A Story about Pumpkin Muffins & Cravings
Moist pumpkin muffins (yes I said moist ;), pumpkin pie, pumpkin mousse, pumpkin smoothies, pumpkin-you-name it, I love.
But how to get my pumpkin fix, to the degree that I’d like it, without loading up on so many extra sugars and processed carbs?
Pumpkin itself is high in fiber, vitamin A, and other vitamins & minerals, but sadly, much of what it’s combined with counteracts its full benefits.
So, I’d like to introduce you to a pumpkin muffin that is low carb, low sugar AND is loaded with protein! It doesn’t taste like some dry, dense, “wanna-be” baked good either. In fact, it’s moist (yes, I said it again) and loaded with flavor and nutrition, so I see nothing wrong with eating 2-3 of these as part of my breakfast or lunch.
This pumpkin muffin is special because most of the refined flour that’s in most baked goods is replaced with almond flour, a great source of fiber and protein. It even contains extra protein by including a protein powder that is tasteless, along with a few eggs. It’s loaded with spices like cinnamon, ginger, and cloves that are antioxidant powerhouses.
Did you know that a teaspoon of cinnamon or cloves has more antioxidants than ½ a cup of blueberries or red grapes?!
So why wouldn’t you batch-cook some of these delicious & nutritious pumpkin muffins to have an adjunct for your breakfasts & lunches during the work week?! See below for the recipe for these awesome Protein-Pumpkin Powerhouse Muffins!
And before I explain the 2nd part of my pumpkin story which deals with the topic of cravings, I’d like you to know that my very infrequent emails will be switching over to Mailchimp.
Unfortunately, these will most likely end up in your spam folder unless you CLICK HERE to subscribe! I’ve got some special offerings brewing for the new year so I suggest you follow the link now to make sure you receive these occasional emails.
Now I’d like to introduce you to a different type of pumpkin muffin, one that I picked up from Trader Joes for one of my stepdaughters. While it happened to be gluten-free, it most certainly was not sugar free, packing 24g of sugar per muffin.
I’m usually very good at ignoring the sugar-laden snacks that my stepdaughters consume, but on this particular day, indulging in ½ a muffin seemed like a good idea. “It’s just ½ a muffin!” I said to myself, without having read the sugar content.
Anytime that I do indulge in something that I know is not the healthiest, I do my best to put aside any guilt, and just enjoy it to the max!
The last thing I want to do is be beating myself up while half-heartedly enjoying something that I’m only giving ½ my attention to because the other part of myself is busy telling myself how I shouldn’t be eating it!
I find that it makes for a more satisfying experience when I give it my full presence and enjoyment. Often, I’m able to have just a little bit and still feel satisfied.
However, on this particular occasion, even though I was practicing full appreciation of this sweet, moist, and flavorful treat, I still found that after I finished ½ a muffin, I WANTED MORE. Can anyone relate??
The sugar and processed carbs (which act like sugar in the body) were firing off all the feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain, like serotonin & and dopamine. Once the brain experiences this peak in blood sugar, it doesn’t want it to stop. The unhealthy bacteria in our gut which feeds on sugars, processed foods, and fried foods, also screams out for MORE. As one of my clients describes it, “It’s like there’s a voracious monster that takes over!”
Did I give in to this insatiable monster? It seemed that almost every part of me was saying, “YES, just have the other fucking ½ of the muffin already!” “How bad can it be?! It’s sitting right there & would be so easy!”
But there was another part of myself beneath the din of cravings. And it guided me through the following steps:
1) Notice the cravings with an air of curiosity.
(ie. “Wow, isn’t that interesting that just ½ a muffin sets off this cascade of cravings for me, even though I’m not hungry?” This is NOT about beating yourself up for being weak, simply noticing the effect that these processed foods have on you.)
2) Ask what you want in the bigger picture of your life. Connect to your WHY---why is this bigger picture view important to you?
(For me, my WHY is about living a long, healthy life, free of dementia & cancer, since I know that these both run in my family. And unfortunately, sugar and processed carbs feed both of these illnesses, so I curtail my consumption. What is your WHY?)
3) Eat or drink something else to “change the channel” in your brain.
This is one of the most helpful tools I’ve discovered. Literally a handful of walnuts, pecans, or pistachios, which I keep in jars on the counter for easy grab-n-go’s, can be enough to slow down the cascade of “FEED-me-MORE” signals in the brain & body. A glass of water or tea can be helpful too.
4) Step away. Know that cravings usually only last about a minute, and if you can refrain for a bit & distract, the craving will usually partially or completely subside.
In other words, give some space (physical and time) between the trigger (aka the muffin) and the response (whether I eat more or not).
1-2-3-4 and whaaala!! My desire for the other half of the muffin went down from around a 9.5 to a 3, which made it much more manageable to eventually forget about. At the end of it all, I felt empowered, knowing that I am in the driver’s seat of my decisions, not the food or substance itself.
I’m not saying this to brag, but to share with you what I’ve found to be helpful through the years. It hasn’t always been so pretty ;) I’m curious to hear your stories! What helps you when you are at a crossroads of decision-making? Do you feel like you could use more support in dealing with stress (which often will drive cravings) or in establishing some healthier food or lifestyle habits?
Jump on my calendar for a free 15-min consult or coaching call if any of this resonates with you.
Ps. I didn’t forget the recipe for the protein-pumpkin powerhouse muffins! Here it is:
· 1 cup almond flour
· 2 TBSP of your favorite baking flour (my favorite is Pamela’s gluten-free pancake & baking flour, but use whatever you have)
· 2 scoops of PurePaleo Protein powder (unflavored). Many protein powders can leave a chalky taste but this one doesn’t!
· 1 tsp baking soda
· 1/2 tsp sea salt
· 1 can pumpkin puree
· 3 eggs
· 1/4 cup avocado oil (you can also use olive oil)
· 1/4 cup honey or sweetener of choice
· 6 tsp pumpkin pie spice or I just blend my own cinnamon (~3tsp), ginger (~2 tsp), cloves (~1/2 tsp) & nutmeg (~1/2 tsp). I often will add even more spices than those because I like the flavor and the extra antioxidants!
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Measure all the dry ingredients into the bowl and mix together.
3. Add in the pumpkin, eggs, oil, honey and mix well
4. Add chopped pecans if you like a little crunch!
5. Grease a loaf pan or muffin tins & distribute evenly
6. Bake for 30-50 minutes (depending on how deep your pan is) or until a toothpick or knife inserted comes out clean.
7. Let cool, then enjoy!