Chocolate Zucchini Amaranth Muffins

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This is the time of year, when zucchini is very much on my mind.  I seem to be constantly brainstorming various uses for this ever present and abundant vegetable . Zucchini has a very subtle flavor so finding the perfect way to spruce it up can be challenging at times. How to get excited about zucchini, I ask?

Somehow, zucchini bread was a staple in my grandma’s kitchen, so naturally, it’s the first thing that comes to mind when conjuring up zucchini recipes. I wanted to dress it up a bit. My goal, to make it a suitable breakfast or afternoon snack option. So for an unpredictable, interesting and most importantly delicious twist, here’s what I came up with. First, I’m using a natural sweetener, maple sugar, and much less of it. I’m also using Amaranth, a nourishing whole grain flour. My version is layered with Green and Black’s chocolate, walnuts and to add a richness without added butter or oil, I used one mashed banana. I love incorporating different grains into my diet, for variety of flavor and nutrients. Too much of something, like wheat flour, is never a good thing.

I’m tired of diet trends that sacrifice flavor. I would rather eat one piece of delicious chocolate, than 3 pieces of low-fat flavorless chocolate. So why not make mini muffins? By the way, these mini muffins are light anyway, so you can eat more than one without feeling over-served. Many “healthy” recipes will make an extra large muffin that tastes like cardboard, low fat and low calorie, but there is nothing enjoyable about this approach. Try these, you won’t be disappointed. You might be surprised at how deeply satisfying one of these cute little muffins can be.

I think this recipe owes it’s success to Amaranth flour which has a  sweet, nutty, malty flavor and is highly nutritious. It’s a polyunsaturated, high protein, high fiber grain with a balance of amino acids. I’ve always had great results when using it solely in various quick breads, without the need to cut it with anything else. You’ll see it’s much less dense than other whole grain flour options.  My favorite cocoa powder is Valrona. And a bonus, these are suitable for my gluten free friends too!

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Makes about 24 mini muffins

1 ½ cups amaranth flour (you can substitute another flour)

2 Tbsp unsweetened Dutch process cocoa, my favorite is Valrona

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp sea salt

1-cup maple sugar

½ cup olive oil

2 large eggs

1 large banana, mashed

½ tsp vanilla extract

½ lb zucchini, 1 cup grated

1.5 oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped- my favorite is Green and Black’s

¼ cup walnuts, chopped

Equipment: mini muffin pan with 24 cups and paper liners

Preheat oven at 350°

  1. Whisk together flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  2. With an electric mixer, beat together the sugar, olive oil, egg, mashed banana and vanilla until thick and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. At a slow speed, add the flour mix until thoroughly combined. Then add the zucchini, chocolate and walnuts.
  4. Using a 1 oz. scoop, divide a scant scoop among the lined muffin cups. Bake about 18-20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Cool in pan about 5 minutes. Then remove the muffins and cool completely.