Pumpkin Muffins – Refined Sugar Free

It’s fall, y’all!

(Sometimes I think I have a secret southern side of me that likes to come it at random times…)

With fall comes all sorts of things, like back to school, apple cider, and, I have no shame in admitting it, pumpkin spice everything. It’s been a while since I posted a recipe, but I am really excited to try out some pumpkin spice ones. 

To take all the fall in, we went pumpkin picking as a family last weekend. Joshua had a blast figuring out which one he liked best. 


This is why I love the fall. 🙂

So, back to the muffins. Here’s what you need:

  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 c quick oats
  • 1/4 c organic sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda 
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1/3 c sunflower oil
  • 2 tbsp maple agave syrup 
  • 1/2 c pumpkin purée*

*I didn’t have time to make the pumpkin purée myself, so I just used canned organic pumpkin from Trader Joe’s. In case you were wondering, here’s how to make pumpkin purée (which is much like roasting squash):

  • Preheat oven to 350° F
  • Slice pumpkin in half
  • Scoop out seeds and insides with metal spoon (rinse pumpkin seeds, lay flat on paper towel to dry, and roast them to get full use of the pumpkin!)
  • Spray some oil on the pumpkin
  • Lay flat side down on baking sheet and put in oven for ~45 minutes
  • You can test the pumpkin’s doneness by poking the skin with a fork and making sure it’s tender, even soft, to the touch

Making the muffins is pretty simple. 

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. 

2. In large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Mix lightly until well blended. 


3. Once blended, add in all wet ingredients (oil, egg, milk, syrup)

At this point, the mixture is more like a sticky dough, and less like batter.

3. Add in pumpkin purée and fold into dough until well blended. 


4. Scoop batter into muffin tins. Make sure you fill the cavities to the top!

I made mini muffins.

Optional: top with some cinnamon for some extra spice. 🙂

5. Bake muffins in oven for 13-15 minutes for mini muffins. If you’re making regular size ones, double the baking time. 

This recipe yielded 21 mini muffins and would make roughly 6-8 regular-sized muffins. 


Don’t they look so good??

Store them in an airtight container, and keep them at room temperature, in the fridge, or in the freezer, depending on when you’ll want to enjoy them. They last me about a week at room temperature, though I wish I would have put them in the fridge after 2-3 days. 

Tip: pop them in the toaster oven for a few minutes before eating to enjoy them warm. These go great with tea or coffee!

Chart – Conception to Birth Transformation


I saw this amazing chart of the transformation of a single cell to a baby, from conception to birth. But I took a closer look and realized how deceptive a chart like this was. 

From the looks of it, the baby only begins to look human about 2/3 of the way in. But, actually, nearly half the chart is taken up by the first six weeks (red arrow). For those who do not know, a woman is actually two weeks pregnant when she conceives. It may not make sense at first, but it’s a universal system that’s in place, so that’s what we count on. A woman usually finds out she is pregnant at around 4 weeks. If you get a fancy home pregnancy test, you may be able to find out a few days before. If it was an unexpected pregnancy, you’d probably find out a bit later. Regardless, by 6 weeks, just two weeks after finding out about a pregnancy, look at how much developing that “clump of cells” has done! It even has a heartbeat!! I remember seeing my first son in his ultrasound at 9 weeks. He looked like a gummy bear, jumping around everywhere! I was amazed. 

Back to the chart, it shows the weekly development until week 11 (blue arrow) and for the next two trimesters (29 weeks) it shows 13 pictures, less than one for every two weeks.

Would you have noticed that by simply taking a look at the graph? Would you have thought to check out the different stages? 

At which point does this “clump of cells” start looking less like just that and more human? 

ETA: This chart has to do with the stages of development. A – that’s pretty amazing, because 60% of these things happen by 6 weeks. B – I wrote all of this to show that transformation from conception to birth isn’t a linear process — each of these stages does not correspond to a set amount of time in the pregnancy. I’m not criticizing the chart. I think it is very well made. I’m just clarifying the different stages of pregnancy on the timeline and using it to make my point.

The Day I Didn’t Hold My Son

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. 

Sometimes I feel like that saying rings true even with my own kids.

I love my boys more than I could ever express, but sometimes I just see hear a little bit too much of them. I need time alone to recharge, and sometimes it feels like that time should last a week.

My husband and I have been toying with the idea of me returning to work part time. While figuring out hours and making sure my boys are well cared for are my main hindrances, I think about all the positives that come along with me leaving the house for a few hours a week. Aside from the small amount of extra income, I think about the time that I would be away from my family. A small part of me grows sad thinking about it, because I’m so used to being with them day in and day out. Yet, I imagine that the distance apart would make the times together that much more special.

Almost anyone who is a stay at home parent, especially to more than one kid, knows that breaks are few and far between. When I had just Joshua, his naps were moments of freedoms for me, time to regain sanity and accomplish some chores, do some schoolwork or just have a cup of coffee in peace. With two, nap times are rarely at the same time (if Joshua takes a nap at all), no matter how much I plan out the day.

This moment was so rare that I had to take a picture of it.

It isn’t uncommon for me it have to fold laundry without one of the boys “helping” or make dinner while begging Joshua to get out of our teeny kitchen.

What was once a mindless chore for me to enjoy (yes, enjoy) in peace and quiet, often turns into a battle where I feel like I’m losing my mind if I don’t remember to practice patience.

Today was one of those days. I put the boys down for a nap at the same time. We had spent some time in the heat outside, jumped and danced around with Joshua, and counting how many hours they had been awake, I was sure they would both sleep indefinitely.

Joshua never slept. Ethan took a nap that was half as long as normal.

I was tired as it was from cleaning different parts of the house all day and even more frustrated by this lack of quiet time. I brought the boys downstairs while I finished folding laundry. Ethan has this thing where he doesn’t cry, he screams. And it’s the perfect pitch to shatter my ear drum. So I listened to that while I tried to finish my chores.

Eventually, we got to a peaceful enough point when dinner was almost finished where I made an alphabet tracer for Joshua with a $3 chalkboard from Target and chalk paint.

He’s writing in his own H. I think it’s his favorite letter. 

Wouldn’t it be great if every moment was like that? Would I value more time with them like that if I was away from them more?

The truth is, it’s easy to get annoyed when I’m trying to finish up dishes and Ethan is screaming bloody murder from the high chair, begging to be held. It’s almost easy to stay annoyed for the rest of the day at my tired baby, because I know that if he would have had a normal nap, he wouldn’t have been tired at this time.

But at the end of the day, I look back and wonder if I should have held him more, regardless of how I felt or what needed to be done.

See, back when he was in the hospital in January, during his first day in the PICU, I wasn’t able to hold him. I had asked the nurses, but from what I understood, they didn’t want compromise with all the wires and machines that they had hooked him up to. I felt so helpless, watching my sleeping, helpless, frail baby fight for his life. As his mother, my innate job was to give him life and I could not do a single thing about his condition at that time.

It sucked.

The next day, the nurse on shift encouraged me to hold my baby boy. I was as giddy as a child on Christmas morning. It was the sweetest feeling in the world.

This was such a wonderful moment for me. I held him for what felt like forever.

So, on a day like today, when I imagine how good it would be to get out of the house, away from my screaming boys, I find it important to remember that there was a day when I couldn’t hold my baby. I hold on to Ethan extra long at night, after he’s fallen asleep, and stroke his sweet face and hold to his little hand. I want to savor every part of him, in the moments when I can. Whether I’m at home all day or work full time outside of the house, I want to take advantage of the time I have with my boys because I do not want to imagine another day where I long to hold my baby but cannot.

Learning to Dream

“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.”‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭16:1‬ ‭ESV

This October will mark four years since I found out I was pregnant with Joshua. It will mark four years since I realize no matter how much I plan, God has the final say.

Roland and I were newlyweds at that point. We were young and excited to embark on life together. Things were not always easy, as anticipated, but we made sound plans for the future. We planned foreign excursions, budgeting, home ownership, and eventually a family. But that October afternoon was when I realized that God had a completely different plan for our lives at that point, one for which I was not quite sure that I was ready.

That season in my life changed my view on life and planning and living for the future. I decided that I would not make such a concrete life plan for myself or our family. I would devote my future to God’s hands.

I would still have goals — reachable goals — in my heart. I would still go after them. But I would not tie myself down by setting such specific goals so that I could allow room for God.

And that’s great and all, but

My goals were too reachable. My goals did not make me wonder how I could make them happen. They were small enough that they didn’t seem impossible and low enough on my priority list that my world wouldn’t be shattered if God stepped in again and messed up the plans.

But I heard God speak the other day. “Why are you thinking so realistically? Don’t look at the numbers, just dream.”

The truth is I was putting my goals and dreams inside of a box just small enough for me to still have some sort of control over them (or to keep what I would potentially have to give up to a minimum). As such, I was putting God in a box.

All these years, I never realized it. I thought I was being a good Christian by allowing my future to be so open-ended, enough for Him to freely play around with it.

My thought process was not bad. A “Lord, guide me” approach requires faith that God will take you where He needs you. Acknowledging that His ways are higher than mine (Isaiah 55:8-9) is biblical.

But I also let fear get in the way. For a short while, I was angry with God that October four years ago. I didn’t understand why or how He would take the dreams I had and not allow me to live them out as I had planned. I wanted my future to play out a certain way and it did not. I was scared that I would dream up another future that would also not happen.

The truth is, four years ago, I did not see where I would be today. In some senses, I am where I swore I would never be and in others, I’m in a better place than I could have imagined then. No matter the dreams or goals that I have today, no matter the plans I make, however detailed, I still will not be able to see four years down the line, let alone forty.

In the meantime, God is placing dreams in my heart. In some areas of my life, I feel more of a burning desire to just go out and do and in some other areas, I still have some apprehension as I wait for God to speak. Some of the dreams He has placed in my heart seem completely impossible. Some seem hard but I have a heart that is ready. None seem easy.

And yet, I have a promise in Proverbs 16:3.

I mentioned in my last post that God has created me (as He has created you) for special purposes. I trust that the dreams that He puts in my heart are things to further His kingdom, ways for me to live out that purpose.

There is nothing wrong with dreaming. There is nothing wrong with planning. But God’s ways are so much higher. His thoughts are so much higher.

I cannot continue to keep God in a box by dreaming small, by having goals that I can easily attain in my flesh. If I do, I don’t have a reason for Him to be in my life.