Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins (GF, Nut-Free & Dairy-Free)

I have always loved zucchini bread because of its moist, wonderful texture, but it’s never really been a go-to bread recipe when I’m baking. However, this past summer, my coworker Bob brought me a 7 pound zucchini, and the first thing I thought to make was zucchini bread! Although 7 pounds seems huge, when I shredded it in my food processor it was even more than I expected. I was literally drowning in zucchini. I used about 1/2 of the zucchini right away, but froze the rest in quart size ziploc bags for when Winter came and 7 lb vegetables were no longer in surplus.

These muffins are great for so many reasons. They’re moist, full of rich chocolate, super soft, and best of all, very allergy-friendly! I brought these to a girls’ brunch a few months ago and they were a hit. When I remembered I still had leftover shredded zucchini in the freezer, I instantly thought of these muffins. I was a little hesitant to use anything other than fresh zucchini, but these turned out as delicious as I remembered.

Whether you’re looking for a perfect on-the-go breakfast recipe, or trying to sneak more vegetables into your picky kids’ (or husband’s) diet, these muffins are the answer! Give them a try- I hope you love them as much as I do!

Recipe notes: If you’re using zucchini that’s been frozen, you will have a lot of excess moisture, so be sure to squeeze most of the water out or your muffins will be sad and soggy. In the recipe below, I mention dairy-free chocolate chips, but you can use whatever kind of chocolate chips you’d like and still get the same results. Dairy-free (vegan) chocolate chips can be found at Whole Foods!

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Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

1/2 C dairy-free chocolate chips, divided

2 C grated zucchini, excess water squeezed out

2 eggs, beaten

6 T coconut or vegetable oil

1 t vanilla extract

1 1/2 C Gluten Free flour blend

1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 t sea salt

1/2 t baking soda

12 t baking powder

1 C coconut sugar

Method:

Preheat oven to 325° and line standard muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners.

Melt 1/4 C of the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl at 30 second intervals, stirring between to ensure they’re melting evenly. Set aside to cool sightly.

In a large bowl, add grated zucchini, eggs oil, and vanilla extract. Whisk to combine. Add melted chocolate chips and whisk again until fully combined.

In separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients and remaining 1/4 C of chocolate chips. Make a well in center of bowl and slowly pour in wet mixture. Fold together with rubber spatula until incorporated, making sure to not over-mix.

Pour into prepared muffin tin and bake for 22-25 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean. You don’t want to over bake these or they’ll be dry!

Tip** Store these in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze in sandwich size ziploc bags for busy weekday mornings!

Vegan Chocolate Pudding

Growing up, my sisters and I were lucky to have a number of fun babysitters to choose from when our parents wanted a night out, but Amanda was the best of the best. She would show up with a bag full of prizes and I don’t recall ever having to do anything to win them… She always looked as excited to see us as we were to see her, and as the years went on, she became our close friend.

Amanda would claim she knew nothing about baking, but that can’t be true because I’m convinced she’s now better at making and decorating cakes than I’ll ever be. I know those skills were always somewhere hidden in there with all her other strengths- tucked next to her amazing listening skills, compassion, and knowledge of where to buy lava lamps.

When we get together, we reminisce about cooking dinner when she’d babysit. She tells me that once we would finish dinner, I’d pull a chair up to the stove in our tiny kitchen and proclaim I was making chocolate pudding for dessert. She recalls that watching a six-year-old use the stove made her uneasy at first, but she quickly realized this was the norm.

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Why chocolate pudding? It was our go-to dessert. My mom always kept boxes of Jell-O Cook N Serve chocolate pudding stocked in the baking cabinet, and like any other family in the 90’s (before everyone discovered their lactose intolerance), we always had 2% milk in the fridge.

I still love chocolate pudding, but can’t stomach dairy anymore. My solution? Vegan chocolate pudding that I SWEAR is even better than what I remember. But that could just be my terrible memory…? This recipe swaps dairy out for coconut milk, and like most of my other recipes, doesn’t need any refined sugar. This dessert turns out so creamy and chocolate-y that you won’t even notice the dairy is missing. Top it with just about anything and enjoy!

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Vegan Chocolate Pudding

14 oz can coconut milk (both full fat and low fat work)

4 T cocoa powder

3 T corn starch

1/2 t salt

1/4 C pure maple syrup or honey

1 1/2 t vanilla extract

Method:

Heat half of the coconut milk in a saucepan over medium heat. In separate bowl, combine other half of coconut milk, cocoa powder, and corn starch, whisking until incorporated. Once coconut milk in saucepan is heated and coming to a low boil, reduce heat to low and slowly whisk in chocolate mixture.  Add salt and maple syrup or honey. Whisk continuously until pudding returns to a boil and thickens (sticking to the side of a spoon). Remove from heat and add vanilla.

Tip** if you do not care about the pudding being perfectly vegan, mix 1/4 C chopped chocolate or chocolate chips into finished pudding for extra chocolate-y goodness

Top with toasted coconut, bananas, berries, nuts, etc. Store leftovers in fridge with layer of plastic wrap touching the top of the pudding- this will prevent “skin” on the top!

Pumpkin Chocolate Oat Bars

Today is definitely Monday… the WiFi is out at our apartment, and my work email was hacked…but who cares because today is the first day of October! In my mind it’s officially Fall and I’m ready to bake pumpkin everything. Trader Joe’s is my pumpkin dealer of choice, and whenever I’m there I make sure to pick up a [few] bag[s] of their chocolate chunks because they’re better than regular old chocolate chips in so many ways.

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These pumpkin chocolate oat bars are on my Favorite Recipes list because they are gluten-free, low in fat, perfect for breakfast on the go, and full of pumpkin spice goodness. These bars are also nut-free (s/o to Abby and Lia), but you can include pecans or almonds if you choose. If you’d like to make them vegan, all you have to swap out is the chocolate chips- either omit entirely or make sure to use vegan chips.

Whatever your dietary restrictions/level of pumpkin fanaticism, these bars are proven to make any Monday better, so give them a try and let me know how they turn out!

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Pumpkin Chocolate Oat Bars

makes about 12 servings

3 1/2 C old fashioned rolled oats

2 1/2 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

1 3/4 t pumpkin pie spice

1/2 t cinnamon

1 14 oz can (or 1 1/2 C) canned pumpkin puree

1/2 C pure maple syrup

1/4 C honey

2 t vanilla extract

1/4 C unsweetened applesauce

1 T coconut oil or avocado oil

1/2 C chocolate chunks, plus more to sprinkle on top

Method:

Preheat oven to 350° and grease 9″ x 13″ pan.

Make oat flour! I use my Vitamix for this because it’s a quick and easy clean up, but you can also pulse in your food processor or just buy oat flour at the grocery store. 3 1/2 C of regular oats makes about 3 cups of oat flour if you’re making at home.

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In a large bowl, combine oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon. Whisk dry ingredients together. Next, add all wet ingredients- canned pumpkin, maple syrup, honey, vanilla extract, apple sauce, and oil. Fold together until combined and add chocolate chunks last. Spoon into prepared pan and sprinkle some more chocolate chunks on top. Don’t skimp 😉

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool partially before cutting into squares and serve warm. Enjoy!

*Tip: I like to store some squares in the freezer in ziplock bags for breakfast on weekday mornings. Just heat back up in the microwave on a plate or napkin for 20 seconds.