Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Cream Cheese Frosting

It was a cool summer day and I stumbled upon some canned pumpkin in the pantry, so I decided to use it in some yummy muffins! Pumpkins have a great variety of uses beyond their role as a jack-o-latern or in a pumpkin pie.  Get creative and use it as a great flavor for baked goods or even as a side dish with dinner!  I know it isn't quite fall yet, but I decided to make some pumpkin muffins and they really hit the spot. They were so good that I could barely snap a picture before they were gone (I'm blaming it on the teenage boys!)  I love pumpkin flavored desserts and entrees because it can be such a versatile flavor.  Often pumpkin desserts have cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove flavors, but it also works very well with chocolate.  In fact, one of my favorite ways to make boxed brownies is with pumpkin puree instead of all the oil.  They come out incredibly moist and delicious... just 1 can to one package of brownie mix, you will be amazed!
Benefits of Pumpkin...
Pumpkins are a great way to add color and antioxidants to add to your diet!  They low in calories with 1 cup of mashed only providing 49 calories!  Just be sure not to pick up the pumpkin pie filling which is full of sugar and spices along with the pumpkin puree!  It is also packed with vitamin A, (1 serving providing 245% of your daily needs) and those lovely B-vitamins!

Pumpkin seeds!
Many people enjoy pumpkin seeds throughout the month of october after they carve their pumpkins, but you can enjoy dried pumpkin seeds all year long if you look for them at the grocery store.  They are high in dietary fiber and are a good source of protein and of the monounsaturated fatty acids (a heart healthy fat).  To dry your own... preheat the oven to 350.  Rinse and dry the pumpkin seeds and sprinkle them with salt and pepper and a bit of olive oil.  Bake for 30-45 minutes or until crispy!

Pumpkin spice muffins
Makes 18 muffins

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place baking cups in the muffin tins.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the all purpose and whole-wheat plain flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.
In a large bowl, whisk the granulated sugar, oil and eggs until combined. Whisk in the pumpkin and vanilla. Whisk in the plain flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the buttermilk. Whisk just until combined.  Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of 1 of the muffins comes out clean.  After the muffins are cool, top with 1-2 Tbsp cream cheese frosting. 
Cream Cheese Frosting
1/4 cup light margarine, at room temp
4 oz light cream cheese, at room temp
1 Tsp vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners sugar
Mix all ingredients in a bowl

Nutrition facts: 1 muffin without frosting:
95 calories, 21 g carbohydrates, 10 g sugar, 3 g protein, < 1 g fat, 1 g fiber, 100 mg sodium
1 muffin with 2 Tbsp frosting: 
153 calories, 31 g carbohydrates, 19 g sugar, 3 g protein, 3 g fat, 1 g fiber, 170 mg sodium

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