I love winter squash. I can never pick which gourds to get when I happen upon them all stacked up on an island at Whole Foods. They’re so visually striking; all vibrant colors with skins both smooth and gnarly. I pick up one after the next, noticing their unique topography and admiring the way each one is speckled and striped in a different way. I recently tried kabocha squash, and it is definitely a new favorite. It’s slightly sweeter that butternut squash in taste and has texture more like that of a sweet potato.
If only I had the same reaction to holiday shopping as I do to grocery shopping. With the holidays quickly approaching, I have so much more to accomplish before the big day! The only place I haven’t been procrastinating is the kitchen. I’ve been making cold-weather eats ever since the temps dropped below 70, so at least I’ll be able to welcome Christmas Day holding a pan of warm holiday muffins. I hope you can do the same!
The morning I decided to make muffins I had my usual cans of pumpkin and sweet potato purée standing at attention on the kitchen counter. At the last minute I decided to throw in some leftover roasted kabocha squash I had in the fridge instead, and I’m so glad I did! These muffins are a new staple in my house. I love how they are made with minimal, clean ingredients. They’re also full of plant-based nutrients and protein to keep you running during your holiday shopping spree! Throw a few of these in your purse, and I promise you’ll be able to brave any crowd.
These muffins are extremely versatile and can be eaten for an easy breakfast, a quick snack, or a nutritious dessert. I love mine served warm with a bit of nut butter spread on top. Feel free to mix up the recipe and add nuts, seeds, or a different dried fruit. They’re the perfect holiday muffin to share with friends and loved ones and are suitable for all sorts of diets and palettes because they’re completely allergen-free. Don’t shy away from this recipe based on the long prep time. The majority of this time is spent watching the oven glow while the smell of sweet spices envelops the house.
Kabocha Squash Cranberry Muffins
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut winter squash in half and remove pulp and seeds. Rub squash halves with ½ teaspoon avocado oil (or baking oil of choice) and place face-down on parchment. Bake for 25-45 minutes (depending on squash size). Remove from oven, allow to cool, and scoop the insides out. I added mine directly to the bowl like this, but you can purée if you desire a smoother texture.
2. Turn oven temp down to 350°F, and line a muffin tin with baking cups or, alternatively, spray with avocado/coconut oil.
3. Prepare your 2 flax eggs by combining 2 tablespoons ground flax seed and 6 tablespoons water. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl, mix together gluten-free quick-cooking oats, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and a dash of Himalayan sea salt.
5. In a separate bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups kabocha squash (or another winter squash of choosing),maple syrup, 2 flax eggs, and unsweetened almond milk.
6. Add wet mixture to dry and stir to incorporate.
7. Fold in cranberries.
8. Divide mixture between 12 muffin cups and bake for 20-35 minutes. Watch closely towards the end and remove from oven when lightly browned on top.
*If you don’t have kabocha squash on hand, any winter squash will do. Use the same method detailed above to roast and add to the recipe.
Related: Vegan Orange Currant Muffings
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Photos: Lauren Kirchmaier