Have you ever noticed most recipes for zucchini bread don’t really call for much zucchini? I sure have. On its surface, making zucchini bread seems like an excellent way of using up lots of zucchini. But in reality, a lot of recipes only call for 1 cup! That’s hardly enough to make a dent in the excesses of the ever-present green giants this time of year. I mean seriously, what’s the point? You’re not even going to get much of a health benefit from such a meager amount. So this past weekend I set out to make a recipe for zucchini bread that would use up a significant amount of zucchini.
I’ve pretty much signed up for a lot of testing when I take on developing a baking recipe, so I knew I better make it worth my efforts. That’s why I added on some other important criteria. I wanted this zucchini bread to be:
- Sturdy enough to pack in a lunch box.
- Sweetend with dates instead of white table sugar.
- Made with whole grains.
- Made without butter.
- And loaded with zucchini!
As it turns out, I did have to test it a whole bunch of times. But happily, the recipe I ended up with satisfies all of my criteria.
Here’s what I did. I wanted to be able to freeze slices of the loaf and then pack them in my daughters’ lunch boxes. To make the slices sturdy enough to handle the freezing and thawing and jostling I added oats. They helped make the slices more dense, higher in fiber and protein, and they absorbed some of the moisture which actually helps keep the bread nice and moist.
I was able to sweeten the bread with softened and pureed dates, which are naturally sweet but low-glycemic and high in fiber. To that, I added only 3 tablespoons of honey, and a cup of raisins, which gives the bread a nice natural sweetness. [Enough so that my girls asked for another slice for dessert last night!] Considering that even healthy zucchini bread recipes call for at least ¾ cups of sugar, I consider this a real success.
As with most of my baking recipes I used canola oil, instead of butter. And as usual I called for whole grain flour instead of all refined. This time, I used white whole-wheat in a ratio of two-to-one with all-purpose flour. The flavor is not overwhelmingly wheaty and the loaves rose into pretty golden domes.
And finally I was able to get in a whole pound (almost 4 cups) of zucchini for two loaves. That’s about twice of a lot of other recipes. Combined with the raisins and dates, that much zucchini will help to get those produce servings in. And perhaps more important it will help to make a dent in the piles of zucchini in the refrigerator!
To make ahead: Wrap slices of bread in plastic wrap, transfer to a large re-sealable freezer bag and freeze up to 1 month. Defrost in microwave for about 20 seconds or at room temperature.
- ¾ cup boiling water
- 1 cup pitted and quartered Medjool dates
- 2 cups whole-wheat flour, preferably white whole- wheat
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup canola oil
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 pound zucchini, shredded (about 3 ½ cups)
- ¾ cup rolled oats
- 1 cup raisins
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat 2 1.5-quart loaf pans with cooking spray.
- Pour boiling water over the dates and let sit until softened, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
- Transfer dates and their soaking liquid to a food processor and process until smooth. Add eggs, oil, honey and vanilla and process until smooth. Pour date mixture into a large bowl. Stir in zucchini. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Add the oats and raisins and stir until just combined. Divide the batter between the two prepared pans.
- Bake until golden brown, puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 55 minutes to 1 hour. Allow loaves to cool in their pans at least 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
3 grams fiber. 4 grams protein. 122 mg sodium. 1 gram saturated fat.
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