Mary McDougall’s Pumpkin Walnut Muffins

by on October 17, 2012
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The only fat in these delectable pumpkin muffins comes from the walnuts. They’re sweet and spicy and surprisingly rich.

Mary's Pumpkin Walnut Muffins

The first time I made these muffins, I was worried because they contain molasses and I thought I didn’t like molasses. Wrong! I love molasses in these delectable pumpkin muffins. It gives them a dark richness and amplifies the spiciness of the cinnamon and nutmeg. The second time I made them, I was confident that they would be a hit with my two guests, who are not used to either vegan or low-fat baking, and this time I was right. They loved them!

The recipe is Mary McDougall’s, and it comes from The Starch Solution by Dr. John and Mary McDougall. I’m thrilled that the McDougalls gave me permission to share the recipe with you because this will be my go-to recipe for pumpkin muffins from now on. They’re sweet and rich and perfect for celebrations and special occasions. But be careful–they’re not sugar free and they are addictive.

Be sure to check out Dr. McDougall’s website and like his Facebook page for more great recipes. Find out more about his program from The Starch Solution, available on Amazon in both hardcover and Kindle editions.

Mary's Pumpkin Walnut Muffins

Mary McDougall's Pumpkin Walnut Muffins
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Mary's Note: Seeing the autumn colors beginning to emerge reminded us of this grandchild-approved recipe. We bake these mildly-spiced muffins in standard-size silicone muffin cups, available online and at most cookware stores. After cooling for about 10 minutes, the muffins pop right out of the cups; no liners needed. Enjoy!
Serves: 15
  • 2 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup Sunsweet Lighter Bake (see note below)
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup soy milk (see note below)
  1. Have ready a 12-cup standard-size silicone muffin pan or line a muffin pan with liners. (Susan's note: I used 15 silicone muffin liners.)
  2. Preheat the oven to 375ºF with a rack in the lower third of the oven. Whisk the Egg Replacer with 1/4 cup warm water in a small bowl until frothy, then set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the whole wheat and all-purpose flours, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the walnuts and raisins.
  4. In a separate bowl, stir together the pumpkin, Lighter Bake (or apple sauce), molasses, and soy milk until no lumps remain. Add the reserved Egg Replacer. Stir this mixture into the flour mixture just until combined.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups and bake for 30 minutes, or until they are golden and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set the pan on a rack to cool completely before removing the muffins from the pans.
(From Susan:) Since Lighter Bake is not available in my area, I used natural apple sauce, which is less sweet but still resulted in delicious muffins.

If you'd like to make them without the walnuts, you can subtract about 25 calories and 2.5 grams of fat per muffin. You can also substitute any non-dairy milk for the soy milk.

From The Starch Solution by Dr. John A. McDougall and Mary McDougall. Republished with permission.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/15th of recipe Calories: 142 Fat: 3 Carbohydrates: 27.8 Sugar: 12.8 Sodium: 166 Fiber: 2.3 Protein: 2.8

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These mildly spiced muffins are rich and sweet and also low in fat.Check back later this week for a ridiculously easy way to use the pumpkin left over from this recipe, part of my “Weekend Quickies” series of quick and easy recipes.


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{ 57 comments… read them below or add one }

1 DiaaK October 17, 2012 at 9:33 am

Mary is a TERRIFIC cook! (the original book does not include all the ‘stats’ and ‘numbers’ cuz’ they want you to stop thinking like that and just ENJOY the food that is healthy and good for you). This recipe looks delicious. I look forward to trying it. Thanks for the great photos!


2 Dan October 17, 2012 at 9:56 am

Do you have a suggestion for subbing something in place of molasses?


3 Susan Voisin October 17, 2012 at 10:00 am

You can use any liquid sweetener, like agave or maple syrup. If you don’t want the sugar, I suspect that you could use additional applesauce, but I’ve never tried that.


4 Rebecca October 17, 2012 at 11:07 am


I do not have any ener-g egg replacer. We do use eggs at home. I know you do not, but how many eggs would sub for the amount of replacer in this recipe.


5 Susan Voisin October 17, 2012 at 11:17 am

I believe that the amount of egg replacer and water are about the same volume as one egg.


6 Jennifer October 17, 2012 at 11:14 am

Do you think Gluten Free flour would work in this?


7 Susan Voisin October 17, 2012 at 11:16 am

I think you would have good results with one of the gluten-free baking mixes that combines bean and grain flours with some thickeners, like tapioca and xanthan gum. If you have a good mix that you like, you can use that.


8 Louise Placek October 17, 2012 at 11:27 am

I have found that a mixture of ground flax and ground chia (mixed with a little water to “proof”) makes everything moist so you don’t need fat in baked goods.. I use about a tablespoon of the 1:1 mixture with 1/4 c water for every cup and a half to two cups of flour. Seriously, I do not miss the fat anymore.


9 Nancy December 22, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Thanks Louise! I’m writing this tip down. I don’t miss the fat either!


10 Robert Ferrari October 17, 2012 at 12:35 pm

These look absolutely delicious. I think I’ll make a batch as soon as I get home.


11 Alta October 17, 2012 at 1:07 pm

can you substitute flax egg instead of the Ener-G Egg Replacer?


12 Tanya @ Playful and Hungry October 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Those look good! I wish I could buy canned pumpkin where I live. But hey – it’s fall and I can cook as much pumpkin and puree it as I want right now!


13 Angie@Angie's Recipes October 18, 2012 at 12:52 pm

They are delicious and healthy enough for my breakfast!


14 Dee October 18, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Your muffins look scrumptious, Susan. I am a muffin and cupcake freak but never tried pumkin muffin before. Definitely going to give this one a go but will make a few changes. Hope they turn out as good as yours. I don’t use egg replacer as I find it is quite unnecessary most of the time. My food always turns out worse on the odd occasions I did use it so now I have decided to leave it out.


15 Caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy October 18, 2012 at 5:29 pm

those look amaaaaazing!


16 Viv October 19, 2012 at 3:59 am

These are wonderful and my daughter loved them. I didn’t have molasses so used Golden Syrup. I didn’t have an egg nor any flax/chia substitutes but they worked out fine, great recipe.


17 Baltimore October 19, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Hi there,
Can I sub equal amount of flax meal for the Ener-g? Thanks!


18 urbanvegan October 19, 2012 at 1:28 pm

I love molasses–when well-mixed with other stuff. I think as far as healthy cookbooks go, the McDougalls’ recipes sound the best


19 Werner October 20, 2012 at 4:17 pm

My family, vegans and all-tarians, loved these muffins! Used applesauce and cranberries instead of raisins, they were plenty sweet-wonderful way to celebrate Fall. Thank you, I am devoted to your website.


20 AllisonM October 22, 2012 at 6:45 pm

I don’t have any all purpose purpose flour..just whole wheat pastry flour and whole wheat flour. Do you think i could just use all ww pastry flour?


21 Susan October 22, 2012 at 9:22 pm

made these this afternoon and just tasted one – very good. The texture wasn’t exactly like a “regular” muffin, but I thought the taste was delicious. I made the recipe exactly as written, including the egg replacement. I cooked down one apple to substitute for the LighterBake. My oven runs a bit hot so I baked them for less than the recipe stated. Really, I could gobble down another one without trouble (but I won’t!).

I will feed them to my staff tomorrow and see what the comments are….


22 Esther J October 27, 2012 at 4:46 am

Very much in the throes of pumpkin season, I made these a couple of days ago and they are simply yummy!

I used a convoluted mixture of whole white wheat, pulverized old-fashioned oatmeal, and cornstarch for my flours (as they were all I had) and, still, with those substitutions, they turned out great. (I’d be willing to share those proportions; I just don’t have them in front of me as I type this.)

After a bit of exercise, one or two will most certainly be going down with some hot chai on this crisp autumn morning.

Thank you very much for sharing, Susan!


23 miss viwi October 27, 2012 at 12:53 pm

…mmmhhhh…looks great…
…nice blog, I like it…

have a good time, vegan l♥ve&peace, miss viwi


24 Elizabeth October 28, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Made these fabulous muffins this past week as an after school/work snack for my family and they devoured them! I made ours gluten-free by using 1 cup sorghum flour, 1/4 cup brown rice flour, 1/4 cup gluten-free oat flour, and 1/4 cup almond flour. I also added 1/2 tsp xanthan gum. Consistency and flavor was just right.

I love the taste of molasses in breads, muffins and cookies, so I left that alone. But I wanted to replace the brown sugar so I added 8 medjool dates with the applesauce, molasses and soy milk in my vitamix and blended until smooth, then stirred in the canned pumpkin and added to all the dry ingredients. I was very excited that it worked so well!

Thank you so much Susan for sharing this recipe, it is definitely going to be a holiday favorite in our house.


25 Sher November 2, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Since I’m trying to follow the Esselstyn diet, I can’t seem to be able to use any all-purpose flour, only whole wheat. Think these would turn out similarly using strictly whole wheat flour, or a partial whole wheat and whole wheat pastry flour?


26 Susan Voisin November 2, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Sher, can you use all whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat? I think either would work instead of the all-purpose. They will just be a touch heavier, but still tasty.


27 B'klynHeart November 11, 2012 at 4:35 pm

I made this with a mixture of whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour and they turned out very tasty. My density check may be off as I often bake with whole wheat flours, but they were not terribly dense or heavy, they were heavenly!


28 B'klynHeart November 11, 2012 at 4:33 pm

I have this book and saw this recipe, but your picture moved me into motion! What a great muffin this is! I will make these again and again, thank you so much for the inspiration!


29 elizabeth November 17, 2012 at 5:03 pm

These are good, but I baked mine in a regular muffin tin for 25mn and it was too much, so next time I’ll do 20mn. Maybe in silicone, the muffins take the full 30mn?


30 Susan Voisin November 17, 2012 at 5:07 pm

Probably so. Metal conducts heat more effectively than silicone, or at least that’s how it seems to me. My silicone baking always takes longer than in metal.


31 Laina November 19, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Hi Susan,

These muffins look beautiful. I’m always so delighted and amazed with your photo art.

My question is, would a flax egg be okay for these? I remember you mentioned in previous recipe tips that the Ener-G has a chalk-like taste and so I’ve never wanted to try it. Is there a benefit using the Ener-G in this particular recipe?

Laina 🙂


32 Susan Voisin November 19, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Did I say that about EnerG? Wow, I don’t remember that! In baked goods it doesn’t taste chalky at all. I’m sure you could use the flax egg, though the results maybe a little heavier.

Thanks so much for your kind words about the photos! I’ve been working hard at improving my photography, so it means a lot to me to hear that.


33 Theresa K December 14, 2012 at 9:36 am

Could this be baked in a loaf pan instead? Same temp but longer cooking time? Would the batter be enough for two loaf pans? Or one loaf and some spare muffins?


34 Susan Voisin December 14, 2012 at 9:49 am

I would say one loaf and possibly some spare muffins, depending on the size of your pan. It will probably take at least twice as long to cook, so test with a toothpick to make sure it’s done in the middle. You can use my Pumpkin Spice Bread recipe as a guide:


35 Theresa K December 14, 2012 at 10:42 am

Thanks. My dad doesn’t want us to spend money on Christmas gifts, so I think we’re gonna make him some FFV snacks instead.


36 Kathryn January 15, 2013 at 4:27 pm

I love that book! I have to say I’ve not made anything with the sunsweet becasuse I can’t find it and shipping seems to be a lot since I don’t bake much. I appreciate your note!


37 parvaneh May 27, 2013 at 11:52 pm

I made these muffins with some changes. They were soooooooo good! I sub ground flax seeds instead of egg-replacer. I whisk it with milk first and then add all other wet ingredients. Mixed well. Then add the rest of the ingredients. I also used Persian raisin. It worked very well!


38 Nancy December 22, 2013 at 2:18 pm

These were moist and rich and flavorful. These are make agains. We ate them for breakfast all week. I was generous with the walnuts! My 21-year-old daughter shared these with her friends and they loved them as well. These are keepers.


39 Sheri A September 15, 2014 at 5:08 pm

I made these today because I was craving something made with pumpkin. O my! They are sooooo good! I used applesauce instead of the Lighter Bake product. They were moist and delicious with just the perfect amount of sweetness! I baked them for only 20 min in a regular metal pan! Yummy!! 🙂


40 Nicole September 20, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Hi Susan, can I sub agave for the molasses? I’d rather just use what I have on hand. Thanks so much!


41 Susan Voisin September 20, 2014 at 8:49 pm

You can use agave and they will be sweeter than with molasses. However, they will lack that rich, dark flavor that molasses gives. It’s what separates these muffins from others, such as my pumpkin spice bread.


42 Nancy Loker September 21, 2014 at 5:01 pm

I have used many of your recipes, so thank you very much. I have tried to save recipes to my recipe box but it does not work for me. Can you help? Thanks,
Nancy Loker


43 Queade Di Iio October 21, 2014 at 12:48 pm

what size of can of pumpkin for Mary McDougall’s Pumpkin Walnut Muffins?


44 Susan Voisin October 21, 2014 at 12:58 pm

It just uses one cup of canned pumpkin.


45 Jess October 22, 2014 at 9:22 pm

a 15 oz can will do, and you’ll have a little left over too.


46 nicole November 1, 2014 at 7:49 pm

Hey Susan, just wondering if you have any suggestions for me. I have tried making these on several different occasions, and each time these have turned out on the very dry side. They are nowhere near the moistness of other muffin recipes I have baked from your site. I am in the mood for pumpkin as its that time of year, but really don’t want to be stuck with another underwhelming, dry batch! 🙁 Is there anything you might suggest that could prevent that?


47 Susan Voisin November 3, 2014 at 7:30 am

Since you’ve made them more than once and they haven’t worked for you (and other muffins have, so it’s not a problem with your oven), I’m going to suggest that you skip this recipe and make my Pumpkin Spice Bread as muffins instead. It’s always very moist:


48 nicole November 3, 2014 at 9:12 pm

That’s what I was thinking too. Your recipes are always amazing, so I’m excited to try that one out! I’m sure it will be fantastic. Thank you so much Susan <3


49 nicole November 3, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Just a quick question regarding the bread recipe though. For muffins, do you expect it to yield about 12? And would I bake them as long as the bread?


50 Susan Voisin November 4, 2014 at 12:28 pm

The number of muffins it makes will depend on the size of your muffin cups. The timing probably will, too, so what I do is test with a toothpick after 15 minutes and every 5 minutes until the toothpick comes out clean.

51 Sandra November 17, 2014 at 12:20 pm

I make these all the time, their so good !


52 Karen November 4, 2015 at 9:25 am

This is the variation I used to really good effect:

2 teaspoons egg replacer (I just added 2 tsp chickpea flour to dry ingredients)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (I used 1 whole tsp by mistake, & it was fine)
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup raisins
2 cups canned pumpkin (I pureed fresh, steamed pumpkin)
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup prune paste (just under 1/2 cup prunes pureed with a little water)

I whisked the dry ingredients together and then just dumped the wet ones in and stirred. The muffin tins are metal, so that cut the baking time down to about 18 minutes.

They worked out really, really well.


53 Cat October 18, 2016 at 10:08 am

Susan, could maple syrup be substituted for molasses? Could brown rice syrup be substituted for brown sugar? Thanks!


54 Susan Voisin October 18, 2016 at 10:29 am

You could definitely use maple syrup for the molasses (or even brown rice syrup). The brown sugar, though, can’t be easily replaced with a liquid sugar. You could do it, but the measurements won’t be 1:1 because the liquid balance of the recipe would be off. I would try Googling to see if you can find a formula for replacing brown sugar with liquid sweetener to get the appropriate amount.


55 Allison October 19, 2016 at 6:59 am

I want to bake these for a friend but they need to last at least 3 days after baking. Do you think they’ll still be good? I’ve made vegan breads before and they seemed to get mushy very quickly.


56 Susan Voisin October 19, 2016 at 7:51 am

I wouldn’t try to hold them that long, or at least I would do a test batch first.


57 Sophia October 22, 2016 at 12:54 pm

I just made these and they are delicious!!! I can’t get Lighter Bake here so subbed with apple sauce, and also mixed up a flax egg for the Enger-G egg replacer. I popped the muffins in the oven, started to clean up the kitchen, then realized I didn’t add the flax egg!! I was a little worried but they came awesome without it!!
Thank you for this recipe. It’s gonna be made (and eaten) plenty at my house 🙂


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