Pumpkin “Bran” Muffins – Low Carb and Gluten-Free


Have you ever seen any of those gigantic pumpkins, the sort people grow for county fairs, up close and personal?  I have.  Sort of.  Which is to say that I’ve driven by them on the way to the beach.  We have a fondness for a particular beach on the North Shore, but it’s a beach of which many others are also fond.  Which means lots of traffic on the way up, unless you know a double secret back route like we do.  And that double secret back route just so happens to take you past a place where someone grows giganamous pumpkins that literally  have you doing a double take as you drive by.

We saw them for the first time last year and we weren’t sure they were real.  It’s a beautiful vegetable garden near a lovely little house on a narrow little rural road and we’d taken notice of it before.  As we drove past in late summer, we saw huge orange humps rising above the green leaves in the garden.  It simply didn’t seem possible that they were real.  We drove past on the way home, but short of stopping the car, getting out and walking over, there seemed to be no way we could get a better look.  So we just shrugged and went on our way.  This year, we drove past again on our way to a late summer beach outing…and there it was, this time a single orange hump rising majestically above the rest of the garden.  Was it real, or was it some sort of silly garden decoration?

My curiosity was piqued enough to try to find out.  I am not the sort to go knocking on strangers’ doors, so I simply did a little internet sleuthing.  I typed in “giant pumpkin” and the name of the town and there it was in the local papers, a man who grows giant pumpkins in the hopes of winning prizes at the local fair.  To be certain I had the right person, I looked up the address associated with the name. I am not giving out either, because the poor man is apparently over-run with people stopping by and knocking on his door to see the pumpkins!  Suffice it to say, they are real, they are huge, and he puts an enormous amount of time and effort into growing these things.  Wow.  All I can say is wow.

That’s my little pumpkin story for today.  As we head into fall, I thought I’d bring you my first pumpkin recipe of the year.  I have always loved bran muffins and I think pumpkin bran is a delicious combo.  But bran is hardly low carb or gluten-free.  Brown flax seed meal has often reminded me of bran in both texture and appearance, and I thought it might make a wonderful healthy substitute.  It certainly did the trick!  These were delicious and gobbled up by the whole family.

Pumpkin “Bran” Muffins – Low Carb and Gluten-Free

Yield: 12 muffins


  • 1 1/2 cups brown flax seed meal
  • 6 tbsp Swerve Sweetener or granulated erythritol
  • 1/4 cup unflavoured whey protein powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 20 drops stevia extract
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted


  1. Preheat oven to 325F and line 12 muffins tins with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flax seed meal, granulated erythritol, whey protein powder, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.
  3. In medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, eggs, vanilla and stevia. Add to flax seed mixture and stir to combine.
  4. Stir in almond milk, then melted coconut oil, until well combined.
  5. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups and bake 28 to 30 minutes or until set and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.


Serves 12. Each muffin has a total of 6.5 g of carbs and 4.7 g of fiber. Total NET CARBS = 1.8 g.


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  1. Susan says

    another one I printed immediately after reading your commentary! Can’t wait to try and might just have to stock up on pumpkin.

    The Matcha Frozen Yogurt Pops were FANTASTIC…and I’ll be doubling the recipe here on out…my DH looked at me eating the last one and said, “you’re going to eat the last one?”
    I absolutely enjoyed it.

  2. says

    Oh, this one is a keeper, although it’s getting difficult to find unflavored whey protein powder around here. Will have to check out Amazon for it, although do you think vanilla might work? This is a perfect welcome-to-Fall recipe, IMHO. Thanks!

  3. says

    I love the idea of using flaxseed meal instead of bran to make these muffins super healthy (and GF)! And it’s starting to be that pumpkin time of year again, so I’m enjoying anything and everything that includes this orange gem :)

  4. says

    I’ve seen alot of pumpkin recipes posted this week. Everyone must be looking forward to fall.. ( not me, I’m a summer person) .
    I live in Bucks County , Pa and we have pumpkins growing on local farms, in our backyards , etc. They grow great here! Looks like a good recipe

  5. Jen says

    I was wondering this about the Stevia? Do you know epwhy some recipes call for both Swerve and Stevia extract? I am still trying to understand the Swerve, splenda , stevia, ez-sweetz…. We have been using Ez sweetz drops (really tastes good and splenda with fiber. What are your thoughts?

    • Carolyn says

      Why both stevia and Swerve…because I like the combo. Because I personally think that they work well together to sweeten things. Also because I do understand that erythritol based sweeteners can be expensive. A bottle of stevia is expensive but it goes a loooooooong way. So for readers who don’t want to blow through their erythritol quickly, I think stretching it out with stevia can help.
      Personally, I don’t like sucralose and splenda. I don’t like the way they taste. So I steer clear.
      Hope that helps!

  6. Cathy T. says

    Made these today and these are soooo yummy. I almost made 1/2 recipe of your delicious cream cheese frosting and put on top!
    Thanks for all of your great recipes!
    P.S. Also made your peanut butter cups today as well….almost very good!

  7. Christie Fine says

    I just made these and they taste wonderful! The only problem I had was that they were a little “wet” even after cooking them an extra ten minutes. I think it was because I had too much liquid in my pumpkin puree. I had it in the freezer from last year and didn’t get all of the liquid out. I can’t wait to make the next batch and see if they turn out even better! I put some cream cheese and sprinkled erythritol on it. YUMMO!

    • Carolyn says

      Hmmm, good point about the pumpkin puree. Mine was canned and very thick, so I think pushing out more liquid would help. They are definitely on the moist side because of the pumpkin, but they shouldn’t feel wet. I may change the recipe to make a note of that. Thanks!

  8. Ashley says

    Tried these today…and they were a fail. Even after baking them for 20 additional minutes they were gummy in the center. I tried letting them ‘sit’ for a while with the hope that they would eventually become muffin-like…resembling something close to what is pictured. Nope. After reading the comment (about the wetness of the puree) I used fresh-from-the-can organic pumpkin puree – super thick – and this still happened. Any other suggestions??

    • Carolyn says

      Hi Ashley. they really shouldn’t be so gummy in the center. I am trying to think what could be the problem. Is there anything you did differently in the recipe? What kind of pan did you use? Don’t use silicon, it never does well with low carb baked goods. What brand of flax seed meal? Two suggestions for the future…really dry out the puree by spreading it out on several layers of paper towels and blotting it with another layer. And then maybe add a little almond flour to help soak things up. that might help, even though I am really not sure how yours got so gummy. Mine definitely did not turn out that way.

  9. Megan says

    Just made these today and they were alright. I’m somewhat new to baking with flax seed and other healthy options. The problem I ran into was finding unflavored whey protein so I used some of the chocolate flavored protein powder I already had at home. Probably not a good idea because they kind of taste like a powdery-chocolate pumpkin muffin. Also, there is hardly any pumpkin flavor and I even used a little extra. I might need to tweak this recipe before I make it again! Otherwise, I’m glad I found a healthy alternative to my favorite sweet-type food!

    • Carolyn says

      Flavoured protein powders have intense flavours, so it doesn’t surprise me at all that it overpowered the pumpkin. Please try with unflavoured next time, and you will notice a big difference.!

  10. Katharine says

    Just made these tonight after you mentioned on your other post that they freeze well. When I first took them out of the oven and tore one in half I was a bit turned off by their appearance…..a different texture than I’m used to – dark, looked like they might be a little wet, and they were flat on top instead of rounded up like yours. But when I took a bite – so tasty! Not at all too flax-y tasting (I was worried they would be), I couldn’t taste the unflavored whey protein powder at all, and they had the perfect amount of sweetness (I used Zsweet plus Sweetleaf liquid stevia drops). I didn’t dry out my pumpkin puree, and after tasting I decided that they cooked just fine. I can’t wait to see how they perform out of the freezer this week. I am almost giddy that they are only 1.8g carbs!

    • Katharine says

      OK, bummed these weren’t great when I ate them again the next day. The texture seems off….like the flax didn’t incorporate as well as it looks like yours did. Perhaps it’s the flax I used? What brand do you use? I used Spectrum ground flax seed….is that different from flax seed meal? I really want these to work because I love pumpkin and bran muffins!

      • Carolyn says

        Huh, weird! I used Bob’s Red Mill…ground flax and flax seed meal are the same, I think. One suggestion…put the rest in the freezer and then reheat in the microwave, that might improve them now. I can’t guarantee that, but it’s worth a shot!

  11. says

    I made these this past week to take as snacks to work – they turned out great! I used vanilla protein powder and it worked just fine. Also froze some of them and they thawed out and tasted just as good as the ones I ate fresh. :)

  12. Kathy Stockbridge says

    Hello! I made these this morning and they did not hold together and were extremely wet. Was there supposed to be some almond flour in these? I was very disappointed because I’ve made several of your other recipes and they have been well thought out and delicious.

    • Carolyn says

      I am going to guess that your pumpkin had too much moisture in it. I find some brands do. Best fix is to spread it on several layers of paper towel and blot it with another few layers of paper towel. It works like a charm!

  13. Denise says

    Great muffins! I just made a batch yesterday. I’m not gluten intolerant so I substituted vital wheat gluten for the whey protein power 1:1 (I’m looking more for low-carb recipes). They came out looking just the same as your pictures. Thanks.

  14. april says

    I just made them and they were awesome!! I used egg whites instead of whole eggs and cut the oil down to 2 tbsp. They are delicious! Thank you for sharing. Do these freeze well? I’m thinking about freezing some for a rainy day!

  15. Luana says

    Carolyn, made these about week ago, and they were way too moist. Left in oven much longer, but even with that, could not get them to come out whole from silicone muffin cups. I know your recipes are very reliable. Made another batch this morning. Perfect! No idea what I did wrong last time, but felt like this recipe was a keeper, and it is.

    • Carolyn says

      Huh! Well that’s interesting to know. I wonder, did you use a different brand of flax at all? That just goes to show that low carb, gluten-free baking is a bit of a crapshoot, every time!

      • Luana says

        No, same brands of everything, the only thing I omitted today was the milk because I had none, and figured it would be ok without it. Didn’t use the whey protein powder either time, as didn’t have that either, but subbed = amount of almond flour.

        • Carolyn says

          Ah…the missing protein powder may be part of the problem in the original recipe. Remember, protein powder helps things rise properly (because gluten is a protein), and it’s a very different consistency than almond flour (which has a lot of fat and moisture). So subbing in more almond in place of the protein may have resulted in wetter, denser muffins. And then for the second round, you omitted the extra milk, so that would have helped them be better, although I bet they still didn’t rise as much as they should have.

          • Luana says

            Good points! I didn’t know protein powder helps thing rise. I will try them the next time I make them, though from the way these taste, they don’t seem like they need any improvement!

  16. Shangella says

    I just made this recipe with a few changes based on what I had in the house. (after the holidays my fridge is empty of everything) They turned out great.
    -3/4 cup grated zucchini instead of pumpkin
    -7 tablespoons of splenda
    -Milk instead of almond milk
    -soy protein instead of whey protein
    -1/3 cup of sunflower oil instead of coconut oil (hard to find around here)

    These will be great for breakfast instead of the perpetual eggs and bacon and my spouse liked them!!

  17. taniss says

    I find that using stevia in large quantities makes the baking bitter. I only put in 10 drops of stevia and I still found the batter to be very bitter. I had to add some nuts and a little maple syrup (Sad they couldn’t be sugar free) to try to hide the bitterness. Am I the only one that has noticed that?

    • Carolyn says

      Taniss, what brand of stevia are you using? Everyone has a different palate so some people taste bitterness with stevia whereas others do not. I can make some alternative sweetener suggestions.

      • Taniss says

        I have tried many kinds with the same results. With this recipe I used the drops. So far truvia is the best I’ve used (powder form) but I don’t think it is pure stevia. They did turn out pretty good though after I tweeked it. The texture was perfect.

        • Carolyn says

          Truvia is not pure stevia. It’s not even mostly stevia. It is mostly erythritol with a little stevia in it. That’s why it tasted good. I use Swerve, which is also erythritol based and is non-GMO.

  18. says

    I made these this morning. I used 1/2 cup Truvia, 20 drops NuNaturals Stevia, 20 drops Skinny Girl Monk Fruit drops, 1 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips and I didn’t have whey protein so I used 1/4 cup extra flax meal. The texture is kinda squishy from the flax, and the flavor is great.

  19. says

    Hi Carolyn!

    Love your site and this recipe looks delicious! I was just wondering if there was anyway to nix the protein powder all together. Do you think this would change the consistency or flavor? All I have is vanilla flavored whey and I already don’t like the way it tastes, so I’d rather not put it in the muffins. Thanks!


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