Vegan muffins and spiced syrup make the most of autumn’s culinary calling card

Intro By Pam George | Photograph by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
From the October 2019 issue


While living in Hawaii, Lisa Daisey-DiFebo developed an appreciation for fresh food. “They call Hawaii the ‘garden island,’” says Daisey-DiFebo, who was 19 when she moved to the Pacific. “It seemed like things were growing everywhere.”

Working at a juice bar only deepened her interest in raw ingredients. “The owner taught me how to make these beautiful juices, frosties and smoothies,” say the Indian River High School graduate. “She was my Hawaiian mom.”


Today, fruits and vegetables are Daisey-DiFebo’s bread and butter. The self-professed “serial entrepreneur” owns Juicebox, which has locations in Ocean View, Rehoboth, and the community of Bayside, west of Fenwick Island. The cafes specialize in organic juices, all-fruit smoothies, acai bowls, coffee and veggie-heavy breakfast and lunch dishes.

Daisey-DiFebo — who also owns Ecobay Kayaking Adventures and the Information Station, a resource for tourists — sensed the need for a healthy-oriented cafe when she was on the Bethany Beach boardwalk and couldn’t find anything she wanted to eat.

“I was always great at making juices and knew what tasted good without adding sugar or the sneaky ingredients some people put in them,” says Daisey-DiFebo, who even whipped them up for passengers when she worked on a cruise ship.

At this time of year, pumpkin is a popular flavor. “You can do a lot with pumpkin puree,” maintains the Millville resident. At Juicebox, customers who favor that flavor order lattes with pumpkin spice syrup, made with real pumpkin and maple syrup, to complement vegan pumpkin muffins.

Daisey-DiFebo has provided the recipe for both. Not in the mood for muffins? Bake a cake instead. (The muffins also freeze well.)

(Makes 24 muffins)

5 ½  cups of flour
3 ¾  cups of sugar (can substitute coconut sugar)
3      tablespoons of baking powder
¾     teaspoon of salt
¾     teaspoon of allspice
3      teaspoons of cinnamon
1 ½  teaspoons of nutmeg
1 ½  teaspoons of ginger
3      cups of pumpkin puree
1 ½  cups of your choice of milk alternative (soy, oat or almond milk)
1 ½  cups of your choice of vegetable, coconut or canola oil
2-3   tablespoons of molasses

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl. In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Gently mix the dry ingredients into the wet until they’re well incorporated. Pour into muffin liners or directly into a greased muffin pan.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  


1      cup of sugar (could substitute coconut sugar)
1      cup of maple syrup or choice of sweetener
⅔     cup of pumpkin puree
2      teaspoons of cinnamon
1      teaspoon of nutmeg
½     teaspoon of cloves
½     teaspoon of salt
1      teaspoon of vanilla extract

Mix together. Use about 1 tablespoon in your hot beverages.