Pumpkin Power Cake Muffins

I recently tried Kodiak Cakes pancake mix (Power Cakes, Protein Packed) and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. I’ll make pancakes for breakfast once in a blue moon, but this mix boasts 14g of protein for 3, 4-inch pancakes…so I wanted to give it a try. I prepared the batter with milk (which brought the protein up to about 18 g) and a little cinnamon and they came out great! A healthier alternative if you enjoy a classic pancake breakfast every once and a while.

I decided to make muffins using what was left of the pancake mix and added my own fall flare to the recipe listed on the box. Here’s my recipe:

Pumpkin Power Cake Muffins

  • 1 1/2 cups Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes flapjack mix
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup non-fat or 1% milk (I used 0% fat fairlife milk)
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened (not melted)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix until smooth. Grease muffin tins with cooking spray. Fill muffin tins 3/4 of the way full with muffin batter. Bake for about 14-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Makes 12 muffins.

power-pumpkin-muffinNutrition Information: 1 muffin – Calories: 139 cal  Total fat: 5g  Saturated fat: 3g  Sodium: 148mg Carbohydrates: 19g  Dietary fiber: 3g Sugar: 8g Protein: 6g – calculated via MyFitnessPal

Pumpkin Power Cake Muffins: Tara Tested, Tara, family, and friends approved! At the request of a colleague of mine, I made these muffins without banana and used pumpkin instead. The flavor worked well with the cinnamon and created a moist texture in the muffin. The original recipe calls for 2 cups of the Power Cake mix, but I was running low and decided to use old fashioned oats to make up the difference. If you are after a lighter, more airy muffin, you might want to use regular or whole grain flour. I am happy with how these came out and look forward to experimenting with different variations and recipes! Dark chocolate chips, walnuts, and peanut butter anyone??

Pumpkin Pie Squares

Just because Halloween has come and gone doesn’t mean pumpkin season is over! This recipe utilizes canned pumpkin puree and is great addition to a balanced breakfast or for an after-school snack. Take a step back from the leftover candy and try this recipe for a healthy fall treat!

Pumpkin Pie Squares

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/3 c sugar
  • 1/2 c butter, softened
  • 1/2 avocado, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1-2 tbsp pumpkin seeds

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease 2 loaf pans with cooking spray (you could also use one 8×8 square pan). Combine the flour, salt, ground gloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl; set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the butter, avocado, and sugar using a hand mixer (or your own elbow grease!). Add the eggs and pumpkin puree, mix well. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin batter in small batches until all of the ingredients are combined. Pour the batter into the greased pan(s) and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. Bake for 65-70 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cut into squares.


Pumpkin Pie Squares: Tara Tested, Family and Friends Approved! The recipe that inspired this treat was actually for pumpkin bread. With some tweaks (whether they were on purpose or not will remain a mystery) the end product is closer to the texture of a brownie. The use of whole wheat flour and the addition of avocado as a fat source attributed to the dense texture. Personally, I like the “fudgey-ness” of these squares because it makes them more satisfying than a lighter, less filling product. By replacing some of the butter with mashed avocado you add healthy monounsaturated fats, without adding any cholesterol or sodium. Try using mashed avocado in your next bread or muffin recipe – just make sure it’s nice and ripe –  I bet no one will notice the difference!

Apple Nachos!

Have a little fun with your afternoon snack and try these Apple Nachos! I tend to crave something sweet in the afternoon and this snack hit the spot. I used a combination of Peanut Butter & CO’s White Chocolate Wonderful and Dark Chocolate Dreams Peanut Butter – absolutely delish. If you don’t have oatmeal, you could top the apples with granola or sliced almonds!


Apple Nachos

  • 1 apple
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tbsp peanut butter
  • Cinnamon
  • Oats

Slice the apple into wedges, spread evenly on a plate. Microwave peanut butter in a small dish until melted, about 30 seconds. Drizzle melted peanut butter over the apple slices and sprinkle with cinnamon and oats. Enjoy these fruity nachos come guilt-free!

Apple Nachos: Tara Tested, Tara Approved! Apples with peanut butter is an all-star snack, you can’t go wrong with the combination of sweet and salty, fruit and protein. Serving them this way makes it fun and a little more fancy looking. Another bonus – this recipe is SO easy. You could even serve these fruity nachos as an appetizer at your next potluck or party. Happy snacking!

Pumpkin Rice (Not So) Krispies

This Halloween we had another one of our intern potlucks and all contributed something flavorful and festive. I decided to play around with traditional rice krispie treats by adding some pumpkin. I followed the original recipe but added some canned pumpkin puree and as well as a little cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. The final product was tasty, but didn’t have the crunch or gooey-ness that you expect with a rice krispie treat…oops! One of my roommates aptly renamed these Pumpkin Rice Chewys! Here’s the recipe I followed:

Pumpkin Rice Chewys

  • 6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
  • 1 1/4 bag big marshmallows
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • Sprinkle of dried cinnamon and nutmeg
  • Just a pinch of dried ginger
  • 1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Melt the butter in a large non-stick pot, stir in the marshmallows and stir until melted. Add the pumpkin puree and mix well. Remove from heat and add the cereal. Stir until the cereal is covered evenly. Transfer cereal mixture to a baking dish coated with cooking spray or lined with parchment paper. Let the treats cool. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave, using a spoon, drizzle the melted chocolate over the treats. Cut into squares and serve!


Pumpkin Rice Chewys: Tara Tested, Tara and Interns Approved! Like I said, these treats tasted great, but they didn’t have the quintessential crunchy yet marshmallowy texture you expect from a rice krispie treat. I think the pumpkin puree added too much moisture and made the cereal soggy. If you give this recipe a try I would suggest using less pumpkin OR using extra cereal and marshmallows until you get the right consistency. Feel free to get a little wild and throw whole chocolate chips into the mix for some extra chocolatey goodness. Happy experimenting!


Pumpkin Firsts

I finally got around to getting a pumpkin, and since Halloween as come and gone it only seemed right to use my pumpkin for what it is naturally intended for: to eat! No carving this time around.

I started off small and tackled the seeds first. I cut that bad boy in half and scooped out the slimy insides. I separated the seeds, rinsed them in a colander with cold water, then spread them on a greased cooking sheet. I roasted them at 300 degrees for 30 minutes to dry them out.


Round 1 of roasting complete! I grabbed the seeds out of the oven and mixed them together with my seasoning of choice-  cinnamon and sugar (can’t stop my sweet tooth)! I just eyeballed the amount of cinnamon and sugar to make sure that the seeds would be evenly coated. I spread the seeds back onto the sheet and roasted them for another 15 minutes.

Cinnamon-Sugar Roasted Pumpkin Seeds: Tara Tested, Tara Approved! I’ve never tried pumpkin seeds before, but these are delicious! A simple snack that you can customize with your favorite blend of spices! There are tons of combinations you can try to create savory or spicy varieties. You also can’t beat the nutritional perks of pumpkin seeds – they are a good source of Vitamin E, an antioxidant that can help prevent against cell damage, and are rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids – the fats that can help lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol and increase the “good” HDL cholesterol in our blood.


Now that I’ve taken care of the seeds, I have the rest of the pumpkin to play with! Thinking of baking a loaf of bread or maybe a batch of muffins. What are some of your favorite pumpkin recipes?

Can’t Resist Apple Crisp

I decided to whip up my own version of apple crisp yesterday. It was a gorgeous fall day and a kitchen filled with that warm apple-cinnamon aroma was going to put it over the top. It didn’t hurt that I already had a whole sack of honey crisp apples my dad had given me!

The recipe was simple:

  • 5-6 honey crisp apples (or other variety of your choice), peeled, cored and sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (can also use brown sugar)
  • 3/4 cup uncooked rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (plus some more for coating the dish!)

Heat oven to 350 F and lightly coat your baking dish with butter (I used a round pie dish, any shape dish will do!). Combine the sliced apples, sugar, cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp of the salt in a large bowl and toss to coat, making sure all of the apples get covered. Place the apple mixture in the prepared dish and set aside. In the same large bowl combine the sugar, oats, walnuts, flour, and remaining 1/8 tsp of salt. Using your fingers, blend in the pieces of butter until small clumps form and the butter is thoroughly incorporated – a few minutes. Sprinkle the topping over the apples and bake on the middle rack until the apples are softened and tender, about 50-60 minutes. Let cool, but not too much – serve warm!

Can’t Resist Apple Crisp: Tara Tested, Tara Approved!

This apple crisp was SO easy to make, I had everything I needed already on-hand and it was delicious. I decided to add walnuts to give the topping a little extra crunch (and protein!) which turned out nicely. The topping seemed a little dry and didn’t get as packed together as I thought it would – might have been because I went a little light on the butter compared to the original recipe. Enjoy this apple crisp with some vanilla ice cream on the side and you’ll be in heaven.  I suggest you give this apple crisp a try, it will hit the spot on any chilly autumn day!