Thursday, October 06, 2011

Best Ever Zucchini-Carrot Muffins (with gluten free options)

I love a cooking challenge, so recently when a friend asked me to bake something for a party that needed some gluten-free options for the guest of honor, I offered to bring some baked goods. I first tried making some gluten-free oatmeal cookies, which, while delicious, fell apart into a million pieces when I tried to take them off the pan. Then I decided to adapt a recipe I have been making all the time this fall, this recipe for zucchini bread, also adapted from a Cooking Light version. I learned a lot in the process: that people extremely sensitive to gluten can't even eat food made from regular oats, because wheat and oats are sometimes processed on the same equipment, as this article explains. So, if you're really cooking for someone who can't have gluten, get the special oats.**

But what is even more amazing about these muffins, which I make all the time with whole wheat pastry flour, is that you can swap out carrots for the zucchini, you can use a mix of both, you can chop 'em all up in the food processor, or you can grate them nicely with a hand grater, and no matter what you do, the end result tastes delicious every time. Yesterday I did the half carrot/half zucchini version and then in a mixing bowl, blended up some cream cheese, lemon juice, a few spoonfuls of plain yogurt, and powdered sugar for a cream cheese frosting that had me thinking of carrot cake.

Below I include both regular and gluten free options.

Zucchini-Carrot Muffins

**2 cups white, whole-wheat pastry flour
**1 cup oat flour (you can make your own by putting 1 1/4 cups regular oats in a food processor and blending until they are a flour-like consistency)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup applesauce
2 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
3 cups shredded zucchini and carrot (or some combination thereof, can use all zucchini if you want)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

** Gluten free substitutes: I used 1 cup oat flour, 1 cup garbanzo bean flour, 1/2 cup cornstarch. Note: make sure you buy special oats that are guaranteed gluten-free - Bob's Red Mill makes some, which might be in the specialty food section at a regular supermarket, or in places like Whole Foods.

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray, line with cupcake papers, spray those too. Mix dry ingredients together in one bowl, up to baking soda. In another bowl, beat eggs, applesauce, oil, lemon zest, and vanilla. Add sugar. Mix dry ingredients with wet, just barely (overbeating muffins will make them tough), then fold in zucchini-carrot mixture and walnuts. Pour into prepared pan, bake 18-22 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. You could also bake it in a loaf pan, though it will take longer- maybe 50-60 minutes.

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