Sunday, October 24, 2010

Low-Sugar and Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins Recipe with Pecans

These Low-Sugar and Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins with Pecans are a pumpkin treat that's still delicious with less sugar.

Low-Sugar and Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins with Pecans found on
This week I got an e-mail from a reader named Sommer asking if I had a South Beach Diet Friendly recipe for pumpkin bread or pumpkin muffins. I can't always take recipe requests but Sommer's timing was great, because I'd recently written about Pumpkin Recipes for Cupcakes, Cookies, Cakes, Bread, and Muffins at, and I'd been thinking about making pumpkin muffins or bread ever since.

The Low-Sugar and Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins with Pecans I came up with were adapted from a recipe in The Splenda World of Sweetness, a cookbook my blogging friend Amy Sherman sent me years ago, and happily they were a success from the first batch, which is pretty rare for me when it comes to baking!  (Edit:  Although the muffins were delicious with Splenda, now I would use Stevia in the Raw Granulated Sweetener.)

I used all white whole wheat flour and Splenda with just a touch of brown sugar, and the pumpkin puree in the muffins would be considered a "good carb" but I'd still say these muffins are something where you'd need to use portion control if you're trying to lose weight. The most South Beach Diet friendly version would be the ones made with all Splenda (or Stevia granulated), but even with the small amount of brown sugar I used they're lower in sugar and more healthful than most pumpkin muffin recipes you'll find.

If you need something a bit less sweet to feed the little goblins on Halloween morning, this might be just the thing. (Of course you can also make the muffins with a combination of sugar and brown sugar if you don't care about making them lower in sugar.)

I used pecans, but I think walnuts or almonds would also be good in these muffins. Coarsely chop 2/3 cup nuts to go in the muffins and finely chop 3 T nuts for the topping.

Mix the finely chopped nuts with 2 T Splenda or Stevia Granulated and 1 T brown sugar to make the topping.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together white whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and salt.

In another bowl whisk together the pumpkin puree, Splenda or Stevia Granulated, brown sugar, oil, buttermilk, egg, egg white, and vanilla.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. As you can see from this spoon standing up, the batter will be stiff! Then fold in the coarsely chopped nuts.

Spray muffin tips or silicone muffin cups with nonstick spray, then fill cups with batter and top each with a heaping teaspoon of the topping mixture.

The cookbook said 15 minutes baking time, which must have been a typo because I baked my muffins at 350F/175C and it took 27 minutes until the toothpick came out clean.

Low-Sugar and Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins with Pecans
(Makes 12 muffins, recipe adapted from pumpkin muffins in The Splenda World of Sweetness.)

2/3 cup + 3 T pecans (or use any nuts of your choice)
2 C white whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (see note below for substitute for this)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon (I use Saigon Cassia Cinnamon from The Spice House)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup pumpkin puree (I used canned, but you can make your own pumpkin puree)
10 T + 2 T Splenda or Stevia in the Raw Granulated Sweetener (or use regular white sugar if you don't care about making the muffins low-sugar)
2 T + 1 T brown sugar (or replace all the brown sugar with Splenda or Stevia if you want to reduce the sugar even more)
1/4 cup grapeseed oil (or canola oil)
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg + 1 egg white
3/4 tsp. vanilla

NOTE: If you don't have pumpkin pie spice you can use 1 tsp. ground ginger, 1/2 tsp. ground Allspice, 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg, and 1/4 tsp. ground cloves to equal 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice.)

Preheat oven to 350F/175C and spray muffin tins or silicone muffin cups with nonstick spray. Coarsely chop the 2/3 cup of pecans and set aside. Finely chop the 3 T pecans, combine with the 2 T Splenda or Stevia and 1 T brown sugar, and set topping mixture aside.

In a medium-sized bowl combine the white whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice (or combined spices as described above), cinnamon, and salt.

In another bowl whisk together the pumpkin puree, 10 T Splenda or Stevia, 2 T brown sugar, oil, buttermilk, egg, egg white, and vanilla. (The mixture will be stiff.) Fold in the 2/3 cup chopped nuts.

Fill muffin cups with batter mixture, sprinkling a heaping teaspoon of the topping mixture over each muffin. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean. (I baked my muffins exactly 27 minutes.)

These muffins were light and just slightly sweet, with a good flavor that reminded me of pumpkin pie. I put half my muffins in the freezer (to help with portion control) and I'll reheat them for about a minute in the microwave when I want to eat one later.

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South Beach Suggestions:
Using white whole wheat flour, grapeseed oil, and mostly Splenda or Stevia Granulated makes these muffins a better choice for the South Beach Diet than most pumpkin muffin recipes, but definitely a version made with all Splenda or Stevia would be best for the diet if you're actively trying to lose weight. Made with all sweetener, these muffins could be an occasional treat for phase 2 of the diet, and if you used partly brown sugar like I did, they're probably best saved for phase 3.

More Low-Sugar Muffins You Might Like:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)

Low-Sugar Whole Wheat and Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins with Lemon from Kalyn's Kitchen

Low-Sugar and Whole What Mango Walnut Muffins from Kalyn's Kitchen

Low-Sugar and Flourless Zucchini Muffins with Pecans (Gluten Free) from Kalyn's Kitchen

Low-Sugar and Whole Wheat Peach Pecan Muffins from Kalyn's Kitchen

Low-Sugar and Whole What Zucchini Muffins with Pecans from Kalyn's Kitchen

Low-Fat Sugar Free Sesame Banana Muffins (Gluten Free) from Gluten Free Bay

Sugar-Free Colombian Cocoa Muffins from The Perfect Pantry

Sugar-Free (or not) Peach and Vanilla Muffins from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

Banana Spice Muffins (Gluten Free) from Ginger Lemon Girl

Banana Walnut Muffins from A Dash of Sass

(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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More to Chew On:


  1. Do you have the nutritional info on these?

  2. Anonymous, I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly because I didn't want to calculate calories, carbs, or points, so if you need the nutritional information you'll have to calculate it yourself.

  3. Okay, you've convinced me to give pumpkin puree another try. I'm sure the flavor is not so very different from the squash puree I love, though I'll bet either would be delicious in these muffins. Combining just a tiny bit of brown sugar with the Splenda is such a good idea.

  4. Lydia, I bet you would like them (unless you hate pumpkin pie?) The tiny amount of brown sugar does make the flavor much better.

  5. Sommer, you're welcome. Thanks for the nudge!

  6. THANK YOU!!! I've been wanting to find a sub for my mom's pumpkin bread recipe that has 2 (or is it 3?) cups of sugar.... uuuggghh! LOL Can't wait to try these... my little goblins (and I) are big pumpkin bread/muffin fans!

  7. Nikki, you're welcome. Hope the little goblins like them.

  8. Hi Kalyn--I've read your blog for a long time and I don't think I've ever commented.

    I just wanted to add I have a pumpkin cranberry muffin with nut and flax flour that comes in around 11g carbs and is delicious. (If anyone is interested!)


  9. Hi M, thanks for commenting. I did take a look at your recipe. It looks interesting, but using a stick of butter would make it off limits for South Beach (which has restrictions on saturated fat)

  10. And you say you can't bake:) Your muffins look perfect!

  11. Thanks Maria. I am improving, but you can still bake circles around me!

  12. Love these! And, as I love back to how I ate while living out there...these will work perfectly!


  13. Chris, thanks. Glad you like it.

  14. Hi Kalyn!
    I am really excited to make these fall-ish muffins, and fyi I just made your Sausage and Red Russian Kale Soup tonight, delicious!!

    Your blog is such a relief to me because I'm a big South Beach fan and I am a HUGE fan of seasonal cooking- and it looks like you have a great variety of recipes.


  15. thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! for creating this blog site! it's exactly what i have been looking for :)

  16. These are perfect since I've really been in the mood to bake some pumpkin goodies but am trying to lose a few pounds! Awesome. Thanks Kalyn!

  17. Hey Kalyn,
    I started SBD today and when I was looking for information and recipes,stumbled upon your blog.I have linked you up,hope that's ok?
    Here's the link:

  18. oh, what a great blog! everything here looks so delicious!

    have a nice time,

  19. You are becoming quite the baker! Those look fabulous.

  20. Aubrey, thanks. Glad you are enjoying the blog.

    Alicia, you're welcome; glad it is helpful.

    Joanne, that's the story of my life! No matter what I weigh, I always want to lose 5 pounds, lol!

    Trish, thanks for the link, always appreciate it.

    Paula, glad you like it.

  21. Karina, we were writing comments at the same time. Thanks, coming from a master baker like yourself that means a lot. I'm getting better, but it's mostly luck!

  22. I often cut the butter down to 1/2 a stick at times. Not sure how much SB allows in terms of sat. fat, but the recipe is pretty flexible, I think, due to the fat in the almonds.

    You just have to have something to cream the sweetener in.

    Someday I'll experiment with olive oil or grapeseed oil as replacements for butter.


  23. South Beach doesn't recommend using butter at all, although occasionally I will use a very small amount in a sauce. I've been pretty happy using grapeseed oil for baking; I think I learned about that from Elana at Elana's Pantry.

  24. These are so pretty, Kalyn! The low-sugar version is very welcome, considering that we're entering the season of gorging and gluttony (speaking for myself, at least).

  25. Dara, it's true for all of us I think. My friend Bonnie and I were talking this morning when we walked about how we wanted to try to resist temptation a bit more this holiday season, but it's hard!

  26. This sounds like a very healthy and tasty autumn recipe! I would definitely want to try it using Kamut Wheat flour though since it has so many nutrients! Also - since our son has allergies, I would have to use egg replacer and omit the nuts but I think this will still be a winner in our home :) Thanks so much!

  27. SmilingGreenMom, hope it works for your family. It sounds like you're good at adapting to make it work.

  28. How much pumpkin do you use? 14 oz or 28oz?

  29. The recipe says 1 cup pumpkin. (Don't scare me like that!) So whichever size can you have, there will be some left over. Just freeze it to use later.

  30. These make for a wonderfully satisfying & seasonal SB-friendly snack, with a cup of black coffee. Thanks again, Kalyn!
    A little sweet for my taste, so next time I will use less Splenda and/or increase the spices.

  31. Corinna, so glad you enjoyed the muffins, and by all means use less Splenda if you like them a bit less sweet.

  32. this looks to be the healthiest pumpkin muffin recipe i have seen around the blogs recently and needless to say its tempting me a lot to bake some pumpkin muffins.

  33. PJ, thanks. And go for it, the pumpkin muffins were great. I still have about six of them in the freezer.

  34. I just made these this morning (half nuts, half without). My 8 year old gave them a big thumb-up "Yum!"

  35. Janice, that's great! Thanks for letting me know they were kid-approved. (BTW, you could sub raisins for the nuts if you're making them for kids. I don't use raisins because they add to the sugar content for South Beach, but they would be great for kids.)

  36. It's not that I "don't care about" being low sugar, it's just that I can't stand the taste of Splenda (and I'm not a picky eater either). I have a stevia plant and use stevia ice cubes in my smoothies and liquid stevia (stevia steeped in water) for my hot cereal. Even stevia has a taste that I had to mask in my hot cereal by adding plain unsweetened cocoa to the cereal. I haven't tasted it in my smoothies yet though.

  37. Margo for this type of recipe you might want to try the new granular Stevia for baking made by In the Raw. I just bought some but haven't tried it yet.

    And it's an individual thing because I don't like the taste of Stevia, at least not the ones I've tried so far.

  38. I made these muffins for my family today and added a cup of fresh cranberry's and it was a hit! Thanks for the recipe!

  39. Regina, I love the idea of adding cranberries! Thanks for sharing.

  40. thanks for this amazing recipe :) It turned out way better than i expected, and i love the lack of sugar!

  41. I made this tonight with applesauce instead of oil as my husband is on Weight Watchers through his work. Not using oil cut down the points as the applesauce had no sugar & doesn't count. Made it with all Splenda and Splenda/brown sugar mix. Very tasty & I personally would like just a very little creme cheese on it to make it perfect!

  42. Suann, glad to know that variation worked. (And I'm all for cream cheese too!)

  43. Just made a double batch for the freezer. Yum!


    PS - As our pumpkins pooped out on us this year, I used butternut squash and they are just fine!

  44. Lorene, great idea to substitute butternut squash.


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