In June and even in July, summer seems like an endless stretch of time to cross items off your to do list, see people whom you don’t see often enough, and simply to relax. But as August starts to rear its ugly head, reality hits and you suddenly realize that the lofty plans you made for the summer will just have to wait some more. School and cold weather are just around the corner and no matter how tempting it may be to bury your books under your bed and forget about them, there’s no way to ignore rapidly approaching fall.
Rather than wallow in remorse over unaccomplished summer hopes and goals, focus on the exciting aspects of fall. This means that it’s almost close enough to Halloween that you can start planning your elaborate costume without sounding like a crazy person. This means it’s time to go shopping for new coats, boots, sweaters, or school supplies. This means that it’s gradually becoming time to resume your normal schedule of cozy nights indoors that your mind and body will appreciate even if you do not. And most importantly (for me at least) this means it’s starting to cool back down enough to turn back on the oven and stove to cook tasty, heart-warming meals and goodies.
Instead of resenting or resisting the passing of summer, set an example for those in your life who may not quite be ready for the change of the seasons by baking them tasty goodies to celebrate the best of summer produce in a form that is perfect for hectic fall mornings. By that I mean, bake them these Chocolate Strawberry & Zucchini Muffins, of course!
While these muffins are not exactly for picky eaters, they are delicious and nutritious, the perfect way to quell any chocolate cravings first thing in the morning while still getting in some veggies too. These muffins rely on shredded zucchini and applesauce to keep them nice and moist without the addition of any butter or oil.
Back to School Chocolate Strawberry & Zucchini Muffins
Yield: 18-20 muffins
Adapted from From the Little Yellow Kitchen
- 2 cups shredded zucchini, shredded
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup quinoa flour
- 1/3 cup sugar, rounded (or add 2/3 cup for sweeter, more traditional muffins)
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 eggs
- 4 tablespoons greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 15 large strawberries (about 1 1/2 cups), chopped, plus 5 more, sliced for garnish
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or you can chop up 1 bar of dark chocolate into tiny pieces-I had some left over from s’mores, so that’s what i did)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two muffins tins with silicone baking cups. Muffin batter sticks to paper liners too much, so invest in a few sets of silicone liners to avoid eating paper and cut down on waste.
- Coarsely grate the zucchini, then place in a colander and sprinkle it with a pinch of salt. Let it sit for about 10 minutes while combing the other ingredients to leach out the excess water from the zucchini.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, cocoa, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.
- In another bowl, whisk the eggs. Then add the applesauce and yogurt, and stir well.
- Use paper towels to gently press the zucchini in the colander so that it releases any remaining excess liquid. Add the zucchini to the wet mixture and stir.
- Use your hands to form a well in the center of the dry mixture, then pour the wet mixture into the well. Stir until just combined. Fold in the strawberries and chocolate chips.
- Fill each baking cup about 3/4 full, then gently press a strawberry slice into the top of each muffin.
- Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Allow the muffins to cool on cooling racks, then keep them refrigerated for up to 4 days or freeze them for a quick and easy breakfast or afternoon snack.