As most food bloggers do, I basically live in my kitchen. I wander in, bleary-eyed, moments after my alarm clock rings to pull out measuring cups and mixing bowls; hunker down with my camera at noon to snap shots of my treats from every angle; and stay up late, tackling the towering mountain of dishes that I procrastinated on scrubbing all day long.
But during the summer, I frequently escape to my home-away-from-home in the big city a 20-minute drive away: Panera.
Most of the time, I tag along in the car as my guy commutes to his volunteer work on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons. With his shop just around the corner, he’ll ease into a spot before hopping out and handing me the keys, and I’ll retrace our tire tracks back to Panera’s parking lot.
This past weekend, right as I turned away from the register to fill my glass at the soda fountain, two twenty-something boys spread their notebooks across my favorite table next to the back door. Slightly disappointed, I scouted around for a suitable second choice, one without a glare from the bright afternoon sun and a power outlet for my laptop charger cord.
I settled into the padded chair and stayed for four hours, only standing up to order my favorite salad, refill my glass, and practically monopolize the bathroom as I kept myself well-hydrated.
I occasionally glanced up from my laptop screen to people-watch. While I typed, two different families with small children clambered into the big corner booth straight ahead of me to nibble at their lunches, followed by a familiar gentleman dialing clients and studying spreadsheets on his tablet.
At one point, he glanced up and smiled in recognition—we had both spent the afternoon there the weekend before too—and we exchanged a few pleasantries and chuckles at the antics of other patrons.
With their genuine kindness, sweet regulars, and flavorful food, that Panera location is one of my favorite cozy and familiar spots to spend my summer days.
Just like the restaurant, these Whole Wheat Zucchini Banana Muffins are cozy and familiar. With their moist crumb and warm spices, they’ll instantly transport you back to your grandma’s kitchen table, breaking open hot muffins fresh from the oven and slathering the centers of her pastries with sweet butter. But probably unlike your grandma’s family recipe, these muffins are low fat, low calorie and completely clean-eating friendly.
Like most muffin recipes, you don’t need a mixer for these—just your favorite sturdy fork or wooden spoon! You’ll mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, the wet in another, and combine the two, stirring just until they’re incorporated. Nothing to it!
With only 1 tablespoon of oil, most of the moisture comes from the mashed banana and Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is my favorite secret ingredient for healthier baking: it provides all of the moisture of oil for a fraction of the fat and calories. Plus it adds a little extra protein too!
Despite including an entire banana, its fruity flavor isn’t overpowering. Instead, it’s slightly masked by the warm cinnamon and nutmeg. My grandma always included those two spices in her zucchini bread, so I mixed them into my healthy muffins too. Grandmas almost always know best!
These muffins bake at 325°F, slightly lower than most muffin recipes. This temperature helps ensure that the centers stay moist while preventing the outsides from turning dry and crusty. Because these wholesome muffins are delicious warm or cold, you’ll have a hard time keeping any of the tempting leftovers around!
Packed full of fiber and comforting spices, these skinny Whole Wheat Zucchini Banana Muffins bring a cozier taste of summer to your kitchen. Perfect for make-ahead breakfasts, mid-morning snacks, and afternoon snack attacks, they’ll keep your stomach—and your waistline—completely content.
I should know… I already ate three in a single day. Thank goodness summer is zucchini season—I’m already planning my next batch!