This morning's activity of creating a healthier zucchini muffin is only tenuously connected to traditional Chinese herbs. Yes, the recipe includes cinnamon and fresh ginger, both of which are therapeutic herbs. But really, working on this was just a more satisfying activity than anything else on my Herbalogic to-do list.
Dave informs me that no one cares about my “recipe journey.” So here’s the jump straight to the recipe.
For any of you who have spent any time at all talking to me about fruits & veggies, you know I am a huge fan of the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm near me. Every week I get a box of organic veggies. This week's box, contained two enormous zucchinis, way too big to just slice and grill. That means it's time to make zucchini muffins! But it's really early in the season, so the usual all-purpose flour, 1.5 cup sugar recipe seems unsustainable for my pants for the entire summer.
How is this recipe healthier than the one Gramma followed?
The internet has plenty of recipes for zucchini bread and muffins, most of which involve a hefty amount of sugar and all-purpose flour. I don’t take issue with either of these ingredients in moderation. But like I said, I have a long zucchini season ahead of me here.
This recipe uses a lot less sugar than most, and as I have mentioned on more than one occasion, the dose makes the poison. And instead of all-purpose wheat flour, it uses sometimes-purpose oat flour. Oat flour has 293% more fiber and 64% more protein than all-purpose flour. I am not going to lie to you- the texture of oat flour yielded the review from my husband, “tastes like something healthy.” But for those of you on the gluten-free, high-protein, high-fiber or low-carb train, oat flour is for you!
Notes on Spices and Optional Ingredients
This recipe calls for the holy Trinity of holiday baking: cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Their appearance here is not therapeutic. They just taste good together, which in and of itself is therapeutic. Also, I used fresh grated ginger instead of ground ginger. I wish I could provide a more elegant explanation than the ground ginger in my pantry is at least 20 years old so it was either fresh ginger or slightly ginger flavored dust. But I can’t.
I added walnuts and dried cranberries, both of which are entirely optional. Oooh- walnuts are also a traditional Chinese herb! They are useful for promoting energy and mental concentration. Dried cranberries are not a traditional Chinese herb. But I suspect dried goji berries, which are, would work beautifully in their place. Let me know if you try it.
A Hint About Baking with Fresh Veggies
This recipe uses fresh zucchini, but my hint applies to anything you make with fresh vegetables. The fresher it is, the more moisture it has. The more moisture it has, the longer baking time it’s going to require to be fully baked. The zucchinis I used today were probably on the plant as recently as yesterday. I can tell because when I ran them through to food processor to grate them, there was a substantial puddle of liquid at the bottom of the bowl. The muffins took a long time to bake. I suspect baking time would have been much shorter if the zucchini was grocery store derived.
Yup, this recipe has a bunch of butter. If you want to use coconut oil, go for it. For the purposes of baking, they are interchangeable.
Kitchen Equipment Notes
I use a food processor to grate the zucchini, because I wanted zucchini muffins, not grated-knuckle muffins. But I used the box grater for the fresh ginger. I never claimed consistency in my culinary decision making.
I made muffins because muffins are easy to distribute to taste-testers. But this recipe will work as zucchini bread. Just increase the baking time.
No mixer required. Actually, it’s better if you use a large wooden spoon so as to avoid overmixing.
2 Large Eggs
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
5 Cups Shredded Fresh Zucchini
3/4 Cup Melted Butter
3 1/4 (400 grams) Cups Oat Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
2 Teaspoons Cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Grated Fresh Ginger
1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1 Cup Walnuts
1 Cup Dried Cranberries
Yield: 24 Regular Sized Muffins
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
- In a separate bowl, beat the eggs in a large bowl. Mix in sugar and vanilla extract. Stir in grated zucchini. While stirring, pour in melted butter slowly and mix thoroughly.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until well combined. But do not over mix.*
- Separate batter (I recommend using a small ladle) into muffin cups. Bake for 30 - 45 minutes, longer if baking as a bread loaf.
- Use a toothpick or cake tester or skewer to test for doneness.**
Cool for 10 minutes before removing from muffin tin.
*Well combined means all the dry stuff has disappeared into the wet stuff. Don’t mix too much after that.
** Doneness means the tester comes out of the center of the muffin without little clumps of batter all over it. Since this recipe uses oat flour, judging doneness by golden brown color (it started that way) or bounce back (oat flour don’t play the bounce back game) are not reliable measures for doneness.