Primal Pumpkin Nut Muffins

March 30, 2011 · 24 comments · Print This Post

in Baked Goods, Muffins, Paleo / Primal

It’s not a secret. Food blogging made you me fat. All of those chewy cookies, decadent cakes, and cheese laden casseroles over the past five years have left me sporting the largest size of jeans I’ve ever worn in my life. Quelle horror! Not only am I teetering on (OK crashing into) the wrong side of curvaceous but I also have been feeling horrible.  And more nights than I care to remember I’ve found myself wide awake at 2:00 AM watching whatever was recorded on the TiVo and playing Words With Friends (girlieerin if you feel like a game).

Big changes needed to be made. So in January CK and I started reading books like The Four Hour Body, The Paleo Diet, and The Primal Blueprint. The basic tenant of each of is to cut out everything white and processed — aka all of my FAVORITE things. The first month we followed the Four Hour Body and I craved everything in sight. Plus, the expectation of a very high protein breakfast each morning was so daunting. Eggs, eggs and more eggs until I simply couldn’t choke them down anymore. CK, being a man, lost over 10 pounds. I lost 2. Isn’t it fun to be a girl?

The Four Hour Body is essentially a very strict version of the Paleo and Primal diets. There are some noted differences between all three options i.e. no fruit in The Four Hour Body, no legumes in Paleo (which are actually a huge staple in The Four Hour Body), and the Primal Diet has it’s whole own set of good and evil foods — although they’d never use those terms.

Regardless of the book and diet we followed, the less cheese, rice, potatoes, and white flour I ate, the better I felt. Surprise! And while I certainly haven’t become svelte over night (far from it) my brain and body now rebels when I spend the weekend drinking wine and eating out for every meal as opposed to towing the food line. Why it took me so long to put two and two together is beyond me…

The really cool thing that I’ve been enjoying lately surrounding these diets (God that word is awful) is all of the new ingredients I’ve been introduced to for baking (only from time to time these days) including coconut oil instead of butter, coconut flour or walnut meal in place of white flour, and maple syrup or honey instead of white sugar. It’s been a lot of fun experimenting, and while the results aren’t exactly like the baked goods you’re used to, and the textures are unexpected at times I actually think these alternative desserts are starting to grow on me.

These muffins were the first recipe that I made from Mark Sisson’s The Primal Blueprint Cookbook. I initially wondered if the six eggs (six!) called for was a typo of some sorts but no – that’s just how one makes a high protein muffin. I’ve made this recipe with both butter and coconut oil and I prefer the oil. I also recommend not using Pumpkin Pie Spice as measuring out the individual spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves) gives the treat a much more robust flavor. In addition, don’t use paper muffin cups. They really will stick to the muffin. So while they look pretty in these pictures it wasn’t any fun peeling them off.

You can find more recipes like this on Mark Sisson’s blog, Mark’s Daily Apple. Do you have any favorite recipes that fall into one of these categories? Please let me know!

Pumpkin Nut Muffins

Originally published by Mark Sisson in The Primal Blueprint Cookbook
Yields: 12 muffins

1/2 cup coconut flour, sifted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2cup cooked pureed pumpkin
6 eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons coconut oil (or unsalted butter), gently melted
1/3 cup pure maple syrup, preferably Grade B (or less) or honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
3/4 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Grease muffin pan very well. Paper muffin cups, while pretty, will stick to the muffins. Aluminum muffin liners will work though.

Sift coconut flour, baking soda, salt and spices into a small bowl. Stir to blend well and set aside.

Place pumpkin puree in a medium bowl, one by one, add eggs mixing well with pumpkin after each egg is added. Add melted coconut oil or butter, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly.

Add flour mixture to egg mixture and blend well with a whisk until most of the floury lumps are gone. Do not over mix. Gently fold in nuts and chocolate, if using.

Spoon batter into greased muffin pan or cups liners to two-thirds full. Bake for 18-20 minutes until lightly golden brown on top and a tooth pick inserted into the center of a muffin is “clean” when removed. Cool muffins on a wire rack. Serve warm or room temperature.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Regina March 30, 2011 at 8:51 am

My husband and I follow a similar eating plan (no fruit, no grains, etc). I made some cookies the other day that reminded me of macaroons. I tweaked the recipe to use the ingredients I had.

Melt 4T butter. Whisk in 3 eggs and 1/4 cup cream, 1/2 tsp vanilla, dash of salt. Add 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (and I also added a little sugar substitute here, but I know a lot of people shy away from these). Stir in 1/4 cup ground flax, 1/4 cup almond flour, 3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut. Drop round tablespoons on baking sheet (they didn’t spread, so you can put them close to each other) and bake at 350 for 12 minutes.


2 Molly March 30, 2011 at 9:16 am

When I first started blogging, I couldn’t understand why so many bloggers wrote about their weight. Now I understand completely! I am a little surprised by how much this new activity has had a direct correlation between needing new pants. Thanks so much for the book recommendations and this recipe. I know what I’ll be checking out the library on my next visit.


3 Sara, Ms. Adventures in Italy March 30, 2011 at 9:30 am

The guys in my company are all doing the 4HB diet…of course they are losing a lot 🙂 But I totally agree with the food-blogger-gets-fat discussion, and I am starting to cut back as well. I’d love to hear more about your 4HB month and what you ate, and what kind of diet you’re following now.


4 Erin March 30, 2011 at 9:54 am

Sara –

Four Hour Body is tough. I also feel that it is definitely geared toward men and hardcore ladies. All of the food was so bachelor like. I mean…Tim Ferris’s “signature” dish is microwaved eggs with beans and salsa:

There’s no way I’m choking down eggs made in that manner. Eggs. Beans. More Beans. Chicken. I was so bored. And I realize the science behind not eating fruit but it seriously just feels WRONG to say you can’t have an apple. I did like his idea of a cheat day though and my first one was literally me drinking a ridiculous amount of wine and an absurd amount of cheese. That was an excellent way to really drive home how disgusting I felt after overeating and systematically I stopped craving macaroni and cheese or cookie dough after I overate it on cheat day. So that was a plus 😉

Honestly I doubt I could ever do any of these diets full time but my goal is an 80/20 balance of good vs. bad — even that should be a big help. I mean…the cheese drawer in my fridge is empty. That in and of itself is a miracle.


5 Kelly March 30, 2011 at 10:59 am

My ex was huge on Mark’s Daily Apple. He read that thing like the bible. I’ve observed the same thing. Blogging has DEFINITELY not helped my waist line. Even though I know there are some very successful healthy living bloggers I admittedly get more excited about the posts that involve frying and baked goods. I DEFINITELY feel better when I eat more healthy from a health perspective, but I will admit from an emotional perspective I find it hard. I love eating intuitively and being open to new foods and experiences so not allowing myself anything doesn’t sit well with my personality. I think the best approach I’ve personally found is balance and actually, when I’m more conscious of it, I can stay thin, but eventually bad habits creep back.


6 [email protected] March 30, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Good for you Erin!
I think 80/20 is the way to go because I hate cutting out entire food groups. And you really can’t stick with anything that restrictive for too long. Good luck and I look forward to more “healthier” eating posts.


7 julie March 31, 2011 at 8:18 am

Great healthy muffin recipe, looking forward to giving it a try! Gotta love that Words With Friends. I am still trying to get the hang of it, playing games with my son who beats me by way more points that I care to admit! 🙂


8 Julia Barrett March 31, 2011 at 9:20 am

These are so gorgeous!


9 Carrie March 31, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Those look yummy! After lent I will gave to give them a try.

I’ve been finding decent and different recipes through ‘spark people’. There was a cocoa, coffee, and chili-rubbed pork loin that was tasty, and I’ve seen some dessert recipes that I’ve filed to try later.

At any rate, encorporating small changes every day won’t just help your immediate goals of weight loss— it also staves off future issues like high cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, etc when you start pushing the digits close to my age! 😉

Troy and I have a current goal to make at least 50% of the food we eat each day NOT have labels. As a parent it’s something I know I should be doing, especially with the kids’ meals, but it definitely takes planning, and much harder than I thought it would be. Looks like I have a long way to go!


10 Hänni April 4, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Erin, I think the changes you and CK are making are *wonderful*. I am unfamiliar with the 4 hour body diet, but know quite a bit about the paleo and somewhat similar, Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). Due to grain allergies, I eat this way in my home–no grains with the exception of the occasional brown rice tortilla, sprouted grain ezekial bread, or crispy corn tortilla; no refined sugars (my fav substitute is pureed dates or stevia); lots of veggies, green, red, root and otherwise; lots of nuts (sure they’re high calories, but they’re nutritional powerhouses!); and fruit for breakfast, every day.

Physically and emotionally, this diet makes me feel good. When I slip into bad habits (over-indulgence in alcohol or ice cream, for example), it makes me feel depressed. So I hear you with the bit about self loathing. Even though I eat better than most, I still have my moments. Oh to be a child again, with never a thought of food-induced guilt.

My favorite healthy dessert is Elana’s blueberry-cherry crumble. I make this sugar-free, grain-free dessert all throughout the summer, using whatever fruits are seasonal at the ‘mo (mango-blueberry, straight up cherry, apple, and peach all work great). Of course, if you are not eating fruit, this one wouldn’t work for you … so, moving on:

Another favorite recipe (which does fit your requirements) is my pumpkin (or sweet potato or squash) “corn bread” made with almond flour.

Almond Flour “Cornbread”

3 large organic free-range eggs
1/4 cup extra light olive oil or vegetable oil
3/4 cup pumpkin (or sweet potato puree, or pureed squash)
1/4 cup agave (can sub honey if you want it sweeter)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
A good shake or two of Pumpkin Pie Spice (optional)
2 cup almond flour (I use Honeyville blanched)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom of a small cast iron skillet, cake pan, or baking dish.

With kitchenaid, whisk the eggs till frothy, and add the oil; whisk to combine. Add the pumpkin/sweet potato/squash puree and whisk well. Add the agave (or honey), cinnamon, and pie spice and whisk to combine.

In a separate mixing bowl whisk together the almond flour, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt.

Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, add the dry ingredients into the wet; and stir until batter is smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared skillet, pan, or dish.

Bake on a center rack in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes or so, until the cornbread is firm to the touch and golden. Check with a wooden toothpick, if necessary; if it emerges clean, the cornbread is done.


11 Theresa April 6, 2011 at 11:45 am

I keep seeing coconut oil pop up in various healthy recipes. I have questions! What makes it healthier than butter? Can you get it at a regular grocery store? Does it taste like coconut?

I never would have thought it when I started food blogging, but it’s been a real motivation for me to get exercising. I’ve never been an exerciser in my life (oh how I hated gym class) but it was get moving or buy bigger pants. Now I find I don’t hate it as much as I once did. So in that respect I guess you could say food blogging has been good for me? haha


12 Erin April 6, 2011 at 11:51 am

I’ve found coconut oil in regular supermarket and at Whole Foods so yes it’s readily available. It smells amazing and it does taste like coconut but in the way that baker’s chocolate smells like chocolate — know what I mean? You wont want to snack on it after you taste test. But it’s fabulous in food. I love using it in curry.

I’ll let another blog speak to you about the health benefits 🙂 I’m still new to this.


13 Mary July 30, 2011 at 8:50 am

Look for coconut flour. It has a slight coconut taste to it, and a bit of a natural sweetness. Its great for all natural desserts and breads in place of
flour made from grains. As an added bonus, its gluten free!


14 Becky April 6, 2011 at 12:48 pm

These look great, I can’t wait to try to make them! My blog is more about going out to eat and different restaurants in Boston, so it is helpful coming across fun recipes!


15 LadyGouda April 6, 2011 at 1:32 pm


This is an interesting topic, and one that I have been thinking about a lot recently. While most of the food that I blog about is in line with the way that I eat (mostly made with whole foods and trying to use small amounts of all the things that make food taste so good but make my butt big), I definitely bake much more than I used to for the blog. I try to give most of this away to friends, family and co-workers, but I still have a large wedge of chocolate earl gray cake at home from my latest blog post.

One thing that I’ve been trying to do is to take any money I earn from my food blog related activities (which is not much) and put it directly into my gym expenses. I am now seeing a trainer once a week and she is helping me kick my own ass. I love it and I am seeing a difference now. While it is expensive, I figure it is a cost of doing business.

I applaud you guys for making these changes! It can be really tough, but it is good to have a partner to help you out when all you want is to stuff your face in a plate of cheese and cured meats.



16 Kim @ Feed Me, Seymour April 8, 2011 at 8:07 am

Dieting is my worst enemy… I hate it more than words can describe. But there are some definite tasty options out there! These muffins look fab!!!

I also really like Mark Bittman’s cookbook. It’s filled with awesome veggie options and tons of great recipes. And the Flat Belly Diet cookbook is great and lets you eat avocado! My dream come true, a diet filled with tasty good fats! 🙂

Either way, I can’t wait to give these muffins a spin!


17 Elizabeth April 26, 2011 at 11:05 am

Cheers to good eating! That’s so cool you are using all of those different ingredients for baking. I’ve been eating lots of fruit and veggies and Chobani this year and have lost ten pounds! Goal is to lose ten more before a cousin’s wedding in July!


18 janie wilborn December 17, 2017 at 5:05 pm

My granddaughter is allergic to dairy, eggs and peanuts and I want her to learn to eat healthy even while this young (2-1/2). Are there recipes you can recommend for little ones without these ingredients?


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