{gluten free} zucchini bread

Zucchini

(photo credit: farmanac)

when a friend brings by a lovely gift of zucchini (along with an heirloom tomato) from her urban garden, you know you keep good company.

beyond being thrilled at both the visit and the heartfelt gift, dreams of zucchini bread start dancing in your head. {hmmm … they seem dance in my head – here’s to hoping we’ve got that little tidbit in common} there’s something just so ‘end-of-summer’, here in New England, about the overabundance of zucchini from your garden that is just part of our seasonal rhythm.

earlier this summer, Gluten Free on a Shoestring had an amazing blog post about her chocolate chip zucchini bread and I’ve had it bookmarked and on-the-ready for just this time. for me, nothing compares to the taste of produce that comes direct from a garden.

but the real test … would the children get as excited as I was? (well, there are chocolate chips in this recipe!). the verdict was that while our pumpkin chocolate chip muffins are, hands-down, the absolute favorite here, this bread was in the running for a close second (hooray!). this recipe is exceptionally low in fats (a half-cup of oil for two loaves is amazing), is incredibly moist and so very flavorful. but it was the comments on the blog that got me … every one of them raved.

and they were right … wow!

do you have some zucchini overflowing from your garden? need a reason to spend some time with your little ones in the kitchen after spending time harvesting some zucchini from the garden? this recipe is just begging to be made – it’s simple enough to involve the children in multiple steps and the result is just outstanding. enjoy!

Gluten Free Chocolate-Chip Zucchini Bread

Ingredients
3 cups (420g) high-quality all-purpose gluten-free flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
1 teaspoon kosher salt 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar 
1 cup (218g) packed light brown sugar 
2 1/2 cups grated zucchini 
3 eggs (180 g, out of shell) at room temperature, beaten 
1 ripe banana, peeled and mashed 
1/2 cup (112g) vegetable oil 
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips 
1 tablespoon cornstarch 

Directions 
Preheat your oven to 325°F. Grease 2 standard loaf pans and set them aside

In a large bowl, place flour, xanthan gum, salt, baking soda, baking powder,
cinnamon, granulated sugar and light brown sugar, and whisk to combine 
(working out any lumps in the brown sugar). Set aside the dry ingredients.

In a separate small bowl, place the zucchini, eggs, banana, oil and vanilla, 
and mix to combine well. Create a well in the center of the bowl of dry 
ingredients, and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix to combine. The batter 
will be very wet. 

In a separate small bowl, toss the chocolate chips with the cornstarch. 
Pour the chocolate chips and cornstarch into the batter, 
and mix until the chips are evenly distributed throughout the batter. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared loaf pans, and 
smooth the tops with a wet spatula.Place the loaf pans in the center of 
the preheated oven, and bake, rotating once, until the tops are golden 
brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of each loaf comes out 
clean (about 50 minutes). 
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes in the 
loaf pans. Remove from the pans and transfer to a wire rack to cool 
completely before slicing and serving.

{gluten-free} blueberry muffins

blueberry muffins - ourschoolathomeblog-wordpress-comit’s the time of year … for fresh blueberries! maybe it’s in the act of picking that makes them so desirable, these little sweet blue globes. but, we emerge from rows of blueberry bushes at our local spot with purple-stained fingers and full-bellies and buckets of sweet, early summer goodness.

while the child in this home only prefers her blueberries ‘just as they are’, I am a dedicated blueberry muffin gal, through and through. (well, and a blueberry buckle gal, a blueberry pancake and a blueberry compote gal … but we’re here for muffins) since we’re also a gluten-free home, learning how to modify recipes has been a good challenge.

however, baking with small ones need not be some grand adventure — we need a go-to recipe that allows us to combine everything in one bowl and return some pretty great results! last winter we started using Pamela’s baking mix for a much-coveted gluten free rendition of a favorite pumpkin loaf and it was fabulous {so much so, we often don’t tell folks it’s GF!}. so when it came time to figure out a good blueberry muffin recipe, back to the baking mix we went.

these muffins are not sweet — which is what was desired — but are full of flavor, are moist and one of the quickest recipes I know for making 12-16 muffins.

:: gluten-free blueberry muffins

blueberry muffins 2 - ourschoolathomeblog-wordpress-com

  • 3 cups Pamela’s baking mix
  • 1/2 cup sugar {I use a vegan cane sugar}
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup water
  • healthy dash of cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 {healthy} cup blueberries
  • 1 mashed overripe banana (the secret in this recipe!) 

{I bake by ‘feel’ and this recipe is no different — as you’re mixing use your “feel” to use more or less mix, more or less water, add in some applesauce instead of the banana, raspberries along with the blueberries … and enjoy!}

blueberries should be picked over to check for firmness as well as any odd stems still attached. rinse and dry.

preheat oven to 350*F and line your muffin tins with liners (or grease and set the pan aside)

add all (all!) ingredients into one bowl  — have your young helpers assist with the measuring and even cracking the eggs. mix until combined well.

fill the muffin tins about 2/3 to 3/4 filled and bake for about 15-18 minutes — but do watch them for done-ness and adjust your baking time appropriately. remove from oven, let sit in baking pan for a cool on a wire rack to cool until cool enough handle, then cool to room temperature on a wire rack (or eat one warm … yum!).

these muffins freeze very well but we often don’t have the chance for that since they’re usually gone before I get the chance to freeze any {which is a good problem to have!}

this recipe yields about 14-16 muffins — enjoy baking these with your small helpers and sharing one or two of them together!

gathering around the table

“children who feel listened to, become better able to listen to others.”

Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute and author of “Mind in the Making

: : :  : : :  : : :

:: every meal we gather together.

:: every meal we work together to create the meal.

:: every meal we help set the table, making space for everyone at this collective table.

:: every meal we serve ourselves and help friends from large bowls and plates of food.

we talk, we listen, we share moments together around our table. we laugh … a lot! but in the sharing we’re learning — and not just about academics, but how to care for ourselves and others. how to connect with others, how to be a part of a collective group and even try a new food or two along the way. we talk about taste and smell, texture and feeling color and label each and every food with the name and source, we talk about what we like and food items we’re still exploring. these meals are relaxing, enjoyable, connective. but, most importantly, these moments are a grounding moment in our day when we come together, slow down, and deeply connect with one another.

when I was a child, we always had meals together, no matter what. it was our time to connect back to our family and our connection with each other. however, our family table always had room for folks who were visiting — chairs brought out of other rooms, folding tables brought up from the basement to create a hodge-podge space for us to gather round. when we traveled to see family, it’s the meals made together and shared together that always resonate with each of us and become base for so many wonderful memories. twenty years on and we all still reminisce and chuckle over the “dinner for twenty” in the old cottage on the lake in michigan … and especially about aunt lucille’s famous peach pie … or how we used dish towels for placemats and how none of the chairs ever matched and how all of that made it so uniquely ours.

and, so, in our school, as in our family, we gather around meals.

many will find that this philosophy around food and nourishment is a strong component of many montessori programs  and what maria montessori detailed in her thoughts on sustainability and the prepared environment.

“Ann Sutton, in Montessori Life, states that“Sustainability requires systems thinking,” emphasizing interconnectedness and interdependence. (Sutton, 2009) This corresponds beautifully with Montessori’s vision of Cosmic Education and the interconnectedness of all living things. If we teach about keeping the planet healthy and model environmental stewardship, it stands to reason that we need to model and encourage healthy living in our community.”
(North American Montessori Center | The Montessori Training Blog | “Nutrition is Part of the Montessori Prepared Environment“) 

so, true to the vision of maria montessori (and aunt lucille and her peach pie), we gather and we explore that interconnectedness of each of us and of all living things. we provide a place and space for the children to gain independence through many tasks, yet also emphasize working collectively to accomplish the goal of gathering around the table.

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want to learn more about how to promote this style and philosophy in your own space? sara and kylie at ‘how we montessori‘ have just the answer with their book: kids in the kitchen: simple recipes that build independence and confidence the montessori way.

or, if you’re in the area some day — come by and join us! there’s always room for one more at our table.

gluten-free pumpkin muffins

pumpkin choc-chip muffins - ourschoolathome-wordpress-comI always have the best intentions to have a stash of these for a later time but, these muffins never seem to last long enough around here to freeze for later — which is a good problem to have!

every week we cook together, taking the time to talk though the steps of a recipe, measuring wet and dry ingredients together, cracking eggs direct from the farm, smelling and using our descriptor words for the spices. and then there’s the waiting for these muffins to cool so we can dive in! but it’s this journey of mixing and measuring, of working together to produce something so tangible and tasty that matters most … well, and the wonderful smell of them baking filling our space isn’t so shabby either!

{{ I’ve been told wheat-based all-purpose flour can be swapped out of this recipe with no modifications }}

. . . . . gluten-free pumpkin muffins . . . . .

4 eggs
2 cups sugar (we use around 1 1/2 cups of vegan cane sugar)
1 can of pumpkin
1 1/2 cups oil (we use 1 cup applesauce, 1/2 cup olive oil)
3 cups GF flour (we use Better Batter flour only)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 healthy teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 healthy teaspoons cinnamon
1 package chocolate chips (we use about 3/4 of a standard bag)

:: in a large mixing bowl {or stand mixer}, combine eggs, pumpkin, applesauce/oil until smooth
:: add in all dry ingredients and mix well (this is where you’ll activate the xanthan gum in your flour — mix well here!)
:: add in your chocolate chips

:: line muffin tins or spray with oil — fill muffin tins about 3/4 of the way full
:: bake 16-20 minutes at 400*F — cool on a rack and enjoy!

be careful — these brown easily but do check the tops to make sure they’re cooked fully