Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

IMG_2227I love chocolate. I love zucchini. But chocolate AND zucchini sounds like a weird disastrous combo like marshmallows with celery or white chocolate with tomatoes. At least that’s what I thought years ago before I had my first slice of zucchini bread.

Zucchini bread is amazingly moist and lightly sweet, plus, it’s getting you to eat your veggies right?!

They are lovely versatile summer veggies that I absolutely love all year-round, I’ve even made them into pancakes and chips!

For my first attempt at zucchini bread, I followed Chelsea’s Messy Apron blog’s Healthy Greek Yogurt Zucchini Bread. There are many ways to “healthify” your zucchini bread and this recipe does it in every way – from using coconut oil (instead of butter or vegetable oil), dark chocolate chips (instead of milk chocolate), and sneaking in some oats (instead of all white flour).

You will need:

  • 1 bread loaf pan, greased and floured or lined with parchment paper
  • grater
  • blender (if you do not have oat flour)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup low fat greek vanilla yogurt (you can use plain to reduce sugar)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup of melted coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 3 tablespoons of mashed banana
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed (I think I even used less to cut down sugar)
  • 1/2 cup oat flour, measured after blending
  • 1 cup white or whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or nuts (optional)

IMG_2208First some of your ingredients require some extra prep work: zucchini needs grating, banana needs mashing, and oats need blending. But the results are well worth the effort.

As you start grating the zucchini, wrap handfuls in a paper towel and squeeze out all the water. You don’t want soggy zucchini bread. Do this until you have about 1 cup of grated zucchini. IMG_2210Pre-heat your oven to 325°F.

If you don’t have oat flour at home, that’s ok! I always have some old-fashion oats at home (mostly for baking purposes, secondly for breakfast!) and I just pulse it in my food processor for a few seconds and I’ll have finely ground oat flour that will give the bread some subtle chewiness. IMG_2215In a large bowl mix all your wet ingredients: yogurt, vanilla extract, egg, melted coconut oil, and honey. Add in mashed banana and light brown sugar.

In a small bowl mix all dry ingredients: oat flour, white flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix well.

(I know I accidentally switched around the bowl sizes, I always do this!) IMG_2216Add the dry flour mixture into the wet mixture and stir until just enough to blend everything together. Don’t keep mixing unless you like very dense bread. IMG_2217Lastly, gently stir in the zucchini and optional nuts/chocolate chips. IMG_2218Pour into your greased or lined bread loaf pan. IMG_2219 Set your timer for 40-50 minutes. It’s a big time range but you just have to see if the bread looks “done”- when the sides pull alway from the pan and the top gets a golden brown color. I took mine out at about 46 minutes. IMG_2222I was suppose to wait 10-15 minutes for the bread to cool, but I think I waited 5 and couldn’t help but taste test the softest, perfectly sweetened, and most delicious zucchini bread! IMG_2224

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Healthy Protein Balls

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This is my first post as a post-grad! Blame my thesis and the race to the graduate finish line for the lack of updates. Most days I was lucky to have time to eat, much less try new recipes or write blog posts.

At the beginning of this year I did make a real effort to make time to work out and to eat healthier – which meant a lot of meal prepping and healthier snacking. I wanted to up my protein intake, but from non-meat sources.

I absolutely had to try these no-bake protein balls from The Healthy Maven. This is my first time making and eating “energy balls” and this one had all the ingredients I love. There are endless versions out there of these little protein-packed snacks in tons of flavors from carrot cake to chocolate chip. Try ’em all and find your fav!

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You’ll need:

  • mixing bowl
  • measuring spoons
  • liquid measuring cup
  • dry ingredients measuring cup
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup vanilla whey protein powder (*I used a vegan protein powder that I had at home)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup smooth nut butter (almond, peanut, cashew, whatever you like!)
  • 3 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup add-in (e.g. chocolate chips raisins, etc.)
  • 2-4 tablespoons of liquid (I used almond milk, but you can use water, soy, regular milk)
  • air tight container

In your large mixing bowl add in the oats, protein powder, cinnamon, and chia seeds. Mix. 25901572902_86c4a35835_z

Next add in the nut butter, honey and vanilla. Stir, stir, stir! 25901667012_4139594f84_z

After everything is thoroughly mixed, it should be sticky but still dry and crumbly. Add in your raisins, chocolate chips, or other add-ins you desire. This gives it some extra flavor and texture.

Here’s the fun, messy part. Start with 1 tablespoon of the liquid and mix everything with your hands. If the mixture is still pretty crumbly and not holding shape, then add another tablespoon of liquid. Repeat this until it is the desired texture and you feel like you can shape it into balls. If it’s too dry, it will fall apart, if there’s too much liquid it will be very messy and won’t hold it’s shape. 25393375863_90d61dd5ca_z

Roll into bite-size balls and place in a container. Put it in the fridge for 30 minutes to set.

The 30 minutes felt like such a long time, I couldn’t want to try it! When I finally did, I was so excited to find a recipe for a delicious, healthy, super-filling, and protein-packed snack! These are easy to take anywhere, great for a mid-afternoon snack to carry you over to dinner. The energy balls look small but are so dense with nut butter and oats that just one will make you feel pretty full. I added raisins and they were the perfect touch of sweetness! These should keep for about 2 weeks in the fridge. 25393600673_b87260bc89_zNow that school’s out (forever!), I hope I have more time to try and share new recipes. Don’t worry, I may be trying to eat healthier, but that does not mean the end of desserts and decadent sweets for Sweet Therapy.

Overnight Oatmeal aka “Summer Porridge”

Summer is no where near Seattle right now but I am completely obsessed with overnight oatmeal and it’s a great breakfast any time of the year. When I first tried this, I couldn’t believe how amazingly delicious and easy this was. After the first time I tried it my only thought was: “Next time, must double recipe!”

The Yummy Life has a great starter recipe with five different variations like Blueberry Maple which so far is my favorite one.

For the basic recipe you will need:

  • 1 airtight container or mason jar (everything tastes better in a mason jar!)
  • 1/4 cup uncooked old fashioned rolled oats (do not try to use steel cut or other kinds)
  • 1/3 cup milk (e.g. soy, almond, hemp, rice, cow, coconut)
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon dried Chia seeds
  • 2 teaspoon pure real maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
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Ch-ch-chia! These little guys are a great healthy, vegan source of Omega-3, minerals and fiber. When they come into contact with liquids, they form gelatinous coating and provides satiety.

2015-01-08 20.43.52For a busy grad student like me I need a meal I can throw together fast and overnight oatmeal is a dream come true. I grab a jar, throw in the oats, milk, yogurt, and chia seeds. Then I add the maple syrup and shake it all up! 

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Lastly add the fruit and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

2015-01-11 12.56.22Voila, you have amazing, delicious, healthy, satisfying, convenient breakfast for any time of the year.

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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins

Last weekend I went camping with old co-workers at Lake Folsom, northeast of Sacramento. It was so great to get away from checking emails, facebooking, and texting and just live in the moment with nature.

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The night before I wanted to bring some snacks and threw together these Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins they were yummy, filling, and, best of all, portable!

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I did not have quick-cook oats, so I used regular oats and it definitely was good to soak it for a little while in the milk. The muffin texture was a bit more chewy and you could still taste the oats. Made it a bit more “rustic” I suppose.

  • 1 1/4 cup oats
  • 1 1/4 cup milk (soy/almond/coconut/hemp/rice milk works too!)

Soak for at least 15 mins if you are using regular oats. In the meantime, pre-heat your oven to 400 and grease the muffin pan.

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Add these ingredients into the milk-oats mixture:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips (I used a mix of semi-sweet, dark, and milk Ghirardelli chocolate chips just for fun!)
  • 1/2 cup of the pecans

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Combine the two mixtures together until it looks like this.

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Pop them in the oven for about 20-25 mins. I did not sprinkle brown sugar on top like the original recipe because it was really sweet enough with the chocolate.

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I tried one right out of the oven with the chocolate chips melted. Oh man, I had to remind myself to save some for camping!

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Oats Oats Everywhere!

A lot of people despise oatmeal, they think it “tastes like cardboard”. First of all- so they’ve tasted cardboard?! And second of all – oatmeal is an awesome power breakfast if made with the right stuff!

This Baked Oatmeal recipe is one I’ve used over and over again. I discovered baked oatmeal my freshman year at UC Irvine, in the dorm dining hall. It was sweet, warm, and filling.

I use vanilla soy milk instead of dairy milk and I ran out of raisins this time so I used cranberries- feel free to swap in nuts and other dried fruit.

I love baking it a little longer than the directed time because I like the oatmeal to be extra dry and crispy- creates a great texture when you mix the milk in.

a yummy breakfast

Baked Oatmeal is easy and fast to serve in the morning…..scoop some into a bowl, zap it in the microwave until it get extra hot and pour some cold milk on it. You are good to go for the morning.