The perks of growing up Italian: food, food, family and more food. Since before I can even remember, we enjoyed amazing fruits and vegetables from my grandmother’s garden, we’ve been eating organic long before organic was trending. My grandmother’s garden is truly a work of art; something that she takes pride in and loves to share. Every summer I look forward to nonna’s garden goodies; making fresh garden salads, grilled veggies and for the past few years, zucchini loaf, which my grandmother refers to as “zucchini cake.”
After trying a few different recipes and realizing that many traditional loaves really are a lot like “cake,” I decided that zucchini loaf, something that sounds and looks like it should be healthy, might actually still taste good if I made a healthy version of this beloved summer treat. This way you can enjoy a sweet slice and still feel like you are reaping some of the benefits of healthy garden veggies.
This past weekend my grandmother brought over three massive zucchini from her garden and my husband’s eyes started to sparkle. It took me a second to figure out why he was excited about zucchini, as he’s usually on a strict diet of meat and potatoes, but then I made the connection; zucchini loaf. He has a serious sweet tooth and the idea of baked goods makes him giddy. It was our anniversary this week and I too love a good loaf, so I decided that it was time for zucchini loaf season to begin at our house. I’ve made four loaves this week and below is the best version I came up with: a healthy twist on a traditional family favourite.
Josephine’s Zucchini Loaf
1 cup whole-wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cocoa
3 tsps cinnamon
2 cups of grated zucchini
3 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 cups of brown (or yellow) sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup dried cranberries (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8 x 4 loaf pans. Grate two cups of zucchini and set aside.
- In one bowl, mix flour (white and whole-wheat), salt, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa and cinnamon together until all the dry ingredients are well combined.
- In another bowl, using a hand or stand-up mixer, beat eggs, vanilla, sugar and vegetable oil until they resemble a cream.
- Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and mix until well combined.
- Add zucchini and dried cranberries and mix.
- Divide batter evenly between two pans, filling each about ¾ of the way.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until loaves are baked all the way through. Let stand/cool for 20-30 minutes and serve.
*Tip: To test if the loaves are baked through put a knife all the way into the loaf and if the knife comes up clean (with no batter on it) your loaves are done!
* Prepare Ahead Tip: grate the zucchini ahead of time and put in the fridge or freezer so this part of your prep-work is done. Zucchini can stay in the fridge for up to three days and freezer for a month.