I am always on the hunt for ways to get my children to eat healthy foods that they won't eat in its raw form for whatever reason. On top of that I try to get them as many different foods that support and boost eye-health - they need it with both children being in glasses before age 3. Well, in our house muffins are always a popular choice and they are so versatile!
Now, my kids eat more than their fair share of carrots! They eat them daily and in many different forms so I knew that I needed something different and outside the box. I looked in our fridge and saw 3 beautiful fresh, organic zucchini in the fridge! Neither of my kids like the texture of it cooked so I did some Googling to see if I could find a zucchini bread or muffin recipe. I also decided to feed my curiosity and look up the health benefits of zucchini while I was at it! I am a huge advocate for knowing WHY we are eating certain foods and teaching our kids the health benefits of what we are eating.
This is what my Google-research turned up: Did you know that zucchini squash is technically a fruit because it comes from a flower? Cool, right? It is anti-inflammatory and helps with symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis and asthma. It is very low in calories and has a high water content. Its skin is pure dietary fiber and helps ease constipation and protects against colon cancers. Because of its high amounts of vitamins A & C it boosts eye and prostate health. It has a moderate amount of potassium, magnesium, folate, zinc and manganese for heart health. This was just a small bit of information that got the baking-juices flowing!
I searched for muffin recipes that were relatively low in sugar and I also modified a few things based on what we had on hand and knowing my children's tastes. I also knew that I was baking these for my kids so I used whole wheat flour. Next time I will attempt to make these gluten-free so I can have them, but these muffins were such a big hit I knew I had to share! The zucchini made the muffins moist and delicate while the cinnamon and nutmeg offered comforting and familiar spices and the seeds (I added sunflower seeds) added just the right amount of chewy, nutty deliciousness!
Recipe adapted from simplyrecipes.com
3 cups grated fresh organic zucchini (approx. 1 1/2) *You do NOT need to dry it*
2/3 cup melted unsalted butter (the recipe said you can sub 1 cup oil if you don't do butter)
1 1/3 cup organic sugar (I used slightly less, but you can adjust for your needs)
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 cups flour (all-purpose or whole wheat)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup walnuts *optional* (I used about 1/2 cup sunflower seeds because my kids like them better)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a large bowl combine sugar, eggs and vanilla. Stir in grated zucchini and then the melted butter. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the zucchini mixture. Add in nuts or seeds.
3. Coat muffin tin cups with butter or vegetable spray. Fill each cup to the top. Should fill 12 muffin cups evenly. Bake on middle rack until muffins are golden brown. About 25-30 minutes.
4. Cool on wire rack and enjoy!