Written by Kristen Hisam
Every year, when early September finally rolls around, I head out to the store and come home with enough cans of pumpkin puree to last the average person an entire season. Yes, early September – because seriously, why bother waiting for fall to officially begin when the weather is cooling off and I’m already craving some delicious, orange-hued treats?
Less enthusiastic people may consider it slightly shameful that I always, without fail, end up having to re-stock a few weeks later – but the truth is, indulging in pumpkin goodies doesn’t have to leave you feeling guilty. In fact, this nutrient powerhouse is packed with vitamins, antioxidants, phytochemicals, minerals, and dietary fiber – all of which can benefit your physical and mental wellbeing in an impressive number of ways. With only 49 calories per cup and zero saturated fat or cholesterol to worry about, you really can’t go wrong!
Let’s talk about some of the fabulous health perks you can look forward to:
Trying to up your antioxidant intake? Look no further. One of the best sources of beta-carotene out there, which our bodies convert into vitamin A, pumpkin also features vitamins C and E, as well as the less well-known antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin.
Studies have shown that all of these are excellent for supporting eye health and preventing degenerative damage to your precious peepers – plus they’re crucial for maintaining healthy skin, teeth and bones.
These antioxidants are also thought to help shield your cells against cancer and wrinkle-causing free radicals, and aid immune systems too. With more than twice your recommended daily vitamin A intake in a single cup, what’s not to love?
Bananas have got nothing on this festive fruit. You’re probably aware that bananas are often touted as having a very high potassium content, which they certainly do, but did you know that one cup of cooked pumpkin boasts 564 milligrams of this important mineral, compared to the 442 milligrams found in a cup of banana?
Try grabbing a pumpkin-based snack post-workout to raise potassium levels, which will help balance your electrolytes and keep muscles functioning at their best. Eating pumpkin may also be a yummy way to help lower blood pressure, as potassium is believed to have a positive effect on hypertension.
Feel full for longer and do your heart a favor. An often-overlooked source of dietary fiber, canned pumpkin packs seven grams of this essential nutrient into just one cup. As a result, foods rich with pumpkin are digested slowly and efficiently, which allows your body to properly absorb the incredible vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants they have to offer.
This is especially good news for those trying to shed a few pounds as you’ll end up eating less overall while still feeling satisfied! That’s not all either – studies have shown that a high-fiber diet can help lower the risk of heart disease and keep your ticker in the best possible shape.
These delicious harvest pumpkin muffins are a gluten free and vegan version of the famous muffins my mom used to make when I was a kid. So good they became a year-round family favorite as opposed to just a seasonal snack, I’ll never forget the Sunday mornings when she would get up early and throw them in the oven for breakfast. I’d wake up to the comforting aroma of spicy pumpkin and jump right out of bed to get first dibs on a plate full of warm, fluffy goodness.
These days, my mom and I have happily sacrificed much of our former diets and feel better than ever, but we still really missed her pumpkin muffins and had a hard time finding a gluten free and vegan equivalent that didn’t turn out either super mushy or rock hard – until we tried this recipe!
Combining three of my favorite kitchen staples; pumpkin, oats, and coconut oil, these perfectly moist, flavorful muffins will instantly transport you to fall. Bursting with warm, aromatic spices, these goodies are made with plant-based and allergy-friendly ingredients that you can feel good about. Plus, you’ll only need one bowl to make them!
RECIPE: Gluten Free & Vegan Harvest Pumpkin Muffins
- 1 cup 100% pure pumpkin puree (room temperature)
- ¼ cup melted coconut oil
- ¼ cup & 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup & 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 1 flax egg (whisk 1 tablespoon ground flax with 3 tablespoons warm water and set for 10 min)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups oat flour*
- ½ cup almond meal
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
- ¾ cup vegan chocolate chips
- ¾ cup chopped pecans for topping
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange cupcake liners in a 12-muffin pan and set aside.
- Whisk the pumpkin, coconut oil, maple syrup, sugar, flax egg, and vanilla in a large bowl.
- Whisk the oat flour, almond meal, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt in with the wet ingredients until no visible flour or lumps remain. Fold in the chocolate chips if you’re using them.
- Drop the batter into your muffin pan using an ice cream scoop for a nice, rounded top. If you’re topping the muffins with pecans, sprinkle them on top now. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
- Allow to cool for 1 hour on a cooling rack, then enjoy your delicious, guilt-free treat!
*Note: You can easily make the oat flour at home by blending 2 cups of gluten-free oatmeal in a blender or food processor until finely ground. The oatmeal you use should specify that it came from a gluten-free facility to avoid cross-contamination, even though oats are naturally without gluten.