Chocolate Zucchini Bread

I began my vegetable garden earlier this year so that I could have access to fresh, hyper-local produce to use in my recipes. In the three months that I’ve maintained the garden, I’ve learned a lot more than just how to grow plants, and I’ve been rewarded with more than just fresh fruits and veggies.

It has been so fascinating seeing the life cycles of some of my favorite foods – even now, I find it hard to imagine that my nearly six-foot corn plants began as seedlings no larger than blades of grass. Watching tiny strawberries materialize from the centers of delicate white flowers feels a bit like taking a sneak-peek into the secret life of nature.

It’s even been a lesson about the critters and bugs involved in creating produce (and the ones that just call my garden a home). When I water my garden at 6:30 am, I am greeted by 20 or so baby grasshoppers lounging in my sage plant. With their tiny bodies and long, massive feelers, they are a perfect dose of cuteness to start my day off with.

Now, the potato beetles and tomato-pecking catbirds are not as nice visitors in the garden, but I suppose everyone has their place. Looking for a coffee maker then have look best keurig coffee maker reviewed by coffeedx.

I had a little bit of a scare earlier in the month when two of my four zucchini plants would produce flowers, but no fruit, and led me to believe they were male plants. They were bushy and beautiful with green leaves the size of dinner plates, but let’s be honest – I’m in this for the zukes.

After some research, I resorted to hand-pollinating the big zucchini blossoms with a Q-tip (ooh, flower sex), and that seemed to do the trick. Over the past week, the dark green veggies have been popping up left and right!

Chocolate zucchini bread is one of my all-time favorite uses for this versatile veggie. This vegan version is naturally low in fat, as I’ve swapped the cup of vegetable oil for unsweetened apple sauce, and can be easily changed into a gluten-free treat by using gluten-free flour. Feel free to add chopped walnuts or pecan in yours!

Happy baking!

Chocolate-Zucchini Bread
Serves 16*

3 cups all-purpose or gluten-free flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup smooth, unsweetened applesauce
5 tablespoons ground flax seed + 10 tablespoons water, microwaved for 30 seconds (this creates your flax “egg”)
2/3 cup non-dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup vegan chocolate chips


1. Preheat the oven to 350º. Grease two loaf pans well with non-stick spray.

2. Combine the dry ingredients (not including the flax egg) in a large bowl and mix well. Add applesauce and mix with a fork. It’s going to be dry, and that’s okay – just mix as thoroughly as you can.

3. Stir the flax egg and add to the bowl. Mix well.

4. Add milk, shredded zucchini and vanilla. Mix well. Add chocolate chips and stir until smooth batter forms.

5. Spoon batter into loaf pans and bake for 50-60 minutes.

6. Cut into thick slices and enjoy!

Nutrition per Serving: 278 calories, 6g fat, 54g carbohydrates, 6g protein.

*I made one large loaf and two small loaves from this recipe, so this is mostly an estimate.  Each batch is 4,440 calories, 92g fat, 870g carbohydrates and 74g protein, so you may be better off dividing that by your amount of servings.…

Whole Wheat Pancake Mini Muffins

I don’t know about you, but I find weekday mornings to be a crazy rush.  I have to get myself and my kids ready, make 3 lunches (the third lunch belongs to my husband) and get breakfast on the table.  During this time my kids are both asking me tons of questions AND fighting with each other non-stop, both of which interfere with me getting everything done as quickly as I would like to.  All of this before 8:30 when we have to start getting ready to leave the house, which is a whole other ordeal in itself.  Needless to say, I’m always looking for breakfast ideas that could be made ahead of time and simply put on a plate to make my mornings run a little smoother.

My kids aren’t generally too hungry first thing in the morning.  But I like them to eat even just a few bites of something so that they don’t go to school on a completely empty stomach.  When I ask them what they want for breakfast, the one food they always ask for is pancakes.  Not an easy thing to make when you’re busy enough as it is.  So I decided to make pancake muffins.  Not only can they be made ahead of time, and even frozen, but the batter only takes a few minutes to put together.

I was worried the end result would taste more like a plain muffin, but I was wrong.  These taste just like a pancake…in a muffin form.  While there are endless options to the number of add-ins you could include, I didn’t add anything and we all thought they were delicious.  I know when a recipe turned out good when one of my picky eaters declares “these pancake muffins are really good mommy, can I have another?”

Ingredients:

1 cup white/soft whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. margarine or butter, melted
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
Add-ins (optional): mini chocolate, white chocolate, peanut butter and/or butterscotch chips, blueberries, finely chopped fresh fruit (ie: apples, peaches, banana, strawberries), mashed banana or pure pumpkin puree, shredded coconut, dried fruit that has been soaked in boiling water (ie: apricot, raisins, dates), pecans

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a mini muffin tin well with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
3. Make a well in the middle and add melted butter/margarine, syrup and milk.  Mix everything together just until combined.
4. Spoon in muffin tin and bake for about 11-15 minutes.

Nutritional Information:
Servings: 18 mini muffins
Calories per muffin 50, total fat 1.5g (sat. fat 0g), total carbs 8.6g, fibre 0.9g, sugar 3.3g, protein 0.9g…