Our garden was not a huge success this year. I wouldn’t quite go so far to say it was a failure, but it was definitely very far from being successful. We have a little garden plot tucked back in a corner of our yard, and I know it’s a little too shady back there. It was dug in early spring a few years ago, when the leaves were off the trees and we didn’t quite realize how much shade it would get. However, I thought that with all the intense sunny heat this summer, we’d still get a bounty of fresh produce. I was wrong. The lettuce did well, but the pea plants shriveled without producing much of anything. The tomato plants have grown like gangbusters, but most of the tomatoes have remained green and unripe. The ones that do ripen are almost invariably split up the middle, from the extremes of hot and dry to cool and wet.
All of the other things I planted (radishes, carrots and cucumbers) didn’t flourish at all. The little cuke seedlings got munched by some bugs the minute they popped above ground. The carrots seemed to just disappear into thin air (or thin soil?) so I suspect that they got eaten by some critter as well. The tops of the radishes grew, but the root was just a thin little red bit, not a nice round spicy radish. So I am declaring defeat, to a degree. Next year, I am sticking with lettuce and tomatoes. If we get ambitious, we may move the plot out from under the trees, but I am still going to save myself some heartache, and grow only lettuce and tomatoes.
One thing I haven’t even attempted, and don’t plan to now that I am going minimalist on the garden, is zucchini. From all accounts, squash takes up a fair bit of room in a garden, and judging by the various blog posts on the subject, it all seems to ripen at once and you end up with a glut of zucchini. Very well, then. I will do my part and continue to buy my zucchini from the farmer’s market, if only to help them with their glut of large green squash!
I wanted this bread to be really moist and chocolatey, so I added chocolate chips (my own homemade ones), as well as cocoa powder. I also wanted to play around more with various gluten free flours, so I used a combination of almond flour, buckwheat flour and flax meal. I drained the zucchini beforehand, so that it wouldn’t add too much moisture and keep the bread from baking properly.
The Results: I will be honest and say that although this bread is quite good, it isn’t perfect. The texture is exactly what I wanted it to be, rich and dense and studded with melty, gooey chocolate. It’s almost like a moist, fudgey brownie, which is never a bad thing. But I felt that the buckwheat was out of place here. Although I loved the combination of buckwheat and dark chocolate in my cookies, I think it muddied the flavour of the cocoa in this bread. Next time I’d forego the buckwheat in favour of more almond flour and flax meal, and in fact that is how I am going to write up the recipe. This would also reduce the carbs, in case you’re counting.
The buckwheat might be great in a traditional zucchini bread that wasn’t chocolate. I have a sense that it would play off the spices like cinnamon and allspice very well. Hmmm, I might have to try that sometime!
Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread
2 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
1 1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup flax seed meal
1/2 cup cocoa
2 tbsp granulated erythritol
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 cup butter, melted
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp almond milk
1 tsp vanilla
24 drops stevia extract
3/4 cups chocolate chips (sugar free or high % cacao, or your own homemade!)
Lightly salt the zucchini and let it drain in a sieve for at least an hour. Place in a tea towel and squeeze to remove as much moisture as possible. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350F and line the bottom and long sides of a 9×5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper. Grease paper and sides of pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients – almond meal, flax meal, cocoa powder, erythritol, baking powder, baking soda, salt and xanthan gum.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together butter, eggs, almond milk, vanilla and stevia. Add to dry ingredients and stir vigorously until completely combined.
Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until top is set and a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then turn out onto wire rack and cool completely.
Serves 16. 7g of total carbs per serving, 2.9g of fiber. 3.5g of carbs if you subtract erythritol.