By Erika Taylor
Raise your hand if you have more zucchini than you know what to do with right now. If you’re like me, your family is pretty tired of all the ways you are sneaking it in these days.
Yes, I do add zucchini to our morning smoothies. Please don’t tell. These bites can easily be made to satisfy almost any palette and dietary requirement. The recipe can be doubled or even tripled depending on the crowd you’re serving and size of your blender.
I usually make them as a post cross-country recovery snack for our local school, so I’ve designed this recipe to avoid nuts, gluten and dairy. And the most magical part is they are packed with all kinds of wonderful fuel disguised as a delicious treat no omnivore can resist either. Perfect for breakfast or a lunch box too!
A quick round-up of the good stuff inside:
• Oats and other whole grains are a great source of important vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Oats can help lower blood sugar levels, and help reduce risk of heart disease.
• Zucchini is as ripe with nutrients as it is plentiful. Compounds such as lutein and zeaxanthin protect our eye health. And it’s full of folate, potassium and vitamin A—all essential nutrients tough to come by in a more processed diet. Despite packing a punch with several important nutrients, zucchini is low in calories, fat, and sugar.
• Dates are chock full of minerals including phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium. They are also a source of vitamin K which is needed for healthy, strong bones.
• Nuts and seeds are a wonderful way to get protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals into our bodies.
• And last but not least—chocolate! To get noticeable health benefits from chocolate, you need to eat the cocoa solids found in dark chocolate. Cocoa solids contain minerals and antioxidants; cocoa butter does not. So in this recipe, we’re more after the mental health benefits of a bit of delicious indulgence.
How to make them
Zucchini Chocolate Chip Bites
• 2 cups grated zucchini
• 2 cups rolled oats (gluten free works well)
• 8 dates, pitted (about 3/4 cup)
• 1/4 cup oil (avocado, olive, vegetable all work. And if you are okay with nuts, coconut is great in these)
• 1/4 cup real maple syrup
• 1 cup sunflower butter (any nut butter will do if you aren’t worried about nut allergies)
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• ⅛ teaspoon pink salt
• ⅛ tsp cinnamon
• ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
• ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
• Mini chocolate chips for topping (remember to use gluten free if that matters to you)
• Course ground salt for topping
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients in order except chocolate chips and coarse salt in a food processor until a chunky batter comes together. Batter will be quite thin. Pour or spoon batter into greased or lined and sprayed muffin tins.
Bites will not rise quite as much as muffins so you can fill to about ⅛ inch below rim. Sprinkle them with chocolate chips.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and gently spring back when you press into them. Sprinkle warm bites with sea salt if you’re into that kinda thing.
Serve warm or cold. Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freeze them. This fall, let’s do all the things we can to keep ourselves and our village healthy.
Move how and when you can, talk to your doctor about immunizations—not only against COVID and the flu but anything else you may have missed—hydrate, sleep, and let’s relish in all the delicious ways we can also eat well.
Erika Taylor is a community wellness instigator at Taylored Fitness. Taylored Fitness believes that everyone can discover small changes in order to make themselves and their communities more vibrant. Visit facebook. com/erika.taylor.303 or email erika@ tayloredfitness.com.