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Gluten-Free Butternut Spice Cake

Pumpkin gets all the attention in the fall. It’s got its own pie. It’s got its own latte. It has muffins, cakes, breads, cookies, scones, mousses, ice creams, you name it.

The weird thing is, pumpkin doesn’t taste that good. If you eat it in its raw, unedited form you’ll want to spit it out. If you’ve ever tried to taste unsweetened pumpkin from a can (not pumpkin pie filling) then you know from experience it’s not something you could stomach plain. We may as well dress up a potato and create an entire fall line of foods around it.

So my question is, why do we celebrate pumpkin so much when the fall harvest is full of other options that are just as good?

If you cook a winter squash (i.e. butternut, acorn, carnival, etc.) you’ll notice that they’re usually sweet and nutty tasting without anything added. You can smell them across the house. And when you pull a butternut squash out of the oven with nothing on it but a little coconut oil and salt it tastes amazing.

These guys deserve more credit!

And if flavor isn’t enough motivation to bake with a butternut squash, it’s also a nutrient superstar. The butternut squash is full of potassium, folate, beta carotene (which the body converts to vitamin A and vitamin B-6. Plus, it’s got a high water content which means it’s filling and satisfying.

Today I’m going to show you how turn it into something kinda naughty: A super dense, moist cake!


There’s a bit of prep work, so it would be ideal to make this during the weekend, then slice, freeze, and take pieces to work during the weekdays. And if you want to turn it into a bread, just cut the sweetener by half or more, add a touch of salt, then bake it in a couple of bread pans.

This is a gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free recipe. But feel free to play with the ingredients and use whatever works best for you.

Directions for the butternut squash puree:

  1. Peel a medium-sized butternut squash (you can use a potato peeler and do it over a trash can).
  2. Slice off the top, then slice right down the middle lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds.
  3. Slice it across into thin half-moon shaped slices. Try to make them uniform so that they all cook at about the same time. If you don’t have a sharp knife to work with, this will be a workout. Bonus!
  4. Line baking sheets with parchment paper, spritz with your preferred oil (I use coconut oil), and spread squash pieces out over pan.
  5. Bake at 400ºF for 25-30 minutes, depending on how thinly you sliced the pieces, your elevation, etc.
  6. Check for doneness by piercing your squash with a fork. The fork prongs should slide right in.
  7. Let the squash cool down completely.
  8. Puree the butternut squash in a food processor or blender in small batches so that there are no giant lumps.

These thin moon-shaped slices are simple and they cook quickly.


  • 3 cups butternut squash puree
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 3-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 2-3 tsp liquid Stevia (I used NOW brand) or sweeten to taste using the sweetener of choice.


    1. Combine the coconut flour and pureed squash. Add all other ingredients. The batter will look thicker than cake batter. Coconut flour has a dryer consistency.

      Yum is right, spatula.

    2. Spray a cake pan with coconut oil and coat it with a flour of your choice.
    3. Pour the batter in the pan and bake at 375 for about 45 minutes depending on elevation and the size of your pan. Check for doneness using a toothpick. For a faster bake time, I often use two mini cake pans and just cut the bake time in half.
    4. Once you bake this, you can tell people that you made a cake from scratch. No canned pumpkin, no boxed mix, just good ingredients.

Want it to fit your macros?

Here’s the IIFYM breakdown (this will vary if you use a different sweetener):

Entire cake:
Protein: 70g
Carbs: 145g (80g of Fiber!)
Fat: 83

Per serving (if you cut it into 12 slices):
Protein: 6g
Carbs: 12g (7g Fiber!)
Fat: 7g

Net carbs per serving: 5. Net carbs per cake: 60. No boxed cake mix can beat that.

Uh oh, you have leftover puree! What now?

Aside from turning it into baby food, here are four other delicious things you can do with pureed butternut squash:

Option # 1:  Use it as a protein shake thickener. It’s a perfect addition to a vanilla protein shake. Reduce your liquid by a bit then spice it up as needed.

Option # 2: Make no-bake peanut-butternut balls with it. Depending on how much puree you have left, combine it with about a 1:1 ratio of oats. Add a couple tablespoons of peanut butter or nut butter of your choice, liquid stevia or sweetener of your choice, coconut flakes, and cinnamon. Just eye-ball it and taste as you go. Then roll them into balls and refrigerate.

Butternut squash balls

Option # 3: Use the butternut puree as a soup base for dinner. Add chicken stock, spices, a few dashes of salt, and it’s ready for you to add meat and veggies.

Option # 4: Turn it into a protein mousse by mixing it with a couple scoops of protein powder and whipped cream.

About The Author: Dani Shugart

Dani Shugart is an ISSA certified nutrition coach with degrees in nutrition and electronic media. She’s competed in everything from natural bodybuilding to long-distance running. She blogs and offers customized food and fitness plans at You can also connect with her on Twitter,FacebookInstagram, and Email

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