Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

This is my first recipe prepared from Jillian Michaels' Master Your Metabolism Cookbook. I prepared these in response to the fact that I was getting sick of my usual egg white breakfasts and because I found canned pumpkin in my grocery store after months of not seeing it and greedily purchased four cans of it.

First, I'll write a little review of the cookbook. It starts off with a section on foods powerful for your body followed by specific foods that can "remove, restore, and rebalance" your body. This includes removing foods such as hydrogenated fat, refined grains, and high fructose corn syrup. Foods to restore are those in their whole state, such as legumes, vegetables, and organic lean means and dairy. Finally, to balance, Jillian suggests eating breakfast regularly and not skipping meals, eating every four hours, and not eating carbs after 7 pm. She goes through a list of how to improve common ailments through eating. Example include keeping your heart healthy by choosing foods to lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, such as olive oil, avocado, nuts, and garlic. The next section was my favorite because she listed different foods and how eating them can benefit our bodies. I found out one of my favorite vegetables, eggplant, is good for "mastering brain power" because it contains a phytonutrient called nasunin, an antioxidant that can protect fats in the brain cell membranes (did you know your brain is composed of a lot of fat!?). The following recipes each have little helpful tidbits of information, such as suggestions for the safest cookware---ones that don't leach BPA from plastic into your food (which is linked to cancer). This is more than just a cookbook; I could sit down and go page by page through all these cool facts.

Finally, to get to the recipe. Honestly, I have made several of Jillian's muffin recipes from other sources and I have never had one turn out well. They are usually dry, hard, heavy...all the things muffins are not supposed to be! I was wary, but forged ahead and tried this recipe. I'm so glad I did, because though it has a strange concoction of ingredients (olive oil and coconut milk in a muffin?!) they were super creamy in the middle and very satisfying. I think she did better on this recipe to balance the leavening agents with the heavy whole wheat flour. These muffins were even more tender than the white flour ones I ate growing up. The day after I made these it dawned on me that these are vegan as well! I really hope you try this recipe, it's really worth it...and may I suggest adding some honey or agave nectar to each one? It really makes the flavors pop.

Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins
Printable Recipe

Olive oil non-stick cooking spray, or paper liners
1 15-oz can pure pumpkin puree
1/2 cup real maple syrup
1/2 cup light olive oil (not extra virgin)
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tbsp aluminum-free baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
2 tbsp raw pumpkin seeds

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly spray with cooking spray or line each muffin cup of a 12-cup muffin tin.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, maple syrup, olive oil, coconut milk, and vanilla until well combined.
3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined; fold in cranberries.
4. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tin, mounding each muffin cup up and smoothing over; sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.
5. Place the tin in the oven; immediately drop the oven temperature to 375 degrees 5. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into one muffin comes out clean. Let stand in the muffin tin 5 minutes before removing. Serve warm.

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