Sweet potato & five spice muffins

So my news for this week is that I am back at work, still struggling with the effects of shingles but no longer contagious. PHEWWWW. I am however still very tired and a bit sore but it is really nice to be back and busy. I really hate the feeling that I am letting people down or not doing my job and I get very worried about this while off work, so being back gives me some relief. I mentioned last week my glee at being organised and having my kitchen prepped for weeks of food, and I am still super glad. I don’t have to worry this week for dinner ideas still, even though my son looks at the food and pushes his plate away and says “noooo mummy” or sometimes he simply removes three quarters of the food on his plate and just eats the remaining bread sticks or pasta. I will persevere!!!!! Eventually he will happily eat all his dinner (one can dream right?).

I don’t usually post other people’s recipes. I really like knowing that what I share is my own creation, but let me be honest. I would never in a million years have put this next recipe together myself, it just would not have crossed my mind to put sweet potatoes into a muffin. But it was such a hit with my son that I need to share the recipe. And I have been pulling out a muffin (from the freezer stash) every few days to keep my little boy happy while mummy isn’t in the mood to bake.

I borrowed a book from my sister recently to gauge whether or not I should buy my own copy. It is Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘IT’S ALL GOOD’ book. The very first recipe that bounced out at me were the sweet potato muffins. I am constantly on the look out for recipes that are simple and healthy and fit into lots of different categories, like breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner (and are freezable). I try very hard to avoid refined sugar (I know the sugar content of natural sweeteners is quite similar to that in refined sugars but they do taste better and have higher nutritional benefits)  so when it comes to my son so this recipe was actually perfect! I have a few other pages marked in the book for testing, before I buy a copy for myself but so far so good, it looks like a winner of a book.


This recipe ticks all my boxes, full of good ingredients and no refined sugar! Sweet potatoes are full of benefit. They are high in fiber, low in sugar, contain high concentration of vitamin C, and also strong in vitamin A. They contain anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants that help your body fight disease (god knows I could use some help in that department). The benefits are just unreal! However, I cannot get my son to eat sweet potatoes in their normal capacity so adding them to muffins is just genius!

When I made these, they smelt and looked amazing. I let them cool and an hour out of the oven, I tasted one. Taste was good but the texture was strange. They kinda stuck to the roof of my mouth and teeth so I wasn’t convinced by them, I started to think about how I could tweak the recipe. However, a few hours later when my son came home from crèche he saw them on the counter and said “oh mummy you made me cakes, thank you so much. Can I have one?” So I thought about it and said yes but with your dinner. So I got his dinner plate ready (a little bamboo car shaped plate which is super cute) and added a muffin on the side. He ate all his dinner and then ate his and my muffins. He loved them, and I have to say that the texture hours later was much better. They seemed to have settled and were crumblier and more muffin like than when just freshly made so now I don’t need to make any changes in the recipe. Score!

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I made a half batch of this recipe, as we didn’t need 12 muffins between just the two of us. I will post the original recipe and beside each ingredient, my measurements for the 6 muffins in red.

  • 1 large sweet potato     *180 g mashed sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil     *60 ml olive oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk   *60 ml whole milk
  • 3/4 cup good-quality maple syrup or xylitol, plus 2 extra tablespoons for brushing the muffins     *80 ml good maple syrup (grade A)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract   *1/2 tsp of vanilla
  • 2 cups gluten-free flour     *170 g self-raising gluten-free flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder     *3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda     *1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Chinese five-spice powder   *1.5 tsp ground five spice 
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt     * pinch of fine salt


Heat the oven to 200 C.

Rub the sweet potato with a little oil. Bake until soft (when a knife can easily be inserted all the way through), I roasted them for about 40 minutes (mine were medium in size, not large. Large should take about 1 hour). Set the sweet potato aside until its completely cool. Cut open and scoop out the flesh and mash.

For the sweet potato, I do more than one batch at a time, so putting 3 or 4 on a tray to roast at one time and then I freeze the unused sweet potato mash in single quantities for future muffins. This saves a lot of time in the future.

Whisk the olive oil, milk, maple syrup and vanilla into the sweet potato. This doesn’t take a lot of time, literally just about 20 seconds.


In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground five-spice and salt. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.


Line a 6  muffin tin with paper liners and evenly distribute the muffin batter among the cups. If you are making Gwyneths full recipe use a 12 muffin tin. Wet your fingers and gently smooth the tops of the muffin so they brown evenly. I do this particularly because my crazy kid won’t eat any bits that are extra brown, it is very annoying and cute at the same time.


Reduce the oven temp to 190 C and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and brush the tops with maple syrup and let cool.


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