DOUBLE CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI BROWNIES

It is beginning to look like fall here in Minnesota. The leaves on the trees are turning beautiful shades of bright yellow, red and orange. The farmers markets are selling all varieties of squash including zucchini as well as apples and baked goods. I purchased a zucchini there recently and baked a batch of moist and delicious Double Chocolate Zucchini Brownies. They are easy to pack into a lunchbox or enjoy with a cup of coffee in the afternoon. I lightened up the recipe by substituting unsweetened applesauce in place of vegetable oil. This decreases the calories in the entire recipe by 960 or 60 calories per serving. The recipe yields 16 brownies. I also added 1/4 cup of ground flaxseed to the recipe to increase the fiber content and add extra texture to the recipe. You may substitute margarine or coconut oil if desired in place of butter in this recipe to reduce the cholesterol and saturated fat content of the recipe. Recent research on coconut oil has shown that it offers many promising health benefits, including improvement in cognitive functioning according to some newer studies.

I usually do not frost these brownies since they taste very good without the frosting. I was baking some cupcakes for my niece’s wedding shower and had some frosting left over so I decided to use it up by frosting these brownies. It does add some extra flavor and helps satisfy that chocolate urge that I sometimes crave.

The picture below was taken a week ago in Lansing, Iowa overlooking the Mississippi River in a park perched above this small river town. We went camping for the weekend in the area and explored the quaint river towns and gorgeous scenery in northeast Iowa and ventured across the river into Wisconsin as well. It was a fun weekend! Of course I packed up a batch of some freshly baked double chocolate zucchini brownies to take along on our weekend adventure!

 

 

I used Hersheys 100% cacao dark cocoa in this recipe to improve the health benefits of using dry cocoa. The cacao dark chocolate cocoa powder is higher in antioxidant flavonoid content. Flavonoids are part of a powerful group of antioxidants known as polyphenols. Flavonoids battle disease producing free radicals in our body. Dry cocoa is very healthy, extremely low in fat content as well as a low calorie food. It can be used in baking cakes and brownies or add 2 tsp to your favorite smoothie for a chocolate flavor. It is very good when added to banana and peanut butter  smoothies. Dry cacao powder also has heart health benefits as well and may help to lower the LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

 

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI BROWNIES
 
Ingredients
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ⅓ cup Hershey's dry100% cacoa dark cocoa baking cocoa
  • 1⅔ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups shredded, unpeeled zucchini, gently pressed to remove excess liquid
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • ¼ ground flaxseed
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F., or 330 degrees if using a glass pan. Lightly spray a 9 x 9 inch cake pan with non-stick spray or grease lightly with vegetable oil. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, honey, applesauce, sugar and almond extract until smooth in consistency. Combine dry ingredients, including ground flaxseed in a separate bowl and gently stir together until combined. Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients and beat until well combined.Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips. Add 1 cup of chopped walnuts or almonds if desired to the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan Bake for 35-40 minutes until done or until a toothpick inserted in the brownies comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let the brownies cool off before cutting.
  2. Dark Chocolate Frosting: ¼ cup ( ½ stick) butter, ⅓ cup Hershey's dark cacao dry cocoa powder, 1 cup powdered sugar, ¼ cup 1% milk, 1 tsp vanilla extract
  3. Melt butter in a small glass bowl the microwave. Stir in cocoa.Alternately add the powdered sugar and the milk, beating to a spreading consistency.Stir in vanilla. Makes one cup of frosting.
  4. Spread cooled brownies with the frosting.
Notes
if you do not frost the brownies, the nutritional value per brownie is as follows: 179 calories, 6 grams total fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 1 gram unsaturated fat, 0 grams trans fats, 27 mg cholesterol, 127 mg sodium, 29 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber and 4 grams protein.

The information presented in this food blog is not intended to provide medical advice. Contact your personal health care professional for medical and nutritional advice.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/16 of recipe Calories: 221 Fat: 7 grams Saturated fat: 4 grams Unsaturated fat: 1 grams Trans fat: 0 grams Carbohydrates: 37 Sodium: 135 mg Fiber: 2 grams Protein: 4 grams Cholesterol: 29 mg

 

The picture below shows one of the many historic buildings in Lansing, Iowa.

Overlooking the Mississippi River in Ferryville, Wisconsin
The Clear Stream in Lansing, Iowa. Great trout fishing stream.
Exploring the campground.
Relaxing around the camp fire at the campground near Lansing, Iowa.

 

BLUEBERRY WALNUT ZUCCHINI BREAD

The leaves on the trees are slowly beginning to turn shades of bright red and gold and the weather has cooled off to highs of the sixties and seventies during the day with chilly evenings as well. We have not had a frost overnight yet. My garden is still producing tomatoes and peppers and a rare strawberry or two. This is a beautiful time of year and the perfect temperature for baking bread. No need to turn on the air conditioner when I’m baking, just open a window or two to cool off my kitchen. I didn’t plant zucchini this year as I have done in the past. I usually produce a bumper crop of these and have to leave extra zucchini on unsuspecting neighbor’s steps to use them all up. I purchased a large zucchini recently at our local farmers market for only seventy five cents and wanted to bake some zucchini bread. I had seen a zucchini cake recipe online and decided to change a few ingredients as well as add some walnuts to the recipe and bake it as a quick bread. In order to reduce the fat and calorie content of the recipe, I swapped out 50% of the vegetable oil or butter for unsweetened applesauce. I decided to use butter in place of vegetable oil to give my recipe a richer, buttery flavor. If you need to limit the cholesterol and saturated fat content of your diet, you could use a vegetable oil in place of the butter. My husband and I are blessed to have normal levels of cholesterol. We do control our cholesterol intake by using very lean cuts of meat as well as using fish and chicken breast in addition to consuming a healthy diet. We occasionally splurge on a little butter though! I reduced by flour by 1/4 cup and substituted ground flaxseed for this to add a unique taste and some extra nutritional benefit. Next, I substituted half of the sugar called for in the recipe for honey. To use honey in place of one cup of sugar in your recipe, use 2 tablespoons less honey, add 1/4 tsp additional baking soda and reduce the liquid in your recipe by three tablespoons.

In addition to the delicious taste, this bread is chock full of healthy ingredients including blueberries, walnuts and zucchini. Walnuts are a member of the tree nuts family and are a rich source of Vitamin E, magnesium, copper and biotin. Walnuts offer heart healthy cardiovascular benefits by helping lower the risk of chronic oxidative stress and reducing inflammation in the body if consumed on a consistent basis. Scientific studies done on walnuts indicate that these benefits may also help reduce incidence of other diseases such as  breast and prostrate cancer as well. Study participants consumed three ounces of walnuts per day. Walnuts may also offer benefits for prevention of obesity and weight loss in general. This may be surprising to some people since they think of high fat and high calories foods such as nuts as a contributor to obesity. Walnuts contain heart healthy polyunsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids. Nuts consumed in limited quantities of a one ounce serving per day as a snack or when combined with other foods can be very satisfying and filling and may benefit in controlling appetite thus assisting with weight loss.

BLUEBERRY WALNUT ZUCCHINI BREAD
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 18 slices
 
Ingredients
  • 3 large eggs
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ cup melted butter or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 2¾ cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries or drained canned unsweetened blueberries
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat two 9 x 5 inch glass bread pans with non-stick spray or light grease with vegetable oil to prevent sticking. Combine the eggs, butter or vegetable oil and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and beat well. Add honey to this mixture and beat until well combined. Next add the sugar and mix this into the ingredients. combine the flour, ground flaxseed, baking powder and baking soda into a separate bowl and stir together with a fork until well combined. slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir together mixing just long enough until well combined. Combine blueberries with one tsp of flour in a small bowl stirring gently until coated well.
  2. Fold in zucchini first, next the nuts and lastly the blueberries. Pour batter into prepared pans. You can use a 8 x 8 inch cake pan in place of one of the bread pans if desired. Bake for approximately 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out without wet batter clinging to it. Cool bread on a rack.
Notes
the cholesterol and saturated fat content would be less if you substitute a vegetable oil such as canola, olive or corn oil as an example. If desired, you may use coconut oil. The cholesterol content of the recipe will be lower and the saturated fat content will be very similar to the amount in the recipe using butter. Persons on gluten free diets may substitute a gluten free flour or flours in place of the all purpose flour. Investigate how these flours may be substituted in place of all purpose flour and in what quantities before preparing this recipe.
This blog is not intended to provide medical advice. Please contact your personal health care professional to provide you with nutritional and medical advice.
It is best to bake the bread in a glass pan since the acidic nature of the blueberries may corrode the metal in a metal bread or cake pan. If you do have to use a metal pan, remove bread from pans immediately after cooling off your bread to help prevent this.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/9 of loaf bread pan Calories: 226 Fat: 6 grams Saturated fat: 2 grams Trans fat: 0 grams Carbohydrates: 29 grams Sodium: 275 mg Fiber: 2 grams Protein: 4 grams Cholesterol: 38 mg

 

Zucchini is a very versatile vegetable and can be used in breads, stir fries and soups and is delicious when prepared on the grill. It is very low in calorie content and is a moderate source of vitamin C, potassium and folate.

Blueberries are a good source of fiber, very low in calories and an excellent source of disease fighting antioxidants. They provide vitamin C, Vitamin K and the mineral manganese. Blueberries offer many health benefits which I won’t go into detail in this post. For more information about their health benefits, read my August 2016 post which includes the recipe for Blueberry Summer Salad.

 

Enjoy these beautiful fall days and take a little extra time to sample recipes incorporating fall produce from your local farmers market or your own garden.

PEANUT BUTTER BANANA BREAD

Bananas are a favorite fruit around my house and I frequently use extra bananas to make banana bread.  We live in a small town in the midwest and banana bread is probably one of the most popular quick breads in the region and has been for many generations in my family. My husband and I also love the combination of bananas and peanut butter so I decided that I wanted to try a new version of this recipe. While shopping at Sam’s Club recently, I purchased a powdered peanut butter called PB Fit and decided to incorporate this into my banana bread recipe. The PB Fit  contains 50 calories per 2 TB serving compared to 200 calories per 2 TB serving of regular peanut butter. The PB Fit powder is also gluten free, non-GMO, vegan and kosher. It can be used in smoothies or added when baking. I enjoy the challenge of modifying my recipes to improve the nutritional value and must admit this is sometimes a trial and error process until I come up with a recipe that not only tastes good but is good for the body as well! Peanut butter powder incorporates more protein into this recipe, as does the addition of greek yogurt in place of part of the fat called for in the original recipe. To boost up the fiber content of banana breads or similar types of quick breads, you can also swap out a portion of of the all purpose (white) flour and substitute whole wheat flour and old fashioned oatmeal. The original recipe called for 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour so I used  1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup of old fashioned oatmeal. If you prefer a gluten free bread, substitute your favorite version of 2 1/2 cups of gluten free flour and use the certified gluten free oatmeal in this recipe. If you really like the combination of peanut butter, banana and chocolate, add 2/3 cup of dark chocolate chips to this recipe for that extra special dark chocolate taste to satisfy those chocolate cravings! Banana bread is delicious when served for breakfast, snacks or in a brown bag lunch.

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

PEANUT BUTTER BANANA BREAD
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 16 slices
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup plain nonfat greek yogurt
  • 1 TB canola, sunflower or coconut oil
  • ½ cup honey
  • 3 bananas
  • ½ cup 1% milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup old fashioned oatmeal
  • ½ cup PB Fit brand peanut butter powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
Instructions
  1. Add bananas to a large mixing bowl and beat well with an electric mixer. Next add the oil, honey yogurt, eggs and 1% milk to the beaten bananas and again mix well until thoroughly combined. Add the powdered peanut butter and beat well. Combine the remainder of the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and stir together well. Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture and again mix together until well combined. Place the bread mixture into an oiled bread pan and bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 55 minutes until golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and let the bread cool and remove from bread pan.
Notes
This food blog is not intended to provide medical advice. Consult your personal health care provider for medical advice.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/16 of bread Calories: 144 Fat: 3 grams Trans fat: 0 grams Carbohydrates: 24 grams Sodium: 279 mg Fiber: 2 grams Protein: 5 grams Cholesterol: 24 mg

 

My Vintage Kitchen Prayer

Plan to serve this bread with some fresh fruit and a cup of coffee for a quick and easy breakfast on the go.

 

I also like to add bananas to smoothies, fruit salads, peanut butter sandwiches or just enjoy a banana as a quick and healthy snack. One banana provides 25% of an adults daily value (DV) of vitamin B6, 16% of the DV for manganese,  12% each of the DV for potassium and dietary fiber as well as 10% each of the DV for copper and biotin.

Have a very blessed day! Thought for the day from Gloria Gaither: We may run, walk, stumble, drive or fly, but let us never lose sight of the reason for the journey, or miss a chance to see a rainbow on the way. Inspirational verse for the day: Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart!