Zucchini and summer gardens are kind of synonymous in the Midwest. Plant a few seeds, water them, wish them well and you are bound to end up with a bumper crop of zucchini by the end of July – that is if you don’t have a rabbit come in a make a midnight snack of your plants. I went outside for my morning rounds of our vegetable garden the other day and was horrified to find that half of the leaves on my squash and zucchini plants were gone. G.O.N.E. Long stems were sticking up all over the place where dinner-plate-sized green leaves had once grown.
If you have ever been around zucchini plants, then you know that the leaves and plants have little prickles all over and should–for all intents and purposes – be rabbit proof for that reason. I’ve been growing zucchini and squash in this particular raised bed for several years and have never had a problem before. I can only attribute the bunny’s taste for prickly green leaves to be that of desperation because most of the other greenery it would feed on has dried up in the terribly hot weather we’ve been having. Needless to say, I had my husband make a trip to the hardware store that same day to pick up some chicken wire so he could build a fence around my remaining plants before nightfall. There would be no more munching from bunnies on my watch.
Thankfully the fencing worked and we have kept the bunny at bay. My plants are starting to fill back out and my hopes are raised once again about harvesting zucchini sometime this summer. In the mean time, my neighbors, who grew their plants inside a wire fence from the get go, are already getting a bumper crop of zucchini and were kind enough to share some with me.
Part of the reason I like to grow zucchini is to make this muffin recipe. The combination of Hodgson Mill Naturally White Flour, Hodgson Mill White Whole Wheat, shredded zucchini, mini chocolate chips and toasted walnuts makes for a perfect breakfast or snack muffin. They are light, not overly sweet, yet satisfying and I love the tiny bursts of chocolate in each bite. My kids, who are not always squash fans, even think they taste great. Now I get to start their day off, and mine, with healthy whole grains AND green vegetables. Not something that happens normally – trust me.
I chose to use Hodgson Mill White Whole Wheat in this recipe, but regular whole wheat or even whole wheat pastry flour would work just as well.
Grate the zucchini, skin and all, until you have one full, slightly packed cup. Set aside.
In a medium sized bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the egg, oil, milk, lemon juice and vanilla.
Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir everything together until just moistened. It may look a little pasty and dry for a muffin batter, but the zucchini will add a lot of moisture, so never fear, it will all work out in the end.
Add the shredded zucchini, toasted walnuts and mini chocolate chips to the batter and give everything a good stir.
Line a muffin tin with paper muffin cups or spray with cooking oil, then fill 2/3 full with batter. Bake in a 350˚F oven for 20-25 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Cool for about 5 minutes in the pan and then remove the muffins to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Whether you grow your own zucchini or pick some up at the farmer’s market, grocery store or from a nice neighbor, these muffins are worth the little bit of effort it takes to put them together. You don’t even have to break out the mixer– just a little arm action and they’re ready to pop in the oven. These zucchini-chocolate chip muffins are healthy, easy to transport (should you need to eat one on the run), tasty and they freeze well. Bunny or no bunny, I fully intend to harvest my own zucchini before the end of the summer so that I can make more of these muffins. Enjoy!
Zucchini-Chocolate Chip Muffins
In a medium sized bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine the egg, oil, milk, lemon juice and vanilla. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until moistened. Stir in the zucchini, chocolate chips and walnuts just until combined. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake at 350˚F oven for 20-25 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean from the center of a muffin. Cool for five minutes in the pan and then remove muffins to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Makes 12 muffins.