Starting around the end of September through the holidays, my kitchen has a constant pumpkin-spice aroma to it. This is not because I've blown my savings on one of those large Yankee Candles (you have to admit, they are overpriced,) but because I absolutely adore pumpkin flavored foods. From ravioli and risotto to pancakes and pies, I'll attempt almost any recipe with a pumpkin twist. At then end of December, however, the pumpkin parade tends to come to an end, simply because the season is considered to be over, and I guess I feel like I'm supposed to move on to other ingredients.
Today's recipe I dedicate to Boston based blogger (and July 12 bride!) Tina of Carrots and Cake. As a food blogger, it is inevitable that you become familiar with the content of your fellow foodies in the blogosphere (that sentence sounds a bit nerdy, doesn't it?). Through food-themed message boards and photo sharing sites, you can easily see what other chefs around the world are creating on a daily basis. Yesterday, I found Tina's delectable looking post for (lowfat) Pumpkin Coconut Date Bars--originally posted in MAY! I had been resisting my craving for healthy pumpkin muffins, simply because they weren't "in season," but Tina snapped me out of that silliness via her mouthwatering photos. So, thanks, Tina. I wish that I could send you one of the muffins, but Boston is a bit far. I'll just eat one while watching the Red Sox game, in your honor.
With the addition of the tart cranberries, spices, and toasted nuts, these muffins do indeed taste like Fall. The dates add some natural sweetness, which allows for the sugar to be cut, compared to the ample amount present in most muffin recipes. With a light, moist texture, these muffins have no need for butter or jam, and they come together in minutes. Here are a few extra tips for these figure-friendly muffins:
- Feel free to improvise in terms of the nuts and fruits that you add to the muffin batter. Golden raisins, chopped dried cherries, chopped figs or apricots, hazelnuts, almonds, or walnuts would all be nice additions.
- After the muffins have baked and cooled, freeze them in a zip-top bag for up to one month. Let muffins thaw at room temperature and then warm in the oven or microwave just before serving.
- Be sure to use canned pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling, which is pre-sweetened and contains spices.
- If you don't happen to have buttermilk, you can always make your own version. Mix ½ cup of milk with ½ teaspoon of vinegar and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before adding to the batter.
Healthy Pumpkin Harvest Muffins
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon cloves
½ cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
½ cup buttermilk
¼ cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons canola or safflower oil
½ cup chopped dried cranberries
¼ cup chopped dates
½ cup lightly toasted pecans, chopped
Preheat the oven to 375F degrees. In a medium bowl, combine the flours, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cloves; whisk to blend.
In a large bowl, combine the sugar, pumpkin, buttermilk, brown sugar, oil, and egg; whisk until very well blended. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and mix until just combined. Fold in the cranberries, dates, and pecans.
Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners and coat the liners with cooking spray. Spoon the batter evenly into the cups. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin emerges clean. Transfer the muffins to a wire rack and cool completely.