vegan apple pie muffins {RECIPE} + project downsize update

vegan apple pie muffins with gluten-free & low-fat options

Apple pie…mmmm. Muffins…double mmmm.

But first.

I’ve been sharing tid bits here & there on facebook about our #projectdownsize efforts. If you haven’t heard, here’s the gist of it. Our lease is up at the end of the year. Our rent will be going up slightly. Joseph & I realized, wait a sec….we’ve been paying WAY too much for rent!

We don’t need a huge house. We could be saving upwards of $500/month (a month!) that will cut our debt snowball time in half, just by moving to a smaller place.

So, off we go. We’ve secured a cozy little duplex, & as preparation to fit our family of seven & all our belongings into a home just shy of 1500 ft2 (less than half the size of our current location), we’ve got to downsize. Get rid of junk. Get rid of pretty much everything that is not 1) a necessity & 2) well-loved, & well-used.

In the process, I’ve realized so many things.

Here are just a few.

1) We are SO rich!

Further, pretty much anyone living in the United States with an income above the poverty line, is living it up. Microwave ovens, A/C, running clean water, TV’s/laptops/computers/iPhones, the list goes on. In grand scheme of the history of the world, we are living luxurious, cushy lives. And I’m grateful for that.

The fact that I can easily donate bags & bags full of clothing & household items, including furniture, is just one indication of how we’re not scraping by. The fact that you’re reading this blog on your PC, tablet, or phone means you’re probably in the same boat.


2) Stuff takes energy, time, & money away from me.

Sure, there are some necessities (bed, fridge, washer) & a few nice things (that don’t quite make it to the level of necessities) that I think I’m going to always want/need around & that mostly add to our quality of life.

But 5 years of the Yoga Journal, house decor that were gifts from our wedding, an odd assortment of vases (you never know when you might want to give one of those away, right??), all sorts of wannabe-Tupperware containers & all of the lids that don’t actually match, random puzzle pieces & baskets & baskets of toys that are worn out/broken &/or my kids don’t play with anymore. A mountain of fabric & craft items that I thought were a good idea at the time.

All of these things take time & energy to care for & store. And I’ve now begun to see everything, I mean EVERYTHING, down to the measuring cups in my cupboards, to the number of toys my kids have, as a liability–something that carries a cost, both in time, money, & energy.


3) I don’t want to spend the next few decades of my life, largely organizing, cleaning, & maintaining “stuff.”

I guess when you are in a lifestyle that causes you to move around a lot (remember, we’re currently military folks), you are confronted with this on a somewhat frequent basis as you move from place to place. It’s become clear to me, that fewer things, a smaller living space means less time spent maintaining & cleaning these things.

Which, if this were a mathematical equation, would look like this:

less stuff = smaller living space = more money saved = more time to NOT spend cleaning/organizing = more freedom

or summed up:

less stuff = more freedom (& more money in the bank!)

I don’t know about you, but I want more of that!

And, the fourth & final point,


4) I’m not as “minimalist” as I thought I was.

I hold onto way more things than I should (though, admittedly not as bad as my Grandma Bagley, bless her, who saved every plastic container from anything from margarine tubs, to plastic bread sacks & the green ties that came with them). My frugal mind is like–but what IF I will need this someday?? (Like my hiking boots from a study abroad I did 12 years ago & have since laid dusty in a dark corner of my ridiculously huge closet.)

Bottom line: I can do, much, much better in the “I am a minimalist” department. At this point, I think I’m pretty much still a poser, but the last few weeks have been pushing us in that direction, for sure.


What are your thoughts on “stuff”? Have you ever downsized before? 

If you have had to move around a lot, I’d especially love to hear from you & get tips & tricks on how to keep things simple & streamlined. Please share in the comments below!




Now, on to today’s recipe: vegan apple pie muffins

I love muffins. Especially for my kids. They are a great after school snack, or supplement to a smoothie breakfast. And, need I mention they are quite inexpensive (maybe $.15-$.30 per serving?).

Vegan Apple Pie Muffins

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 60 minutes

Yield: 12 medium muffins

Serving Size: 1 muffin

Calories per serving: 220

Fat grams per serving: 10 g

Vegan Apple Pie Muffins

Apple pie in muffin form -- vegan with gluten-free & low-fat options


  • 1 1/4 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 c. white flour OR 3/4 c. whole wheat flour OR 1 c. gluten-free all-purpose flour mix (like Bob's Red Mill)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • pinch of allspice (optional)
  • few pinches salt
  • 3/4 c. dry sweetener (sugar, evaporated cane juice, or sucanat) OR 1 c. coconut sugar
  • 2 TBS. ground flaxseed
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 1/2 c. melted coconut or canola oil
  • 3/4 c. non-dairy milk (soy or almond, not lite)
  • 2 sweet apples (gala or cameo, I think work best for this)


  1. First, I should say what this is not. It's NOT an applesauce muffin recipe. I've made many of those before, & while those are great, this recipe doesn't use applesauce, & that is intentional. I wanted to bite into a muffin & actually taste pieces of apple, like when you bite into a slice of apple pie. If you want to lower the fat content of the muffins, feel free to sub half the oil with applesauce. Note that if you want to go completely oil-free & use replace all the oil with applesauce, the muffins will most likely be gummy (not a bad thing, necessarily, just be aware of what certain substitutions will do). Also, if you use GF all-purpose flour, you'll want to use all of the oil. I've found that gluten-free recipes generally do better with more fat in them. Also, if you use whole wheat, it goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway--the muffins will be a bit more dense, not as light. Okay, I think I've covered the disclosures, now onto how to actually make the things (which is quite easy).
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  3. Using a food processor with the S-blade, grind oatmeal into a fine ground (still has texture, not quite flour).
  4. Sift ground oats & flour with baking powder, baking soda, salt. I generally use a wire whisk to do this, rather than a "sifter." Add dry sweetener & sift again.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk flaxseed & water until thick.
  6. Add oil & non-dairy milk to the flaxseed mixture. Whisk & set aside.
  7. Peel & core apples. Cut into small cubes. I cheat by using a veggie chopper.
  8. Add apples to wet mixture & stir.
  9. Add wet mixture to dry & stir until just incorporated.
  10. Grease muffin tin with coconut or canola oil (or use a non-stick tin), or non-stick spray, especially if you're doing oil-free.
  11. Using a large cookie scoop, scoop batter into muffin tin, filling about 3/4 of the way (or slightly more, depending on the size of your muffin tin).
  12. Bake for 18-20 minutes.
  13. Remove from oven. Using a butter knife, gently go around each muffin in the tin to make sure the muffin will come out easily & turn the muffins on their sides (or remove & put on a cookie sheet) & cool for 10-15 minutes (at least). Eat immediately, & once completely cooled, store the remaining muffins in the freezer (keeps for about 2 months, if stored properly). When you want a muffin, just take one out of the freezer --let it defrost (about 1 hour at room temp), or pop into oven (if you're doing several) for 5-10 minutes at 350 F (microwave also works).

Additional Nutrition Info: 2 g fiber, 30 g carbs, 3 g protein, 15 g sugar; 6 WWP points per serving

Looking for more inspiration in the kitchen?

→ Check out my 28 day meal plan!


Other bring joy posts you might want to check out:


  1. julie mark
    on April 26, 2015 at 6:39 am said:

    I just make these muffins for my vegan son (and my non vegan self!) They are fantastic. I did not have flaxseeds but I did have a small sweet potato left over from dinner last night so I took a chance and added that, hoping it would act as the binding agent. (About two tablespoons) It worked great-I suspect banana or canned pumpkin would work also? I used 1/2 coconut oil and half applesauce. They are not gummy. They are fabulous!

  2. Laurie
    on November 10, 2014 at 9:54 am said:

    I made these muffins this weekend, and they are DELICIOUS! They really do taste like apple pie, and my husband who has not been a huge fan of the pumpkin pie-like muffins I’ve been making has been eating at least one of these per day. I left the peel on the apples because I’m lazy and substituted applesauce for about 1/4 of the oil because I had applesauce to use up. The peel made no difference, but I can see how the applesauce made the muffin a bit gummier than one made with only oil.

    As I was making them, I noticed that in the recipe there’s no mention of when or where to add the spices. I ended up sifting them into the dry ingredients, but I suppose they could be added to the apple/wet mixture, too. Which do you do?

    • Janae Wise
      on November 12, 2014 at 4:07 pm said:

      Hi Laurie!

      So glad you enjoyed the muffins. Thanks for letting me know about the spice omission in the directions–that happens sometimes. I will fix it to read that the spices should be added with the dry ingredients before being mixed with the wet. And you’re experience with the applesauce (a bit gummy) is on par with my experience at well. It adds moisture like oil does, but it does alter the final texture/product as well.

      Hope you’re doing well, & thanks for taking the time to let me know how these turned out!


  3. Gabby @ the veggie nook
    on October 25, 2014 at 7:19 pm said:

    I just downsized from a 850 sqft apartment to a 600. I know, not a huge change, but my roommate and I had to get rid of a ton! It feels so good now though, I really don’t need 1/2 of what’s in here. You are inspiring me to get rid of more!

  4. Tiffany
    on October 23, 2014 at 4:46 pm said:

    When Evan and I finally moved away from Idaho after nearly 5 years of marriage, everything we owned fit in a 10×10 storage unit! Sometimes I feel like we’re TOO simple, leaving our house feeling bare instead of
    home-y and lived in. I’m still trying to figure out how to “decorate”! I can’t bring myself to buy random, cute but otherwise pointless things for the sake of filling a shelf. (I don’t mind how that looks, *I* just can’t spend the money!)

    • Janae Wise
      on October 31, 2014 at 9:43 am said:

      “everything we owned fit in a 10×10 storage unit!”
      ROCK ON!! You guys are my heros.

      “I can’t bring myself to buy random, cute but otherwise pointless things for the sake of filling a shelf. (I don’t mind how that looks, *I* just can’t spend the money!)”
      This is NOT a bad thing! For sure. I’ve become increasingly more of this same mindset. Call it spartan, frugal, utilitarian–I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all.

      P.S. Your baby is so adorable. I’m sure you guys just love him to pieces.
      P.S.S. Have you heard of Mr. Money Mustache? I think you would really like him. Sounds like you’re already living like a, what he would call, “Mustachian.”

  5. Cathy
    on October 23, 2014 at 1:12 pm said:

    We are former military (prior to last year) and have now lived in our 1257 square foot home for 7.5 years. Moved in with 3 children and now have 5. I am a minimalist at heart, but goodness, it is challenging to keep the clutter down with 6 other people who don’t always think the same. 🙂 I do keep my own clothing and belongings cleared out pretty well, and tackle the other rooms and closets every so often. It is a never ending job.

  6. Jenny
    on October 23, 2014 at 12:04 pm said:

    I love this post. Gonna try those muffins ASAP! We moved 18 months ago and it was horrible. We had to have three moving trucks. Yes, three. I spent the 6 weeks before our move taking loads and loads to Goodwill and consignment shops (kid stuff). I still take bags and bags to Goodwill, almost every other week. Where in the heck does all this stuff come from? I rarely indulge my kids in toys, I do buy them books from time to time if I find them very cheap. I beg my extended family not to buy my kids more stuff, but to take them for experiences (like go to a movie instead) to no avail. I have been working room by room and space by space to pare down. I hate having to clean up everyone else’s “stuff.” I get really resentful and angry. Even though our house is the same size as our old house it is over 100 years old (instead of brand new) and closets are minimal at best. I think a lot about what it would be like to be in a smaller house, not sure I’m ready to make the move again yet, I don’t think I’ve recovered from the last time. I give you a lot of credit for your decision, I agree, you’ll be a lot happier and less stressed. I am interested in how you are planning on gift giving this holiday season, as far as how you are budgeting, homemade gifts, etc. Just an idea for a future post perhaps?! 🙂

    • Janae Wise
      on October 23, 2014 at 12:32 pm said:

      Hi Jenny!
      First, no one understands the stress of maintaining “stuff” like the full-time, stay-at-home parent. We’re surrounded by it every day! And it is hard not to get resentful about it.

      One thing I was thinking about was the difference between frugal & minimalist. One could be ultra-frugal while at the same time a chronic pack-rat. Conversely one could be uber minimalist while not being frugal at all! I’d like to have a marriage of the two–be a frugal (not cheap!) minimalist.

      It’s funny you bring up the holidays. Joseph & I have been spending a great deal of time lately talking about Christmas, & upcoming birthdays, & the sort of things we are going to get. It’s been interesting to see how our perspective has changed as our kids have grown & we realize what they really need & want (which is mostly non-monetary stuff anyway!). Last year I talked about having a minimalist Christmas (but against my better judgement, it didn’t pan out that way), but this Christmas, especially in light of our move, it WILL be different. I do think gifts are important. How to make them meaningful, useful, frugal, simple? I’m not sure I have all those answers yet.

      A few things we’re toying around with–giving our kids their first mutual funds account (so far, none of them have any savings, in light of our debt), getting a portable basketball hoop, maybe taking a day trip to somewhere in nature around the holidays. These are all things we’ve been toying around with. We certainly don’t need more stuff!

      Thanks for your thoughts–I feel ya, I know what you’re going through. It takes courage to get rid of things, & I think you have to be ready to make that plunge. For me, realizing that my life will actually be better, easier, & less stressful was the catalyst for making the decision to downsize & simplify

  7. Crystal B
    on October 23, 2014 at 10:57 am said:

    We have a 1700 sq ft home and there are 4 adults and 1 kiddo. Our roommates have purchased their own house and will be moving and I feel like we have SO MUCH SPACE! But I don’t want to fill it up with junk, so I have big plans to purge stuff as we move it into the new open space.

    We get asked all the time why we didn’t buy a larger home, and I have been envious at times of not having a larger home. But… then I realize 1) I don’t have to spend a whole day cleaning my house from top to bottom, it takes me maybe 2 hours 2) We would definitely fill up more space with more stuff 3) the original family that lived here (that we bought our house from) raised six (!) kids in the same 1700 sq ft that we are raising one in. Perspective!

  8. Alanna
    on October 22, 2014 at 2:14 pm said:

    Thank you for this recipe! I’m stoked to try it.

    You’re making me want to declutter and downsize! We did a bit when we moved 6 months ago and it was very refreshing.

    I agree with your insights. We are very rich, don’t *need* much of what we posses and we’re not as minimalist as I’d like either. My husband is a bit of a pack-rat. I blame him. 😉

  9. Kelly L.
    on October 22, 2014 at 2:05 pm said:

    We downsized quite a bit to move into a smaller rental house while our home is completely remodeled. I kept telling my “pack rat” (and sweetie pie) husband, “Do you love that enough to move it twice – out of the house and back in?”

    Asking ourselves that question really helped, though when it came to actually packing up the house we’d lived in for 15 years, I was surprised at how much junk, like old chairs, broken this-and-that, we just threw to the side of the house to toss in the Dumpster when construction began in earnest.

    We are still in our rental for another 5-6 months, and with gift giving holidays coming (we celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas in our family), I’m begging the grandparents to please give gifts of experiences or needed clothing/shoes to my 2 boys as gifts, rather than more toys that will clutter up this small place AND have to be moved in just a few months.

    Good luck to you, Janae!

  10. Adina Marguerite
    on October 22, 2014 at 1:50 pm said:

    I love hearing about how you’re downsizing! I was listening to an episode of The Lively Show with Caroline Rector from Unfancy and have been planning to do a major closet and overall house purge the moment I have a bit of free time. I completely agree with you that less stuff equals more freedom!