If you’ve been following my blog at all, you’d know that I love to bake. I love making healthy and homemade breads, muffins, bars, cookies, anything really! You name it.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about 5 Quick & Easy Swaps that could be used to make most baked goods a little bit lighter and healthier. These are substitutions are ones that I use in almost every recipe to help boost up the nutritional profile and cut back on unwanted fats, sugars, and other refined carbohydrates.
Today I wanted to post on another great product that can be used as a healthy substitution in most baking recipes: Pumpkin Pie Filling.
Pumpkin pie filling works great because it doesn’t have a strong flavor to it, so you can use it in most recipes without tasting a distinct pumpkin flavor.
Yummmm. Who doesn’t love some warm, rich, sweet pumpkin?
Pumpkin puree is a great fat replacer, as well as sugar replacer, and can be used in most baked goods recipes that call for oil, eggs, butter, or added sugar. Typically, oil or butter is what’s used to help keep the food moist, avoiding that overly dry or crumbly bread or muffin. In addition to keeping your food rich and moist, using pumpkin puree as a butter or oil substitution cuts out a lot of extra fat and calories. You can simply substitute in a 1:1 ratio, meaning if your recipe calls for 1/2 cup oil, you can use 1/2 cup pumpkin puree instead. When using pumpkin puree as a substitute, I would recommend leaving in some of the oil (maybe about 1/4 of what is typically calls f0r) because the healthy pigments found in pumpkin require some dietary fat in order to be properly absorbed.
In addition to cutting down on the “bad and unwanted stuff”, using pumpkin puree will vastly increases the nutritional profile of your baked goods in a number of ways.
- Pumpkin is a great source of fiber, keeping you fuller longer – making any pumpkin-based baked good the perfect breakfast!
- Pumpkin contains carotenoids, natural plant pigments known to have powerful antioxidant effects and to help boost our immune system
- Pumpkin contains potassium – A whole cup of pumpkin contains more potassium than a banana, making them perfect post-workout too for a shortened time of muscle recovery!
I could go on all day about the great effects of pumpkin, but maybe it’s better if you just try some out in a recipe and see for your self. If you’re interested in baking with pumpkin, you can either choose to buy your own, bake it, and carve out the insides, or just take the easy route and buy the canned pumpkin puree on the shelves. Do your best to find a good deal on organic puree if possible.
Amidst all of my excitement over pumpkin, I decided to bake some Pumpkin Stuffed Muffins on my day off. I bought a new jumbo-muffin tin from Kohl’s the other day that I’ve been excited to try out, so this seemed like the perfect time to do so!
For the muffins:
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt (I used low-sodium)
1.5 cups organic pumpkin puree (roughly 12 oz)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
For the Pumpkin Filling:
1/2 cup organic pumpkin puree
1/8 cup brown sugar
1 dash of cinnamon
1 tbsp vegetable or coconut oil
1/8 tsp salt
For the Muffins:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl.
- In a separate bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, almond milk, and grape seed oil and stir until well combined.
- Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet and stir until fully mixed.
- Lightly spray a muffin-pan with cooking spray. Using a large spoon, scoop the batter into even amounts into the muffin tin. Set aside.
For the Filling & Finishing off the Muffins:
- In a separate bowl, combine the pumpkin, oil, sugar, cinnamon and salt
- With the prepared muffin batter (inside the tins), create a small well in each muffin where the filling will be placed
- Scoop one large spoonful of the pie filling into each muffin well
- For small muffins (makes about 10-12), bake for 18-20 minutes. For larger-size muffins (makes about 5-6), bake for 25-28 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy!
I served these muffins on a platter with some mixed nuts; it makes a small, cute dish to bring to any small party or work event.