In my first semester of my program to become a Registered Dietitian (RD), one of the courses I took focused on the science behind cooking and food. As someone who has always been fascinated with the way things work in the kitchen, this class was pretty darn interesting and amazing.
The BIG project for the class was to take a recipe for a baked good and make it healthier based on scientific research by modifying only ONE ingredient. We had to make three different versions of the recipe, complete subjective and objective testing and write a report about our findings.
To the non-foodie/science nerd this may sound a bit boring…but I seriously loved every second of it!
I decided to make my mom’s zucchini bread recipe healthier by reducing the amount of sugar in it. My goal was to optimize the level of sugar replacement in the zucchini bread recipe with banana puree without affecting the structural (how it looks, the amount it rises while baking, texture, density, moistness) and sensory (taste, smell, how it feels in your mouth) properties of the bread.
Now, some of you may be thinking “but you make healthy recipes all the time. How is this any different?”
While, yes I healthify recipes on the daily, after taking this class I realized that so often I jump into altering a recipe without truly looking at the original ingredients and WHY they may be there in the first place. Believe it or not, ingredients aren’t always included in a recipe to make things “taste good.”
Let’s look at why sugar is even included in zucchini bread (or any quick bread for that matter):
Sugar slows down starch gelatinization during the baking process which allows vapor pressure from carbon dioxide and water to build up before the bread sets. This allows the bread to rise while baking.
Sugar affects air incorporation which creates a more stable bread structure.
Sugar also participates in the Maillard reaction, which gives baked products the golden brown color and contributes to flavor.
Now that we know why sugar is added to zucchini bread, let’s take a look at how excess added sugar may affect our health:
There is a significant relationship between the consumption of added sugar and increased risk for death caused by cardiovascular disease.
Added sugar consumption is linked to an increase in population-wide diabetes.
A diet high in refined sugar can also contribute to cognitive decline in aging.
Those reasons are all good enough for me as reason to reduce the amount of sugar I consume!
So, after I did the research I completed the testing…
Comparing how high each bread rose while baking.
Taking a look at the inside “crumb” of each loaf of bread.
I had friends complete a taste test for me with samples of each bread.
And the winning recipe?
I substituted 50% of the sugar called for in the original recipe with a banana puree and the result was delicious (according to my taste-test panelists!). This loaf of bread also yielded results most similar to the original zucchini bread when looking at objective measures.
So without further ado…here is the winning recipe!
This healthier zucchini bread doesn’t skip a beat. The sweetness from the banana replaces half of the sugar in the original zucchini bread recipe. The end result is a sweet, soft, and delicious loaf of zucchini bread that will have you coming back for seconds.
1 cup melted coconut oil
3 cups chopped zucchini
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup mashed banana puree
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 cups gluten free all purpose flour (can use regular all purpose flour if you tolerate gluten)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spray two loaf pans with coconut oil spray.
Combine the eggs, melted coconut oil, zucchini, vanilla and banana puree in the blender.
Blend until completely combined.
In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
Pour the batter evenly in the two prepared loaf pans.
Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean
Cook Time:65 mins
Category:quick bread, breakfast, bread, snack
Question of the Day:
What classic recipes did you grow up with that you want to give a healthy makeover?
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