Sunday, November 13, 2011

Baked: Sweet Grain-Free Acorn Squash Muffins

It is essential for me that when someone tries something I make, they simply say, "This is good." I don't want them to say, "This is good...considering it's [grain-free] [healthy] [made with liver] [etc.]." So I'm excited to be experimenting with grain-free treats that are simply yummy ~ not conditionally yummy. ;-) It's also important to me not to use specialty ingredients. Real, old-fashioned ingredients that are no longer generally carried at a regular grocery, such as soup bones and liver from grass-fed animals ~ yes; fancy "gluten-free flour" ~ no.

I've been using this grain-free muffin recipe for years now. And I've honed custards (a mix of egg with liquid, such as cream or milk, soup, pureed veggie or fruit, etc.: looks like a post I need to create!) ~ both sweet and savory ~ to a perfection. So now I'm working with this concept: of eggs with different thickenings, essentially, to come up with all kinds of (mildly) sweet, grain-free baked deliciousness. My way of cooking, mind you, is largely "a little of this, a little of that;" I only use rough measurements. And I encourage you to try this method in your own kitchen as much as you dare. It takes practice and a bit of adventure. But if you start with quality ingredients, even if it's not contest-worthy, it'll most likely still taste good. ;-)

So here's a rough recipe I created this morning that turned out yummy. Especially successful because the toddler asked for seconds and thirds! I hope I have the time to share more of these recipes soon.

Sweet Grain-Free Acorn Squash Muffins
makes 9 small muffins

Preheat oven to 375.
3 eggs ~ from a local farm you know and trust
about 1/3 cup leftover baked acorn squash (butternut or pumpkin would work well, too)
1/4 cup flax seeds, ground in a seed/coffee grinder
1/4 tsp organic butter, melted
3-4 medjool dates, pitted and chopped fine (or chopped in a food processor)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Extra butter to grease the muffin cups.

Blend all ingredients. I use a hand-held mixer. Pour into well-greased muffin cups. Bake until firm and brown ~ no longer than 30 minutes; probably closer to 20.
These muffins are so moist and satisfying! My 3 year old daughter ate three at one sitting! That's a record-breaker. The flax helps them to stay together and have body, while not being too "flaxy" (read: "crunchy-granola 'healthy'"). And the dates add just enough sweet without creating a sugar high and subsequent crash! These muffins stand on their own, but you know I won't flinch if you melt some butter or cream cheese on top. And I bet a drizzle of raw local honey would be divine!

Involve your children in the process! Kids love to help if we'll let them. And helping ensures they'll like the end product more because they can take pride in it. It might take a few more minutes, and some food might end up on the counter or on the floor. However, an interest in cooking that starts early is a life-skill that is worth the investment. Anjali helped me make these by pouring in the dry ingredients after I measured them. She also quality-checked the dates. ;-)