Ok, it’s October and I have pumpkin on my mind. The leaves are changing, there is crispness in the air, and here in New England we see pumpkins everywhere. Luckily, pumpkin puree is a fantastic ingredient for the gluten-free kitchen. The trick with gluten-free baking is balancing moisture and protein, a great quality of wheat. You can either end up with a crumbly mess or a dense brick. Pumpkin can be a great way to keep baked goods moist without getting too crumbly. Hint: it is also great way to sneak veggies into your unsuspecting kid’s diets.
When I first went gluten-free two years ago, I found myself creating custom gluten-free flour concoctions for every recipe I came across. Not only did it become pricey and time consuming, it took a lot of fun out of baking, something that used to be comforting for me in the past. There are some recipes that really require all that work, which is fine. If I get a good product in the end, I am happy, but I have found myself gravitating toward recipes using one or two gluten-free flours to get the job done. I also find that this seems to be the healthier approach. Many of the premade flours and concoctions include multiple starches, which do not meet my standards nutritionally (think empty calories, like sugar with no nutritional value whatsoever). I try to focus on recipes using almond flour (or other nut flours), coconut flour, oat flour, sorghum flour, teff flour, millet flour, and quinoa flour. If I see a recipe requiring more than 2 flours or undesirable starches (such as potato or corn), I usually pass on it.
The idea of quinoa flour has been very intriguing to me. It is such a fantastic grain with higher protein versus comparable grains. However, my first attempts were not good. I either got a dense brick or too much of a quinoa-y taste. However, I came across a great muffin recipe by MindBodyGreen using quinoa flour and quinoa flakes. Quinoa flakes are basically just quinoa, rolled to make a flake, similar to oatmeal. Quinoa flakes are usually sold as a breakfast item, in the cereal/oatmeal isle of the supermarket. Quinoa flakes give the muffin texture and heartiness.
Inspired by this great recipe, I decided to make my own version using pumpkin puree, mostly because, as I’ve noted in earlier posts, my son does not like fruit and I had a hankering for pumpkin. This final recipe has no added starches, no refined sugar, no dairy and, most importantly, passed the test for both kids, so I know I have a winner. I hope you enjoy it too.
Extra pointer: As always, I am constantly on the lookout for great products to help me cook gluten-free. I started using parchment paper muffin liners and I will never use anything else. They pull easily from cupcakes or muffins. I no longer have to worry that half my muffin will end up on the liner when I try to eat it. I got mine off Amazon in regular size and mini.
- ½ cup quinoa flour
- ½ cup quinoa flakes
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt (I prefer pink Himalayan salt)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- ½ cup pumpkin puree (I used canned)
- ¼ cup honey (minimally processed, but liquid)
- 1 ripe banana, smashed
- ¼ cup vegan mini chocolate chips (I like Enjoy Life brand)
- 1 Tbsp chia seeds (optional)
- ½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Line a muffin tin with paper liners (I prefer parchment paper liners).
- In a large bowl, mix quinoa flour, quinoa flakes, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, pumpkin, honey, and banana until thoroughly combined.
- Add wet ingredients into bowl containing dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
- Add chocolate chips, chia seeds and walnuts. Mix until well dispersed.
- Distribute batter among the 10 muffin liners.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the muffins spring back when pressed.
- Allow to cool and enjoy!