Thursday, March 29, 2012

Baking Experiment: Paleo Pumpkin Muffins

In an effort to try to be authentically Paleo, I purchased some coconut oil and coconut butter, which are all the rage in the Paleo lifestyle.  While not the only oil that can be used, it seems to be the most popular. But here's what I've found.  I don't really like either very much.  The butter doesn't spread and really has to be melted.  It has a very strong coconut flavor so if you don't want coconut flavor on the item you're buttering that presents a problem.  The oil leaves a heavy coating on things and I'm not fond of that either. I've tried it for roasting/sauteeing vegetables and I just don't like it.  So back to olive oil I go.  In the meantime I have a jar of coconut oil that I'm trying to use up.  I have no idea what I'll do with the coconut butter...

I came across a recipe for a pumpkin muffin that called for coconut oil so I thought I'd give it a try and see if it was better when used for baking.  I had all the other ingredients on hand so it was just a matter of  finding time to make them, which I did this past Sunday.  After I printed the recipe out and really looked at it, I just could not get myself to make it exactly as the recipe called for.  While I have nothing against fats there was just a lot of fat in this recipe and I figured I could reduce it - and I did by half.  As you'll see from the nutritional stats, though,  there is still plenty of fat - almost too much in my book, even though I realize some of the fat comes from the nuts in the topping.  These muffins actually have a great texture and taste delicious but even in the Paleo world are considered a treat.   Honestly, for the amount of calories and grams of fat, I'm not sure I'd make them again as they don't seem "special' enough to me - say like a piece of cheesecake would.  Additionally, this makes 12 muffins.  I suppose the recipe could be cut in half but even 6 muffins is a lot for one person to deal with.  Right now I've got 11 muffins in my freezer looking to give some away. Want one?

Paleo Pumpkin Muffins with Pecan Streusel Topping

Muffin Mixture
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
4 oz. snack cup natural applesauce
3 T light coconut milk
6 eggs
6 medjool dates, pitted
2 Tablespoons water
1 T vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 T pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup coconut flour

Streusel Topping
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup almond flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 T melted coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 unit muffin tin with paper liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray.

In a small microwaveable bowl, add the dates and water and heat for 30 seconds. Mash the dates.

In another small bowl, combine streusel ingredients and set aside.

In a large bowl combine dates, pumpkin puree, coconut oil, applesauce, coconut milk, eggs, vanilla, salt, baking soda and pumpkin pie spice. Using a muffin mixer or hand mixer, combine until well mixed. Add coconut flour and stir well.

Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full of batter and top with streusel. Bake muffins for 30-35 minutes until set.

Per muffin: 200 calories, 14g fat, 16g carbs, 4g fiber, 5g protein 


  1. I have bought coconut oil too when I did low carb. What you could do with it is mix it with nuts, some flaxseed and cinnamon and make your own muesli of it. That's what I use it for.

    1. I've been thinking about using it to make granola which is similar to muesli, right?

  2. I use coconut oil for stir fry, but I think the stiry fry sauce I use masks the coconut flavor.

    Actually, for a muffin to have only 16 grams of carbs is pretty good! But I know what you mean - if it doesn't wow you like a piece of cheesecake it's hard to keep eating them.

    I may have to try that recipe out though. :D

    1. Paleo is pretty low carb Biz so I wasn't even surprised by that. Don't get me wrong, the muffins are good - just not splurge-worthy to me.

  3. Those muffins look good. You're right that they should probably be a treat. I'd like to give this one a try.
    I did make your breakfast casserole-the one with spinach-and liked it very much! As a matter of fact, I think it's time for a little brekkie!


    1. Glad you enjoyed the breakfast casserole Linda! I think that's going to be one of my most viewed recipes.

  4. I had some coconut butter and I used it for the 'fat' in the single lady cupcakes that Ch. Covered Katie has. Yummy, and only a slight coconut taste.

    This recipe looks like it has possibilities--tweak it for different flavors without changing the nutritional stats too much. Did you like the texture? Also, did they keep you full for longer than usual, having that much fat in them?

    1. Debby, the texture was great - a very soft, moist muffin. They did NOT keep me full longer but I'm not sure if that was actual or mental. These muffins are not very big and honestly I ate it in about 4 bites. Then, I kept wanting something "more." Just not satisfying to me at all even though they taste great.

  5. I've had the evils of coconut oil hammered into my head for so long that I sort of cringe on the rare occasions I've used it with paleo recipes. I like the flavor - it really made an eggplant dish I tried sumptuous, but mostly it's sitting in the cabinet not being used. These muffins are the kind of thing that I could easily overdo on, even if they aren't that much of a treat.

    I really love your recipe side, Helen! Just had my last piece of the egg casserole this morning - and will probably make another for next week.

    1. Leslie, I got a ton of hits on the Sausage/Spinach/Sweet Potato Casserole after you linked to it. Not sure if that's because people were really interested or if your lovely little troll and the brouhaha on your blog brought them over LOL!

  6. I love all the coconut stuff! I must confess right here that I will eat the coconut butter right off a spoon. I love it that much. It has a touch of the ground coconut in there, which is what I really like about it.

    I also love cooking with coconut oil for my broccoli. I also use it in baked goods in place of butter or shortening - as the flavor really doesn't come through. Or maybe I am just very used to the taste.

    You should try macadamia nut oil. It is really a light oil that doesn't have much flavor and is considered an 'paleo' oil.

    1. I don't find the taste comes through with the oil like it does with the butter. I love coconut too so I have been surprised that I didn't like it more. I know you are very fond of it and just this morning as I spied the jars in my cabinet I thought, "If only Lori lived closer, I'd just give her this stuff." :D

  7. Those muffins sound great! But if it doesn't "wow" you I understnad not wanting to make them again.

    I love coconut oil. I mix some into my veggies instead of butter but I am a coconut fiend. LOL

    And I've also heard a lot of good stuff about macadamia oil but I haven't tried it yet.

  8. Send me one. (just kidding!) I had some coconut shrimp. Does that count? Stunk up my kitchen and smelled like a cardboard box. Is cardboard the typical coconut stench? Cuz it was gross.

  9. Well they sure look tasty!

    But I'm with you... I think some of the paleo folks oversell the whole coconut thing a bit. It's not a flavor I want in everything!

    Liked the way you modified the recipe though, I'd be a lot more tempted to try it your way.

  10. Those muffins look delicious Helen but I know what you mean about not being special enough for the calories and fat.

    I do like my coconut oil and coconut butter in baking or a little stirred into my hot oatmeal.

    Grapeseed oil is another good healthy oil that is prefect for baking. It adds a nice little sweetness and is very mild in flavor.

  11. Well I must admit I love all things coconut. My dad was allergic to coconut growing up, so we never had it, so maybe I am making up for it now! I love the flavor coconut oil gives things - especially baked goods. I make my own coconut butter by processing shredded coconut in the food processor. It does have to be melted to be spreadable -- I like it hard though in yogurt, it is like coconut magic shell!