Pumpkinhead Cupcakes (The Leftovers Club)

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It’s rare that I make a dessert for The Low-Acid Kitchen that doesn’t try to mask whole-wheat flour, do without oil, or otherwise be very healthy. These cupcakes are a true dessert, though, and they’re a treat with their light texture and delicious spice blend. They’re naturally moist from the pumpkin puree, and the fat content isn’t problematic if you eat only one. This recipe also includes a secret ingredient: Shipyard Pumpkinhead, my favorite autumn ale.

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The key to keeping this dessert heartburn-friendly is to omit the frosting. Cream cheese frosting would be fantastic on these, but it’s not necessary. I topped each cupcake with shredded coconut instead of frosting, and the pop of sweetness and texture was the perfect finish. The part of the coconut that isn’t directly touching the cake gets browned and crispy and is divine!

I sent these cupcakes to Ginger of Stark Raving Delicious for The Leftovers Club. She made me a moist and well-spiced pumpkin loaf, and I wanted to reply with a seasonal treat. If you love to bake and want to receive goodies in the mail each month, consider joining Ginger and me in The Leftovers Club.


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • a few dashes of cloves
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

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  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and add paper liners to a standard cupcake tin.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Mix well.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the sugars, oil, vanilla, egg, pumpkin, and beer. Stir until smooth.
  4. Add the dry ingredients in several batches into the wet ingredients, and stir until all lumps have disappeared. 2014-11-02 19.21.55
  5. Fill each cupcake liner with a scant 1/4 cup of batter. Sprinkle each cake with coconut, and bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cake comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

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Makes 12. Active time 10 minutes; total time 26 to 28 minutes. Adapted from http://shipyard.com/article/pumpkinhead-cupcakes


Spiced Pumpkin & Coconut Soup


The spice blend and a bit of light coconut milk make this soup Thai inspired. The flavor blend is interesting and strong enough that it’s not immediately clear that the soup is pumpkin based. That means you can serve it any season of the year, not just in pumpkin season!

Coconut milk is delicious, but it gives my heartburn a lot of grief. I use the light version, which has less than half the fat of regular, but I still had trouble with the original half-cup of coconut milk in this recipe. Downgrading to a quarter-cup solved the problem, but it does take away some of the richness. You’ll have to test it and see what works for you.

This soup is thick without being cream-based. It’s possible to puree it completely, but I like to leave some small chunks, particularly of the apples. If you prefer it to be completely smooth, I recommend peeling the apple and adding 10 extra minutes to the final simmering time. Then go nuts with your immersion blender.


  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 Gala apple, diced small
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 stalks celery, diced small
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 15-oz can plain pumpkin
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • salt
  • parsley and sliced almonds for garnish



  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and line a large baking sheet with foil and cooking spray. Add carrots and apples, spray surfaces with cooking spray, and roast for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium, and saute celery for 5 minutes. Add spices, sugar, broth, and pumpkin and stir until smooth.
  3. Stir in the roasted carrots and apples, and bring the mixture to a boil. Drop the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in coconut milk.
  4. Using an immersion blender, carefully blend to your desired consistency. Add salt to taste. Serve with parsley and sliced almonds as garnish.


Serves 4. Adapted from http://www.hellawella.com/hellawella-recipe-indian-roasted-pumpkin-soup/2514

Light Coconut & Vegetable Soup


Now that soup season has arrived, I’m struggling with my reflux-friendly diet that prohibits onions, garlic, and spicy food. I’ve made several unsatisfying batches of soup, and I’m not even ready to think about what a tomato-free, pepper-free chili would be like!

Luckily I came across this recipe while searching for a way to use light coconut milk. This recipe includes root vegetables and broth like most soups—but the sweet potato and coconut give the dish an unusual sweetness. A sprinkle of parmesan cheese provides the perfect complement.


Light coconut milk has 70 percent less fat than the normal variety. It’s not a low-fat food, but it’s close enough for my reflux. This recipe includes only about 2 tablespoons of the stuff per serving.

This soup is very easy to make; without onions and garlic, there isn’t even a saute step! The flavors are subtle but pleasing, and the lentils break up during cooking to add a rice-like component. Also, I love the texture that comes from leaving the skin on the sweet potatoes.


  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 large carrot
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1/3 cup red lentils
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup light coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • grated parmesan cheese



  1. Chop the potato, carrot, and celery into small pieces. Add to a large pot with the lentils and broth.
  2. Stir, cover, and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Stir in the coconut milk and spices, and simmer for another 25 minutes.
  4. Ladle into bowls and top with cheese before serving.

Tropical Smoothie


I get tired of the same apple, banana, and spinach smoothie—and this gorgeous summer weather makes me long for fruity cocktails. A pina colada is off-limits due to the acidity of pineapple, so I created an alternative tropical beverage.

Papaya is a new ingredient for me. I picked one up after hearing that papaya has enzymes that are good for heartburn suffers. Unfortunately, this seems to be a myth. But the flavor isn’t tart like many fruits, so I would guess it is in the safe pH range for GERD. I will keep researching to see if I can find the actual pH of the fruit.


Despite papaya’s deep color and striking appearance (especially the seeds!), it has a mild flavor. But it definitely feels tropical. Mixed with melon and coconut, this smoothie had me thinking island thoughts all morning.

An important note about coconut water: Reflux sufferers can have only 100% pure coconut water. If vitamin C, acid, or fruit flavor are added, the pH will be too low and the beverage will irritate your throat. This post on the Dropping Acid blog provides a welcome list of bottled beverages that are safe to drink. If you get VItaCoco, make sure you get the “100% Pure” rather than the “Pure,” which has added acids.


If you like texture in your smoothies like I do, blend the shredded coconut only for a couple of pulses. Also, you really won’t taste the spinach, so it’s a great way to add nutrition. But it takes away that beautiful pink color, so I didn’t include it here.


  • 3/4 cup coconut water
  • 1/4 cup plain soy milk
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen honeydew chunks
  • 1 cup fresh papaya chunks
  • 2 tbsp sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup packed baby spinach (optional)


  1. To prepare the papaya, peel the entire fruit with a vegetable peeler. Slice it in half the long way, and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Discard the seeds, and chop the fruit into chunks.
  2. Mix the first 5 ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
  3. Add the coconut and spinach, if using, and blend until mixture reaches desired consistency.
Serves 1.