Koslo's Nutrition Solutions

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pumpkin Muffins – Yum!

I have certainly been getting adequate vitamin A/ beta carotene this November since I have gotten back into baking. My mom sent me an easy pumpkin recipe a couple of weeks ago and I have already made 3 versions, each one turning out to be very tasty! Making muffins is one of my favorite things to do when it comes to cooking. But I can’t seem to make a recipe without modifying it to put my personal spin on it and then testing out several versions. So that is what I have been doing with this pumpkin recipe. All of the ingredients I have been using except for the baking soda, powder, and Splenda® are organic. I found organic canned pumpkin at Trader Joe’s for the reasonable price of just $1.99 for a 15 oz can which is just a few cents more than the cost of conventional canned pumpkin. The organic flour and fruit can also be found at any health food store. The version I am posting is made with the addition of a chopped Braeburn apple. The other versions I have made so far include substituting fresh organic cranberries for the apple and one where I added some organic tahini. I really think the sky is the limit in terms of making modifications as long as you keep the wet to dry ratio fairly similar. In general this recipe makes a lot of batter so I have gone back and forth between making mini muffins and making regular size muffins. I also always add a scoop of organic soy protein powder because I like eating the mini muffins as a post-run or post-gym snack but you can leave that out or use non-fat skim milk powder to boost the protein content.
Have fun with this recipe and enjoy eating them as they are super nutritious and super low calorie and of course super tasty!

2 cups organic whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup Splenda®
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
15 oz canned organic pumpkin
1 medium chopped organic Braeburn apple
28 gm vanilla soy protein powder (optional)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix flour, Splenda, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Add pumpkin, ½ cup of water and stir until just mixed. Spoon batter into oil-sprayed muffins cups filling to just below tops. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until tops bounce back lightly when pressed or when knife inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes to cool. Store in tightly sealed container or freeze.

This particular version made 11 good size muffins.
Calories: 90 (about 80 without the protein powder), carbs: 18 gm, fiber: 3 gm, protein: 5 gm

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pumpkins: A nutrition powerhouse

Pumpkins are here! I am most likely in the minority as I have never cared for pumpkin pie, but I do love a nice warm pumpkin muffin on a cool fall morning or a creamy pumpkin smoothie. Pumpkins are a nutritional powerhouse and are high in carotenoids, lutein, and zeaxanthin, all of which are antioxidants that can neutralize free radicals. This fruit, yes it is technically a fruit, is also a very good source of beta carotene/vitamin A, vitamin C, riboflavin, potassium, copper, manganese, dietary fiber, vitamin E, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. One cup of mashed pumpkin has just 50 calories, zero fat, 12g of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, and 2 grams of protein. Wow!

Eating pumpkin pie is probably not the best way to include more pumpkin in your diet since it is traditionally made by combing pumpkin with heavy cream and whole eggs. When cooked in a “standard” pie crust, a slice gets ~50% of calories from fat. Healthier ways to add pumpkin into your diet are easy to do by utilizing canned pumpkin and it is actually one of the only canned foods that has no added salt or sugar. If you have the time to cook a whole pumpkin simply peel off the outer skin, cut it into pieces and boil. The seeds can be scooped out and roasted in the oven with a bit of oil for 30 minutes or even eaten raw.

Some easy ways to eat more pumpkin include: adding canned pumpkin to ready-to-eat butternut squash soup, stirring canned pumpkin into oatmeal, spreading pumpkin butter on bread and muffins, and snacking on pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds, also called pepitas, are high in copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc. Pumpkin seeds are also high in phytosterols which are thought to strengthen the immune system. The seeds can be added to salads, hot or cold cereals, cookies, even homemade veggie burgers.

Pumpkin also makes a great, creamy smoothie and nutritious breakfast or post-workout recovery shake. There are endless variations on this smoothie recipe so have fun experimenting with other ingredients like yogurt, frozen bananas, etc. Pair this shake with some whole grain toast with peanut butter and you have a perfectly balanced breakfast/recovery meal chock full of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fiber, and protein.

Pumpkin Recovery Smoothie
6 ice cubes
1 cup light vanilla Silk soymilk (or rice, hemp, almond, cow)
1/3 cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or substitute nutmeg and cinnamon)
½-1 Tbsp honey (or substitute stevia or splenda)
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 scoop vanilla soy protein (or whey, rice)

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Makes 1 serving.
Nutrition analysis:
236 calories, 3 g fat, 24 g CHO, 3 g fiber, 30 g protein

The versatility of this fruit makes it a great addition to your diet, adding powerful antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber without a lot of calories.

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