Vegan Gluten-Free Zucchini Muffins

Summer’s bounty comes in the form of many, many, MANY zucchini. In our friend’s garden. Miss T is an outstanding gardener, with a degree in plants, drip irrigation systems, and an intuitive sense of color and scale that we can appreciate but not duplicate. Fortunately for us, she gives away vegetables when they become too much.

Zucchini bounty
This was after we made zucchini au gratin, stuffed zucchini, and zucchini pancakes…thanks Miss T!

Belle and I are working on showing appreciation through actions, so we grabbed our recipe book and started thinking of ways to give back to Miss T. Alas, her family has a combination of allergies and sensitivities (dairy, gluten, egg, and peanut) that makes vegan recipes safest. So, Belle and I discussed why we had to use special flour for Miss T’s zucchini muffins:

“That flour makes Miss T sick, but this special flour doesn’t!”

“Why does it make her sick?”

“Because there’s something in it that her body doesn’t like. It’s okay, as long as we are very careful not to give her our flour, but instead use Miss T’s special flour! Should we mix in our normal flour?”

“No! Because Miss T might get sick!”

Kitchen set up
Mise en place for the recipe – including flax eggs in the bottom right bowl, melted coconut oil in a center bowl, plenty of ingredients in the top left (with excess tomatoes), and a written recipe blocking the flour we don’t want to use.

Cool, she gets it. In our house, we just frame allergies as something that we accommodate because it’s nice to share and it’s nice to keep people healthy when we do. Good friends help friends stay healthy. (Note that we also use this logic for pandemic masks!)

This recipe has a lot of places where we repeat the same size measuring cup/spoon four times, which I took as an opportunity to do a little early math. If we need 4 teaspoons of ground flax, then let’s count how many scoops we’ve done, and how many are left.

Counting on fingers 4+0
Four scoops left…zero hands left.

“We haven’t done any teaspoons, and we have four to go, for four teaspoons.”

“We have done one teaspoon, and we have three to go, for four teaspoons.”

“We have done two teaspoons, and we have two to go, for four teaspoons,” etc.

Counting on fingers 3+1
We used the same technique the next day while baking bread.

I broke the 2 cups of flour up into half-cup measures so we could do the same process to reinforce the concept. It’s basic math facts (1+3=4, 2+2=4, 3+1=4, 4+0=4) but also the transitive property (if 1+3=4 and 2+2=4, then 1+3=2+2) and just a general reinforcement of number sense. Where I might use math manipulates on a table to show the relationship, here I’m asking Belle to hold these concepts in her head and reference my fingers as we count.

Belle lost interest shortly after, so she went off to draw something while I wrapped up the recipe. Timing is an estimate based on how long it would take with start-to-finish participation.

Batter before baking
The batter should still be loose and sticky when you add the zucchini and optional chocolate.

Skills worked on:

  • Early math: number sense, transitive property, math facts
  • Character formation: appreciation, consideration
  • Allergy awareness
  • Fine motor: pouring
  • Food prep

Equipment needed:

  • two small bowls (coconut oil, flax eggs)
  • two large mixing bowls (wet, dry)
  • mixer
  • measuring spoons and cups
  • spatula and spoon
  • muffin tin
Fresh baked muffins
Get some domed muffin tops by sacrificing a few muffins and filling the cups to full depth!

Recipe (35 min prep, 25 min bake, yield: 12 standard muffins)

This recipe is adapted from Beaming Baker, and is egg-free, dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free, and vegan. We used Namaste gluten-free flour, but it should work with any flour marked gluten-free, including oat flour as in the original recipe. This recipe is written to minimize dishwashing, so it may feel out of order to experienced bakers. Overmixing is very easy if you do as I usually do (which is ignore recommendations to combine dry ingredients early) and will result in a flat and underbaked muffin.

  • 4 1/2 tsp ground flaxseed
  • 1/4 c plus 1 1/2 tsp warm water
  • 1/4 c plus 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 c gluten-free flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 c grated zucchini (a zucchini around 8″ long should be enough)
  • 3/4 c chocolate chunks, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease or line a 12 cup muffin pan.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together 4 1/2 tsp ground flaxseed with 1/4 c plus 1 1/2 tsp water to create 1 1/2 flax eggs. Set aside.
  3. Grate zucchini using a box grater or a small food processor. A quarter cup more or less of grated zucchini will not break the recipe.
  4. Add 1/4 c brown sugar to a mixing bowl (the stand mixer if you use one).
  5. Add 1/4 c plus 2 tbsp coconut oil to a small bowl and microwave until clear (about 45-60 seconds). Set aside.
  6. In a large bowl (separate from the mixer), combine 2 c gluten-free flour, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp salt. Set aside.
  7. Add coconut oil to the sugar bowl, then add 1/4 c maple syrup, 1 tsp vanilla, and the flax eggs. Mix on medium using standard beaters until well combined.
  8. Add dry ingredients, mixing until mostly moistened, then add 1 1/4 c grated zucchini and optional 3/4 c chocolate chunks til fully moistened (no more than 20 seconds). Scrape down bowl and work any remaining dry ingredients into the mixture using a spatula.
  9. Spoon into muffin tins – the batter should be thick and the spoon can be used to help fill the cup to the edges.
  10. Bake for 25-30 min, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack in the pan about 20 min, then remove muffins from pan to continue to cool, about half an hour.

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Vegan gf zucchini muffin pin

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