You need this dark chocolate chunk paleo zucchini bread in your life, like NOW. It’s crazy moist and feels rich and decadent while being totally healthy and wholesome (it’s only sweetened with ripe bananas and a spoonful of maple syrup!).
Equally satisfying as a healthy breakfast or indulgent dessert, this grain-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and dairy-free this loaf will please every palate and is freezer-friendly to boot.
This dark chocolate chunk paleo zucchini bread perfectly sums up what I want in my own diet and where I’m at with food right now—a perfect mix of good for you, but not annoyingly good for you.
Because I know I can keep it real with you and because you know by now that I pride myself on being honest and transparent about nutrition (including my personal eating habits), I’m cool with admitting that I’m pretty much over my pristine clean-eating diet.*
Obviously, healthy, wholesome nutrient-rich foods, heaps of fresh organic produce, and minimally processed sustainable natural foods are still hugely important to me and always will be. Duh.
Sometimes you gotta check yoself before you wreck yoself.
Ya feel me?
*(Side note: I’ll be talking about the inherent danger in labeling food or a diet “clean” in the near future because it kind of drives me bonkers. Like if a kale salad is “clean” then what is a brownie? “Dirty?” Hmm. Dangerous. I’m trying not to get on a soapbox today, but I’m going to have to address this sooner than later. Smooch.)
Aside from dumping dark chocolate chunks on top this still-super-good-for-you zucchini bread (#sorryimnotsorry) and insisting you do the same (it’s really not optional) when you make the recipe, I’m stepping outside my comfort zone more often and including formerly off-limits foods in my diet.
As I’ve alluded in previous posts, I’m making room for food-dye filled rainbow sprinkles, pints of ice cream (albeit not exactly legit ice cream yet since I doubt most would accept Halo Top and Ben & Jerry’s as equal, but baby steps are still steps), bread (something I did NOT eat for two years #saddesttruestoryever), and cane sugar-sweetened cookies (like, whoa).
And guess what?
I haven’t experienced any noteworthy changes in my digestion, skin, joints, or mood. I haven’t suddenly outgrown my skinny jeans nor suffered a setback in my progress at the gym. Still. I’m not saying it’s been easy or is easy…Quite the opposite, but the world—ahem, my world—is pretty much the same only better because sprinkles. I know, I can stop with the rainbow sprinkle shtick anytime now but also, I kinda can’t so…
Deal with it.
The fact that occasionally veering away from a healthful diet doesn’t lead to the end of the world is hardly news to most of you because I know you appreciate and understand the importance of balance (and you’re probs less dramatic than me, ha).
To those of you who feel like maybe you do worry too much about what you eat or who are struggling to cultivate food freedom in your life, I want you know that when I say I get it, trust me. I GET IT. And you are sooooo worth the effort it takes to find that balance and freedom.
I will also share that when I say I’m making room for formerly off-limits foods, it’s not like I’ve been going HAM on the “non-clean,” sugary foods either. I’m being very calculated and intentional about this process and seeking support from others as needed. Anyway, I just wanted to share that I’m still working to find the best balance for me. 🙂
I’ll leave it at that for now (because we gotta get to the DARK CHOCOLATE CHUNK PALEO ZUCCHINI BREAD recipe already!), but I want to ask,
Would some of you find it helpful if I eventually share more details and the resources that I’m using to dirty-up my clean-eating ways??
If so, send me an email hello [at] honestlynourished [dot] com or leave a comment below.
Enough real talk!
Let’s get back to the real reason for this post—DARK CHOCOLATE CHUNK PALEO ZUCCHINI BREAD—I mean just look at those chunks!
THIS BREAD IS (MY) LIFE
If this dark chocolate chunk paleo zucchini bread were a country, it’d be Switzerland.
If it was a zodiac sign? Gemini.
If it could talk? It’d probably say something cute like, “Forget the kale salad, girl, I’ve got all the green veg you need!”
(Of course, that would be a lie, but I think we’d both be cool letting it slide.)
It’s a treat, but not a treat treat. It’s healthful, but not hella healthy.
Like I said, it’s exactly the kind of food I’m interested in right now: legit BALANCED. 😉
The zucchini, natural sweeteners (banana and maple syrup only!), and clean ingredient list make it healthful and wholesome, while the generous amount of dark chocolate chunks on top make it slightly more indulgent and keep it from being taken too seriously.
Raw cacao powder gives it a boost of antioxidants, polyphenols, flavonoids, and magnesium—all of which are amazing for your body, heart health, and moods.
It’s made with a combination of finely ground, blanched almond flour and a smidge of coconut flour instead of potentially inflammatory grains, which makes it gluten free, paleo friendly, low carb, and a good source of vitamin E.
It’s also BANANAS.
Literally. Figuratively. B-A-N-A-N-A-S – bananas.
It’s an updated take on the second recipe that I published on this ‘ol blog—Grain-Free Double Dark Chocolate Zucchini Muffins.
In the muffin version of this recipe, I only used maple syrup for sweetness, but last week (errr every week?) I had a few super spotty bananas accumulating on my countertop. Instead of letting them turn black, which is my MO, I scaled back the maple syrup and tossed them in. I think the banana addition really makes the recipe.
The super ripe fruit plus the naturally high water content in the zucchini gives the bread an incredible moistness and keeps it from being overly crumbly—a trait that’s OK for muffins but not ideal for a loaf.
That said, you definitely want to squeeze out as much water as possible before measuring the grated zucchini. A little water is OK, but too much and you’ll have a soggy loaf.
Since it’s made sans refined sugar, that aforementioned decadent dark chocolate chunk topping? Nonnegotiable.
If you absolutely insist on taming the sugar sitch or aren’t into chocolate chunks, I’d be open to letting you substitute topping it with chopped almonds, walnuts, nut butter drizzle, or even spreading raspberry chia jam on it before baking.
FRUIT + VEGETABLES = HELLO HEALTHY
While you may not get a full serving of vegetables in one slice (yeah not even close), if you eat the whole loaf, you’ll easily get TWO of the 5-8 daily recommended servings!!!
WOOT WOOT. Just saying.
It’s delish straight from the oven—when the dark chocolate is still all melty and glistening—and secretly better after it’s chilled in the fridge overnight.
Admittedly my favorite way to enjoy baked goods like muffins, cookies, or cake is after a good deep freeze. And this loaf is very freezer friendly—very.
Bake this bread, like, pronto! 😉 Actually, bake two loaves so you’ll have one to eat now and one to freeze for quick, healthy breakfasts, snack attacks, and impromptu dessert!
No matter how you eat it, this zucchini banana bread needs to happen.
Stop whatever you’re doing, grab a zucchini and those two spotty bananas you know are just waiting to be transformed into something magical and let’s DO THIS.
Serves: 1 loaf
- ¼ cup unsweetened cacao powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder)
- 1⅔ cup blanched almond flour*
- 2 tbs coconut flour
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup grated/shredded zucchini (~2 medium zucchini)
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1½ tbs coconut oil, melted
- 1-2 very ripe bananas (~1/2 to ¾ cup)
- 1-2 tbs maple syrup***
- 1-2 tbs non-dairy milk (if/as needed)
- ¼ cup dairy-free, stevia-sweetened dark chocolate bar broken into chunks (or sub your favorite regular dark chocolate baror dairy-free chocolate chunks)
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper and lightly spray the sides and bottom with coconut or avocado oil (I recommend Chosen Foods brand sprays) or use a paper towel to lightly coat sides with oil.
- Use a box grater to shred zucchini and squeeze out as much excess water as possible to yield 1 cup firmly packed.
- Combine dry ingredients in one bowl and whisk to combine.
- Add wet ingredients to a separate bowl along with ripe banana and mash with a whisk until everything is well incorporated, then add the grated the zucchini.****
- Pour wet ingredients into bowl with the dry ingredients and use a spatula to combine. The batter should be thick, but still spoonable and easy to spread. Thin it out with 1-2 tbs of non-dairy milk or water as needed.
- Spoon batter into the prepared loaf pan and evenly distribute. Top with dark chocolate chunks. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the center of the loaf looks done.
- Allow bread to cool in pan for 15-20 minutes then transfer to a wire cooling rack.
- Slice into 1-inch pieces and serve immediately! See notes for tips on storing. *****
** The bananas need not be black, but the more spots the better! The more ripe the fruit is, the easier it will be to mash and incorporate into the wet ingredients and it also allows you to use less maple syrup.
*** Adjust maple syrup based on banana ripeness...More for less ripe bananas, less for more ripe, or per your preference. Obviously I can't tell you taste the raw batter because of the egg sitch BUT I'm here to tell you that I always (ALWAYS) taste the raw batter and I'm still kicking it. So...Either live on the edge like me and give it a try before putting it in the pan or roll the dice. 😉
**** If you want to use a stand mixer, that's an option but I like to keep it simple and use a whisk, which works just as well!
***** Bread will keep for a week wrapped in BPA-free plastic wrap and foil for 1 week or up to 6 months in the freezer (perfect for impromptu house guests, easy school year breakfasts or lunch treats, snack attacks, or dessert!).
****** Personally, I love this bread (and nearly all baked goods/muffins/sweets) cold either from the fridge or freezer, rather than room temp, but it is equally delish fresh out of the oven (the melted chocolate is irresistible) or re-toasted in the oven for 5-10 minutes.
Oh and I have to add that one of the other reasons that I was inspired to make a zucchini-based recipe was in honor of the 2016 Sonoma Farmer’s Market Zucchini Races, which were last week.
Yep. That’s right. Zucchini Races. (!)God, I love Sonoma. Go on, do yourself a favor and click that link to the photo gallery from the local newspaper. Adorbs.
PS: If you want even more delicious, healthy paleo-friendly banana bread recipes, hop over to my sweet friend Rachel’s blog for an endless supply. 😉
YOUR THOUGHTS >>>
How do you feel about the using the word “clean” to describe food, nutrition habits, and diets?
What are the foods that you always grab when you’re at the grocery, regardless of whether they’re on your list because you just never know if you’ll need ‘em?
Do you share my affection for cold baked goods or prefer them ooey-gooey and warmed?
When you make this recipe, please don’t forget to snap a photo afterward and share the love on social media! Tag me @honestlynourished in your photos and use #honestlynourished so I can see! Because if you don’t ‘gram it, did it even happen?! ?