3 easy ways to bake gem squash (keto,vegan and vegetarian)

Today again something for veggie lovers like me 🙂 In my Friday vegetable box once I got three small gem squash. As I’ve never tried them before, so again I had to do some research. Gem squash is a type of summer squash and they are edible on every stage of its growth. Early gems are size of golf balls, and the skin and seeds are edible. My gems where size of an orange and seems to be very hard on the outside. Surprisingly the cooked very fast, and after 10 minutes they were quite soft and ready to eat. At first I thought to stuff them all with the same filling, but I was too curious how would they taste prepared also as a dessert. So finally I came out with 3 different options:

  1. Mozzarella & garlic (because I love mozzarella and garlic) 🙂
  2. Quinoa & mushrooms (for more like a vegan dinner option)
  3. Sweet cinnamon & walnuts (because of cinnamon and walnuts) 🙂

Each of them is really easy and quick to prepare. You need about 10 minutes to cook them, 5 minutes slightly cool them down and about 15-20 minutes to bake them. So in less than hour you can get tasty looking and pleasing for the eye meal, you can serve as a weekend lunch or dinner. Baked gem squash will be also great for all kind of celebrations or parties the more so because of the speed and ease of preparation – little effort big effect.

Comparing to winter squash, gem squash as a summer veg contains less carbs, so it’s perfect as a keto option. 100g of gem squash contain about 5.9g of carbohydrates, similar to broccoli and cauliflower, if you’re on ketogenic diet keep it in mind calculating your daily dose of carbs. Gem squash is low in saturated fat and sodium. It is also a good source of protein, vitamin A, phosphorus and copper, and a very good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B2, B6, B1, B3, folate, magnesium, potassium and manganese. And as other squash may reduce your risk of certain conditions, including heart disease, lung cancer, and mental decline.

Gem squash is universal enough to be perfect for sweet and salty dishes, for those of you who are vegan, but also for meat lovers – for stuffing or as an addition to stew or goulash. If you haven’t try gem squash before, I encourage you to do it. Maybe you’ll like its delicate flavour and texture with slightly earthy taste.

3 easy ways to bake gem squash (keto, vegan and vegetarian)

INGREDIENTS (as I had only 3 gem squash and made each one in a different way, I decided not to place the amount of each ingredient)

MOZZARELLA & GARLIC

  • gem squash
  • fresh garlic
  • mozzarella
  • butter
  • natural rock salt
  • walnuts

QUINOA & MUSHROOMS

  • gem squash
  • cooked red & white quinoa
  • mushrooms
  • spring onions
  • coarse pepper
  • butter or coconut oil
  • grated parmesan cheese, or vegan cheese option

SWEET CINNAMON & WALNUTS

  • gem squash
  • cinnamon
  • brown sugar or sugar replacement of your choice
  • butter or coconut oil
  • walnuts
  • cream cheese/mascarpone or coconut cream

DIRECTIONS

First cook gem squash in salted water for about 10 minutes or until tender, depending of the size of the squash. They surprisingly cook very quickly, so keep an eye on them not to overcook. Drain and place in cold water for about 5 minutes. Cut off the tops and scoop out the seeds and some flesh. If you’ll make sweet cinnamon gem squash save the flesh and seeds, they are soft and edible (they are like courgette seeds, but larger).

MOZZARELLA & GARLIC

Finely chop or squeeze garlic through the press. Grate or chop some mozzarella cheese. In each squash place a ½ teaspoon of garlic pinch of salt, ⅓ butter and lots of mozzarella cheese. Place walnut on top. Bake in 180° until golden.

QUINOA & MUSHROOMS

Cook quinoa in salted water until tender. Finely chop spring onion. Remove the skin or rinse mushrooms and slice them. Heat the pan adding slice of butter, fry mushrooms until golden on a high heat. Combine together quinoa, mushrooms, spring onions, grated parmesan cheese (or some vegan cheese), coarse pepper and bit of salt if needed. Fill up each gem squash. Bake in 180° for about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with some more parmesan cheese or chopped spring onion.

SWEET CINNAMON & WALNUTS

Take flash and seeds scooped from squash and smash it with a fork, adding cinnamon, butter or coconut oil, brown sugar or other substitute. It’s good to do it when flash is still warm, butter will be able to combine better. Make it as sweet as you like. Fill up each squash, place couple walnuts on top and a little bit of butter (or coconut oil). Bake in 180° for about 15 minutes, keep an eye on walnuts, so they won’t get burned. Serve hot with a scoop of cream cheese, mascarpone will also go great or for vegan option – coconut cream. You can sprinkle with a little more cinnamon.

Whichever option you choose – enjoy!

keto pumpkin cheesecake

When I saw this pumpkin cheesecake on Family on Keto Instagram page, I knew I have to try to make it. I bought a can of pumpkin puree, to make sure it’s going to be perfect for pie. And I don’t know if it’s the problem of ingredients – my pumpkin puree was rather dark orange than yellow and mixed with basic cream cheese, has made pretty liquid filling. Original one looks pretty fluffy and stiff. Or I did something different than Ines. So if you decide to make this cake keep in mind. Ines used her own puree made with baked pumpkin, so maybe that’s the difference – the type of pumpkin and how puree was made. Although my tinned pure was pretty thick, so maybe it’s cream cheese…

According to original recipe, after at least an hour in the fridge, cake should be ready to be served. But in my case it was still pretty liquid, as you can see on the photos (it stayed about 2 hours in the fridge). Only after 24 hours it was set enough to stay stiff.

Anyway, even though my cake wasn’t perfectly set, it was still really tasty. Delicate, smooth filling, gentle in taste, nutty pie crust with strong cinnamon flavour. Also very satisfying, so one piece is enough to fulfil your craving for sweet. I leave the amount of xylitol to you to decide, add just enough to make the dough sweet enough for you. I do not like very sweet sweets, so the amounts I add may not be suitable for most people.

If you decide to make your own pumpkin puree, remember to choose proper type of pumpkin or squash. Not each one will be perfect for cake. There’s couple different types of pumpkin, I can recommended two I’ve used, and they worked well for cakes, buns, muffins and also soups. First is butternut squash – its shape resembles a huge pear. The butternut squash flesh has no fibers and the taste is nutty and sweetish. Therefore, this type of pumpkin is perfect for everything: as a base for soups, casseroles, as a basic ingredient for bread, muffins, rolls, cookies, cakes and other desserts. You can also make cocktails from it! Second one is Hokkaido pumpkin, which is round and dark orange with golden flesh – I also used it in the past for cakes and it was great. In the shops you can also find kabocha squash (also known as Japanese pumpkin) – this type of pumpkin is easy to recognize – the skin is always green. Although dark green on the outside, the inside of the pumpkin is orange. It’s the sweetest kind of pumpkin. The flesh is fiber free. Perfect as a base for desserts – you can prepare pumpkin cheesecake, muffins, cookies or other sweet delicacy from it.

Photo by Madison Inouye on Pexels.com

Either type of pumpkin you choose or you decide to use tinned puree, don’t be discouraged if something goes not as perfect as you wish. After all, it is the taste and the joy of preparing and eating that are most important. If you feel like something went wrong, you can always crumble pie crust in to small bowls, layer it with pumpkin filling, and decorate with big splash of whipped cream and bunch of raspberries.

keto pumpkin cheesecake

NOTE: my measuring cup is regular 250ml glass

INGREDIENTS for pie crust for baking tray – 20cm/about 7-8inch:

  • 1½ cup ground nuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder
  • xylitol or other sugar replacement to taste
  • 6 tbsp softened butter (I used clarified)
  • pinch of natural rock salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

INGREDIENTS for pumpkin filling:

  • 340g pumpkin puree
  • double cream (or whipping cream) 50ml
  • xylitol or other sugar replacement to taste
  • decoration: 250ml whipping cream or double cream and raspberries

DIRECTIONS

First prepare base for the cake. Combine together grounded nuts and/or seeds, coconut flour, cacao powder, xylitol, butter, small pinch of salt and cinnamon, until you get uniform dough. You can do it using a spoon or your hands. Prepare round baking tray or tart dish, place a layer of baking paper or grease with some butter. Using your hands fill the bottom and the sides of the tray with dough, press with your fingers until you get even surface.

Heat the oven to 180°C, bake pie crust for about 15 minutes. Then remove from the oven and leave it until it cools down completely.

When the pie crust is cold, you can start with filling. Using handheld mixer combine together: pumpkin puree, cream cheese, double cream, add xylitol or other sugar replacement to taste. My filling became pretty liquid, not as fluffy and stable, as the one in the original recipe. Cake on the photos stayed in the fridge for about 2 hours, and it was still pretty liquid, as you can see. After 24 hours in the fridge it was much more set, but still not the same as the one in the original recipe. So probably it depends of the pumpkin puree and type of cream cheese you use.

Fill up the pie crust and keep in the fridge at least for the night (or less if it sets quicker). When filling is set, whip the cream, arrange on top and decorate with raspberries or pomegranate seeds like in Family on Keto recipe.

You can store it in the fridge for about 3 days.

Enjoy!

keto cacao crepes with pumpkin & cream cheese

I mainly use pumpkin/squash to make a soup – I love it, especially in a Autumn and Winter time. It’s creamy, spicy and warming. But since I blog (that’s from 2013) I like to experiment with other sweet and savoury pumpkin recipes. After making this keto crepes, this idea came into my mind: keto cacao crepes with cream cheese and pumpkin. I had some leftovers of tinned pumpkin puree I bought for pumpkin cheesecake (recipe soon), so I decided it’s a great moment to try to make these crepes.

To make this keto crepes you need only three ingredients: eggs, double cream (heavy cream or any kind of high fat cream) and cacao powder. You need one egg for one crepe, so if you’d like to make a bigger batch, be prepared and have plenty of eggs on hand. Although the preparation of batter is extremely simple, the frying is quite tricky. Have a look at my previous keto crepes recipe for tips and tricks that will make the preparations easier.

Keep in mind that the only sugar replacement (xylitol) I added to a pumpkin puree, and final crepes where not very sweet. Also if you add cacao to the batter it will make it slightly bitter. Adding some sweetener to the batter would be a good idea. Everything depends how sweet you like them. So please keep in mind that you might need adjust the recipe to your taste. You can also use whipped cream on top, it will be more decorative.

It’s a great option for low sugar dessert or weekend breakfast. When you get into practice with making and flipping crepes, the process will be quick and easy – perfect for Autumn family breakfast.

keto cacao crepes with pumpkin & cream cheese

INGREDIENTS:

  • eggs – 1 egg = 1 crepe
  • cacao powder – 1/2 tsp = crepe
  • double cream – 10 ml/ about 3 tsp = crepe
  • cream cheese
  • pumpkin puree (I used tinned pumpkin puree)
  • xylitol or other sugar replacement
  • cinnamon
  • ground ginger
  • ground cloves
  • ground nutmeg

DIRECTIONS

Mix together pumpkin puree with some cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg. Also add to taste xylitol or other sugar replacement. You can also add some sugar replacement to cream cheese if you like it more sweet. I didn’t add any, but decide according to your liking. Also didn’t add any sweetener to crepe batter, so after adding cacao they are slightly bitter in taste. Maybe try to make one crepe without adding any sweetener and see if it’s OK for you.

Prepare crepe pan or other crepe size pan, possibly with low edge. In a cup using a fork whip 1 egg, 1/2 teaspoon of cacao powder and about 3 teaspoons of double cream. Heat the pan (have a look to a previous keto crepe recipe to get all the tips and tricks that will make the preparations easier) and pour the batter. Spread out the batter evenly holding the pan and making circular movements. When you see that the edges of the crepe starts to pull away from the pan, take the spatula and very gently flip it over. If it folds , no worries just gently unfold it and try again. It’s quite tricky as the crepes are delicate, but if you have some experience with making regular crepes, you’ll manage with these as well. You can also give the pan a little shake to make sure that it doesn’t stick to it (if it does, shake a bit more or help yourself with a spatula), then make a circle with your hand, tossing crepe into the air. If you’re lucky enough, your crepe should land on the pan with the other side. It should work well with shallow, crepe pan. If you have a regular deeper one, the high edge of the pan might not let you flip crepes easily. This method requires a little bit of experience, so don’t give up if it doesn’t work. If your crepe folds, just unfold it and try one more time.

Choose the best method for you, after couple times you’ll feel more confident.

Prepare fresh batter for each crepe, mixing one egg, half a teaspoon of cacao powder and about 3 teaspoons of double cream.

When you have the amount of crepes you need, take some cream cheese and spread it evenly on one side of the crepe. Then spread a layer of pumpkin puree. Fold it in half, and then in half. You can fold it one more time as I did, if you want. Do the same with the rest of crepes. Arrange them on a plate, sprinkle with cinnamon, you can decorate with whipped cream. I sprinkled with a bit of cane sugar, just for decoration.

pumpkin cheese pie (regular and keto)

Pumpkin is an extremely versatile vegetable, it is perfect for soup, for all vegetable and meat dishes, and as an addition or main ingredient of cakes. Pumpkin-based cakes are perhaps the most popular in the United States and Great Britain. And the book and the recipe I used to prepare the pumpkin cheesecake is British. The recipe book is by Jane Suthering and contains recipes for “Cool deserts”, meaning all cold desserts – from those frozen to those at room temperature. The recipe is intended for a 20 cm tart dish. I had a bit larger, so I increased the amount of ingredients.

Now let’s move on to the cake – the pumpkin is not very noticeable in it, perhaps because it was steamed and not baked, it would then be more condensed, and its taste and color more distinct. However, it is not an ordinary cheesecake, although the taste of the cheese is mainly felt here. I skipped the lemon zest and just added the juice. It does not change the fact that the filling is very good, creamy, moist and soft – it melts in the mouth, and the added egg whites makes it light and fluffy. For the next time, I also encountered the preparation of a shortcrust pastry completely without eggs and I like this way more and more – the dough is really crispy and not hard at all – and this was always a problem for me in the shortcrust.

There’s couple different types of pumpkin, I can recommended two I’ve used, and they worked well for cakes, buns, muffins and also soups. First is butternut squash – its shape resembles a huge pear. The butternut squash flesh has no fibers and the taste is nutty and sweetish. Therefore, this type of pumpkin is perfect for everything: as a base for soups, casseroles, as a basic ingredient for bread, muffins, rolls, cookies, cakes and other desserts. You can also make cocktails from it! For cakes, you can also use Hokkaido pumpkin, which is round and dark orange with golden flesh.

Pumpkin is very nutritious vegetable. Pumpkin pulp contains polysaccharides, pigments, amino acids, active proteins, and minerals (Sulfur, Chrome, Calcium, Phosphorus, Iron, Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium, Zinc, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, β-carotene). Many studies have been done on the anti-diabetic effect of pumpkin polysaccharides. They have been shown to decrease blood glucose and lipid levels in diabetic rats. Studies on people showed that daily supplement of 30 g pumpkin powder can significantly reduce blood glucose concentrations. Pumpkin pigments include carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin. Carotenoids are considered a major source of vitamin A which is necessary for embryonic development, growth, and normal eyesight. Pumpkin is an excellent source of pro-vitamin A carotenoids*

You can prepare this pie with regular flour and sugar or in keto option using my recipe for linseed flour pastry. It’s going to works well, although it’s dark in color (if you use golden linseed it will be much brighter), and more intensive in taste. But it’s gluten free and low in carbs. For the filling just skip the flour, it might gets less stiff and deflate a little more, but it’s sill gonna be delicious.

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pumpkin cheese pie (regular option)

NOTE: my cup is regular 250ml glass

INGREDIENTS FOR PASTRY (about 20cm):

• 1 cup plain flour
• pinch of salt
• 100g unsalted butter
• 2 tbsp powdered sugar
• 2-3 tbsp very cold water

INGREDIENTS FOR FILLING:

• 1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
• 3 tbsp sugar
• juice of ½ lemon
• 150 g creme cheese
• 4-5 tbsp double creme
• 2 tbsp plain flour
• pinch of ground nutmeg
• 3 eggs, separated

DIRECTIONS

It’s best to start baking a cake by making a pumpkin puree. The recipe recommends dividing the pumpkin into smaller pieces and baking it in the oven until tender (180 ° C for about 45 minutes) – then peel the pumpkin and blend it into a puree. I chose a slightly more economical version and steamed the pumpkin – I cut it into smaller pieces and steamed until the fork slightly touched the pumpkin. Then I mixed it with a blender. The first way is definitely better, because the pumpkin becomes softer without water and therefore more like real puree. My pumpkin looked more like a very thick cream when blended. I think you could prepare the puree in the third way, that is, dice the pumpkin and simmer in a non-stick pan until the maximum of the liquid evaporates, then blend with a blender if there are any larger pieces. Which method you choose – depends only on you.

When the pumpkin puree is ready, we can start preparing the shortcrust pastry. For this purpose, mix the flour, salt and sugar, add cold butter and add 2-3 tablespoons of very cold water. Knead the dough quickly, put it in a bag and place in the freezer. When it’s cooled down, roll it out directly onto baking sheet to make the size of the pan. I put the dough and baking paper into a tart dish, pressing it against the side walls, and then put it in the fridge to cool (for about 15 minutes). During this time, set the oven to heat up to 190 ° C. Pierced the dough with a fork, so that it would keep it flat and bake for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, preparing the filling. Separate the yolks from the whites. Combine the egg yolks, pumpkin, sugar, lemon juice, flour, white cheese, cream and a pinch of nutmeg using handheld mixer to a smooth liquid mass. In a separate, clean bowl, I beat the egg white with small pinch of salt until stiff peaks (first at lower speed, then higher). Do it just before pouring the dough on the pastry, so that the foam does not have to wait too long and does not deflate.

Take the pastry out of the oven and set the temperature to 170ºC. Pour the egg white into a cheese-pumpkin mix and combine gently but thoroughly. Pour it over the pastry and put it in the oven. I have been baking 45 minutes without fan, but my oven does not bake evenly, as shown in the pictures, so if you have the same problem, it might be worth checking the temperature to 150 ° C and turning on fan, so that the temperature is the same everywhere. One more thing – I baked on the middle shelf of the oven, but you can put the dish on the slightly lower shelf – the top of the pie gets browned quickly and the bottom of pastry was pale, so it’s better to put the pie slightly lower to make the pastry golden on the bottom. After baking, leave the cake for about 20 minutes in the oven slightly opened, then set it aside to cool down.

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pumpkin cheese pie (keto option)

NOTE: my cup is regular 250ml glass

INGREDIENTS FOR PASTRY (about 20cm):

  • 1 cup ground linseed (flaxseed)
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup xylitol (or other sweetener)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2-3 tbsp clarified butter (or coconut oil)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp milk (I used almond milk)

INGREDIENTS FOR FILLING:

• 1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
• about 3 tbsp xylitol (or other sugar replacement)
• juice of ½ lemon
• 150 g creme cheese
• 4-5 tbsp double creme
• pinch of ground nutmeg
• 3 eggs, separated

DIRECTIONS

It’s best to start baking a cake by making a pumpkin puree. The recipe recommends dividing the pumpkin into smaller pieces and baking it in the oven until tender (180 ° C for about 45 minutes) – then peel the pumpkin and blend it into a puree. I chose a slightly more economical version and steamed the pumpkin – I cut it into smaller pieces and steamed until the fork slightly touched the pumpkin. Then I mixed it with a blender. The first way is definitely better, because the pumpkin becomes softer without water and therefore more like real puree. My pumpkin looked more like a very thick cream when blended. I think you could prepare the puree in the third way, that is, dice the pumpkin and simmer in a non-stick pan until the maximum of the liquid evaporates, then blend with a blender if there are any larger pieces. Which method you choose – depends only on you.

Next step is pastry. I use old coffee grinder to grind linseed, you can do the same, or buy grounded linseed. Although it’s more expensive and less healthy, because ground linseed oxidize quickly. That’s why it’s better to buy linseed and grind only the amount you need. You can also use mortar to grind them, but it’s more time consuming and requires more attention.

In a bowl mix together grounded linseed, coconut flour, xylitol, baking powder, butter, egg and milk using your hand. As linseed dough is not as elastic and flexible as regular dough (gluten increases dough cohesiveness and ductility), you might not be able to nicely fold it as you can with regular dough.

Take a piece of baking paper and roll the dough using a rolling pin. Give it more or less a round shape, make it quite thin. Again it may brake, no worries, just stick it together with your fingers. Place it in a tart dish (with or without baking paper, depending of the material of the dish you have), and bake for about 15 minutes in 190ºC.

In the meantime, preparing the filling. Separate the yolks from the whites. Combine the egg yolks, pumpkin, sugar, lemon juice, white cheese, cream and a pinch of nutmeg using handheld mixer to a smooth liquid mass. In a separate, clean bowl, I beat the egg white with small pinch of salt until stiff peaks (first at lower speed, then higher). Do it just before pouring the dough on the pastry, so that the foam does not have to wait too long and does not deflate.

Take the pastry out of the oven and set the temperature to 170ºC. Pour the egg white into a cheese-pumpkin mix and combine gently but thoroughly. Pour it over the pastry and put it in the oven. I baked on the middle shelf of the oven, but you can put the dish on the slightly lower shelf – the top of the pie gets browned quickly and the bottom of pastry was pale, so it’s better to put the pie slightly lower to make the pastry golden on the bottom. After baking, leave the cake for about 20 minutes in the oven slightly opened, then set it aside to cool down.

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*https://www.intechopen.com/books/the-health-benefits-of-foods-current-knowledge-and-further-development/nutritional-profile-and-medicinal-properties-of-pumpkin-fruit-pulp