Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Zucchini Banana Bread (Oil-Free)

I had a lone zucchini. I had an old banana. I wanted something warm, sweet, and delicious. Zucchini banana bread it is!

As you may have read in a previous post, I'm making a concerted effort to return to oil-free baking. I hit a bit of a slippery slope where, fully knowing that the plant-based, whole-foods diet is supposed to be low-to-no oil (oil is not a whole food and it's the most calorically dense food per lb around), I was still using coconut oil in desserts and baked goods because I thought I had to. In my mind, I wasn't eating baked goods morning, noon, and night so I thought "Why not? It's a small amount. It's moderated. The baking chemistry needs it!"

Plus I felt like my beloved baking was suffering (not that baked goods ought to function as the center of one's diet or serve as a reason to compromise healthy eating habits)! But at the time I was getting desperate. I was blowing through my ingredients and my patience by trying to deviate from recipes to make oil-free substitutions. My cookies were coming out like tasteless muffin-tops, I didn't think the date squares would stay together if I didn't add oil to the crust, I wasn't sure the granola would stick and harden in the oven without it... Oh, the horrors!

...Yeah, you get the idea. One thing led to another and before I even realized it, oil was totally a part of my diet again. Hence the difficulty of "moderation." Once you get comfortable with the idea of certain food being "fair-game" the game goes on. And on. And on.

So here's to picking ourselves back up again and starting out anew! Yes, oil-free cookies are admittedly less-than-glorious. As Cathy Fisher was kind enough to point out to me, sometimes we have to accept that certain foods "just won't be apart of [our] healthy eating experience." So I may have to say so-long to the crunchy, flat homemade cookie of yore. But that's okay in the bigger picture. As Lindsay Nixon always says, "Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels!"

Plus there are tons of other sweet treats that really don't need the greasy stuff. Some of the non-baked goodies that I keep in rotation are date bites, chocolate avocado or silken tofu pudding, and banana soft-serve. These definitely make up for a crunchy-cookie-less diet! For others, like date squares or granola, a little creativity is in order but it can be done! For instance, in my chocolate peanut butter granola recipe I use the peanut butter as a fat rather than oil! And I sure do love that recipe. :D

And when it comes to baked goods, there are certain types that taste the same without that silly old oil (apple sauce, avocados, and bananas making perfect alternatives). Sweet breads are definitely in this category and they make excellent fare for breakfast, snack, and dessert. I've been meaning try try zucchini bread for some time now and, in lieu of oil, it became zucchini banana bread! And boy am I glad it did!

This recipe came out swell and resulted in lots of nibbling and second helpings! I hope you try it and enjoy those pockets of oil-free goodness that are definitely out there if you're willing to look for them!

Zucchini Banana Bread

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Adapted from The Diva Dish

Dry ingredients:
  • 2 cup spelt or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg/pumpkin pie spice 
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Wet ingredients: 
  • 3/4 cup date paste
  • 1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (approx. 1 large banana)
  • 3/4 cup non dairy milk 
  • 1 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large zucchini, skins on and shredded
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1/4 cup raisins (optional) 
  • 1/4 cup walnuts (optional) 
1.Preheat oven to 325. In a medium bowl, whisk dry ingredients together. Next, add the wet ingredients to the bowl and mix until almost incorporated. Fold in the zucchini, carrot, raisins, and walnuts with a spatula.
2. Pour batter into a bread pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. (You could also drop these into muffin tins and have breakfast for the week! If you make muffins, you will need to cut the cooking time in half - bake for about 20-25 minutes).

3. Let sit in pan for about 10 minutes and transfer to wire rack. Enjoy a slice warm (perhaps with almond butter!). Oh, and be sure to share, hard as it may be. :)

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