Healthier Zucchini Bread

Last year sometime I came across a recipe called “Healthified” Zucchini Bread. Naturally, I made my own revisions to the recipe, but nothing that changed the healthier aspects the authors touted (I still have the magazine page, with my notes on it, but am no longer sure if the Healthy Home Cooking title at the bottom of the page was the name of the magazine or simply the title of a chapter). Whatever. The bottom line is that I liked the results and am sharing them with you now.

By the way, the big change that “healthified” the bread, per the magazine’s sidebar, was to substitute applesauce for some of its fat. There’s also some wheat flour along with all-purpose white flour included (but it doesn’t call for whole grain so I’m not so sure that’s a big-deal nutritional improvement). Anyway, it was worth a try – I hadn’t made zucchini bread in a few years…

My revisions/additions included:
 changing the extract from vanilla to using both vanilla and almond
 subbing natural turbinado sugar for the processed kind
 reducing the amount of cinnamon so I could add other spices (nutmeg, allspice and cloves; of course, I only use Saigon cinnamon now, but regular stuff is fine)
 using kosher salt rather than table salt
 specifying chopped pecans (rather than two options, walnuts or pecans – although others might opt for the walnuts)

Looking at the picture taken a year ago, it appears I might’ve added raisins to the batter (although not many) but forgotten to note it on the original recipe page. It wouldn’t be unusual for me to add raisins to quick breads, but I’d be sure to soak them in some water (just enought to cover) for at least 10 to 15 minutes before tossing them into the bowl (without the remaining water)– at the same time as I add the nuts. Why plump them up with water? Because otherwise they’d likely soak up some of the moisture of the final product as it baked. I wouldn’t chance coming off with an over-dry baked good – not if I could help it!

HEALTHIER ZUCCHINI BREAD
Makes either 2 large (12-slice) loaves or 1 medium-sized loaf plus 5-6 minis
(I chose medium w/minis; froze minis to add to cookies as Christmas gifts)

Ingredients

2½ cups shredded zucchini (about 2 medium)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup canola oil
¾ cup fat-free egg product or 3 eggs (I used a combo of the two)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
1½ cups natural turbinado sugar
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp. ground Saigon cinnamon
1 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg (but can use already-ground-&-in-jar kind)
¼ tsp. allspice
scant ¼ tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. baking powder
½ cup chopped pecans (a little more, if you’re a nut for nuts!)

Process

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray bottoms of loaf pans with cooking spray (or use parchment paper).
  • In a large bowl, mix zucchini, applesauce, oil, egg product (or eggs), vanilla extract, almond extract, and sugar until well blended.
  • Add remaining ingredients, except for pecans, once again stirring until well blended.
  • Stir in pecans.
  • Spoon batter into prepared pans.
  • Bake larger pans for 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Mini pans will take less time; begin checking after about 20 minutes.
  • Cool for 10 minutes, then loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans to cooling racks.
  • Cool completely – about 1 hour.
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