One thing that’s been especially hard during my recent health struggles is that I’ve had some negative feelings resurface surrounding food and restriction. Those of you who’ve been reading for years may know that one of the reasons I started blogging back in 2008 was to share my journey to health. I spoke a lot about my journey to recovery from disordered eating, something I had struggled with for over a decade.
When I taught myself how to cook and fell in love with making plant-based recipes, I started to make positive associations with food again. And slowly, as I learned to eat intuitively (and embraced therapy!), I built a solid, positive foundation channeling that energy into something that made me feel really good. I don’t know where I’d be now if I didn’t have your support and community along the way. Knowing that my readers were eager to try out the recipes I was sharing kept me immensely motivated to keep going! It still does to this day.
The various symptoms I’ve been dealing with this past year (as well as committing to the dreaded allergy elimination diet) have challenged my relationship with food a great deal. If you’ve dealt with food allergies or sensitivities, you know how much it can drive you crazy in frustration as you try to figure out what’s going on. Every single food becomes suspect. I had incorrectly thought that it was a single food causing my troubles, when in fact it was much more complex than I had realized, with many hormonal imbalances and other systems at play.
Over the past year I found myself starting to question everything I was putting into my body, to the point where for a while I was only consuming a handful of specific foods. I didn’t know what I could eat because everything seemed to be causing reactions. It really messed with my head for a while there! This isn’t my first test by any means, and I know that these challenges and setbacks are a normal part of the journey—there’s no shame in struggling with things you may have thought you’d beaten. I can already tell that this experience has had many silver linings, one of them being a deeper appreciation for my health. And as I’ve seen my health improve over the past couple months, I’ve been so relieved to be getting back to a friendly place with food again by celebrating what it can do for me rather than fearing it!
And what better way to celebrate food this time of year than with the irresistible combo of chocolate and pumpkin? These rich and chocolaty gluten-free and vegan muffins have been enjoyed by everyone lucky enough to get their hands on a trial batch…minus a couple chocolate-hating toddlers roaming around our kitchen. *shrugs* Needless to say, Eric and I have had our fair share throughout the testing process…no complaints over here. Pair the muffins with my popular Pumpkin Spice Latte and you’ll have yourself a delicious and festive autumn snack!
For the chia egg:
- 2 teaspoons (4 g) ground chia seed*
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) water
For the wet ingredients:
- 1 cup (250 mL) unsweetened pumpkin purée
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) grapeseed oil or melted coconut oil
- 1/2 cup (80 g) coconut sugar
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) pure vanilla extract
For the dry ingredients:
- 1 1/2 cups (150 g) gluten-free rolled oats, blended into a fine flour**
- 1/2 cup (40 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice***
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2/3 cup (120 g) non-dairy chocolate chips or chopped chocolate, divided**** (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners.
- Add the rolled oats to a high-speed blender and blend on high until a fine flour forms. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the ground chia seed and water until combined. Set aside for a few minutes to thicken.
- To the same bowl, add the rest of the wet ingredients (pumpkin, oil, sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla) and stir until smooth.
- Add the dry ingredients (oat flour, cocoa powder, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) to the bowl with the wet ingredients. Whisk until smooth (I love using my big whisk for this task!).
- Set aside 1/4 cup (45 g) of chocolate chips (if using) for the topping and stir the remaining chips into the batter.
- Spoon the batter into the paper liners, filling each two-thirds full. Press the remaining chocolate chips into the tops of each muffin.
- Bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes (I bake for 22), until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Place the muffin tin on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Carefully remove each muffin and place it directly onto the cooling rack until fully cooled. Leftover muffins can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for several days or frozen for up to 1 month.