Spiced Chocolate Chip Walnut Muffins

Last week I whipped up a batch of Pumpkin Chocolate Walnut Muffins and they were such a hit they were gone in a couple days.  So being in the baking mood I decided to make a similar batch but using spice cake mix.  Spice cake is one of my favorite types of homemade cakes, but since I don’t always get to have it homemade, boxed is second best.  I used a very similar recipe to what I did with the pumpkin muffins, although with this batch I increased the amounts of some ingredients.
These came out perfect – they’re moist, delicious, and again another crowd pleaser. These were even given the stamp of approval from my 4 year old niece. I’d call that a success in my book.
4 Points Plus. Serves 16.
Ingredients:
  • 1 box Betty Cocker Super Moist Spice Cake Mix
  • 15 oz can Libby’s Pure Pumpkin
  • 3 tbsp egg whites
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 tbsp chocolate chips (milk or semi-sweet)
  • 3 tbsp chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with cupcake papers, each paper spritzed with non-stick cooking/baking spray.
In a large bowl mix together cake mix, pumpkin, egg whites, baking soda and water until blended and smooth.
Evenly distribute batter to each cupcake paper. I found large heaping tablespoons helped distribute the batter evenly, with the remainder being distributed throughout the cups.
In a small bowl mix together chocolate chips and walnuts, then evenly sprinkle over the top of each muffin. I used a ½ teaspoon to distribute.
Bake per box directions.  Cupcakes are done when a knife is inserted and comes out clean – roughly 15-18 minutes.

Garden Lites Pumpkin Spice Souffle

I spotted this Garden Lites Pumpkin Spice Souffle at Target and into my cart it went. I admit, at first when I saw the words “pumpkin spice” and “souffle” in the same sentence I was a little apprehensive. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a rewarding food experience. But there’s a little saying that says “don’t judge a book by its cover” so I tried not to.
After calculating the points plus values, I was quite excited to see the points plus values are actually notated on the box. Once I found this, it made looking at other flavor options a breeze.
One day I wanted something pumpkiny for dessert. Wrinkling my nose at the options presented to me, I decided to give the pumpkin spice soufflé a shot.  I heated it up in the microwave per the box directions. After letting it cool for a few minutes I tried it and was very impressed from that very first bite. It tasted just like pumpkin pie filling.  I decided to jazz it up just a little more with a tablespoon of sugar free maple syrup over the top … and it was sinfully delicious! It was undoubtedly pumpkin spice – but more pumpkin than spice which I truly appreciated. It wasn’t eggy in the least bit, but it did have a little bit of a creamy quality to it on the tongue which was reminiscent of custard. Overall, delicious – and so delicious that I made sure to pick up another box on my last trip through Target.
A serving (the whole bowl – 7 ounces) is 190 calories or 5 points plus values.
QUESTION:
Have you tried any of the Garden Lites soufflés? If so, which one(s) is/are your favorite?

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Biscotti

I picked up a container of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Biscotti after spotting them rather accidentally. I was looking to grab a pack of the Five Seed Almond Bars when I noticed the bright orange container. My attention was immediately diverted so I picked up the container to check out the nutrition facts. Right then a Trader Joe’s employee walked by and said “those are delicious!” … and we can say, that sealed the deal.
I enjoy biscotti cookies and I love pumpkin – and since I have never had pumpkin biscotti I felt it would be a nice treat.  My personal favorite biscotti are chewier biscotti, not the classic hard biscotti … which these are. These particular biscotti are very crunchy and hard and are best to eat with tea or coffee … as regular biscotti tend to be best eaten.  Taste wise these are pumpkin spice flavored, whereas texture wise they’re hard, crunchy and slightly crispy.  I’m not saying these are bad, they’re good … but I’d enjoy them a lot more if they were slightly chewy, but that’s just personal preference.
A serving is 2 biscotti cookies, which are 110 calories or 3 points plus. The biscotti cookies are smaller – smaller than the size of your finger.
QUESTION:
What is your favorite type of biscotti?

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Mix

I’m a sucker for pumpkin desserts (I mean, what else is new) and because I had tried the Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Mix last year and was quite a fan. I like this mix because it’s one of the most versatile mixes because it’s advertised as a bread or muffin … but I tend to enjoy making this as a cake.
The mix calls for eggs, oil and water to be added to it – but when baking I typically try to cut corners and make it healthier.  So, with this particular mix I make my pumpkin cake with sugar free apple sauce and water. I simply add 1 cup water and ½ cup unsweetened apple sauce mix it up until incorporated and add it to a Pam spritzed cake pan. They come out perfect every time! Moist and delicious.  The apple sauce doesn’t give it an apple flavor; it’s truly not noticeable when added in, but the cake does have a unique moistness to it.  I cooked this up on a whim after wanting dessert that night and no one had any idea I made it with apple sauce and water. When I finally let the cat out of the bag, everyone was surprised and shocked.
¼ cup of mix is 150 calories, or 4 points plus.  With the apple sauce and water each slice remains at 4 points plus.  Whereas if the oil, eggs and water were added the nutrition info and points plus would need to be recalculated.
QUESTION:
What is your favorite pumpkin flavored baking item?

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bagels


When I spotted these Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bagels I picked up the bag and gave it a good whiff. I have this weird thing I do where when buying bread products that have a flavor to them, I have to smell it through the bag. If it smells weird, I can’t buy it because I essentially won’t eat it. But when I smelled these they smelled ah-mazing!
After opening the bag at home, I sliced the bagel in half and popped it into the toaster. I noticed throughout the bagel there are bits which resemble brown sugar pieces, taste sweet and pumpkin spice flavored.  They are nicely pumpkin flavored without being overbearing on the taste buds.  Toasting the bagels up they come out nice and crunchy, yet soft, and are perfect with cream cheese, spray butter or even peanut butter.
I enjoyed them so much I have been eating them for breakfast or brunch a good portion of the week.  I find with peanut butter they’re perfectly filling and will hold me over until the next meal.  They’re reasonably priced as well – $2.59 for a bag of 6.
Each bagel is 250 calories or 6 points plus values.
QUESTION:
Are you a fan of pumpkin bagels?

Trader Joe’s Country Pumpkin Spice Granola Cereal


Fall brings out all the pumpkin and fall goodies at Trader Joe’s.  This meant, I was super excited to pick up a box of Trader Joe’s Country Pumpkin Spice Granola Cereal. I did not have a chance to give this a try last year and since I have a pumpkin fascination/obsession I wanted to give it a go.
I’m a big granola fan – but I truthfully don’t eat it very often at all. This has been the first box of granola I have purchased in over 3 years … and I have to say, it was well worth the wait.  I first described this granola as what you would get if plain old granola and pumpkin pie had a baby. It’s that classic crunchy granola texture mixed with chewy raisins with a very noticeable pumpkin spice flavor mixed throughout. It’s delicious, flavorful and mixes well with yogurts and assorted fruits.  I’ve had this pumpkin spice granola over pumpkin flavored yogurt, while I’ve also had it with coconut vanilla yogurt mixed with fresh blueberries, strawberries and granola on top of it.  It adapts well to the flavors it’s mixed with while it also holds up to its crunchy texture.  I have been such a fan I have incorporated this into my breakfast/snacks daily.
A serving is 2/3 cup which is 240 calories, or 6 points plus values.  Although I find a 1/3 cup serving is more than enough to accompany a serving of yogurt. A 1/3 cup serving calculates out to be 3 points plus values.
QUESTION:
Have you ever tried Trader Joe’s pumpkin spice granola?

Yoplait Light Pumpkin Pie Yogurt


I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again … fall is upon us, which means pumpkin everything! One of my favorite repeat purchases has been Yoplait Light Pumpkin Pie Yogurt.  This little gem is distributed by Yoplait this time of year … but oddly enough is usually only found (at least in my area) at Target locations. I first spotted this last year and have been hooked since then.  When I spotted this 4-pack at Target, I immediately put it in my cart.

The yogurt flavoring is on point; it tastes just like a pumpkin pie although a slightly tart pumpkin pie.  Before I take my first bite, I usually have to remind myself of the consistency. The yogurt is on the thinner side which isn’t the texture of pumpkin pie so it at first is a little mind boggling. Granted, if this were a Greek yogurt, I think it’d be a homerun in the park but even with it being regular yogurt it’s quite delicious.. Last year I did try these incorporated into a smoothie and it was a deliciously fabulous experience. I haven’t made a pumpkin pie smoothie yet because I ate up my yogurt and have to get to Target to get another pack soon!

One cup is 2 points plus, whereas 2 cups is 3 points plus.  Quite worth it for the average pumpkin lover!
QUESTION:
Have you tried the Yoplait Pumpkin Pie yogurt?

Nature Valley Granola Thins – Pumpkin Pie

I was actually told about these limited edition Nature Valley Granola Thins in Pumpkin Pie via Instagram. My love of pumpkin is strong and I personally wouldn’t have known about these unless I just happened to be browsing Stop & Shop and stumbled upon the mini display … which probably wouldn’t have happened.
I have wanted to try the granola thins for the longest time but since I’m not a big fan of dark chocolate I just couldn’t justify making the purchase. But give me a milk chocolate (which they don’t sell) or a pumpkin pie granola thin and I am all on board.  When I opened the package, I was gifted with a nice pumpkin pie scent.  Taking the first bite I was rewarded with that crumbly granola texture and then a sweet frosting on the bottom of the thin.  A perfect blend of both pumpkin and granola – definitely two thumbs up!
A serving is one thin, which conveniently come packaged in their own individual packs.  A serving is 80 calories or 2 points plus values.  I did find these at Stop & Shop but have yet to see them elsewhere.
QUESTION:
Have you tried any of the Nature Valley Granola Thins?

Pumpkin Pie Pop-Tarts

Pop-Tarts … back in my “hay day” my ideal choice for a late breakfast or even a mid-afternoon snack.  Toaster pastries are a long-lost “love” of mine and I can honestly say it’s been years since I have had a Pop-Tart. That is, until I spotted these Pumpkin Pie Pop-Tarts on the shelf and just had to give them a go.
I’m a self proclaimed pumpkin fanatic and pumpkin pie is one of my all time favorite pies. These did not let me down, the pastries are fabulous.  They’re good at room temperature straight out of the packaging, but they are heavenly after being toasted.  They really do taste like pumpkin pie.  The filling is undoubtedly pumpkin pie, the frosting is sweet but it doesn’t make the pastry sickeningly sweet and the crust is reminiscent of pie crust. Spot on as far as I’m concerned.
The one major thing I dislike about Pop-Tarts is not the product itself, but its packaging. A serving size is 1 pastry, yet there are 2 pastries in a pack. Sure, a pastry can be taken out of a pack and put into a zip-lock bag … but that’s a little annoying.  I have yet to make an exception to my stubborn rule until these. Typically I’ll eat one pastry and share the other with whoever I’m with.
One pastry is a serving, which runs at 200 calories or 5 points plus values.  Worth it if you’re in the market for something sweet and tasty.
QUESTION:
What is your favorite Pop-Tart flavor?

Pumpkin Oatmeal

With fall upon us I had a strong inkling for pumpkin oatmeal. With that, I decided to whip up a pot of pumpkin oatmeal to have on hand for the week.  I have seen pumpkin oatmeal recipes for the crock pot but they involved chunks of real pumpkin in it.  Since canned pumpkin is readily available to me I decided to venture down a different path.  I did google pumpkin oatmeal and I found a recipe by Aarti Sequeira from the Food Network. I used that as a stepping stone for my oatmeal and adapted it to the flavors I would like in my oatmeal as well as keeping an eye on the ingredients I used because I didn’t want my oatmeal to be astronomically high in points plus values.
I have to say the end result is pretty delicious. Its pumpkin flavored, but mildly sweet and I can have a variety of different serving sizes depending on my hunger at the time (1 1/4 cups = 6 points plus, 1 cup = 5 points plus or 1/2 cup = 2 points plus).  The thing I like about the dish is that it can be adapted to how you like your oatmeal – whether you like it wetter or dryer, you can increase or decrease on the additional water I added at the end.    The whole recipe made 5 cups of oatmeal.
Serves 5. Serving Size – 1 Cup.  5 Points Plus Values.
Ingredients:
          14 oz pumpkin puree
          2/3 cup skim milk
          1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
          1 cup water, plus 2/3 cup reserved
          1 tsp pumpkin spice
          1 tsp cinnamon
          1 tsp brown sugar
          ¼ cup sugar free maple syrup
          ¼ tsp salt
          1 ¼ tbsp honey
          3 packets Equal (optional)
          2 cups quick cooking oats
In a large pot add pumpkin, milk, almond milk, brown sugar, 1 cup water, cinnamon, maple syrup, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice.  Turn flame on to medium heat and blend pumpkin together with the remaining contents until blended smooth and starting to bubble.
Once bubbling add in the quick cooking oats and stir to combine. When combined drizzle in the honey and stir to combine.  Depending on the thickness, slowly add in some of the reserved 2/3 cup water and blend water into the oatmeal until absorbed.
Taste the flavor of the oatmeal and if not sweet enough for your liking, sprinkle in 3 packets of Equal and stir to combine.  Allow the pot to simmer for 1-2 minutes before turning off the heat.