gluten & sugar free chocolate zucchini muffins



I'm on a bit of a gluten-free kick. My body is loving me for it too. No more of the upset tummy from indulging in one too many baked goods. Can't eat too many of these either, but only because they're super filling. They're big, moist, yummy and great for a mid-morning snack. Plus, they turn out perfect every time so that's a good thing too.

These were born from my love of chocolate and the big beautiful zucchinis growing in the garden now (or in this case, our friend's garden). I sweetened these with xylitol but you could use maple syrup or brown sugar. 1/2 cup yields a semi-sweet muffin. Use 3/4 cup if you like more sweetness.

Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients

11/2 cup shredded zucchini (packed loose)
1/2 cup xylitol
2 eggs
1/2 cup yogurt
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup milk
2 cups gluten free flour (I used Cloud 9 & Bob's on separate batches and had equal success)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3 Tbsp cocoa nibs (optional but adds texture)

Instructions
1. Mix zucchini, eggs, olive oil, milk or water, yogurt and xylitol in a large bowl.
2. Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, soda in a small bowl.
3. Add dry to wet ingredients and mix well. Add nibs if using. Mixture should resemble thick pancake batter.
4. Fill prepared muffin tins with mixture (they will be really full)
5. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes (until pushing slightly on tops yields some resistance).
Allow to cool before eating.

Gluten free breading extravaganza

1. oat flour mix, 2. cloud 9 mix, 3. corn flour blend #2, 4. corn flour blend #1
A while ago, a friend asked me about gluten free breading. I don't bread much but it got me thinking. And thinking I did for several months (takes me a while to mull things over).  Finally I got around to trying all sorts of combinations and I'm super excited to share them! It was a good day for Craig too, as a lover of breading and fried-things (it's on these occasions he loves the blog).

No combination turned out 'bad', in fact they were all quite good. But there were some definite winners and some others I probably won't make again. For cooking, I used a half-inch of grapeseed oil (in a ceramic coated cast iron skillet) to fry. But they would probably bake well too, just not be as crispy. I had some chicken breasts I needed to use up, but there's no reason you couldn't use fish or tofu.

I used corn flour, a gluten-free flour blend (Cloud 9) and gf oats that I ground into flour for my bases. I cut up the chicken into little nugget pieces for my experimenting, but I would totally do them again that way. Little bites are great for dipping, snacking, sharing....
I figure between Craig and I, we give a good objective score. I'm coming from a healthy perspective where if I had to, I would choose ingredients over taste, while Craig just wants it to taste good and be 'normal'. 

My batches were small and so are my recipe amounts. I cooked 3 large chicken breasts (cut into bite sized pieces) and used all of the ingredients/recipes below. We had 3 plates like this one. So full.  

Chicken pieces were coated in egg first, then dipped and pressed into mixes to coat fully.  

Here's the results:
1. Corn mix #1
3 Tbsp corn flour
1 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp no salt seasoning (from Costco) or use garlic powder

These were as yummy. I love the texture of corn flour. Nice and crunchy. Would make these again.
**This amount would coat approx 2-3 chicken breasts (not cut up)

2. Oat flour mix
1/3 cup oat flour (I ground oats in a coffee grinder)
1 tsp corn starch
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp smoked paprika

You can try them without smoked paprika but truly, it adds another dimension of flavour and both Craig and I preferred the paprika ones to the non-paprika oat flour batches. I would try this mix with tofu.

**This amount would coat approx 3-4 chicken breasts (not cut up)

3. Cloud 9 blend
2 Tbsp Cloud 9 flour (recently bought at Costco)
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground rosemary

Craig loved the rosemary fragrance and found the fried batter pleasing. I liked them ok, but found the Cloud 9 flour didn't hold up to frying as good as the corn or oat flour. It was a little too fine. Still really good and might actually work better on a fish like cod or sole.

**This amount would coat approx 2-3 chicken breasts (not cut up)

4. Corn mix #2
2 Tbsp corn flour
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp smoked paprika

Very tasty. Equally as good as #1. Top points from Craig and I. Good texture and the smoked paprika is lovely in this one too.

**This amount would coat approx 2 chicken breasts (not cut up)

5. #4 with a corn chip finish

This was delicious. Full points from both. Great crunchy texture.  I crushed organic corn chips with a rolling pin in a baggie. After coating with corn mix #2, I dropped the piece in the baggie and rolled it around to coat in chips.

6. #1 with a corn meal finish

I coated these with corn mix #1 then added a coating of raw corn meal. The corn meal or corn grits are a little too gritty for this and don't soften enough with frying. Not horrible, but I wouldn't add that step again. Craig said good but not as good as #5.

More testing going on this plate below. Numbers getting a little greasy.  #4 I tried coating with #1 and #2 both. Not super exciting. #6 is #1 with a corn chip finish. Yummy. I think the corn chip finish is a winner.

Craig wanted me to try #3 with a corn chip finish but I ran out of chicken. He thinks it will be the best one yet. I'm not convinced, but if you happen to try it, let me know :)

Happy GF breading.
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