Read Certified Nutritional Practitioner and Founder of Vital Living, Danae Harding's recipe for a plant-based and guilt-free seasonal staple!
I have a confession to make… I’m a little obsessed with the spooky season. Since I was a had a deep love for October festivities and Halloween. I would plan my ideas for pumpkin carving weeks in advance, practicing my design over and over again on sheets of paper before I finally got to the real deal. On the big day, I would take a sharp pencil and sketch where I wanted to carve until I was satisfied with the look. I’d sit in my parent’s freezing cold garage for hours using the tip of a knife to scrape away at the pumpkin until my masterpiece came to life.
You would think by my (nearly) 30’s I might’ve outgrown my love of pumpkin carving, dressing up in costume, and decorating my home with fake blood and spider webs, but my infatuation with autumn has never changed. If anything, I’m simply trying to find new, and possibly, slightly more adult ways to enjoy it.
This year, as I was watching Beetlejuice for the millionth time, I found myself craving that infamous, undeniably delicious pumpkin spice. Every year as the spooky season approaches and the weather begins to turn, coffee shops hop on their chance to bring back everything and anything pumpkin spiced. Although I think their launch is maybe a tiny bit premature (common guys, PS is an October thing) this fan favourite is highly anticipated by lifelong fans basically everywhere. So, as a lifelong-foodie-turned-nutritionist naturally does, I took to the kitchen to whip up my very own vegan pumpkin spice muffin. Don’t forget the “cream cheese” icing.
Pumpkins are more than a prop to use when you hit up your local pumpkin patch for seasonal Instagram pics - it’s a type of winter squash that is ready for harvest come fall, making it the perfect ingredient to work with in October.
The nutrition content and flavour profile is at its highest during this time. In Vancouver, we’re even more lucky as they grow locally, making it environmentally sustainable to consume (a definite bonus). Not to mention they’re also extremely nutritious! Pumpkins are high in antioxidants, along with many powerful immune-supporting vitamins and minerals, such as:
This recipe also calls for BUCK Original, a product that is fortified with vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 plays an important role in immunity as it helps to maintain your white blood cell count. So, you can indulge in these muffins guilt free! Not only do you get to satisfy your craving for the infamous pumpkin spice flavour, but you are fuelling your body with the nutrients it needs for the upcoming cold and flu season.
** Having trouble finding pumpkin pie spice mix? Easily make your own from home with the following: 2 tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp nutmeg, ½ tsp ground ginger and ½ tsp clove.
** Reducing the pumpkin purée is absolutely crucial for the texture of these muffins! I cannot stress this step enough. Pumpkin purée is very high in water content - if you skip this step, you will be left with muffins that have a soggy center. By cooking the purée on the stovetop for 5-7 minutes, you reduce the water content while enhancing the pumpkin flavour. Expect the pumpkin purée to become thicker in consistency and darker in colour – this is what you want! See the below image for a visual of how the pumpkin purée looks pre-reduction (left) and post-reduction (right):
** Soak the raw cashews in warm water for a minimum of 2-hours or overnight. If in a rush, you can cover them with boiling hot water for 30 minutes to soften. Softening the cashews ahead of time allows for a creamy and smooth “cream cheese” icing.
** Use full-fat canned coconut milk. When you go to use, do not shake the can. Open safely using a can opener and scrape the cream off the top for this recipe, discarding the water at the bottom (the two will separate naturally).
How to Store:
These muffins will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and in the freezer for 1-2 months. I recommend keeping the “cream cheese” icing in a separate airtight container and topping the muffin with it just before you are about to enjoy!
This muffin recipe yields 6 muffins. See nutritional facts per muffin below: