Today is October 1st, which means it’s the first day of VeganMoFo: the Vegan Month of Food! Woo!

My “theme” this year will be Health & Happiness, so I figured a delicious, vegan, low-fat muffin recipe rich in Vitamin A and fiber would be a healthy, happy kick-off.

I know when I started doing low-fat baking it seemed intimidating, but it’s actually really easy. Part of the trick is knowing what can easily be made low-fat (or no-fat!) so you don’t get frustrated by failed first attempts. Yeasted breads are definitely delicious without added oil, and so are most quick breads, like muffins, scones, and things like banana or zucchini loaves.

You do have to account for the reduced liquid volume with low-fat baking, but the substitutes are many and easily available. My personal favorite is tried-and-true applesauce, it’s cheap, and if you get the unsweetened kind, it doesn’t add a lot of sugar. You can also use prune paste or mashed banana. I do a 1:1 ratio, most of the time, so if your recipe calls for half a cup of oil, use a half cup of applesauce.

It is good to keep in mind that with lower-fat baking, muffin- and scone-tops won’t usually get as crisp (though I have found adding in a few tablespoons of flax seed meal can help with that) and the shelf life of just about everything will be reduced. Muffins baked with applesauce will go hard much faster, but if you make room in the fridge for a tupperware, that’s easily dealt with.

As for the vegan aspect of low-fat baking, it’s pretty easy to “veganize” most simple baking (and not-so-simple baking, too!), but there’s also a wealth of recipes already on the internet. Vegans love to take traditional recipes and make them vegan so if you have a favorite muffin, make sure to check to see if anyone’s done your homework for you! For example, this recipe for Cranberry Orange Muffins was based off one from the Fanny Farmer cookbook.

This recipe I adapted from one by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, of Vegan with a Vengeance, Veganomicon, and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World fame. The original can be found here.

The Best (Lower Fat!) Pumpkin Muffins

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup pureed pumpkin (Fresh or from a can; do not use  pumpkin pie mix)
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 cup applesauce
2 tbs flax meal
2 tablespoons molasses

Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a twelve-muffin tin.

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices. In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, soy milk, applesauce, flaxseed, and molasses. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined.

Fill the muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

They’re amazing! Whip up a batch and enjoy yourself on a chill fall morning.

Tea and Muffins!