A health kick, of sorts
Sometimes I like to go on a health kick. I mean, who doesn’t from time to time? With all of the news about how terrible we eat, how fat we are becoming, and that wacky British dude and the First Lady launching nationwide efforts to get our citizenry eat a darn vegetable – sometimes it’s enough to guilt inspire a person to at least try to eat better. (My health kicks, of course, are much to the dismay of my boyfriend, who likes to hide when I start ranting about eating too much meat and not enough vegetables, again.)
That being said, a person cannot live off of salads alone. You can try, but if you’re anything like me, 3 p.m. rolls around and you’re craving something sweet and carb-y to carry you on through dinner time. The last few weeks at work have been great for curbing afternoon snacking, as we have been enjoying the constant drudgery of carting load after load of laboratory and office junk to our new office space via underground tunnel. Now that the busywork of moving has subsided, I find myself back to ye olde “Ugh it’s only 3 and I’m already hungry?!” and I do believe that calls for some muffins.
Have you tried Vitamuffins? In theory, their nutritional specs are pretty good, boasting tons of fiber and protein in a low-calorie muffin-like substance, which makes them all the rage in the health and diet community. I can’t say I’m a fan, although I’ve only tried the blueberry flavor. In addition to being fairly non-delicious and full of unpronounceable ingredients, a box of 4 is upwards of $5 at my grocery store! The usual fare at nearby campus coffee shops is not much better – not only are the baked goods on the opposite end of the healthy spectrum, they are also expensive and the varieties never change from week to week.
So, I have found myself pining for this imaginary muffin. Something a little hearty, with spices that match the season, and maybe some nuts or some chocolate to round things out. Something that is not terrible for you, but also doesn’t make you feel deprived when you’re just inches away from raiding the candy machine down the hall. And I think I have found it, thanks to the great folks at King Arthur Flour. These whole wheat pumpkin muffins are the perfect answer to my grandma’s delicious (and sugary-oily-cream-cheesy) pumpkin bars – an autumnal baked good that reminds you pumpkin can actually be good for you, and delicious enough that you will actually want to eat it.
Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Yield: Approximately 12 muffins (I got 12 plus a few mini-muffins with the leftover batter)
Nutrition Info (Approximate, using SparkRecipes calculator) Per Muffin: 145 calories, 4.7 g fat (0.6 g saturated fat), 215 mg sodium, 2.5 g fiber, 3.0 g protein
(Adding 0.5 cup chopped walnuts or pecans to the batter makes each muffin about 190 cals, 8.5 g fat, 3.0 g fiber, and 4.0 g protein.)
A word on flour: I used whole wheat pastry flour, and I thought the texture of the muffins was excellent. The muffins came out hearty and fluffy, and not too dry or dense like I have experienced when baking with regular whole wheat flour. Try to find it at Whole Foods, or a natural foods co-op in the bulk aisle, or look for Bob’s Red Mill at your supermarket. (Wheatsfield in Ames is where I get mine.) However, any combo of whole wheat, AP, or even King Arthur’s White Whole Wheat will get the job done.
What to do with the leftover 2/3 cup of pumpkin, you ask? Try a pumpkin smoothie (1/2 banana, handful of ice, milk, plain yogurt, pumpkin and a teaspoon or so of that pumpkin pie spice) or pumpkin overnight oats.
1.5 cups (6.75 oz/191 g) whole wheat pastry flour, regular whole wheat flour, AP flour, or a combination thereof
1.5 tsp pumpkin pie spice (Store bought, or make your own, or 1/4 tsp ground cloves, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, and 1 tsp ground cinnamon if you just need enough for this recipe)
0.5 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs
1 cup (8 oz/225 g) pumpkin
0.5 cup (4 oz/118 mL) milk (I used whole milk)
0.5 cup (4 oz/113 g) packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp vegetable oil (ProTip: Measure the oil first and then molasses with the same spoon, the molasses slides right off the spoon!)
1 Tbsp molasses
Optional: About 1/2-1 cup of your choice of bits: toasted walnuts or pecans, raisins, small chunks of apple or dried fruit, chocolate chips.
0. Preheat the oven to 400 °F (205 °C). Grease a regular muffin tin with non-stick spray or line with muffin liners.
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, spices, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, pumpkin, milk, sugar, oil and molasses until well combined.
3. Add the dry to the wet ingredients and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until just combined. Do not over mix.
4. Optional: fold in nuts, chocolate, etc.
5. Spoon batter into muffin tins, filling about 3/4 full. Bake at 400 °F (205 °C) for 18-20 minutes (10-12 minutes for mini muffins), until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
6. Allow to cool 5 minutes in the pan, and then remove the muffins and cool on a rack. Cool completely and store in an air-tight container.
Muffins will keep at room temperature for 2-3 days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week.