There’s a little girl with egg, nut and dairy allergies on my daughter’s soccer team, which turned out to be a blessing for this healthy pumpkin muffin recipe, which has always been one of the most popular on the site and is now presented “allergy-free.” (See the original healthy pumpkin muffins.)
I was initially a bit distraught, because the list of “okayed” foods for the allergic 5-year-old was 80% sugary candy and 20% sugary other junk, mostly with gluten (which we try to avoid in our family). Food allergies tend to scare people quite a bit who aren’t familiar with them, so naturally when presented with an “okay” list, the coach recommended parents just “shop from this list.”
Faced with six weeks of packaged sugary junk, I was determined to figure out something nutritious that was egg-free, nut-free, dairy-free, gluten-free and refined-sugar-free. My usual go-to snack for sporting events is buttery popcorn and a cheese stick, clearly not an option here. I know any fruit would have been a great choice, and had we already picked apples this year I would have offered lunchbox-sized apples for sure.
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Instead, I called the parents and asked their permission to make an allergy-free pumpkin muffin. I was trying to nail the gluten-free version of our old favorite anyway and was excited by the prospect of being able to share a totally allergy-free recipe with all of you. The mother was not only supportive but I think a bit touched that someone else would bake allergy-free for her daughter. She told me how hard it is to work with food in group settings and that she hates that the packaged options are always unhealthy. “I end up doing a lot of baking so my daughter can eat the food,” she said. I was just tickled to do some of it for her!
This recipe is one of the few for which I used to throw caution to the wind and just make with whole wheat, even after we found my husband’s gluten sensitivity, because we love them so darn much. I had been hesitant to experiment, not trusting my knowledge of gluten-free baking, but I’ve made some strides while playing with recipes like the gluten-free bacon and green onion savory muffins, and it was time to try.
This is perfect if you’ve just been told you need a GF diet, if you have a friend or family member eating GF and you’d like to cook for them, or if you’re just curious what it’s all about!
To sweeten the experience even more, when we shared the muffins with the team I got two great validations that this recipe rocks.
First, when we arrived, my daughter was worried about her teammate’s allergies and wanted me to make sure I told the parents the ingredients (how conscientious is THAT for a 5yo?). I told her that the muffins were egg-free, dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free, soy-free, corn-free, and refined sugar-free. My mother-in-law overheard and quipped seriously, “And they’re invisible!”
She has very low expectations for both allergy-free and healthy food. But when we shared a mini muffin with her after the game, she took two and admitted begrudgingly that not only were they not invisible, they were really good. (Score!)
A minute later a parent of another girl on the team sidled over and said, “I’m really going to need this recipe from you. My daughter doesn’t eat, well, hardly ANY fruits or vegetables, and she ate both of her muffins!” Score again for the perfect muffin recipe – I was only too happy to give her my card.
Would you like the recipe too?
It’s not only allergy-free and healthy with a soaked grain option, but it features one-bowl dump-it-all-in simplicity and seems to be foolproof with a plethora of options for substitutions. You could make it with kids helping, the phone ringing, and dinner cooking in the background and would be hard pressed to mess it up.Print
- 2/3 c. brown rice flour
- 1/2 c. freshly ground buckwheat flour
- 1/2 c. arrowroot starch (or tapioca starch, corn starch as a last resort)
(see below for MANY more gluten-free options, including a starch-free version)
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- ½ tsp. nutmeg
- ½ tsp. cloves
- ¼ tsp. baking powder*
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- ¾ tsp. salt
- 3/4 c. honey OR 1 c. sucanat
- 2 eggs OR 2 Tbs. freshly ground flax + 6 Tbs. hot water
(see below for more options and instructions for egg-free)
- ½ c. melted butter or coconut oil
- 1/4 c. cold water
- 1 1/4 c. pumpkin puree (canned or homemade)
- Mix the dry ingredients together, then add all the rest of the ingredients right on top. (You can just “dump and mix” but I wanted to make sure the little spices and leavenings were mixed thoroughly first.) Stir or beat well.
- Line muffin tin and pour about 3/4 full into 12 muffin cups. Bake in a preheated 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes (20-25 for 24 mini muffins).
- You might have a little left over, and a mini loaf pan is usually just right for the excess.
Watch timing carefully as honey browns faster!
* You can also use a greased 8×8″ or 9×13″ glass baking dish to make a sort of “cake” instead. I haven’t tried it, but readers have done it with the original and again, I can’t imagine messing this recipe up. Cut into squares and serve just like muffins for breakfast, or I hear a cream cheese frosting is delicious to make it into a “real cake.” Try yogurt cheese for an inexpensive, probiotic substitution for cream cheese.
* Use any orange vegetable for the pumpkin.
* Refrigerate the “flax eggs” at least 15 minutes before incorporating into the batter; more below.
* If coconut is included on someone’s list of allergens (it has just been classified in the “tree nut” category!) and you also still need dairy-free, you could use any melted fat, such as palm shortening, lard, or a healthy oil.
* Readers have also subbed unsweetened applesauce for the fat, although I’d try more pumpkin for a healthier result.
* Try reducing the sweetener, especially if you’re using home-pureed pumpkin or a nice sweet squash like buttercup or sunshine. To make up for the missing mass, add a bit more pumpkin puree.
* Many gluten-free flours are appropriate for this recipe; see below for more info.
* Additions: raisins, chopped or pecans, chocolate chips, sub 1/4 c. powder for 1/4 c. starch. One reader on the original recipe added a bit of to just part of the batter and swirled it on top of each muffin, finishing off with crumbled pecans and a dusting of cinnamon.
* UPDATE: They freeze great!
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