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!

Get Pumped(kin) for Breakfast!

It’s that time of year again – you can’t go anywhere without seeing an advertisement for something pumpkin-flavored or “pumpkin-spice something” featured on a menu. Why settle for pumpkin flavoring when you can go full-throttle and use the real stuff?! Pumpkin is a great source of vitamin A as well as fiber – a great choice for keeping you full and energized all morning long. Here are two ways you can use that can of pumping puree to start your day off right:

Crunchy Pumpkin Yogurt Bowlimage2

  • 1/2 cup of plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup Kashi GoLean Crunch cereal
  • 1/2 oz almonds
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Drizzle of honey

Combine all ingredients together in a bowl and enjoy! This is a very tasty and filling meal – whether you have it for breakfast or lunch. Opt for plain Greek yogurt to save on excess sugar, and sweeten it up own your own with a little bit of honey.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes

  • 1/2 cup of oat flour (I used our Ninja blender to grind up old fashioned oats)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking sodaimage3
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or more if you really like it!)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup nonfat milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Combine all the ingredients together in a bowl. Using a whisk or a fork, mix all of the ingredients together until a smooth batter forms. Grease a skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-low – medium heat. Drop the batter onto the skillet into evenly shaped circles and cook until brown on both sides (you know they are ready to flip when you start to see little bubbles form). Serve up these pumpkin pancakes on a cool fall morning with maple syrup, chopped pecans, or Greek yogurt.

Pumped(kin) Up Breakfasts: Tara Tested, Tara Approved! Both of these meals are great ways to use up some of that canned pumpkin you have in your pantry. Try both of these recipes this weekend and you won’t have to worry about wasting a half-used can of pumpkin! I love throwing pumpkin into my yogurt – especially when I choose plain Greek yogurt because it adds a subtle sweetness so I don’t feel the need to overdo it with the honey. The pumpkin pancakes are very hearty and filling, a great breakfast (or dinner) after a tough workout or a long day of raking leaves in the yard. What are some of your favorite ways to use pumpkin at breakfast?


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!


Back in Action with Overnight Oats!

After a summer hiatus, I’m back in action! The past few months have been extremely busy with fun summer excursions and a cross-country move to Missouri. I am now settled in Springfield, completing my dietetic internship through Missouri State University and happy to be back in action on Tara Tested!

I have heard a lot about overnight oats lately but was hesitate to try. Cold oatmeal? Morning mush? I just wasn’t sure about it. Anyway, I went ahead and bought all of the ingredients the other weekend and set out to try Peanut Butter Pumpkin Banana Overnight Oats. I had a few near-empty peanut butter jars, so I decided to assemble everything in one of those so that no peanut butter went to waste! It can’t get any easier, toss everything in the jar, put the lid on, set it in the fridge, let the magic happen overnight, and voila! A delicious, hearty, no-hassel, breakfast waiting for you in the morning.

photo 1Peanut Butter Pumpkin Banana Overnight Oats

  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup yogurt (I used Greek vanilla)
  • 1/3 milk
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1-2 tsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter

Tara Tested, Tara Approved: I’ve loved having this breakfast ready for me after getting back from an early morning run! The perfect meal for busy mornings when you don’t have much time to cook or need to take something on the go. The opportunities for different flavors and varieties are endless! I’m excited to experiment with berries and different fruits, even adding nuts or granola. YUM!

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?