Banana Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins, Gluten and Dairy-Free

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My life has been full-throttle, pedal-to-the-medal crazy-town these past few months, thus the lull in posting to my little cooking blog.  This happens every year after school starts.  Clients come trickling back into town and my work schedule becomes loaded. Then, as most moms can relate, there’s the time commitment that school entails, like homework, meetings with the teacher and functions and parties galore. When every day is bursting at the seams,  little pockets of free time become golden and precious.  What better way to savor a quiet chilly Sunday afternoon, for instance, than creating a delicious snack with your loved ones?  Baking is such an easy covert way to reinforce math skills for kids, too!  Quality time, squared, so to speak.

We have made these muffins many times and they are a cinch to throw together and store well in the freezer for lunchbox treats or breakfast on the run.  These little bundles of tastiness are lightly sweetened with banana and honey.  I added chocolate chips to add to the excitement factor for the little guy.  I think he would eat pretty much anything containing chocolate!   If you prefer no refined sugar at all, you could just leave out the chocolate chips and add the same amount of chopped walnuts (or not!).   And, as always, if you are not gluten-free, just replace the gluten-free flour blend with regular all-purpose wheat flour.

Recipe for Banana Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins:

(yields:  12 muffins)

1 1/2 c. gluten free flour blend

1 1/4 t. baking powder

1/4 t. baking soda

1 t.  cinnamon

1/2 t. salt

1/2 t. xanthan gum

1 large egg, room temp.

1 c. grated zucchini

2 bananas mashed (1/2 c.)

1/2 c. coconut oil, melted

1/2 c. honey

1/3 c. Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips

Directions:  Preheat oven to 350°.  Line a muffin pan with muffin liners or spray with your choice of oil.  Combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and cinnamon in a bowl.  Whisk well.  In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix coconut oil and honey on high speed for about a minute.  Add the egg, returning to high speed for another minute.  Beat in the banana and zucchini.  Lower the speed and spoon in the flour mixture until completely incorporated.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Fill each muffin cup two-thirds full.  Bake for 18-22 minutes or until springy to the touch.

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Plum Cake–Gluten and Dairy Free

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This week I’ve been preparing for an epic road trip through the western U.S., involving a grand total of almost thirty hours of driving (split up over the course of about a week) with my seven year old son. Daddy will join us for the last leg and by then, I’m sure I’ll be more than ready for his help. Heck, I’m always ready for his help!

I haven’t been on a journey like this since my free-spirited early twenties, when I thought nothing of driving from Vermont, all the way down the east coast, over to Texas, through Arizona and California and on up to Seattle where I semi-settled down for three years. Armed with a AAA map, my ornery cat and her four nursing kittens nestled in a box and everything I owned crammed into my tiny Jetta, I fearlessly zipped down the highway jamming out to my favorite tunes on the cassette player (yep, I’m dating myself here). I was exhilaratingly free and life was so full of possibilities.

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Lemon Lavender Pound Cake–Gluten and Dairy-Free


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Have you seen that new Target commercial with the supermodel “Mom” strutting her stuff, whisk in hand?  She catwalks through a maze of exploding boxed baking mixes in her white designer frock and 5″ heels towards the camera.  She outstretches her arm revealing a delicate egg.  The voiceover declares, “Dominate that PTA bake sale” as she crushes it in her hand, egg exploding slo-mo style.  It’s brilliant!  The first time I saw it I stood there in my sweats, entranced, and thought:  A.  I want to look like that!, and B. Oh c’mon, boxed mixes, really?!

Now, for those of you who really do want to “dominate that PTA bake sale”, I have a suggestion.  So many people have food allergies these days, so why not bake something gluten and dairy-free?  It’s becoming pretty easy to find alternative baking ingredients like rice flour blends, rice and nut milks, and coconut oil…and even Target carries them now!  Here’s a bake-sale worthy recipe for you.  A sweet/tart lemony pound cake flecked with delicate bits of lavender flowers, infused with lemon syrup and topped with a sweet coconut butter glaze.   This cake is out-of-this-world delicious and no one would ever guess that it’s gluten and dairy-free!  Plus, it contains the added health benefits of coconut oil.

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Baked Mini Coconut Donuts–Gluten, Dairy and Yeast Free

The school’s annual “Dads and Donuts” breakfast was approaching (or so I thought) and this Mommy had big intentions.  I was going to create some amazing allergen-friendly donuts for my son to enjoy with his Daddy.  After occasionally daydreaming about making donuts for my little guy, I finally had the motivation I needed to “just do it”.

And what luck!  While perusing the Halloween aisles at Target, I happened upon this cute mini donut pan.  When I excitedly showed it to my husband and told him about my plan, he grimaced and informed me that the event had taken place that morning–(he hadn’t mentioned it, hoping I wouldn’t make him go, I presume).  In my perpetual state of haste, I had misread the date on the flyer and thought it was going to be the following month.  I felt like the most pathetic parent on the planet when I tried to explain all of this to my sweet boy.  I promised him I would make him whatever kind of donut he wanted over the weekend.  To my delight, he chose coconut. Continue reading

Gluten-Free Apple Spice Muffins

“Mommy, I want to see the leaves in all the different colors,” my son begged of me the other day. “Oh, you will soon–the cool weather will come and all the leaves will start to change,” I answered hopefully (glancing at the temperature on the dashboard–only 85 in October!) They had been talking about Fall in his kindergarten class and the topic of the week was “Apples”. On one of our long drives home from therapy, I quizzed him: “Hey, Sweetie–can you name some different types of apples?” My eyes misted with pride as he shouted from his car seat, “Granny Smith and Red Delicious… and Fuji!”

Amazing, I thought to myself…this little munchkin who could not speak a word at age four, who has had to work so hard just to learn to point and then wave, to greet people and look them in the eye, to learn a wealth of vocabulary and sentence structure in 2 short years…to have him respond so articulately–well, every cell in my body sings with joy and gratitude during moments like that! Raising a child with Autism has forced me to slow down and appreciate and savor the simple things in life (sounds like a total cliché, I know, but it’s so true!) Remarkable, considering I was once one of those 100 mph., go-go-go types.

Take these apple spice muffins, for example. Pretty basic. I made these for my son’s class during apple week. Before I became a Mom, I often daydreamed (while cooking for others) that someday I would be happily baking all sorts of treats for my own child. I would be the cooler, hipper Martha Stewart. Ha! Well, fast-forward and I’m living that fantasy, but it’s just a little skewed.

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Strawberry-Walnut Muffins

Strawberry-Walnut Muffins

These gems are gluten, dairy and soy-free and they are perfect for a grab-and-go breakfast or packed in a lunchbox for a sweet, yet healthy, treat! I love to make these this time of year when the organic strawberries are bountiful and, therefore, a tad more affordable. Starring alongside the lovely vitamin c and fiber-rich berries are walnuts(super-food alert!). Packed with Omega-3’s (anti-inflammatory), vitamin E, B vitamins, important minerals like selenium and zinc, they add a little crunch and complement the tang of the berries quite nicely. I hope you will make these and let me know how they turn out!

Here’s the recipe:

2 1/3 Gluten-Free Flour Blend
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. guar gum
1 t. salt
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
3/4 C. sugar (organic cane)
1/2 C. sunflower oil
1 t. orange zest (optional)
2 large eggs
1 6 oz. container So Delicious Strawberry or Vanilla Yogurt
1/3 C. So Delicious Coconut Milk (unsweetened)
1 t. vanilla
1 1/3 C. diced organic strawberries
1/2 C. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Spray one standard muffin tin with your choice of oil. (I use coconut oil)

Combine first six ingredients in a bowl. Whisk well. In a separate bowl whisk together eggs, sugar, oil, yogurt, coconut milk, vanilla and orange zest. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients, adding strawberries and walnuts at the same time. Fill muffin cups almost to the top and bake for approx. 25 min or until just firm and springy to the touch and lightly golden on top. Allow to cool in the muffin tins for 5 min. and then transfer to a rack to cool. Enjoy! These will freeze well, but do not refrigerate.  Yield: about 15 muffins