Two types of savory vegan muffins: Pumpkin-miso and Carrot-onion-hazelnuts

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I think mini muffins are great for bentos. They are tiny, easy and fast to make, freeze beautifully, and defrost naturally by lunchtime if you take them out of the freezer in the morning. They are handy snacks to eat when your energy is running low but you don’t have time to stop and eat properly, and are also great accompaniments to a soup or salad.

I do not like very sweet muffins, like those monster ones sold at certain fast-food-coffee franchises. Why call it a muffin, when it’s really a cupcake without icing? So when I make my own muffins, I like savory ones or at least ones that are not loaded with sugar.

Here are two savory-yet-sweet muffins that are also vegan. The bright orange winter squash or pumpkin muffins have the added twist of miso, which gives them a unique flavor. These muffins don’t rise much, but they are crispy on the outside and have a light, almost creamy texture on the inside. The carrot-onion-hazelnut muffins are a bit lighter and fluffier. Both have only 2 tablespoons each of maple syrup in them - the natural sweetness of the vegetables makes up for it. Plus, each batch only has 2 1/2 tablespoons of oil. Made as mini-muffins they only have 40-45 calories per muffin. Even as regular size muffins they are only around 100 calories per piece. The non-dieting omnivore loves both of them regardless, though he says he has a slight preference for the pumpkin ones.

Recipe 1: Pumpkin (or winter squash) miso muffins

Makes 24 mini-muffins, or 10 regular size muffins (put some water into the 2 empty muffin compartments when baking). Mini-muffins are 45 calories each, regular size ones about 103 calories each.

  • 1 cup unsweetened pumpkin or winter squash puree, homemade or from a can (I cook winter squash in the oven until soft and scoop out the flesh, or cut it up into small pieces and cook it with a little bit of water in a heavy pan until soft.)
  • 1 tsp. Garam Masala
  • 2 Tbs. maple syrup
  • 2 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. mild white miso
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened soymilk (or regular milk, if you’re not concerned with keeping these vegan)
  • 1 cup all purpose white flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 180°C / 375°F. If necessary, oil or spray your muffin tins.

Mix together the wet ingredients: the pumpkin puree, spices, maple syrup, olive oil, miso and soymilk until thoroughly blended.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Mix into the wet ingredients. If it looks too stiff, add a tiny bit of soy milk.

Spoon evenly into muffin tins. Bake for 15-18 minutes for mini muffins, 22-25 minutes for regular size. The muffins will not rise much, but will be lightly browned on top. Cool on a rack. To freeze, pack in a freezer-safe container or freezer bag.

Recipe 2: Carrot, onion and hazelnut muffins

Makes 24 mini-muffins, or 10 regular size muffins (put some water into the 2 empty muffin compartments when baking). Mini-muffins are 42 calories each, regular size ones about 100 calories each. This one is inspired by one in Saisai Lunch.

  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • Oil for cooking vegetables
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts (or other nuts)
  • Grated rind of 1/2 lemon (about 1/2 tsp.)
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened soymilk
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. maple syrup
  • Several grinds of coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 cup all purpose white flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • Pinch baking soda

Preheat oven to 180°C / 375°F. If necessary, oil or spray your muffin tins.

Sauté the carrot and onion in a little olive oil until limp and lightly browned. Toast the chopped up nuts lightly in the same pan.

Combine the sautéed vegetables with the soymilk, lemon juice (the soymilk with curdle a bit - don’t worry, it’s supposed to), olive oil, maple syrup, pepper and salt. Mix well.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda and add to the wet ingredients. Add the nuts. Mix until just combined. If it’s too stiff, add a tiny bit of soy milk.

Spoon evenly into muffin tins. Bake for 15-18 minutes for mini muffins, 22-25 minutes for regular size. . The muffins will rise a bit more than the pumpkin muffins but not that much, since they have no egg in them, but not to worry - they’ll still be light. Cool on a rack. To freeze, pack in a freezer-safe container or freezer bag.

See also

These non-vegan (has egg and cheese) zucchini basil muffins also work well as savory muffins, mini-size or regular size.

For more bento recipes, ideas and tips, subscribe to Just Bento via your newsreader or by email (more about subscriptions).

And visit our sister site, Just Hungry for great Japanese home recipes and more.

36 comments

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milk chemistry?

Hey, those look good!

Can skim milk be substituted for the soy milk?
Or will some chemical reaction fail if I make this change?

Julie

Skim milk (or whole milk)

Skim milk (or whole milk) would do fine here.

I don’t have miso and am

I don’t have miso and am thinking of just leaving it out rather than buy a whole container that I wouldn’t use. I assume they are tasty without the miso too, right? Or do you think the miso is mandatory?

OR - maybe you can suggest some other uses for the miso (even better!)

In this case, miso is a

In this case, miso is a critical component that gives it its distinct flavor, so there is no substitute.

:)

sigh I think I may love you, Maki! These look awesome. I can’t wait for autumn to get here already!

options?

I love your recipes, and I always get excited about trying a new one…..until I notice it’s vegan. In this case, I would love an option with egg (makes baked goods fluffy) — any chance of providing an omnivore option when you do vegan recipes?

I don’t think I would be

I don’t think I would be providing an omnivore option to vegan recipes regularly. Two reasons for this:

First, I make and eat everything I put in here (those are pictures of real food!) so it would double the work I have to do. I don’t have a staff working for me…it’s just me most of the time.

Second, and this is more important, any recipe I post here, including vegan ones, are ones that turned out well for me. I’m not a vegan or vegetarian myself but I do like to eat vegan/vegetarian meals quite a lot (see 75% vegetarian). But since I am an omnivore, any vegan/vegetarian food I do eat has to taste as good as omnivore food. I don’t settle for something just because it’s vegan/veg. In the case of these muffins, they are perhaps not as lofty as muffins using eggs, but they are definitely not heavy or rock-like (the image that vegan baked goods have maybe) and are above all else very good. So…I hope omnivores will give them a try, even if they are vegan. If they don’t appeal though, there are lots of omnivore recipes around here too! :) (Give the zucchini-basil muffins a try…they have eggs and cheese, and are one of my favorites)

Oh, and I am working on a couple of non-vegan savory muffin recipes too, so..stay tuned :)

questions

Hi Maki!

I’ve been enjoying your recipes for sometime now. They’ve all turned out great! I can’t wait to try these muffins. Two questions regarding the pumpkin one, though: first, can I omit the garam masala? I don’t stock up on this. Second, I only have the medium-type miso as I’ve never used the mild light one. Will this do? Do I have to reduce the amount of miso if I use this type?

Thank you! I look forward to your weekly recipes.

questions

Hi Maki!

I’ve been enjoying your recipes for sometime now. They’ve all turned out great! I can’t wait to try these muffins. Two questions regarding the pumpkin one, though: first, can I omit the garam masala? I don’t stock up on this. Second, I only have the medium-type miso as I’ve never used the mild light one. Will this do? Do I have to reduce the amount of miso if I use this type?

Thank you! I look forward to your weekly recipes.

Instead of garam masala, you

Instead of garam masala, you might want to add other spices you have on hand like nutmeg, coriander, etc. Or (if you’re in the US) a ‘pumpkin spice mix’ would work too. For the miso - you might want to add a bit less, and add a bit more maple syrup (like 1 more Tbs.) since the mild miso is fairly sweet.

Awesome...

I just recently found you site and I just wanted to let you know that I think I am in love with you XD! Your recipes, general info, and pics are amazing.

My first bento box (bought on J-List!) arrived this past weekend and I made my first two bentos on Monday and Tuesday and I am so proud of myself. Without your site I don’t believe I would have accomplished this.

I am steadily building up my pantry and I cannot wait to try out your recipes. These muffins are at the top of my list.

Looking forward to much bento goodness (with your help!)

Thanks for all your hard work.

Kelly

I’m glad you find the site

I’m glad you find the site useful! Good luck with your bento adventures :)

They both sound lovely!

They both sound lovely! Thank you for posting the recipes.

made those muffins

The pumpkin/squash muffins immediately appealed to me since I have a TON of winter squash from the garden this year. So I made them yesterday. Very nice, but I did leave out the miso. I opened up the box of miso and the smell just didn’t go with the beautiful fragrance of the muffin batter. LOL! Anyway, the muffins were very tasty, though very delicate and wet, even after baking 20 minutes (mini muffins). I will probably add more flour next time. The muffins were a terrific accompaniment to the beef stew we had. Thanks for the reicpe, its a very good one!

Sylvia

Yummy

I made the Carrot-onion-hazelnut muffins but with walnuts instead and they were great. In fact, since you suggested having them with a soup I found a new lentil soup recipe to try and made that too! Thanks for the recipe!

recommendations for gluten-free?

Hi Maki :) I recently found out I have a (comparatively mild) wheat allergy— nothing on the scale of coeliac’s— but nevertheless, wheat is pretty much out of the picture for now. Do you think I could substitute in rice flour or some other type to these muffins? They look so very very delicious, and I have a beautiful squash I’d like to eat…
Thanks so much, and I really appreciate all of the great new recipes you post! I love having new exciting things to cook.

— zevan

Speaking from the

Speaking from the gluten-free side of things, there are some packaged flours that you can use that behave pretty much just like wheat flour, sans gluten. (Add xanthan gum!) Just using rice flour might give you some problems… I’ve found that straight subbing-in rice flour for wheat results in either disaters or plastic (usually plastic).

thanks, silver :) I’m new

thanks, silver :) I’m new to the GF realm— just found out about my allergy recently. I’ll look out for pre-mixed flours— definitely want to avoid the plastic problem!

—zevan

.

Hi Maki, Thanks for all of the wonderful vegan recipes. Do you think this recipe would also work in the microwave? I have a new Hello Kitty microwave silicon muffin mold that I would love to break in.

Hmm, I really have no idea

Hmm, I really have no idea if it would work in a microwave. My instincts say it won’t, or that it won’t rise at all, since there’s no egg in the batter….but again, I don’t know. If you do try it I hope you let us know if it worked!

Is there something I can

Is there something I can substitute the maple syrup for? Unfortunately it’s hard to find in my city. Thank you for the lovely recipes and website, you’re always the to help me!

Is there something I can

Is there something I can substitute the maple syrup for? Unfortunately it’s hard to find in my city. Thank you for the lovely recipes and website, you’re always the to help me!

When I lived in England and

When I lived in England and couldn’t get maple syrup, I substituted it with golden syrup for making pumpkin pies. It worked well enough for that recipe (though there was some runniness). I wonder if corn syrup would work?

You can use any kind of

You can use any kind of sweetener here - honey, any sugar syrup, molasses, etc. Even sugar! The flavor will be a bit different of course.

I made these last night and

I made these last night and they were wonderful! (The pumpkin muffins) Next time I will substitute some WW pastry flour for the white flour. Thank you for all the muffin recipes!

Loving the muffins

Hi Maki! I love all the muffin recipes you’ve been posting lately. You are inspiring me to buy a full-size muffin pan, but until then I will use the mini-muffin tins I have. A couple questions - do you think Green Tea would work for the tea muffins? And for the carrot/onion muffin, could I grate the carrot and onion instead of chopping? If so, do you think I need to strain off the extra liquid created from grating? Thanks and I’m really looking forward to trying these in my bentos!

vegan pumpkin muffins

The pumpkin muffins are absolutely delicious, hot as well as cold. The subtle sweetness of the pumpkin comes through really well and the garam masala adds an interesting note. I’m wondering how they would taste with a little chilli added. Also, I have no idea what I did different from the recipe, safe for substituting ordinary milk for the soy milk but the muffins puffed up beautifully. They look almost like your tea muffins, which I will try out next.

Mini muffins

Maybe it's a stupid question, but do you use smaller muffin tins for your mini muffins? Or just regular ones with less batter? TNX!

Re: Mini muffins

I use mini-muffin pans, sort of like these ones.

Re: Two types of savory vegan muffins: Pumpkin-miso and ...

Hello,

I only have red miso. Can I use this in place of the white? Thanks!

Re: Two types of savory vegan muffins: Pumpkin-miso and ...

What purpose did the water in the two muffin compartments serve?

Re: Two types of savory vegan muffins: Pumpkin-miso and ...

Putting water in empty muffin tin compartments prevents the compartments from getting black, and also helps to steam the muffins a bit as they cook, which makes them a tiny bit moister.

Re: Two types of savory vegan muffins: Pumpkin-miso and ...

They're in the oven right now c:

Re: Two types of savory vegan muffins: Pumpkin-miso and ...

Just made the pumpkin muffins, and I forgot to add the olive oil. But they're delicious. What exactly does the olive oil in this recipe do? I was sad when I realized they were almost done baking and I'd forgotten an ingredient, but they seem fine... I made them so my boyfriend could try pumpkin for the first time, and because he's allergic to eggs. I can't even tell the difference between this muffin and one with eggs though :)

Re: Two types of savory vegan muffins: Pumpkin-miso and ...

Oil makes the mouth-feel more creamy, but omitting it should make the muffins fluffier and lighter. It all depends on what you prefer!

Re: Two types of savory vegan muffins: Pumpkin-miso and ...

Hi, can the carrot onion muffin be made without the maple syrup or without any sweetener? That is, do you think it would taste ok and do I need to adjust anything? And can I use whole wheat pastry flour in place of all purpose flour? Thanks!

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