could have been avoided with proper diet and nutrition. Experts suggest that fruits, vegetables, and legumes are viable solutions. People who adhere to a vegan or vegetarian diet appear to have the lowest cancer rates. How is this possible? Phytochemicals, found in plants, shield cells and combat inflammation. Fiber also reduces the risk of debilitating diseases, especially colorectal cancer. A balanced BMI (body mass index) and frequent exercise may also prolong life.
Elevate athletic performance.
You may have heard of Novak Djokovic, Venus Williams, Lewis Hamilton, Colin Kaepernick, Alex Morgan, Tia Blanco, or Diana Taurasi. What do all of these world-class athletes have in common? Believe it or not, they are all vegan. Heart disease, inflammation, blood viscosity, aerobic capacity, arterial flexibility and diameter, antioxidant levels, endurance, and recovery can all be improved with a plant-based diet.
Reduce your carbon footprint.
Did you know that it takes 1,800 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef? It is no secret that cattle grazing produces significant amounts of methane and carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases strongly linked to climate change. Meals centered around plants create a positive chain-reaction. Humans, animals, and Mother Earth can all reap the rewards!
Moderation is key. It is essential to listen to your body and practice intuitive eating. Without nutrient-dense meals, our cells starve. In order to efficiently metabolize energy, we must prioritize good proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. If we want to live to the fullest, we must nourish our bodies—and brains—with a colorful medley of plants! I leave you with this eloquent adage from Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” —Hippocrates, c 460-370 BCE, ancient Greek physician in the Age of Pericles
Shopping for gifts can be hard. Let that special someone know you care about them by sending a gift that gives them a boost in their health and towards their health goals. Show them you care by communicating how important it is to you that they’re healthy and happy. When they feel well, they’re able to accomplish more and reach their personal life goals.
March is National Nutrition Month and as we are approaching the end of the month, I teamed up with CSUN undergraduate nutrition student, Sierra King, to share some of her favorite ways to stay motivated and on track with eating healthy throughout the year. In addition, here is a list of apps that could help support your health goals by setting reminders, tracking progress and increasing mindfulness.
Practice meal prepping or meal planning or both. Choose one or two days of the the week to meal plan, grocery shop and prep for several meals of the week.
Create short term and long term goals. To reach long term goals, it’s important to first start with short term goals such as goals for the day or goals for the week.
Find ways to work through emotions without food which can lead to emotional eating. Journaling, talking to a friend or family or going to therapy may help.
Treat yourself to self care and devoting quality time to yourself. Examples include relaxing, reading a new book or trying a new sport, or meditating.
Make a check list or set reminders on your phone.
If you get off track of eating healthy, try your best to skip the guilt as this will only make you feel worse and commit to getting back on track by making your next meal or the next day healthy.
Stay aware of dietary habits and food choices. Get into the practice of asking yourself “Will I be happy with that decision an hour from now?”
Find the right support to help you through the process of change. Work with a dietitian to get guidance and support to be successful. Have a buddy to team up with.
Moment – forces off your phone
My mood track – tracks sleep, exercise, medication, menstrual cycles, stress, pain, energy and stimulants–all to help you figure out why your mood goes up or down
The Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout App – intense 7 minute workouts
Sleep cycle – tracks sleep
Sweet slumber – tracks sleep
Waterlogged – helps you drink more water
Plant Nanny – reminds you to water your plant when you drink your water. Great reminder to drink water so your plant doesn’t die
Headspace – offers mediation guidance
Pact – earn cash for exercising
HealthyOut – helps you find nutritious restaurant meals nearby
Canned foods tend to have a bad rep, but not all canned foods are bad. Within an overall balanced and healthy diet, canned foods can have a role in it. Examples include bean products that are ready to eat in your next vegetarian meal or canned tuna soaked in olive oil that can be a convenient, nutrient dense snack on the go. Additionally, when fresh or frozen is not an option available for any reason, it’s recommended to include canned forms of protein, fruits and vegetables than to skip them entirely in your diet.