Fall is upon us! And you know what that means – pumpkin spice season!
I’ve grown up with my mom’s classic pumpkin pie recipe – homemade crust, pumpkin filling, topped with delicious whipped cream. And I don’t mean a dollop on each slice. She literally covers every inch of the surface area with sweet, whipped creamy goodness!
Now pumpkin spice seems to be everywhere – in our lattes, cheesecakes, squares, cupcakes, donuts, bagels and even our ice cream! At first I was a bit skeptical about incorporating this traditional flavour into other foods beside pie, but I soon discovered that pumpkin spice is a very versatile blend and adds a touch of fall flavour to every bite.
According to Corporate Coffee Systems, pumpkin spice was around long before the latte and “has been referenced in cookbooks as early as the 1890s, as well as a similar spice mix in a pumpkin recipe from 1796”. So why did it take over a hundred years for the craze to really take off? “It can be attributed to coffee lovers in the late 1990s,” claims the coffee website. The pumpkin spice flavoured craze spread like wildfire across North America in 2003 with the introduction of Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte.
So, what is included in “pumpkin spice,” anyway? Although there are variances in the pumpkin spice combination depending on where you live, the most common combination includes the following ingredients: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and allspice.
My DIY pumpkin spice blend is a tad more ‘spicy’ than traditional recipes (see below). I reserve some to add on to the tops of my muffins before baking, along with a few oats. You can easily blend all of the aromatic spices and keep them in an airtight jar in your pantry during the fall. It’s great to have as a quick add-on to coffee, lattes and baking.
But wait, what about “pumpkin?” Where does it figure in the pumpkin spice name? Interestingly enough, pumpkin spice doesn’t include pumpkin at all. “Although some coffee and other foods and drinks that contain pumpkin spice include extra ingredients,” states Corporate Coffee Systems, “pumpkin spice is simply a combination of spices that are traditionally added into pumpkin pie.”
The big question is, why do people love pumpkin spice so much? What is fueling this fall-associated craze? According to Corporate Coffee Systems, “some attribute pumpkin spice to be synonymous with the autumn season,” while “others say it reminds them of home.” Whatever your reason, the aroma and flavour of pumpkin spice certainly evokes some sort of emotional response!
The nice thing about my one-bowl pumpkin spice muffins is that they are relatively guilt-free:
- They have minimal sugar (maple sugar, eh?)
- They use a healthy fat alternative (coconut oil)
- They have a high amount of fibre (from the whole wheat flour and milled flax)
- Above all else, they have that great PUMPKIN SPICE flavour!
What I like about these muffins most is that they are dairy and nut-free. You can easily make them vegan by substituting the eggs for flax eggs or even make them gluten free by using gluten-free flour. Clean up is easy too, as you only need one bowl! They're great for a healthy snack or a satisfying breakfast on the go and best of all, they are kid-approved!
Once you're done, I also suggest you use your leftover pumpkin spice blend and pumpkin purée to make these amazing pumpkin spice lattes by the Girl on Bloor!
It looks like the pumpkin spice craze isn’t going anywhere anytime soon so give these healthy muffins a spin and get your pumpkin spice on.
DIY Pumpkin Spice Blend:
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon raw organic sugar or brown sugar
- Blend the spices together in a bowl using a small spoon or fork. Ensure all lumps are broken up
- Store spice mix in an air-tight jar or Ziploc bag for up to one month
One Bowl Perfect Pumpkin Spice Muffins:
- ⅓ cup melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup maple syrup or honey
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup pumpkin purée (I like pure, organic in the can!)
- ¼ cup milk of choice (I used almond milk)
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin spice blend (see my DIY recipe above)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ¾ cups whole wheat flour
- ¼ cup milled flax seed
- ⅓ cup old-fashioned oats, plus more for sprinkling on top
- Optional: chopped nuts, mini chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius). Use a non-stick muffin tin if available, otherwise grease all 12 cups of your muffin tin with butter or non-stick cooking spray
- In a large bowl, whisk together the oil and maple syrup/honey. Next, add the eggs and whisk well so that all ingredients are combined. Work quickly here so the coconut oil doesn’t solidify!
- Add the pumpkin purée, milk of your choice, pumpkin spice blend, baking soda, vanilla extract and salt and mix well
- Add the flour and oats to the bowl and mix with a large spoon, just until combined (a few lumps are ok). OPTIONAL: you will need to incorporate your add-ons here, like chopped nuts, raisins, chocolate chips, etc. if desired
- Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups. Here I sprinkle the tops of the muffins with a few oats and a pinch of pumpkin spice blend! But you don’t have to, of course!
- Bake your muffins for 20 to 24 minutes, depending on your oven or until a toothpick/cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the muffin
- Let muffins cool in the tin for a few minutes then remove and enjoy!
NOTE: Store the muffins in an air-tight container for up to 3 days or seal in a freezer safe bag/container for up to 4 months. Perfect for grab and go snacks!