Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Muffins: They're Gluten-Free, Vegan, and Stevia-Sweetened!

Monday was one of those days. I was hungry, I was hormonal, and I was sitting in a doctor's office for 45 minutes with an unfriendly receptionist. By the time the assistant called me in to wait for the doctor, I was teetering on the edge. I managed to hold it together when the doctor came in (don't worry, this was just a routine visit), but by the time I got home, all it took was a gentle, "Are you okay?" from my housemates to burst into tears. Laughing at myself while crying, I sobbed, "I think I just need food." I know myself well, and I know when something is genuinely wrong, and when I just need to eat. I had a plan for dinner: tilapia and lentils with veggies. But the fish needed to be thawed and I needed to eat right away! So I did what one always does when one is too hungry to think straight. I rummaged through the fridge for a quick pick-me-up. What did I find? My pumpkin spice muffins. I made them on Thursday and have been enjoying them since, one per day. I already had one with lunch, but I grabbed the container with the thought that it would fill me up quicker. But then I paused. These were really good muffins. These muffins deserved to be savored, each bite slowly and thoroughly chewed. These were not cheap muffins to scarf down without thought. I put the muffins away and grabbed a salad I had prepared earlier. And salad it was, until my fish was ready.

So what's that amazing about this story? I have never made a baked good and had it last more than a couple of days, maybe three at the most. But these muffins have been in my fridge for five days now. Not because they're not delicious. On the contrary, I think they're actually the best muffins I've made, even better than my "bursting with butter" corn muffins.  But frankly, it never mattered how good something I baked tasted. It was gone in days whether it was good or not! But the combination of saying goodbye to the binge monster and giving up all sweeteners but stevia has made a world of difference. Of course, I'm not saying I eat perfectly now or never overeat. But there's a line between overeating and bingeing, and I haven't crossed it. And for the first time, perhaps ever, I can bake something and know that I won't eat too much and regret it the next day.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins
Print-Friendly Option

3/4 cup tapioca starch (sub: potato starch)
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour (sub: white rice flour)
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce

1/2 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
3/4 cup unsweetened soy milk (sub: your favorite milk substitute or regular milk)
2 Tbsp. flaxseed meal + 6 Tbsp. water

3 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

1-2 tsp. liquid stevia, depending on sweet you want them (see Malary's note below on subbing with stevia in the raw)
1/4 tsp. apple cider vinegar (sub: lemon juice)


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Set aside.
  3. In a second bowl, mix the flaxseed meal and water. Set aside for a minute, then add the rest of the wet ingredients and stir completely.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to wet and stir with a fork until completely mixed.
  5. Grease your muffin tins and fill almost to the top with batter. If you're using muffin tin liners, you might want to spray them too. I found some of the muffins stuck to the liners a bit. Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
Makes approx. 12 muffins

Two of my readers (thanks Julia and Malary!) volunteered to test this recipe out. I'm including their feedback because I always love to read feedback in comments before deciding whether I'm going to try a recipe out.

Julia: I think they are YUMMY! I may have baked them a little long...? Although I did follow directions and bake at 375 for 23 mins. They came out crispy on the outside but really moist and tender in the inside. But I really like crispy outside...almost like a crust so I was VERY happy. Flavor wise I think they are great, nice and spicy. I think if people are a little more spice-phobic maybe make a note to cut a little of the pumpkin spice, but i really like it. Otherwise, no critique! Pretty easy once you have all the ingredients which I pretty much did, nice that it didn't use eggs since I can't eat yolks. Also super that it didn't use sugar since I am allergic to all sweeteners, other than stevia.

Malary: Malary thought the texture was the best she's had out of all the gluten-free baked goods she's made. She didn't have grapeseed oil on hand, so she substituted with olive oil, and she used 1 1/3 cup of stevia in the raw and a "squirt" of agave instead of the stevia.  

This post is linked to Sweet for a Saturday, Seasonal Sunday, and Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.


gfe--gluten free easily said...

Great post, Iris! So many say that switching to stevia makes a world of difference. Beautiful muffins for sure. I'm all about pumpkin and pumpkin spice. ;-)


Stephanie said...

Yumm! This is pretty simple... maybe I should try some stevia soon :) Thanks for posting!

Valerie @ City|Life|Eats said...

Oooh, those look good. And go you on all the changes you have made in your life and eating!! I can really relate.

I am seriously considering trying these muffins wiht buckwheat and quinoa flour - I ran out of sorghum and brown rice flour and am trying to work through my existing stash of flours rather than buy new ones, plus am trying to limit grains. That seems to be doing wonders for my cravings, though I do not want to go completely grain-free either.

Iris said...

Valerie, I've never baked with buckwheat or quinoa flour, but I imagine they would work fine? I think the starch component is pretty necessary though... although like you, I'm guessing that limiting grains would probably be better for me too!

Ariana Anderson said...

Iris! These look so good! I can't wait to make them...Agenda: Add muffins. Yeah! :) I'm hoping I can be as successful as you with getting rid of the binge monster...I'm finding even stevia only sweetened baked goods can and do cause binging for me. Although, I'm hoping that will not be the case for these muffins as I really want to make them and went I made irish soda bread from manifest vegan yesterday I didn't binge when I subbed stevia for the sugar. And I didn't feel like it at all. But when I made my own stevia sweetened kettle corn popcorn...I did. Anyway, I hope that I can get to be like you. Any more tips? :) Thanks for the recipe. I will let you know how it goes. :)

Iris said...

Hey Ari, I don't know if you're still eating other things with sugar, but I've found that using stevia only makes a difference for me if it's the ONLY sweetener I'm using. Anything that raises my blood glucose too high seems to put me out of whack (including dried fruit, agave nectar, molasses, etc.). If I were still eating those things, I imagine I would be bingeing on the stevia muffins. Unfortunately it's all or nothing for me right now, although I'm hoping it won't always be that way.

leaf (the indolent cook) said...

Lovely muffins! Good to know stevia is working out for you. I've been using a stevia-based sweetener recently and I'm pleased with the results. :)

Heather @ Life, Gluten Free said...

Those look good. I love stevia too. I haven't used it in a long time though because my daughter can't use it. People who are allergic to sunflowers seeds often cannot tolerate stevia because they are related, apparently!

Hope you are doing well.

Iris said...

@Heather, I had no idea about that connection! Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

hunterslyonesse said...

Great post, Iris! And what wonderful restraint. :D I hope you patted yourself on the back for that one! This recipe is going in my bookmarks for my "I want to make hopefully soon" recipes. lol

J3nn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) said...

That is an amazing story! I don't know if I could have resisted the muffin, but then again, I love salads just as much, maybe more than muffins. So I'd be happy with the choice. :)

Ricki said...

Yay! So glad to hear this, and congrats! And SO GLAD to see this recipe--it sounds fantastic. I've been playing with a pumpkin muffin recipe to no avail, so I can't wait to try this!

Lisa said...

Mmm, pumpkin and spice, two of my favorite things. Your muffins look very delicious. I have a sweet treat linky party going on at my blog and I'd like to invite you to stop by and link your muffins up.

The Gluten-free 'Dish' said...

These look really I don't think they would last a day at my house! Great job with the stevia! We have been baking with it for many years and love it, too. I'm proud of you for taking care of yourself. ~Debbie

The Mixing Bowl Diary said...

pumpkin muffins are always a favorite that I can't keep limited to the Fall season. I like to have pumpkin muffins year round! Amazing restraint after the dr's appt. Very impressive!

selene @veganlicious said...

yum yum yum! these look delicious!

Indie.Tea said...

Oo, they sound good. And to be GF, sugar-free and vegan - I'm amazed!

Naina said...


Thanks for the recipe. :) I haven't had success baking with stevia. I would love to know the secret!
I don't know which I would prefer, the one, or two tsp of stevia. How much did you use? Also, does the sweetness hit your taste buds immediately, or is it an after you have swallowed sweetness? The few times I tried stevia it was the powder form. Mine always tasted sweet after swallowing, not so great.
I use stevia often in puddings, shakes, drinks, with great success.

Iris said...

@Naina, After baking it with 1 and 2 teaspoons, I thought they were equally good, so I would start with less since stevia's so expensive anyway! The only thing is that I tried two different stevia brands, and found that NuNaturals liquid stevia made my muffins taste like normal muffins. With NOW brand, there was a slightly funny aftertaste. Also, when I've baked with powder vs. liquid, I find that I needed more powder than I did liquid. So if possible, I would make this recipe with NuNaturals liquid stevia. If using powder, definitely go for 2 teaspoons.

Lil Miss Stack It said...

This looks amazing, i love pumpkin and I love muffins. Something I will try this weekend with my room mate!

Barb said...

Hi Iris,
So funny about the shortening in the banana bread! The made these muffins a second time, subbing eggs for the flax and only 1/2c. applesauce because the first time they were very wet until I baked them a lot more. This time they were high and fluffy and just perfect. I can't wait to make them for my sister the next time she comes. She's not a baker at all and new to gluten free.

Iris said...

Barb, thanks so much for always letting me know how my recipes are working out! It's really helpful for me and for other readers who are making substitutions too!

Ariana Anderson said...


I've made these twice and I just can't get them to work. I'm following the recipe and I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I didn't make any subs but they came out really mushy/wet even after an extra 20 minutes of baking. They got a hard crust on the outside, didn't taste like pumpkin, and just were kinda yucky overall. I don't know what I'm doing wrong. The only thing I can think of is that I don't mix the wet together before I pour it in and I mixed the flax up first thing---but I've done that millions of times before (both of them) with other recipes and not had a problem. Any ideas what could be wrong? I'd try again but I hate wasting food!

Iris said...

Ari, I'm not really sure. I've made these a few times and I really like the texture. But I know another reader made them with 1/2 cup of applesauce and that worked better for her. You could try that. Also, is there a reason you don't mix the wet ingredients together before adding them to the dry? I just stir it with a fork, so I would do that first.

Mekkie said...

Mmmmm...they look delicious! I wonder if there's anything that could be substituted for the starch though

Iris said...

Mekkie, I'm not sure about taking out the starch completely, but I'm working on an updated version right now that only uses 1/4 cup arrowroot starch. Will post the recipe once they're done!


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