Pumpkin Muffins

Recently, I went to my local farmers’ market and decided to celebrate fall with a locally made pumpkin muffin.  Went home with my sacks of goodies, made some coffee, and prepared to enjoy.  Took a bite and… blehhh.  Extreme disappointment!  Too sweet, didn’t taste at all like pumpkin, and was loaded with chunks of stuff–raisins, nuts, chocolate chips, cranberries.  It was just too much.  Not at all the nourishing autumnal treat I had been hoping for.  Naturally, in my culinarily distraught state, I began combing the internet and my cook books for a healthier recipe. Qualifications: low in sugar, whole grain, no oil, bonus points for gluten-free (because I love my GF friends so much!).  I found two that looked like they’d pass muster, and commenced baking.  After a few tasty test batches, I ended up combining elements of the two into my own version.  So here it is, folks!  A hearty, whole-grain, oil-free, low-sugar, spicy pumpkin muffin for your breakfasting and snacking pleasure.

1 15oz can pumpkin puree (make sure it is just pumpkin, not pie filling!)

1/2 c amaranth *see note below

1/2 c boiling water

1/2 c plant milk, preferably unsweetened

1/4 c maple syrup

1 c oat flour (to make your own, grind oats in a blender or food processor – even a stick blender works; measure after they are ground)

1 c whole wheat flour *see variation below to make GF

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp powdered ginger

1/2 c raisins dried cranberries (optional, but way better than raisins!)

1/2 c walnuts (optional)

1. Put the amaranth in a heat-proof bowl and add the boiling water.  Let it soak for 20 minutes.

2. Mix wet ingredients in a big bowl, including the soaked amaranth and water.

3. Sift dry ingredients separately, then add to the wet mixture.

4. Fold in raisins and nuts, if using.

5. Scoop the batter into muffin tins that are either lined with paper liners or lightly sprayed with oil.  You’ll be able to make 12 regular sized muffins, and the cups will be full, almost to the top.  Have no fear!  This batter doesn’t puff up as much as a cupcake would, so it won’t ooze all over your oven.

6.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20-25 mins, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Notes and Variations:

Amaranth is a tiny whole grain with loads of fiber and protein, and a rather strong flavor.  You’ll probably get your best price on it from a bulk bin at the natural food stores. Otherwise, Arrowhead Mills and (I think) Bob’s Red Mill both sell it.  If you really can’t find it either order it online, or leave it out altogether.  If you do leave it out, you could try adding another small whole grain instead (bulgur, millet, quinoa?).  You may need to adjust the amount of liquid if you omit it.  Let me know how it turns out!

To make this a gluten-free muffin, you have two options: either replace the whole wheat flour with another cup of oat flour, which will yield a very dense and moist muffin, or try replacing the whole wheat flour with a cup of gluten-free flour replacer like the one from Bob’s Red Mill.  I haven’t tried the gluten-free flour in this recipe yet, so if you do, report back to me on the results!

If you don’t have any pumpkin, I’m sure mashed sweet potato would work just as well.

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