Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Baked Doughnuts – Vegan/Super-Low-Sugar

In Recipe by Robyn Landis1 Comment

I was happily hunting and pecking around the Internet for delicious healthy Thanksgiving recipes when I started seeing all these amazing posts coming into my Twitter feed about vegan baked doughnuts.

Now, as you may know, I have an un-sweet sweet tooth—which means I really enjoy my sweets, but I like them…not too sweet. Sound cray? Not really. I’m just super conscious and considerate of what I will put into my precious body, with high standards for healthy quality (I want it to be good for me AND other people/animals/planet—and I can do that). I’ve found I can enjoy a few well-chosen, high-quality sweet things every day without running up a big sugar tab for my bod.

My tracking tells me I consume about 40-50 grams of sugar per day on average. That may be more than the extremely rare hyper-sugar-free folk might do, but a mere fraction of what the average American consumes (even a natural soda contains 45 grams of sugar, as do many designer juices, and a bottle of Mountain Dew contains upwards of 70, just for reference). Happily, I manage to get that 40-ish grams while enjoying organic, high-quality nutrient-rich granola, chocolate, energy bars and even a cookie or two every day. It’s all in the choices…

If I have a serious contender of a temptation, though, it might very well be doughnuts. (I even like the word. DOUGHNUT. Sounds so pillowy and cakey, comforting and warm. Or we can say donut, if you prefer the spartan commercial spelling. Or the Homer Simpson version:  DOH-NUUUUUUUT. I feel you, Homer.)

Now, when I say temptation, that doesn’t mean I actually eat doughnuts very often (because no matter how good something sounds or looks or smells, my commitment to feeling and looking great is louder. It’s so strong and cultivated that it wields more influence than whatever aroma or flavor beckons.

I have a choice (I could eat anything—no big deal) but I genuinely end up not ultimately wanting junky stuff (or cruel stuff), because the larger care is so overpowering. (This is a key most people don’t use in their food locks, one I’ve taught and written about and hope to keep sharing). And besides, there are so many delicious foods that are healthy.

What “temptation” does mean in this case is that I look at doughnuts and dreamily think “mmmm” more than I do about other things.

When in Seattle, if I really want the treatiest (yes, I’ve decided that is a word) of treats, I might hit up Mighty-O donuts (organic and vegan). But organic and vegan though they might be, they still pack a wallop of sugar, and I just don’t do that to me. I stick to their cinnamon-dusted (Cini Minis!), chocolate cake or plain (no frosting), as the company kindly publishes nutrition info on all the varieties so I know these have by far the least sugar.

And I usually go for the minis. If I get a whole one, to the great amusement of my friends, it usually lasts four or five days (a bite or two a day)—and yes, they are tasty even when a bit hard and crumbly on day five. And last time I was in Seattle for eight weeks, I only had one—because I just noticed I didn’t feel so great afterward (I’m very attuned to such things, and it matters to me). So the next time I was at the co-op looking at the display case, I thought for a moment and said “nah.” I mean, I could’ve. No big deal either way. Just didn’t seem worth it.

But okay, lecture over. (Sorry for dangling doughnuts over your head while I stand on my soapbox for a mo.) Back to now, and to this recipe: Enter the home-baked donut.

They’re not a stickler’s authentic doughnut, of course, because they’re not deep-fried. Truth be told, they’d probably work just as well if they were shaped like muffins. But patted into a donut mold (which I did not have the first time I made these, so they were more like doughnut holes—or less charitably, blobs) they offer that fun, nostalgic shape and they are cakey. And delicious! They can be iced for even more of that donut look/experience.

I went to bed the other night after downloading about nine vegan baked doughnut recipes in mouth-watering autumn flavors (apple, pumpkin, chai, cider, etc) and found myself unusually…obsessed. So yesterday morning I went into the kitchen for some experimenting.

Using what I had around for flour and such, and a borrowing a bit from each recipe, tweaking and tasting till the batter seemed right to me, I came up with this relatively simple recipe for—wait for it—CHOCOLATE Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts. This is an amalgam of at least two main types of recipes (pumpkin donuts and spice donuts). The chocolate, natch, was my idea.

I got 14 mini donuts/holes (er, blobs) out of this recipe (a silicone mini-donut pan is on the way and I can’t wait to try this again!) I ran the whole thing by MyFitnessPal recipe calculator and came up with 80 calories per piece, 2 grams fat, 3 grams protein (cool!), 4 g fiber, 3 g sugar and 13 g carbohydrate. Deeply, impressively respectable specs for a doughnut!  Crazy low sugar, yet very much satisfies.

I didn’t frost them, though all the recipes I read came with varying icing instructions. I just didn’t want or need the extra sweet, but if you do, there are several kabillion frosting and icing recipes on the web, vegan or not, and you can choose your flavor and go for it. For those with sweeter teeth, maybe kids, that might do just the trick. (Some kids might prefer less spice, too. Me, I’m going to try adding cardamom to the next batch!)

REMEMBER that my palate for sweet has become extremely refined and modified toward the “just a touch” (e.g., my current favorite chocolate is 91% dark) so be warned: these might not taste as exciting to you as they do to me. (I actually distributed some around the ‘hood yesterday and got happy feedback, but I also probably associate with fellow crunchy people, so you never know.) You might want to double, triple, or even quadruple the sweet ingredients in this recipe to come up with something a little more mainstream.

But if you’re feeling open, try it this way—retraining your taste buds to appreciate just a hint of sweet can really have an impact on your chub. Really. And your health too.

Kind of like—I’m sorry, I just have to say it— “having your cake and eating it too.”

 Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Baked Doughnuts – Vegan/Super-Low-Sugar


  • 1.5 cups organic buckwheat flour (for a lighter, spongier dough, use whole-wheat pastry flour; I have seen these recipes with mixtures of spelt, rice and other kinds of flour, so play with your faves)
  • 3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 2 T unsweetened cacao powder
  • 2 T mesquite flour (mesquite meal) (this may not be easy to find if you don’t live in the desert, but I think it gave it awesome flavor; you could substitute almond flour perhaps—or more cacao powder!)
  • 5 tsp organic date sugar (I like date sugar for the taste and also because it’s 2 g sugar per teaspoon instead of 4 g like all other sugars; you could use any organic granulated sugar you like, whether coconut sugar, unrefined evaporated cane juice, or whatnot; this is also where you might want to amp up the quantity if the batter doesn’t taste sweet enough; a little more almond milk would offset the added dry ingredient)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt


  • 0.25 cup, Unsweetened Applesauce + 1 tsp baking soda, blended (as egg replacer; if not concerned about vegan, could add an egg here)
  • 1/2 cup + 1 T canned organic pumpkin
  • 1 T  vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (add more by the spoonful if batter too dry; and probably any nut milk would do)
  • 2 T organic maple syrup
  • 1 T walnut oil (I think oil is optional, and probably any mild oil would do; I like the nutty flavor of walnut or hazelnut oil in baking, but this is so nominal as to be probably unnoticeable)

I like to keep my mixing super simple. I sift the dry ingredients in one bowl and make a well in the middle. Mix the wet ingredients in a second bold and pour wet mixture into the well.  Fold in till just moist. My batter was firm enough to form ball-shaped, doughnut-hole-like (if not perfectly spherical) blobs.

Dust tops with mixture of cinnamon powder and date sugar (or your sugar of choice). This doesn’t add a lot of sugar but give the tongue that first hit, and also looks nice. You can dust again when they come out of the oven.

Bake at 350˚-375˚ (I’m still experimenting) for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  At 350˚and 20 minutes, the doughnuts had a decently doughnutty cake-like texture but maybe still a tad moist inside; the 25-minute ones were a bit firmer.  The next day, both batches have a nice spongy texture (of course I had to try both versions).

I loved these with hot caramel apple tea!  Enjoy them your way!

ROBYN LANDIS is an ACE-certified fitness professional, personal trainer, health coach, herbalist, motivation specialist and bestselling author. She is a mind-body transformer who helps people LOVE getting the body and energy that’s fit for their dreams—without hype, regimens, extremes, or concern for irrelevant “weight.” 

Robyn brings science, spirit and common sense to untangling the “health hairball.” Her unique, trademark Conscious Inspiration™ process has helped thousands overcome health-info confusion, overwhelm, and resistance, get free of the toxic paradigm she calls Diet Thinking™, and crack the code of “motivation.”  She tirelessly dissolves destructive myths about health and fitness, and models joyful self-care, embodying and advocating a radically vibrant, radiant vision of “ wisening.” 

Robyn’s books (including Herbal Defense, cowritten with KP Khalsa, one of the country’s foremost plant medicine experts) have been published in five languages with a combined 200,000+ copies in print. Her vision is to uplift and uplevel the way we think, talk about and DO healthy living—and how we teach kids to understand and treasure their bodies. She also strives to end the use of “weight” as a measurement. She writes, teaches, speaks, coaches, trains, facilitates and life-changing programs and practices that help people make healthy choices joyfully. She offers individual and group coaching, including “NOURISH U: 9 Weeks to More Energy, Less Fat and a Super-Fueled Life.”

Robyn specializes in helping women over 40 achieve optimal hormonal health for glowing skin, lower 
bodyfat, energy, and JOY—and men at midlife who’ve “let themselves go” get back in shape so they’re primed for performance and pleasure in their next phase of life. She also specializes in lifestyle approaches to fatigue, migraines, heart health, diabetes, digestive issues and sleep disorders.  Her clients learn to integrate food, exercise, rest, meditation and traditional healing, and become deeply happy getting exceptionally healthy
™ —with energy to spare and the health to thrive and live fully.  


  1. Kristen MacKenzie

    Nicely done!! Those *are* some impressively low numbers for something that sounds so good for a sweet fix!

Leave a Reply to Kristen MacKenzie Cancel reply