It is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada and this is traditionally a time for gatherings to give thanks and share a feast. However, the act of giving thanks and expressing gratitude around harvest time is nothing new.
It seems that these types of celebrations have been part of most cultures throughout history with talk of harvest festivals in which ancient Romans revered Ceres, the goddess of corn and in ancient Greece, Demeter, the goddess of grain was honoured.
What is the Thanksgiving holiday?
According to some historians, the first official Canadian Thanksgiving occurred around 1578 when an explorer, Martin Frobisher, held an event to give thanks for surviving his journey from England and to celebrate his arrival in the New World.
There are a number of other countries that also celebrate Thanksgiving and although the actual dates, culinary offerings, and nature of the celebrations vary from country to country, the purpose of the festivities is to express gratitude, often for the fall harvest, and generally includes a feast to be shared with the community.
Recipe for Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins
Growing up in England, I don’t recall using pumpkins in cooking and I understand it is only in the last 20 years or so that they have become readily available in the shops there. Since living in North America, I have found that pumpkins are a popular ingredient in many dishes including soups, oatmeal, pies and baked goods.
For a pumpkin dish this year, I decided to made a quick and easy recipe for chocolate pumpkin muffins. The muffins are inspired by Oh She Glows and they are vegan, gluten free and, as the name suggests, can literally be made in one bowl!
- 1 cup (250 mL) unsweetened pumpkin purée
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) melted coconut oil
- 1/2 cup (40 g) coconut sugar*
- 1/2 cup (60 mL) pure maple syrup*
- 1 tsp (5 mL) pure vanilla extract
For the chia egg:
- 2 teaspoons (4 g) ground chia seeds**
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) water
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line a muffin tin (12).*****
- Add rolled oats to a high-speed blender and blend on high until a fine flour forms. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the ground chia seed and water until combined. Set aside for a few minutes to thicken.
- To the same bowl, add the rest of the wet ingredients (pumpkin, oil, sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla) and stir until smooth.
- Add the dry ingredients (oat flour, cacao powder, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) to the bowl with the wet ingredients. Whisk until smooth.
- Set aside 1/4 cup (45 g) of chocolate chips (if using) for the topping and stir the remaining chips into the batter.
- Spoon the batter into muffins cups, filling each two-thirds full. Press the remaining chocolate chips into the tops of each muffin.
- Bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Place the muffin tin on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Carefully remove each muffin case and place it directly onto the cooling rack until fully cooled. Leftover muffins can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for several days or frozen for up to 1 month.
- *I halved the amount of coconut sugar and maple syrup to 1/4 cup each so, depending on the sweetness level preferred, adjust the amount listed above.
- **You can make a flax egg instead of the chia egg using 1 tbsp ground flax mixed with 3 tbsp water.
- ***If you don’t want to grind your own oats, you can use 150 gms of oat flour or use 1 1/2 cups (233 g) whole-grain spelt flour. If using whole-grain spelt flour (not gluten free), you will likely need to bake the muffins for a couple extra minutes.
- ****Instead of chocolate chips, you can use raisins.
- *****This recipe can also be made into a loaf instead by using a 9×5-inch loaf pan and baking for about 45 to 50 minutes at 350°F (180°C) until a toothpick comes out clean.
Thanksgiving is a popular festival and, in commercial terms, tends to mark the start of the Christmas season. Although this holiday did not have the same significance growing up, I do recall the Harvest Festivals in England which were often celebrated in churches and schools and were a time when children would learn about the harvest and farm life.
However, giving thanks and expressing gratitude is an innate part of the human condition. It has found to have health benefits including reducing stress and blood pressure, slowing the aging clock and strengthening a sense of community. With benefits like these, it makes sense to cultivate more gratitude in our lives.
The Thanksgiving holiday is a good reminder to step back and gain a perspective about what we are grateful for. However, it does not need to be limited to once a year. I imagine that even if once a day, we made a practice of noting something that we are grateful for, we would feel a shift. With that in mind, perhaps take a quiet moment and ask yourself, what are you grateful for today?
Check out other similar recipes: