After the indulgences of Christmas, you may be looking to kickstart a healthy lifestyle through food and exercise, while still wanting to enjoy what you eat. I’ve got a sweet tooth so I’m always experimenting with gluten-free, high-protein and healthy recipes, and these muffins certainly don’t disappoint.

I hate wasting food so with some cooked butternut squash left from an evening meal, I blended some up to create these wonderfully moist muffins with a cheeky addition of cacao chips to add a rich chocolatey flavour. You can use pumpkin if you don’t have squash, or use dark chocolate chunks instead of cacao nibs. Enjoy without feeling guilty!

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IngredientsSpiced Squash & Cacao Chip Protein Muffins Macros

Makes: 6 protein muffins
Macros*: Calories 214 kcal, Protein 20g, Carbs 15g, Fat 8g

  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup ground hazelnuts
  • 2 scoops vanilla whey protein
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup natural sweetener
  • ½ tsp each of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger
  • 150g cooked butternut squash (or pumpkin) cubes
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp hazelnut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 3-4 tbsp cacao nibs (I used Creative Nature)


  • ½ cup Quark (or other fat-free soft cheese)
  • 1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder
  • 1 tbsp no added sugar chocolate spread (I used JimJams)
  • 1 tbsp cacao nibs, to decorate


  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C and grease a 6-hole muffin tin.
  2. Put the coconut flour flour, hazelnuts, whey protein, baking powder, sweetener and spices in a large bowl and mix well.
  3. In a blender throw in the butternut squash chunks, egg and vanilla essence and whizz up until smooth.
  4. Pour this into the bowl and stir until evenly combined, without over-mixing. Fold in the cacao nibs – you should have a smooth batter-like texture.
  5. Spoon into the muffin cases and bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden. Leave to sit for 10 minutes then remove and place on a wire rack to cool.
  6. Mix all of the ‘icing’ ingredients together and leave in the fridge to chill and thicken. When ready to serve, spoon some on top and spread over each muffin and sprinkle with extra cacao nibs – now enjoy!

Spiced Squash & Cacao Chip Protein Muffins

*Note: Macros are given per protein muffin assuming this makes 6 muffins in total.