Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Autumn Muffins (GF and Vegan)

Dog, seen on bike ride
Until recently, I worked at an Inn, where I made breakfast for people a lot. I love this work, because as you're probably aware (if you're a regular reader), I enjoy feeding people and forming a connection with others and with the environment via the things we put in our bodies. For me, cooking for others -- and eating with others -- creates a sense of community that I think is often overlooked in the way we usually run our lives. Unfortunately, a lot of the time at the inn, I made one of a dozen or so dishes and it quickly becomes pretty routine. I didn't always get to talk to our guests after they've finished their meal (there are so many things to do at an inn!), and I only had the opportunity to try one new recipe on guests (and this isn't it).

Happily, however, one of my co-workers (we'll call her J) and I started eating brunch together after work about once a week -- it was a wonderful opportunity for us to just relax, to talk about life, and generally hang out. We worked together in the kitchen, lovely change from the Sunday evening cooking I do for a handful of friends, and reminiscent of the Friday breakfasts I shared with friends when I lived in the Midwest.

Tree, no pretty leaves yet...
These breakfasts also presented an opportunity for me to actually feel inspired to try new things, or to make modifications to recipes I didn't like as much the first time around but see potential in. That's what happened with these muffins, which were inspired by a non-vegan recipe from my food co-op. These muffins are moist and taste like autumn -- perfect as the weather starts too cool off. Lately, I've even seen a few trees with red and yellow leaves!

We had these vegan, gluten-free muffins with a lovely veggie saute, made entirely with veggies from J's garden. They rise well, are moist, and hold together nicely (especially for a gluten-free product). If you decided to make these in loaf pans, you could definitely do that and because it holds together well, you could probably turn it into french toast (easier if you're not vegan). Afterward, we went for a bike ride together, and these muffins combined with the veggies, gave us plenty of energy for a 20 mile trip.

Don't let the ingredient list intimidate you. If you're already gluten-free, you probably have many of these ingredients around -- and if you're not, but are cooking for someone who is, these ingredients are available at most grocery stores. If you like nuts (I don't in baked goods), consider sprinkling a few chopped walnuts on the top of the muffins before throwing them in the oven.

Autumn Muffins (Gluten-Free)
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1 medium, overripe banana, well mashed
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup water
15 ounces roasted butternut squashed (mashed)
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup quinoa or millet flour
2 teaspoons guar gum
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup chopped dates, raisins, or dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil muffin tins*, or line with paper liners. Beat flax seed, banana, oil, agave, and water until creamy. Fold in butternut squash.

In a separate bowl, sift together all dry ingredients (brown rice flour through nutmeg). Fold the wet and dry ingredients together. Fold in coconut and dried fruit. The batter should be pretty thick, but add more water if it's the consistency of extra-firm cookie dough. Divide batter into muffin cups (3/4 full). Bake 25-30 minutes, until tops begin to brown and spring back lightly when touched. Allow to cool for five minutes before removing from the pan.

Serve warm. Store in an airtight container, and refrigerate after the first day. Keeps 2-3 weeks in the freezer.

*I come out with 12 regular sized muffins, plus 1 mini-loaf (which cooks another 10-15 minutes.
The Muffins!

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