zucchini brownies, gluten-free and almost vegan

A coworker of mine has been very generous with sharing her garden with me this summer and lately she has had an abundance of zucchini.  Apart from zucchini bread I have only ever had zucchini in savory dishes so when she mentioned to me that she had recently eaten a delicious brownie made with zucchini I was intrigued and did a little interweb research.  The best-looking recipe I came across also happened to be gluten-free and refined-sugar-free.  What?!  Since I have been getting myself out of bed at 5 in the morning three days a week lately for a bootcamp class both of these things appealed to me so as not to undo all the good I’ve been doing.

Now, normally “healthy” and “baked goods” are not words that should be used together in a phrase but in this case it works.  And the brownies were so easy to make!  Four simple steps.  Anyone can handle that!

In place of sugar the recipe called for raw honey and instead of flour there was almond butter.  I happen to love almond butter and generally keep it in stock when I want a break from peanut butter so already had some on hand.

The results were moist brownies with a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg.  If you want a rich, dense, chocolate-y brownie, look elsewhere, but if you want a sweet treat that actually isn’t that bad for you health-wise, this is your dish.  I think it may inspire me to sneak vegetables into sweet baked goods again…

Flourless Zucchini Brownies (recipe found at http://fastpaleo.com/zucchini-brownies/)

  • 1 cup of almond butter
  • 1 1/2 cup of grated or chopped zucchini (I used food processor)
  • 1/3 cup of raw honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of nutmeg
  • 1 cup of dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix everything together.

Pour into a greased 9×9 baking pan.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

milk & honey (and raisins too)

Last week I had a request for a bread recipe so this past weekend I leafed through a bread cookbook I was given for Christmas to make good on the request.  I was feeling for a slightly sweet bread so decided to make a loaf that involved milk, honey, and raisins.

The cookbook emphasizes whole grains and the vast majority of the recipes call for a mix of whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour.  (There is an entire gluten-free section which I plan to experiment with over Lent as I have already decided to give up wheat this year.  Oh boy…)

The recipe is very simple, though not something you can whip up in a half hour because the dough has to rise several times throughout the process.  Which makes it a perfect weekend baking project!

The result is a dense loaf that is only mildly sweet which I quite enjoyed.  It is wonderful still warm with butter (as is all bread I’ve ever encountered) and coffee.  If you are a fan of light and airy bread then this is not the recipe for you as the whole wheat does make it a bit heavy (see use of the word “dense” above.)

And I discovered this morning that this loaf also makes a beautiful French toast.  Bake away!

Milk and Honey Raisin Bread (from “Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois)

Makes enough dough for at least two 2-pound loaves.  The recipe is easily doubled or halved.  (I recommend halving it unless you have VERY large mixing bowls.)

  • 4 ¾ cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tablespoons granulated yeast, or 2 packets
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup vital wheat gluten
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1/3 cup honey or agave syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup raisins
  • Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water) for brushing on the top
  • Raw sugar for sprinkling on top

Whisk together the flours, yeast, salt, and vital wheat gluten.

Combine the remaining ingredients and mix them with the dry ingredients without kneading, using a spoon, a food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle).  You might need to use wet hands to get the last bit of flour to incorporate if you’re not using a machine.

Cover (not airtight), and allow the dough to rest at room temperature until it rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.

The dough can be used immediately after its initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold.  Refrigerate it in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 10 days.

On baking day, grease an 8 ½ x 4 ½ -inch bread pan.  Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 2-pound (cantaloupe-size) piece.  Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.

Elongate the ball into an oval and place it in the loaf pan; your goal is to fill the pan about three-quarters full.  Allow the loaf to rest, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for 90 minutes (or 40 minutes if you’re using fresh, unrefrigerated dough).

Thirty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 375 degrees, with a rack placed in the center of the oven.

Just before baking, use a pastry brush to paint the top crust with egg wash, and then sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake for about 45 minutes, until richly browned and firm.  Smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in resting and baking time.

Remove the bread from the pan and allow to cool on a rack before slicing and eating.

glazed goodness

With a title like that you’d expect for this post to be about donuts, right?  Nope.  Afraid not.  I’m talking about glazed vegetables, people.  Might not sound quite as exciting, but I can guarantee they are (nearly) as tasty.

I made this recipe for Thanksgiving a few years back and remember that it was quite the hit.  I believe one of the little kids at the meal referred to the parsnips as “white carrots.”  It was cute.  And parsnips kind of do look like white carrots but don’t so much taste like them.  Where carrots are sweet, parsnips are a little sharp.

The hardest part about this dish is cutting the carrots and parsnips up into little matchsticks but after that it is a breeze and is cooked entirely on the stove-top, thus freeing up space in your oven on T-day for other important dishes like stuffing and the turkey.

You simply cook down the carrots and parsnips in some olive oil with salt and pepper and then add butter, honey, and rosemary after they are tender for the glazing.  Sweet and hardy with a little bite from the parsnips and nice scent and flavor from the rosemary.  I highly recommend it for your Thanksgiving this year, or even just as part of a quick weeknight meal.

Sauteed Parsnips and Carrots with Honey and Rosemary (recipe found at www.epicurious.com)

Yield: Makes 8 servings

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound carrots (about 4 large), peeled, cut into 3×1/4×1/4-inch sticks
  • 1 pound large parsnips, peeled, halved lengthwise, cored, cut into 3×1/4×1/4-inch sticks
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey (such as heather, chestnut, or wildflower)

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrots and parsnips. Sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and pepper. Sauté until vegetables are beginning to brown at edges, about 12 minutes. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Add butter, rosemary, and honey to vegetables. Toss over medium heat until heated through and vegetables are glazed, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, if desired.