In our household, we really make an effort to prioritize fresh, whole foods – fruits and veggies, healthy fats, and locally raised, pastured meats. But sometimes, you just want a warm, fluffy, carby treat (actually, I want this at some point of pretty much every day)! So, every week, as part of my meal plan and prep, I make a batch of healthy cookies, muffins, or breads.
I have a few go-to recipes, but each one passes the same test:
- must contain a bit of fruit and/or veg,
- must be low in added sugar,
- and bonus points if the recipe uses almond flour, since I always have lots from making my own almond milk.
Lately, I’ve been making these Pumpkin Banana Date Mini Muffins. They’re a little more labour intensive than the breakfast cookies I usually make, but well worth it. They’re moist, slightly sweet and get a great nutritional boost from the pumpkin. They also have a decent amount of protein, thanks to my old standby, almond flour. The tiny muffin size is perfect for little hands, and you don’t need to worry that you are setting yourself up to deal with a major sugar crash later. For grownups, you’ll probably want to eat two. Or three. Just don’t sneak them off your toddler’s abandoned plate if you don’t want to trigger a tantrum, because clearly, they were saving it for later (not that this happened to me…).
Almond flour… Almond pulp… It all works
You can use store-bought almond flour or homemade almond flour in this recipe – both will work well. Store-bought almond flour has a much finer texture and will result in a smoother crumb. My homemade almond flour is really almond pulp, left over from making almond milk, and the result is a more rustic, rough looking texture. I actually prefer this, especially since I sometimes end up with little almond chunks in the batter – extra crunch without added ingredients!
These little muffins are the perfect size for tiny hands, and you don't have to worry about dealing with a toddler with a sugar high afterwards.
- 1 cup almond flour
- 3/4 cup sprouted spelt flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 1/4 cup organic cane sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 large banana, mashed
- 3/4 cup dates, pitted and chopped
Preheat the oven to 375 celsius. Grease your muffin tin with coconut oil (a silicone pastry brush makes this much easier).
In a medium-sized bowl, mix the almond and spelt flours with baking powder, soda, salt, and spices.
In a large bowl, blend the coconut oil and sugar. Add the eggs and whisk together. Then add the pumpkin and banana, mixing well.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing well. Add the chopped dates and fold in.
Spoon the batter into the oiled muffin cups. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown, and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into one of the muffins. Let muffins cool for 3-5 minutes before taking them out.
Tip: if you're strapped for time, break up the prep work and chop the dates before hand.
What’s with the fancy flour and sugar?
I use organic sprouted spelt flour and organic cane sugar in this recipe, but you don’t have to. Sprouted grains, like spelt, are much easier for the body to digest, since the sprouting process breaks down anti-nutrients like phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, both present in grains. Phytic acid also binds to minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc, keeping your body from absorbing them. Sprouting the grains makes all these nutrients available to your body.
Organic cane sugar is like regular refined sugar, but it hasn’t been stripped of its natural colour and grown with pesticides. The difference is small, and I highly encourage you to minimize your sugar consumption of all types, but when I do use sugar, I prefer to use the organic, less-processed version.
Both of these ingredients are readily available in bulk stores. But they are not at all integral to the success of this recipe! If all you have is regular spelt flour and regular sugar, go for it – the results will still be delicious.
How many pumpkins were harmed for this recipe?
Only two, and it was a while back. You might remember, a few months back, that I managed to save my Halloween pumpkins! Well, I pureed them and froze 1-cup blobs, which I’ve been pulling out for every baking project that calls for something smooshy. Pumpkin everything! If you don’t have blobs of pumpkin hanging out in the freezer, you can use the canned variety – just be sure to buy straight up pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling. Read your ingredients.
Now, go forth and bake! Let me know how your little munchkins liked these little muffins!
This recipe was inspired by Sherry Strong’s Sweet Potato Date Muffins, in her book Return to Food.