April 25 is National Zucchini Bread Day and a good excuse to experiment with the simple yet heavenly homemade bread.

Although for those who love sneaking an inexpensive and abundantly available vegetable into their diet, no excuse is necessary.

Some local experts and homemakers shared their tips for making delicious use of zucchini with the Standard-Examiner.

Among the most popular suggestions was adding chocolate.

“I do like chocolate with my vegetable bread,” said former Northern Utah resident Terri Browning Brigham. (See recipe below.)

“You can stir in chocolate chips, nuts or raisins to the batter when mixing is complete to dress it up a bit,” said Ann Henderson, extension agent at the Utah State University Extension in Box Elder County.

“As well as spices, adding nuts to the bread helps to bring in new textures and flavors,” said Jaqueline Neid-Avila, a nutrition assistant professor and registered dietician with the Utah State University Extension in Davis County.

Pineapple is a favorite addition for Cindy Brunson of West Weber. (See recipe below.)

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Zucchini Oat Muffins

Pictured are Zucchini Oat Muffins. Ann Henderson, extension agent at the Utah State University Extension in Box Elder County, suggests making zucchini muffins instead of zucchini bread for a quick breakfast bite.

 

Henderson also suggested making zucchini muffins instead of a loaf for a “grab-and-go” breakfast or snack.

Freezing the zucchini and the bread adds convenience, Henderson said.

“One thing I’ve done in the past is to freeze the amount of grated zucchini called for in the recipe when I have extra zucchini in the garden,” she said. “When you are ready to use it, thaw it in the refrigerator or microwave, and add it to the batter.”

Zucchini bread also freezes well, Henderson said. “An extra loaf or batch of muffins can be tucked in the freezer for future use.”

To prepare a loaf for the freezer, Henderson said to double-wrap in plastic wrap and then in foil.

“To thaw, remove the foil but leave the plastic wrap on until completely thawed,” she said. “Muffins could be placed in a freezer bag and frozen.”

Neid-Avila suggested using a dark pan to shorten cooking time and improve the bread.

“Glass loaf pans just do not get the right browning on the outside of the bread,” Neid-Avila said. 

Among other tips, the Betty Crocker website recommends grating zucchini over peeling it, not overmixing the ingredients and waiting until the bread has cooled before trying to slice it. The site also says to shop local for the best ingredients, though you should avoid buying zucchini that is too big. 

The following chocolate zucchini bread recipe, suggested by Browning, is found on the site twopeasandtheirpod.com.

CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI BREAD

The recipe is for one loaf of bread. It cooks in 15 minutes and takes about one hour to make.

Ingredients:

• 1 cup all-purpose flour

• 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa

• 1 teaspoon baking soda

• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

• 2 large eggs, at room temperature

• 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

• 1/4 cup canola, vegetable oil, or melted coconut oil (Note: If you use coconut oil, make sure it is melted and slightly cooled.)

• 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

• 1 1/2 cups packed shredded zucchini

• 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, divided

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, add the eggs, melted butter, oil, vanilla extract, and brown sugar. Stir until smooth. You might have a few small brown sugar clumps and that is fine.

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Don’t overmix. Stir in the shredded zucchini until just combined. Stir in 3/4 cup of the chocolate chips.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of chocolate chips over the top of the bread. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out mostly clean. You might have some melted chocolate chips on the toothpick and that is fine. You just don’t want a lot of gooey batter.

Remove the pan from the oven and set on a wire cooling rack. Let the bread cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the bread and carefully remove from the pan. Let the bread cool on the wire cooling rack until slightly warm. Cut into slices and serve.

The bread will keep on the counter, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to four days. This bread also freezes well. To freeze, cool the bread completely and wrap in plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 1 month. Defrost before slicing.

PINEAPPLE ZUCCHINI BREAD

This recipe is for two loaves and takes an hour to bake.

Ingredients:

• 3 eggs

• 2 teaspoons vanilla

• 2 cups zucchini (peeled, grated and drained)

• 3 cups flour

• 1 teaspoon salt

• 1 cup crushed pineapple (drained)

• 2 cups sugar

• 1/2 cup oil

• 1/2 cup applesauce

• 1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

Directions:

Beat eggs, sugar, vanilla, and oil until fluffy. Add zucchini. Mix all dry ingredients together. Add to egg mixture. Mix until all blended. Stir in pineapple. Pour into two greased and floured bread pans. (Do not use spray.) 

Bake at 325 degrees for 60 minutes or until done. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely.

You may reach reporter JaNae Francis at jfrancis@standard.net or 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at @JaNaeFrancisSE or on Facebook at Facebook.com/SEJaNaeFrancis. 

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