OK all you muffin lovers out there, this one’s for you. It’s also for you if you love chocolate and zucchini. Specifically, chocolate with zucchini.
I made these muffins on the fly last month after my husband requested that I bake him “something chocolatey” for his birthday. The night before his birthday. Lucky for him (and now for you), my last minute muffin experiment was a success.
The thing about baking on the fly is that as long as you know the ratio of fat, sugar, flour, egg, and liquid of what you’re trying to make—whether it’s a biscuit, cookie, pancake, or in this case muffin—you’re golden. Of course it doesn’t always work out perfectly but that’s part of the fun, right? Even if the final product doesn’t rise enough or is too chewy, it’s usually still edible. Failed cookie experiments make the best crumble topping. Mmmm.
For example, a muffin by standard definition should contain 1 part fat, 1 part egg, 2 parts flour, and 2 parts liquid. Add some baking soda, a dash of salt, whatever flavorings, extracts, citrus, zest, spices, nuts, or dried fruits you like, pop into the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, wait 15–20 minutes and poof! Muffins!
Now I realize as soon as I said the word ratio, a few of you may have closed your browser window or laptop because ratios mean math and math makes some people want to cry (myself included). But when math leads to chocolate muffins, I’m all, math how did I ever live without you.
YOU don’t have to do any math to make these mouthwatering, decadent-yet-secretly-healthy muffins because I did it for you and I promise this recipe is legit. But if you want to whip up your own version all you need is that ratio, a vision, and of course an oven.
Before I get to the recipe, a word on the word healthy if I may. It’s a loaded one, isn’t it? Depending on what you’re talking about—food, supplements, cleanses, detoxes, behaviors, relationships, finances, exercise, diets, etc.—who you’re talking to, and how they interpret the word, healthy can mean many different things.
What one person calls healthy, another may not and that’s perfectly A-OK. I mean, sure, we could probably all agree that binge watching every Scandal for 24 hours straight because you must. keep. going. is not exactly healthy (who does that?). Then again it’s probably not totally unhealthy if it’s something that only happens once in a while. OK it may have also happened with Friday Night Lights but can you really blame me? Ahem.
It’s more important to know how you define healthy and that you do your best to make lifestyle choices that support your definition. In case you need a starting point for coming up with your own, I have to say, good ‘ol Merriam Webster nails it: “enjoying health and vigor of mind, body, or spirit: well,” where health is “the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit; especially : freedom from physical disease or pain.” Not bad, right?
It’s also important to remain infinitely curious and skeptical of claims that something is healthy for you because, again, we each interpret health very differently. Ask questions, read labels, and do your homework because you deserve to know the how and why behind a claim. Oh yeah, and always eat your vegetables—especially when they are in grain-free dark chocolate muffins. Trust.
Accordingly to moi, these muffins are worthy of being called healthy because they are significantly lower in overall calories than your typical mammoth-sized coffee shop muffin—only 188 calories per serving—and have 6 grams of protein each. They contain a vegetable (even if it is only 1/12 cup per serving it counts) and are full of antioxidant-rich raw cacao powder. Bonus points because they are also refined sugar free, made with almond flour (i.e. appropriate for those of you following autoimmune, grain-free, anti-inflammatory, or paleo diets), and loaded with healthy fats from coconut oil. In essence they are honestly nourishing.
Speaking of refined sugar, this past weekend I celebrated my one-year anniversary of kicking that crap to the curb. Boo-to-the-yah. It started out as a simple experiment to see if breaking up with the white stuff (and its numerous other forms) would help alleviate my digestive distress and chronic fatigue (it did) and ultimately led to a complete lifestyle shift for me. Sugar used to rule my life. I didn’t look like a sugar monster on the outside. I didn’t eat cookies and doughnuts, could easily pass on dessert, and never binged on sweets. But make no mistake, I was a sugar monster. My vices? Fruit and bread.
I realize that this might be seem like a funny time to breach the topic of sugar addiction considering this is, after all, a post wherein I am sharing a recipe for “something chocolatey,” but these muffins are part of my larger mission to show you that life without refined sugar is still pretty sweet. My other mission is to demonstrate that healthy (to me anyway) isn’t about restriction and deprivation, rather it’s about adding things that enhance our well being and letting goes of those that hinder it.
In the weeks to come, I’ll be delving much deeper into the science behind sugar addiction, sharing more of my story and how I healed my gut, as well as offering realistic advice on how to break up with the sweet stuff for good. I’ll also be launching my concierge-level, one-on-one nutrition coaching services in August and my Sayonara Sugar program this fall to help others do the same. You’re excited, I can tell. But for today, I’ll step off my anti-sugar soapbox. After all, it’s probably a bit too early to reveal just how woo woo I am about gut health and kicking sugar to the curb; I’ll wait until at least our fifth date. Smooch.
Let’s see, where were we? Oh right! The reasons these muffins are healthified. Shout out to one of my favorite vegetables, the humble zucchini. Considered a summer squash, zucchini belong to the Cucurbitaceae family of vegetables. Unlike winter squash (acorn, delicata, butternut), summer squash are more delicate and less calorically dense—only 17 calories per 100 grams. A medium zucchini contains around 6 grams carbohydrates and 2 grams fiber, so 4 grams net carbohydrates (i.e. that which is actually digested). They also contain 2–3 g of protein and are a decent source of potassium and vitamin A.
Zucchini is 95 percent water, which is why the recipe requires so little additional liquid. The high water content is partly why zucchini works beautifully in baked goods as it lends the final product a very you-know-what texture (you-know-what being that word that starts with “M,” rhymes with hoist, and makes every cringe). These muffins are super soft and light and they will make your entire home smell like a chocolate factory while they bake. I’ll repeat that just to make sure you were paying attention: YOUR ENTIRE HOME WILL SMELL LIKE A CHOCOLATE FACTORY. I’m not yelling, I’m just saying. OK?
Serves: 12 | Prep time: 5–10 minutes
1/4 + 1/8 cup raw organic, unsweetened cacao powder
2 cups blanched almond flour (I use Honeyville)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup shredded organic* zucchini (about 3 medium), tightly packed
2 farm fresh eggs
3 tbs almond milk
4 tbs coconut oil, melted
4 tbs raw, local honey
1/2 cup refined sugar-free dark chocolate chips (optional, I use Lily’s brand stevia sweetened chips)
- Preheat oven to 350-degrees Fahrenheit and line a muffin pan with paper cups, silicone molds, or brush with coconut oil.
- Combine dry ingredients in one bowl.
- Whisk together wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
- Grate zucchini (leave peel on for the fiber!) and squeeze excess water out by flipping measuring cup over and pressing zucchini. Add to bowl with wet ingredients and stir with a whisk.
- Gently mix wet ingredients into dry until combined.
- Stir in dark chocolate chips if using.
- Fill muffin tins 2/3 full and bake at 350-degrees Fahrenheit for 25-30 minutes or until muffins appear cooked through. You can use the toothpick test but the moisture from the zucchini will increase the cooking time substantially compared to normal muffins so use your best judgement!
- Cool in the muffin tins for 20 minutes then remove and enjoy.
Store in freezer separated by wax paper up to 6 months or in the fridge for around 1 week. If you used silicone molds, remove before storing.
*Based on the Environmental Working Group’s report on pesticide residue levels found in produce, it is best to purchase organic zucchini when possible!
Let me know what you think about the muffins or share how you define healthy by commenting below!
I seriously LOVE hearing from you guys. It truly makes my day to connect with you. And if you share a photo of them on Instagram (my fave place to hang), tag me @honestlynourished and use #hnrecipes #honestlynourished so I can give you a virtual fist bump.
See you back here next Tuesday!