What Are Low-Fat Pumpkin Muffins?

Cynde Gregory

The mention of a muffin is enough to make many dieters burst into tears at the memory of the sweet, tender, fat-laden treats they once enjoyed. Everyone loves a good muffin, but not everyone loves the calories and fat that contribute to weight gain and, potentially, a less-than-healthy lifestyle. Fortunately, low-fat pumpkin muffins replace fat and sugar with applesauce and add fiber-laden pumpkin to boot.


Low-fat pumpkin muffins don’t have to be a seasonal treat, although there is something about them that seems to sing the joys of autumn. In American culture, its nearly impossible to say “pumpkin” without immediately envisioning jack-o-lanterns and Thanksgiving pie. Lacing them with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves enhances the fall-like flavor of the muffin.

Applesauce is often used as a substitute for fat in muffins.
Applesauce is often used as a substitute for fat in muffins.

The basic recipe for low-fat pumpkin muffins can handle a number of variations. It almost goes without saying that adding some chopped walnuts along with dark or golden raisins adds nutrition and fiber and well as crunch, chewiness, and new flavor dimensions. There’s no reason for the clever cook to stop there, however.

The trick to creating a delectable low-fat muffin is making a batter that is moist and flavorful rather than dry and dull. Applesauce does the trick, and cooks who want to add protein can use cow’s milk, soy milk, almond milk, or another dairy substitute in place of water. The clever cook adds a little lemon juice and baking soda to give these muffins a lift.

Cooks seeking added nutrition, needing to avoid gluten, or wanting to experiment with taste and texture have a wealth of opportunity. Combinations of different types of flours, such as oat bran or garbanzo, or the inclusion of whey powder instead of wheat flour all work well. The addition of ground flax seed adds a lot in terms of fiber.

Taste variations extend to the kinds of playmates low-fat pumpkin muffins like best as well. Raisins are a natural, but chopped dates, dried cranberries, and other dried fruits work, too. Mashed banana or finely diced peaches or apples provide something more for the nibbler to sink teeth into as well as adding vitamins and other good-for-yous.

Seasoning can be adjusted to the cook’s taste too. Freshly minced ginger adds a bright, high note, and ground ginger works as a time-saver. Cardamom, allspice, and even a tiny bit of curry give low-fat pumpkin muffins an exotic twist. Not only are these muffins delicious and healthful, but serving them with almond or cashew butter adds another layer of taste and boosts the protein and fiber as well.

Low-fat muffins may include flax seeds.
Low-fat muffins may include flax seeds.

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