Tag Archives: muffins

PB & J Banana Muffins {vegan + gf}

As with most food bloggers & writers, I love to bake and cook for loved ones. Whenever we have guests in town, I enjoy feeding them well. A lot of the time when I meet up with girlfriends, I’ll bring them some of my latest kitchen creations to try. I show my love for people by making them nutritious, delicious food.

When I stay at my parents’ house in Jersey, it’s fun to make snacks, dinners, and desserts for everyone to enjoy. A few weeks ago when I was there, I was a little off of my Chef Nicole game because I was under the weather, but I still whipped up some yummy recipes for them.

One night I made creamy spring veggie & asparagus puree soup for dinner, because I knew my mom would dig it (She did!).

I also made my most recently published Shape recipe, blueberry banana Greek yogurt muffins.

Continuing with the blueberry theme, I also made bluebery oatmeal chia bars one morning – except when I took the baking dish out of the oven, I mistakenly placed it on a burner that was on low heat….and then left it there for hours. I was in the kitchen the whole time and didn’t even smell the bars and pan burning because my sinuses were all congested! It actually worked out well because my dad loves burnt things. They wound up being super dry, but he was a fan of them anyways…so it was only half a kitchen fail!

Another muffin recipe that I decided to make were peanut butter & jelly banana muffins. I first shared the recipe on here years ago when I was a newbie blogger, and I hadn’t made them in quite awhile. My dad loves PB & J (and so do I!) so I thought he’d like these. I always like having muffins, bars, or energy bites around as a healthy snack, and we all snacked on these muffins throughout the week.

Continue reading

Pumpkin Apple Banana Muffins {vegan}

Packed with apple, pumpkin, banana and cinnamon, and free of refined sugar, these healthy vegan muffins make for a great autumn snack, small breakfast, or guilt-free dessert!

One of my favorite September activities is apple picking. But since it’s pretty warm and summery feeling in San Diego in September, sometimes I forget that the apple orchards are ready to be visited. A few years we’ve been too late in the apple picking game and either a.) go when the orchards are pretty picked over, or b.) miss apple picking all together (like last year!). BUT NOT THIS YEAR!


Nope, in 2016 I was on high apple picking alert! In the San Diego area, the best area to visit for apple picking is Julian – a cute little town I’ve talked about before. It’s about a 75-minute drive from my house, and it’s like a whole different world there.

It’s known for its farming, apple pies and boutique vineyards. It’s the kind of place where some of the local establishments don’t have websites. It’s country living still close to the wonderful city of San Diego, and it’s a fun little getaway spot.


So even though it seemed early for autumn to already be here, off we went to Julian last weekend for some local apples.


For all of you locals, the orchard I chose is called MJ Ranch – mainly because they’re organic growers, had their opening day last weekend so I knew they’d be stocked with fruit, and because they’re dog-friendly and I wanted to bring my pup along. The Visit Julian website has a good list of U-Pick orchards listed here.


It turned out to be the best year yet that we’ve had with apple picking! The trees were lush with a variety of apples, and the farm also grows pears as well.

As you can see in the picture above, Harley made some friends at the orchard and enjoyed eating fruit from the ground (and this little girl had Harley lick the apple she was actually eating – not too sure about that!). There were lots of people there with dogs, which was fun.


We came home with two full bags of apples ready to be eaten. It’s funny comparing local, organic apples to typical store-bought ones. They’re smaller, flawed and not perfectly shaped – just how apples were meant to be I think!


Naturally, I had to do some sort of baking with a couple of the apples that very day.


I had been thinking of making pumpkin banana muffins, so instead, I added some chopped apple to the mix to make it a very autumn-ish muffin recipe – using just a food processor as my mixing bowl!

Continue reading

Banana Almond Butter Muffins {Vegan & Gluten Free}

Happy Friday friends!

Hope that your first full week of January has been awesome, and that you have some fun weekend plans ahead. Speaking of fun, today I’ve got a fun recipe to share with you guys!
browned bananas

Whenever I go food shopping, bananas are always on the list. I buy a ton of bananas! A and I both use them for smoothies almost daily, plus I like to smear bananas with nut butter or top yogurt bowls with banana slices often.

However, I somehow wound up with too many bananas in the house over the past week. We couldn’t eat them fast enough, and before I knew it, I had 5 brown bananas sitting in my fruit basket. I threw a few of them in the freezer for later smoothie use, and then I had a yummy idea for the remaining ones…

banana almond butter muffins-2….baking some muffins! 

Continue reading

Banana Pumpkin Muffins with a Cinnamon Brown Sugar Topping

Hi everyone, happy Sunday!

I have a few updates for you all on the blog front. I’ve updated my recipe pages to include all of my latest kitchen creations. I also updated my workout page, which now includes a new section for my hiking spot posts. Lastly, I added a ‘travel & fun’ page so that all of my travel posts, restaurant and winery experiences, as well as random adventures are in one place. Fun stuff! And now onto food – banana pumpkin muffins to be precise…

ban pumpkin muffins-4

After a morning yoga session, running errands, and going hiking with my hubby and puppy yesterday, I came home and decided that a bit of baking was in order.

ban pumpkin muffins-1

Since I had an open can of pumpkin and some ripe bananas ready to be eaten in my fruit basket, and I’ve been loving muffins lately, I whipped up some tasty banana pumpkin muffins.

ban pumpkin muffins-2

As usual, Harley “helped” me by being underneath my feet the entire time in hopes of catching a good bite of something. 😉


Pumpkin & banana really compliment each other well. I sprinkled a cinnamon & brown sugar topping onto the muffin batter to give it that extra flavor oomph. At only 135 calories per muffin, these babies are perfect as a snack or part of breakfast or lunch.

ban pumpkin muffins-3

Banana Pumpkin Muffins with a Cinnamon Brown Sugar Topping
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1 cup whole wheat all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup white all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup softened butter
  • ½ cup vanilla almond milk
  • 2 TBSP light brown sugar
  • 1 TSP vanilla extract
  • 2 TSP cinnamon
  • 1 TSP salt
  • ½ TBSP baking powder
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12 muffin pan tin with muffin cups.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flours, 1 TSP cinnamon, baking powder and salt.
  3. In another bowl, beat the banana, pumpkin, vanilla extract, honey, butter and almond milk with an electric mixer until smooth.
  4. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
  5. Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cups.
  6. In a small bowl, combine remaining 1 TSP cinnamon with 2 TBSP light brown sugar. Spoon the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly onto each muffin cup.
  7. Bake until a toothpick comes out of muffin center clean, around 20 minutes.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 muffin, Calories: 135, Fat: 2 g, Carbohydrates: 28 g, Sugar: 15 g, Fiber: 2 g, Protein: 2 g


Hope that you enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Honey Apple Raisin Muffins

If there’s anything that screams autumn, it’s apple picking.


After last weekend’s failed attempt at visiting an orchard, yesterday was a successful afternoon of apple picking. My hubby and I journeyed to the town of Watsonville to check out Clearview Organic Orchards. Unfortunately we always seem to be a little late in the game when it comes to picking apples, and the trees were pretty picked over. We still found some good apples, and supplemented the rest of our bag with apples that had already been picked from the trees earlier.

apple picking-1

apple picking-2

When the guy at Clearview Orchards told me that he “robs” the bee hives every week to get the raw local honey that they sell, I knew I’d want to nab a jar for myself. I put honey on everything lately! You may have already noticed this with my recent recipes – including the one I’ll be talking about in a moment today. 🙂 

apple muffins-7

They also had ginormous banana squash. I’ve never cooked with banana squash before, and would totally have gotten one to experiment with had we not taken my hubby’s motorcycle to the orchards. I was already worried about the heaviness of a backpack full of apples on the ride home – let alone with one of these babies added to the mix!


What we did come home with was the honey, a butternut squash, and quite a bunch of Fuji and Granny Smith apples. Adam and I both love apples, and I have no doubts that we’ll easily eat em all.  apples

Upon coming home with 10 pounds of apples, I couldn’t contain my foodie excitement and got right down to making a couple of recipes with them. Today I’m sharing this one with you:

apple muffins-4

I got the idea to make apple raisin muffins from Jazzy Vegetarian Classics, a cookbook I mentioned last week that I was recently sent to review. More on that at a later date, but its healthy apple muffins sounded like a great idea to me. I made some modifications to the cookbook’s original recipe, including subbing maple syrup for some of my new honey, adding ground flaxseed to the mix, nixing pumpkin seeds and changing a few of the ingredient amounts.

apple muffins-2

apple muffins-1

Do any other bakers out there find that muffin recipes tend to underestimate the amount of servings that it will make? Even though I changed some things up from the original recipe, it should have still made the same amount of muffins. The cookbook says the recipe will make 6 muffins, and I wound up filling 12 cups with muffin batter! I wonder if there are giant muffin tins out there that everyone’s using, or if my muffin tin is mini sized and I just don’t know it…. Anyways, having 12 now 10 of these around this week is fine by me!

apple muffins-5

I love how clean and healthy these muffins are. They turned out subtly sweet, making them good for any time of day: as part of breakfast or lunch, or as a snack or dessert. I ate them plain today, but have a hunch that they’d be awesome toasted with a touch of butter or with some TJ’s pumpkin cream cheese spread.

apple muffins-6

apple muffins-3

I was in love with this spread last year and couldn’t resist buying it last week. Fall = pumpkin obsession for everyone and their mother, including me. And now, here’s the recipe:

Honey Apple Raisin Muffins
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
  • 1½ cups whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 5 small apples (I used Fuji)
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed meal
  • ½ cup almond milk, plus more as needed
  • ½ TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Zest from ½ small lemon
  • 2 TSP baking powder
  • 1 TSP ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ TSP sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 375. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with muffin cups.
  2. Peel, core, and roughly chop the apples. Puree them by placing in a food processor and blending until the consistency of apple sauce is achieved (Don't completely liquefy).
  3. In a large bowl, place flour, flaxseed, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt, and stir to combine.
  4. Add the raisins and apple puree, and mix with a wooden spoon to combine.
  5. Stir in the lemon juice, zest, honey, and almond milk, and mix just until incorporated. The batter should be thick, but if it seems overly dry, you can stir in more almond milk until the mixture is moist.
  6. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups. Bake until golden and a tooth pick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, around 30 minutes.
  7. Place muffins on a wire rack to cool before enjoying.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 muffin, Calories: 135, Fat: 1 g, Carbohydrates: 31 g, Sugar: 17 g, Fiber: 4 g, Protein: 3 g

Banana Apple Cinnamon Mini Muffins

Lazy Sunday mornings are the perfect time to play around in the kitchen. After sleeping in late today, I decided to procrastinate cleaning my house by first doing some baking.


Ever since I nabbed a mini muffin cup tin a few weeks ago, I’ve had mini muffin ideas floating in the back on my mind. The recipe started with a ripe banana and Granny Smith apple…


Hi, how cute are these mini muffin cups?!


I couldn’t resist snapping a picture with a few of the sunflowers I picked up at the farmers’ market yesterday for $3 [FABULOUS].

I love the idea of mini muffins because they’re small enough as a baby snack or part of breakfast, but big enough in size to be a nice little dessert to satisfy a sweet tooth, and also easy to grab on-the-go. I love the combo of apple, banana, and cinnamon, and so this wound up being my creation today:


First, I preheated my oven and lined the muffin tins with my adorable muffin cups.


Next I combined whole wheat flour, ground flaxseed meal, old fashioned oats, cinnamon, brown sugar, nutmeg, salt and baking powder.


Next I mashed a banana and peeled & chopped my apple…


I then mixed the banana, almond milk, and melted butter into the bowl, then added the chopped apple and combined everything well. muffins-5

I spooned the batter into the cups…


…mixed cinnamon & sugar together, then sprinkled some on top of each muffin. I baked the muffins until a toothpick came out clean, which took 15 minutes.




Oh, how I adore all things mini-sized.



Banana Apple Cinnamon Mini Muffins
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24 mini muffins
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple
  • 1 ripe banana
  • ½ cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed meal
  • ½ TSP cinnamon, plus ½ TSP cinnamon for topping
  • 6 TBSP light brown sugar, plus 1 TBSP for topping
  • 2 TSP baking powder
  • ½ TSP ground nutmeg
  • ½ TSP salt
  • ¾ cup almond milk
  • ¼ cup light butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a 24-cup mini muffin tin (or a 12-cup regular sized tin) with muffin cups.
  2. Mash banana, and peel and chop apple into small pieces.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, flaxseed, ½ TSP cinnamon, 6 TBSP brown sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt.
  4. Add melted butter, almond milk, and mashed banana, and mix together.
  5. Add chopped apple, and mix well.
  6. Spoon batter into muffin cups.
  7. In a small bowl, mix together remaining 1 TBSP sugar and ½ TSP cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly on top of each muffin.
  8. Bake until lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean, around 15 minutes.
  9. Allow to cool slightly before enjoying.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 muffin, Calories: 60 calories, Fat: 2 g, Carbohydrates: 11 g, Sugar: 3 g, Fiber: 1 g, Protein: 1 g


I’m off to take Harley girl to get some exercise, then my hubby and I are going to try a sushi place in town (probably edamame & soup for this girl!). Hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Pumpkin Muffins with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting

Lately I’ve been borderline obsessed with eating pumpkin – everything from pumpkin smoothies, pancakes, and ice cream, to smearing pumpkin cream cheese or butter on my toast and sprinkling pumpkin pie spice on anything my heart desires. Pumpkin is such a quintessential fall-time flavor. The funny thing is that I never really liked it until last fall, and my how my taste buds have changed!

Last week I was talking to my cousin Noelle, and she requested I come up with a pumpkin cupcake recipe with cream cheese frosting. Well, you don’t have to ask me twice! 😉

In the midst of baking my pumpkin goodies, I decided that I wasn’t really making cupcakes, but more so muffins.  I then proceeded to get myself all confused in figuring out what the heck the real difference is between muffins and cupcakes. Researching on Google gave me some funny and questionable answers. My favorite comment was something along the lines of,  “I firmly believe that muffins are just confused cupcakes.” Ha! To me, cupcakes are more of exactly what they imply – individual servings of cake, meaning that they’re sweet and only meant to be eaten for dessert. Muffins, on the other hand, tend to be more acceptably eaten as part of breakfast, lunch, or a snack, and don’t necessarily have to be overly sweet. I also realized that I pretty much always include some type of fruit in my muffin recipes. Hmm, since calling them muffins gives me permission to eat one with a yogurt and call it a balanced meal (or something like that…), I’m deeming these treats pumpkin muffins:

3.5 from 2 reviews
Pumpkin Muffins with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
  • 1 cup all purpose white flour
  • ½ cup all purpose whole wheat flour
  • 1 TSP baking powder
  • 1 TSP baking soda
  • 1½ cups pure pumpkin
  • ½ cup light butter, melted
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 TSP pumpkin pie spice
  • 1½ cups brown sugar
  • 8 oz reduced fat cream cheese
  • ½ TSP salt
  • 2 TSP cinnamon
  • 2 TSP vanilla extract
  • Chocolate chips, chopped pecans, candy corn, or any other desired toppings, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a muffin tin with muffin cups.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, salt and 1 TSP of the cinnamon.
  3. In another bowl, beat butter, Greek yogurt, 1 cup of the pumpkin, 1 cup of the brown sugar, and 1 TSP of the vanilla extract with an electric mixer until smooth.
  4. Slowly mix the wet mixture in with the dry mixture, and stir just until combined.
  5. Pour batter evenly into muffin cups.
  6. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick can puncture muffins and come out clean.
  7. Once muffins are done cooking, remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
  8. Meanwhile, combine the cream cheese, remaining pumpkin (1/2 cup), vanilla extract (1 TSP), brown sugar (1/2 cup), and cinnamon (1 TSP) in a bowl. Beat until smooth.
  9. Allow the muffins to completely cool, then use a butter knife to spread the cream cheese frosting on top of each one.
  10. Dress them up with toppings of your choice, or eat them plain in all their pumpkin-flavored glory.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 muffin, Calories: 240, Fat: 8 g, Carbohydrates: 39 g, Protein: 5 g

Cinnamon Sweet Potato Muffins

I awoke this morning to waves crashing against the shore…

Yesterday our friends got married on the rooftop of La Jolla Cove Suites, and we stayed at the hotel overnight. Our room had the above gorgeous ocean view. It was a beautiful night to spend on a rooftop celebrating a great couple! Here are a few shots from the wedding:

with the lovely bride

Adam and I had a lot of fun and probably too many drinks, so I awoke not only to the sounds of the ocean… but also to a not so nice headache. Photo evidence of our good times:

Since neither of us were feeling too hot today, our Sunday was definitely a lazy one that involved a lot of football watching and couch lounging. One productive thing I did was experiment in the kitchen and come up with these babies:

I’ve had baking on my brain since I recently picked up these cream cheese wedges at the food store…

…and knew that today was the perfect day to come up with a recipe that included them. Peering around my kitchen, I spotted a lone sweet potato and concocted the idea of cinnamon sweet potato muffins. And what a fabulous idea it was!

Cinnamon Sweet Potato Muffins
Serves: 12
  • 1 sweet potato, cooked
  • 4 Laughing Cow cinnamon cream cheese wedges
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup white flour
  • ½ cup + 1 TBSP of brown sugar
  • 1½ cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1½ TSP cinnamon
  • ½ TSP salt
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ TSP baking powder
  • 1 TSP baking soda
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Line a muffin tin with 12 muffin cups.
  3. Remove the sweet potato's skin and mash the flesh. Put into a medium bowl.
  4. Mash the cream cheese wedges and add to the bowl. Pour the maple syrup and almond milk into the mix, and stir to combine well.
  5. In a separate large bowl, combine the flours, ½ cup of the brown sugar, 1 TSP of cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Fold the wet mixture into the dry mixture, and mix well.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the chopped walnuts with the remaining cinnamon (1/2 TSP) and sugar (1 TBSP), then set aside.
  7. Pour the batter evenly into muffin tins.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and spoon the walnut mixture onto the tops of each muffin. Bake for about another 15 minutes, or until a toothpick can be stuck in a muffin and comes out clean.
  9. Cool the muffins on a wire rack, then enjoy!
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 muffin, Calories: 160, Fat: 4 g, Saturated fat: 1 g, Carbohydrates: 30 g, Sugar: 13 g, Sodium: 64 mg, Fiber: 2 g, Protein: 4 g, Cholesterol: 3 mg
I’ll leave you with a photo of last Friday’s sunset, which I got to enjoy from the dog beach:
This weekend’s sunsets were amazing!

Banana PB & Jelly Muffins

Late last night I decided I was in the mood for making muffins. I resisted the urge to bake right before I went to sleep, but may or may not have been deciding what kind of muffins to make and concocting a recipe while laying in bed. My requirements were that they came out yummy and moist, yet under 200 calories a piece. First thing this AM before beginning work, I whipped up these babies:

Banana PB & Jelly Muffins

Makes 12 


  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1/2 c peanut butter
  • 1 c (soy) milk
  • 3 TBSP (light) butter
  • 1/4 c fruit preserves (I used raspberry)
  • 2 TBSP baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with muffin cups.

In a saucepan, combine the butter, peanut butter, and sugar over medium-low heat. Heat until everything is melted, mixing together well.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine flours, baking powder, mashed banana and soy milk. Add the peanut butter mixture and mix everything together well.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups until they’re halfway full. Spread 1 TSP of fruit preserves onto each muffin, then fill the cups up to the top.

Bake until lightly browned, around 20 minutes. Let the muffins cool on a wire rack before eating.

Nutrition Stats: 175 calories, 6 g fat, 5 g protein, 27 g carbs

Lemon-Poppy Seed Muffins

Hope you’re having a fabulous Thursday. I’m blogging to you as I sip my first glass of wine for the night – a yummy California Chardonnay:

Backing up to last night’s jewelry party, we had a fun relaxed ladies’ night. Besides the chocolate Kahlua cake I talked about yesterday, we had a few other goodies:

Roasted Red Hummus Platter –

Champagne punch bowl –

FYI, that fun ice/strawberry ring in the middle is pretty & decorative for the punch bowl, but not very practical. We had trouble getting it out of the way to scoop out punch with the ladle. [Note to self: come up with a smaller ice chiller next time!]

My best friends Meaghan and Danielle came to the party:

And this close-up photo of Meg and me is hilarious (Thanks for the photography styling, D!):

Moving onto today’s creation…

When I spotted a recipe for lemon muffins in the March issue of Fitness magazine, I ripped it out and threw it in my pile of  things to try. Knowing that my mom’s birthday would happen while I was visiting in NJ (and that she loves lemon), I brought the recipe with me to try out and make something fun for her. I’ve never baked with lemon curd before, and when I asked my grandma if she had any, at first she said she didn’t know what that was… and then she pulled it out of her fridge! Apparently someone gave it to her and she’s had it hanging around in her kitchen. If you don’t have a handy grandma to steal lemon curd from like me and can’t find it at your food store, you can use fruit preserves instead. I slightly modified the original recipe based on what I had available, and they came out very yummy!

Lemon-Poppy Seed Muffins

Makes 12 


  • 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c whole-wheat flour
  • 1 c rolled oats
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1 TBSP poppy seeds
  • 1/2 TSP lemon extract
  • 1/4 TSP salt
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 3/4 c low-fat or nonfat milk
  • 1/4 c canola oil
  • 1/4 c lemon curd
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 375. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with baking cups.

In a medium bowl, stir together flours, oats, sugar, baking powder, poppy seeds and salt.  Make a well in the center of the flour mix.

In a small bowl, combine egg, milk, oil and lemon extract. Add wet mix to dry mix, and stir just until moistened.

Pour batter into the muffin cups evenly. Spoon a bit of lemon curd on top of each muffin.

Bake until tops are lightly browned, 15-20 minutes. Cool muffins in pan on a wire rack for a couple minutes. Remove from pan, then dust with sifted powdered sugar.

Per muffin: 170 calories, 7 g fat, 3 g protein, 25 g carbs

I’m spending the rest of my night hanging out with my parents and younger siblings, drinking wine, and possibly going for a dip in the hot tub. We have a few bottles to choose from. 😉

If you’re wondering why I’m a wine lover, it’s clear that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!