Powered-Up Pumpkin Muffins

Tis the season, and I’m going pumpkin crazy in the kitchen!  Pumpkin has made its way onto my morning oats, below, with a torched banana and peanut butter, into some eggplant curry, and of course, I've whipped up a pumpkin pie.  But most importantly, after four attempts, I’ve FINALLY finished this muffin recipe. 

These filling, nutrient-dense, Texas-sized treats were inspired by two very vibrant women.  My client Stephanie needed a portable companion to the Greek yogurt she eats on the train during her a.m. commute.  When nothing from her local grocer seemed to fit the bill, I was determined to come up with something special to fuel her mornings, which can include anything from leading church activities, teaching in the South Bronx (where she opened a charter school this year), or embarking on a scenic run (she’s just completed her second NYC marathon).  And then I thought, wouldn’t it be great if my dear friend Alia could enjoy these, too?  Alia is an ICU nurse who follows a gluten-free diet due to NCGS, She is a superwoman worthy of a cape.  Alia somehow always shows up and saves the day, whether it’s with sound advice, a touching card, or a feast of delicious Middle Eastern food when you’re stuck in the hospital.  Obviously she needs sustenance to embark on all these endeavors!

My goals with this recipe were to pack each muffin with protein, fiber, and healthy fats; keep them gluten-free; and, most importantly, for them to taste like muffins and not hockey pucks!  This was my first time working with coconut flour, so there were a few mishaps along the way.  But I was determined to use it: a ¼ cup of coconut flour packs a whopping 13g of fiber!  The first batch turned out muffins that were more akin to custard due to egg overload.  Straying from my preferred brand of packed pumpkin also proved problematic – I’ll stick with Libby’s from here on out.  Keeping added sugar content to a minimum was no easy feat, so I sought counsel from my favorite bakers, and followed their suggestions on spice adjustments to compensate for the sugar deficit.  Finally, using a Texas-sized muffin pan was a must!  One measly cupcake-sized muffin was NOT going to cut it if these bad boys were going to be an integral part of someone’s breakfast.  I’m a firm believer that it’s the most important meal of the day – so go big or go home!  


¼ cup coconut flour (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
½ cup quinoa, toasted
3 T. flax seed
1 single-serve package Trader Joe’s roasted almonds
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 T. cornstarch
1 ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
2 eggs, extra large
¼ cup demerara sugar
1 container plain, nonfat Greek yogurt (5.3 oz.)
1 cup packed pumpkin (I HIGHLY recommend Libby’s)
¼ cup molasses
½ cup plain, unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. white vinegar


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly oil and dust muffin pan with gluten-free flour or cornstarch.  Muffin liners will work well, too!
  2. Using spice grinder or comparable device (I used the single-serve attachment of the Ninja blender), grind cooled toasted quinoa into flour.  Repeat with flax seed, then almonds.  Each ingredient should take 15 seconds using the Ninja.  Set these three ground ingredients aside in medium bowl.
  3. Combine coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon.  Pass ingredients through a sifter or mesh sieve to aerate the coconut flour and prevent clumping.  Use a fork to combine these dry ingredients with ground quinoa, flax, and almonds.
  4. Whisk eggs and sugar together.   Mix in yogurt, pumpkin, molasses, applesauce, and vinegar with wooden spoon. 
  5. Gently combine wet and dry ingredients.  Batter will be thick – don’t worry!
  6. Divide batter equally in muffin pan.   Each muffin will be filled nearly to the top.
  7. Bake 20-25 minutes.  Cool muffins in pan on wire rack before removing.

Store leftover muffins in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped for up to 1 week. 

Per muffin: 10.3g protein, 7.5g fiber