7:30 am. Time to get up, Cookie says. She starts nosing under my arm to try to herd me out of bed. Sometimes she weasels her way under my neck and plants herself between me and the pillow, so I have no choice but to get up and feed her. Somehow, I don’t mind. That adorable mutt of mine has a finely tuned internal alarm clock for meal time and walk time.
Once she manages to shove me out of bed, I grab my phone from the nightstand, make a pit stop in the bathroom to chug a glass of water and pad into the kitchen, with Cookie close on my heels. I scoop food into her bowl and she eagerly scarfs it down in one noisy, impressive inhale.
Then I open the cupboard and pull out a mug for my daily cup of coffee. I like my coffee extra strong, black and freshly brewed, and I feel super spoiled every morning when I make my coffee out of filtered water and quality beans.
I’ve upgraded my coffee-making equipment over time, but my set-up isn’t terribly fancy. These days, I use my beloved sunny yellow teapot, an electric Burr coffee grinder and an inexpensive contraption called an AeroPress. (One of my friends handed me a cup of AeroPress-brewed coffee last fall and I retired my vintage French press on the spot. It produces the best home-brewed coffee I’ve ever tasted.)
Once my coffee set-up is complete, I start rummaging around for some basic breakfast supplies. I usually go for one of the following: defrosted homemade muffins or waffles with nut butter, toast with mashed avocado or peanut butter and honey, or granola and yogurt. My food is usually ready by the time my teapot starts whistling at me, so I pour the hot water over the coffee in my AeroPress. The grounds always swell up like they’re taking a deep breath after a long, hard slumber. A few stirs and one press later, my coffee is good to go. Boom. Breakfast is ready.
I wish I could say that I ate breakfast at the dining table like a civilized adult, but I actually eat breakfast sitting cross-legged on the couch. Cookie usually snuggles up under the throw blanket with me. I sip my coffee, look out the window and blink a lot as my morning fog lifts.
Eventually, I pick up my phone to check my website traffic and email, always pausing to read The Skimm, my favorite source of news. From there, I usually reach for my laptop and get to work on a post or a project. Cookie always reminds me to take her outside, too. Perhaps the best thing about having a backyard is that I can go outside and stretch in peace.
Lately, my breakfasts have consisted of spiced pumpkin muffins, which are so right this time of year, and Direct Trade coffee. The muffins are made with fiber-rich whole grains, sweetened with real maple syrup and include a healthy amount of coconut oil for hold-over power. The muffins are remarkably light and fluffy—believe me, these muffins have the magical power to convert whole grain, naturally sweetened skeptics into raving fans.
The coffee has a more interesting background. I didn’t have to travel far to buy it (just three miles to Target), but this Direct Trade variety came from Latin America, where it was sourced directly from individual farmers who are paid a premium for premium beans.
Direct Trade coffee buyers want to buy the very best coffee beans, so they work closely with ethical farmers to get them. The buyers help the farmers further improve their crops by sharing knowledge about soil science and U.S. coffee consumption. As the farmers produce even better coffee, they earn even more for their coffee. The direct business relationship and transparent pricing model provides stability for farming families, their businesses, and in turn, their communities.
There are quite a few certifications placed on coffee bags these days. Collectively, they’ve made great strides within an industry that has a deplorable history of child labor and poor working conditions. My bottom line? I want great coffee and I don’t want my dollars to support oppressive practices, so I reach for Direct Trade coffee from reputable buyers.
Target partners with Coffee Bean International’s Project Direct to source the Direct Trade coffee on their shelves. If you’d like, you can learn more about Project Direct here and watch a short video about Target’s Direct Trade program here.
- ⅓ cup melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup maple syrup or honey
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup pumpkin purée
- ¼ cup milk of choice (I used almond milk)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling on top
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon allspice or cloves
- 1¾ cups whole wheat pastry flour or regular whole wheat flour
- ⅓ cup old-fashioned oats, plus more for sprinkling on top
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius). If necessary, grease ten cups of your muffin tin with butter or non-stick cooking spray (my pan is non-stick and didn’t require any grease).
- In a large bowl, beat the oil and maple syrup or honey together with a whisk. Add eggs, and beat well. Mix in the pumpkin purée and milk, followed by the baking soda, vanilla extract, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice or cloves.
- Add the flour and oats to the bowl and mix with a large spoon, just until combined. If you’d like to add any additional mix-ins, like nuts, chocolate or dried fruit, fold them in now.
- Divide the batter evenly between the ten muffin cups. For these muffins, it’s ok to fill the cups a little higher than you normally would. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with a small amount of oats, followed by a sprinkle of cinnamon. Bake muffins for 23 to 26 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
- Place the muffin tin on a cooling rack. These muffins are delicate until they cool down (you have been warned!), so it’s best to wait until they have cooled down to remove them from the tin. You might need to run a butter knife along the outer edge of the muffins to loosen them from the pan. Enjoy muffins as is or with a spread of nut butter or regular butter.
Make it egg free: Readers report that these muffins turn out well with flax eggs!
Make it vegan: Use maple syrup, flax eggs and non-dairy milk.
Make it dairy free: Simply use your non-dairy milk of choice.
Make it gluten free: Bob's Red Mill gluten-free all-purpose blend works well instead of the whole wheat flour.
Storage suggestions: These muffins keep well in the freezer. Store them in a freezer-safe bag and defrost individual muffins as needed.
Change it up: You could really go crazy with add-ins here! Fold in mini dark chocolate chips, chopped dried cranberries or crystallized ginger and/or chopped nuts like pecans or walnuts. Liz topped these muffins with my maple glaze from my pumpkin scones recipe, which sounds like a delicious idea to me!
Serving suggestions: These muffins would be fantastic with homemade pecan butter or coconut butter.
If you love this recipe: You'll also love my gluten-free pumpkin oat pancakes, vegan pumpkin pecan scones and honey whole wheat banana bread.
This post is brought to you by Target. With helping hands, Target is committed to building healthy and sustainable communities. I received compensation for my participation. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who support C+K!