Shortly after I announced that I was going to attempt to bake gluten-free winter squash muffins, I’ve been inundated with recipe requests. I promised that a recipe will follow if it were a success. I known I’ve been doing a lot of blog post coverage on winter squash. You don’t need me to tell you about my infatuation with this vegetable as I’ve emphasized it numerous times on previous blog posts. Cutting to the chase, I’ve baked muffins before using winter squash. Only this time, I decided to make this recipe a little more celiac-friendly. I originally wanted to use oat flour but my local health food store was out of it. So I went for rice flour instead. You can use barley and oat flour for this recipe as well. The also unique fact about this recipe that its sugar-free. I used agave nectar instead of sugar.
Agave nectar is is a naturally sweet syrup somewhat similar to honey. It comes from the agave cactus that grows in Mexico, and it is becoming increasingly popular because it spikes blood sugar levels slower than other types of sugar. Many people are starting to use agave nectar instead of table sugar, honey or artificial sweeteners. Like Splenda, Agave nectar is used as a natural sweetener for diabetics. There have been debates as to whether this syrup should be used as a healthy alternative to sugar. Some will say that the glycemic index of agave nectar is low. It does contain small amounts of calcium, potassium, and magnesium, but not enough to matter nutritionally. Agave nectar does contain fructose which having large does of it can cause s insulin resistance and significantly raises triglycerides (a risk factor for heart disease). It also increases fat around the middle which in turn puts you at greater risk for diabetes, heart disease and Metabolic Syndrome. The bottom line is that sugar and sugar free sweeteners can have serious health and medical repercussions if you don’t monitor the amount you consume. This also applies to anything else you overeat. Which is why I use sugar and agave nectar or any sweetener for that matter sparingly.
Because frozen packaged winter squash is not available at my local store, I made a winter squash puree. I included instructions on how to make it. If you do decide to use the frozen packaged stuff, then this winter squash puree recipe is not applicable for you. Yes making puree from scratch may be more labor intensive but it tastes more fresh. I used a pound of acorn squash to make the puree but you can use butternut squash or kabocha squash as well. So when I tried this gluten-free and sugar free method of making these muffins, this is the conclusion I came to. Because I used gluten free flour, the muffins came out more dense than they would have if I’ve used regular flour. Regardless, they were good and consumed within 2 days. I would definitely consider making and publishing more gluten free and sugar free desserts and snacks in the near future.
For this recipe, you will need:
- 1 lbs of winter squash (about 3 acorn squashes)
- 2 cups of rice flour (oat and barley flour may work as well)
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten (or 3 egg whites)
- 1/3 cup of vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1/4 cup of agave nectar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
Acorn Squash Puree
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut each acorn squash in half. Drizzle the inside with olive oil. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Line them on a baking sheet flesh facing down. for for about 40 minutes or until you can easily pierce a fork through the flesh. Remove from oven at let it cool. Remove and discard seeds using a spoon. The scoop out the flesh and transfer to a food processor or blender. Puree till smooth. Set aside.
Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Whisk all the dry ingredients together in one bowl. In another bowl, combine all the wet ingredients. Combine wet and dry ingredients together. Fold in acorn squash puree and mix well.
Scoop each batter evenly in a greased 12 cup muffin tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes (it took me 20 minutes) or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Yields 12 muffins