Now Featuring: Pumpkin. Everything.

The Middle Half here in Murfreesboro is officially over and so is the pain in my knees!  In honor of the race being over, I can officially indulge (in moderation!) in coffee, fiber, and EVERYTHING PUMPKIN!  So far, there’s been Pumpkin Seeds, Pumpkin Spice Oreos, Pumpkin Ale, a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino, and Caramel Apple Milky Ways (okay, I know they’re not pumpkin, but Milky Ways are my favorite).  Up next: Pumpkin Gingerbread Muffins.  Now what kind of running and food blog would this be without me telling you what is so awesome about your favorite gourd and how it benefits those speedy legs??  And be patient.  The muffin recipe is at the end!

Nocturnal Readiness My daddy used to always say, “Eat your carrots!  They’ll make your eyes bright!”  Forget the carrots, though.  Pass the pumpkin, please!  A half cup of pumpkin gives you more than 100% Vitamin A!  Running a night leg for Ragnar?  Now you’ve got an excuse to “make your eyes bright” and stock up!

Fight the Funk Along with Vitamin A, pumpkin is chock full of Vitamin E and C, potassium, and riboflavin.  So, fret not immune system!  America’s pumpkin obsession should have you well taken care of this fall!

I hate my freckles! Shame on you, but pumpkins were once recommended for removing them!  Should you try it, though, I request a photo of pumpkin slathered all over your face.

Antioxidant The word that catches everyone’s eyes!  Americans are all about anti-oxidants and superfoods.  Just like their orange comrades, beta-carotene is Team Pumpkin as well, helping to ward off cancer–lung and oral cancer in particular (which is no excuse to keep chomping and puffing on that tobacco!  Put it down!).

Pepitos and  Bones Running has been linked to stronger bone; add a little (or in this case a lot) of zinc from pumpkin seeds and you’ve got a chance at keeping osteoporosis at bay!

Pumpkin Gingerbread Muffins

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil 1/2 cup molasses (I may have used pure maple syrup?) 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed 2 eggs 8 ounces pumpkin puree 1/4 cup water

FOR THE STREUSEL (optional) 1/4 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup  all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray a muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray with flour, or grease and flour each one, or use muffin liners; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice; set aside.

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, combine oil and molasses. Stir in the sugars until combined, then add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Stir in the pumpkin until thoroughly combined. Stir in the water. Sprinkle about half of the flour mixture over the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Add the remaining flour mixture, and mix just until no streaks of flour remain. Place three tablespoons batter into each muffin mold and set aside while you mix the streusel topping.

To make the streusel: In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, flour, and cinnamon together, whisking until thoroughly combined. Drizzle the melted butter over the mixture and stir with a spoon until you have a mixture that resembles lumpy wet sand. Do not break up the clumps too much.

Divide the streusel evenly between the pans, sprinkling it over the top of the batter to cover it.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or use the toothpick test.  Allow to cool before devouring.

Baking tip: Don’t overmix when making cupcakes, muffins, and other goodies of the sort.  Overmixing causes “peaks” and tends to produce a tougher product.

PS: I made that pumpkin up there!  I think he's rather cute! :)

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