With Autumn in full swing, this time of year is a great excuse to make use of all those widely-available orange vegetables – like pumpkin, butternut squash, sweet potato, and carrots – which are all exceptionally nutritious and highly versatile. With your creative-chef hat on you could roast them, mash them, turn them into soup, add them to casseroles, stuff and steam them, or even spiralize them into pasta.
Orange vegetables contain high levels of beta carotene, the pigment that gives them their vibrant colour, which is converted into vitamin A by the body as and when needed. Vitamin A is vital for brain function, healthy eyes and skin, as well as immune system function – something especially important for all of us right now.
They are also bursting with vitamins B, C, and E, which are great for tissue repair, energy levels and fighting infections; and minerals like calcium, magnesium, and zinc, which are good for strong bones, muscles and nerves, and wound healing.
In October and November there’s usually an abundance of pumpkins to be found, and this type of squash pairs exceptionally well with sage, sun-dried tomatoes, and salty cheeses – making these muffins the perfect flavour combination. Not only are they tasty and nutrient-rich, but because they contain yoghurt, egg, seeds, wholegrain flour, and oats, they are also especially high in protein and fibre – what’s not to love?
300g pumpkin, cut into 1cm cubes
200g organic wholemeal spelt flour
2 tsp of baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (1 for roasting pumpkin, 3 for muffin mixture)
200g parmesan, finely grated
100g feta, broken into small pieces
60g sun-dried tomatoes
150ml of plain, organic, full-fat yoghurt
2 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
2 tsp cayenne pepper (can be adjusted to taste)
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 tbsp of seeds (a mixture of sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds is perfect), plus extra for decorating
Preheat your oven to 180°C (160 fan), or gas mark 5.
Place the pumpkin in a roasting tin and toss with 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and the cayenne pepper. Place in oven and roast for 20–30 mins, until you can easily pierce with a knife. Once cooked remove from oven and leave to cool in the tray for around 5 minutes.
Place 12 medium-sized muffin cases into a muffin tray (Ideally compostable, unbleached ones if you can find them!).
Take a large bowl and add the flour, oats, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, pepper, roasted pumpkin, parmesan, feta, sun-dried tomatoes, seeds, sage and thyme, then mix well until everything is evenly combined with the flour.
Next add the beaten eggs, yogurt, and 3 tbsp olive oil, then give the mixture a good stir – you can use your hands to get it mixed together really well if you prefer.
Divide your mixture evenly between the 12 muffin cases (roughly a handful in each), then sprinkle the tops with some extra seed mix.
Place on the top shelf of the oven and bake for about 30–35 minutes until golden brown and risen.
Allow to cool slightly, then serve warm with a salad for a light lunch, or enjoy alone as a nutritious and delicious snack.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Wellbeing Sisters top tip: These muffins taste best served warm – so if you are not eating straight away after baking, reheat in the oven at 180°C (160 fan), or gas mark 5 for around 5 minutes before enjoying!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mel holds a BSc (Hons) in Nutritional Therapy, an MSc in Nutritional Medicine, and has been specialising in fertility and pregnancy nutrition for over 18 years. Her career includes time spent at the Zita West Fertility Clinic, The Healthy Holiday Company, and Dr Jane Benn & Associates. Mel set up Melanie Brown Nutrition 10 years ago and currently works with clients across the globe advising them on fertility-enhancing diet and lifestyle.