Many times throughout my childhood, my grandma flew to California to visit us. After picking her up at the airport and helping carry her luggage upstairs to the guest bedroom, we eagerly waited downstairs in the kitchen…
Because she usually tucked homemade goodies for us into her suitcase! Her specialty was zucchini bread, and she often brought two freshly baked loaves: one for us to eat during her trip and a second to freeze for later.
However, she gave us far too much credit…
We rarely had enough self-restraint to make the first loaf last more than a few days!
We cut slices for breakfast, afternoon snacks, little pre-bedtime treats… And occasionally, mom even tucked a small piece carefully wrapped in foil into my school lunchbox for me to enjoy after finishing my sandwich and apple slices instead of store-bought cookies.
Although I was a really picky eater as a kid and hated “bits” in my food (onions in spaghetti sauce, nuts in brownies, even blueberries in muffins!), somehow, I didn’t mind the flecks of green vegetables in those loaves of Grandma’s zucchini bread. Maybe because they were just as soft as the bread surrounding them, so I never detected a texture difference…
Or maybe because that zucchini bread was just as moist and sweet as cake! With ample amounts of oil and sugar, it often left little stains on the paper napkins we occasionally served it on, but nobody ever seemed to notice or mind. We loved every crumb of those delicious spiced loaves!
As an adult, I’ve realized that Grandma’s zucchini bread probably should’ve been classified as a dessert, rather than a breakfast item, with its ingredients list…
But this Ultimate Healthy Zucchini Bread is definitely healthy enough for breakfast — and it tastes exactly the same as those loaves of Grandma’s zucchini bread from my childhood! It’s just as moist and tender with the same sweet flavors and cozy spices… Even with no oil, refined flour or sugar!
This recipe is also really simple to make. You just need one bowl and a fork! (I always love recipes with so few dishes and easy clean-up. 😉 ) Each slice is also 98 calories!
WHAT IS ZUCCHINI BREAD?
If you’re like me and you grew up eating it, then I’m guessing you already know exactly what zucchini bread is… But just in case it wasn’t your grandma’s baking specialty, let’s briefly cover what zucchini bread is!
In a nutshell… Zucchini bread is a quick bread! This means it contains no yeast and relies on baking powder and baking soda as its leavening agents. As a quick bread, zucchini bread is made as a cake-like batter, rather than as a dough like with traditional loaves of yeast-based bread, so there’s no kneading required either.
Like many quick breads, zucchini bread is usually classified as a breakfast item. But don’t let its veggies fool you… Zucchini bread is still firmly on the sweet side of the scale! It usually has lots of yummy spices mixed into the batter too, and it can be eaten warm or chilled. (I definitely prefer the latter!)
HOW TO MAKE THE ULTIMATE HEALTHY ZUCCHINI BREAD
With that little background out of the way… Let’s go over how to make the best ever healthy zucchini bread! I learned a lot about how to make the perfect loaf of zucchini bread while testing this recipe, so I’m sharing lots of nerdy tips to ensure you can make the best healthy zucchini bread too!
Nerd Alert #1: Mixing Ingredients Together
As you’ve probably guessed from the recipe title already, you just need one large mixing bowl to make this ultimate healthy zucchini bread. I’ve been adding lots more recipes to my one-bowl recipe series, and it seems like you’re enjoying these easy recipes just as much as I am!
However, when it comes to one-bowl recipes, the order of ingredient additions really matters. I do NOT recommend simply throwing everything into the mixing bowl all at once, crossing your fingers, and hoping for the best… Because we both know exactly how that would turn out. 😉
Also, pay close attention to the instructions! I include exactly when you should both add certain ingredients and stir them together. Sometimes, you’ll need to stir only one ingredient in at a time. I promise there’s a reason for this… It means you end up with the perfect taste and texture in your ultimate healthy zucchini bread!
So be patient, read the recipe through thoroughly, and you should be well on your way to making a loaf of the best ever healthy zucchini bread!
Nerd Alert #2: Butter or Oil?
As the first ingredient that goes into your mixing bowl, you’ll need a teensy bit of melted butter, melted coconut oil, or any other oil. Yup, it’s true… They all work equally well! Some people swear by butter, while others swear by oil. I couldn’t detect a difference in my loaves made with butter versus oil, and neither could my taste testers. So use whatever you normally keep on hand!
To make sure you end up with the best healthy zucchini bread, you’ll only use a very small amount… A mere ½ tablespoon! Whereas traditional recipes often call for close to 1 full cup instead (if not more!). That really helps keep your healthy zucchini bread low calorie and low fat!
Nerd Alert #3: Egg Whites
Next, you’ll whisk in egg whites and vanilla extract. This ultimate healthy zucchini bread recipe calls for 3 egg whites, and yes — all 3 are necessary!
The whites contain the majority of the protein within an egg. That protein helps your ultimate healthy zucchini bread rise and maintain its shape while cooling. Without all 3 egg whites, your loaf will collapse some — or a lot! — as it sits on your kitchen counter, and it’ll turn out much denser.
So for the perfect moist and tender texture in your ultimate healthy zucchini bread, use all 3 egg whites!
Nerd Alert #4: Greek Yogurt
At this point, you’ve probably realized something… There are no egg yolks in this recipe and only ½ tablespoon of butter or oil. So how in the world will your quick bread turn out supremely moist and tender, like I promised?
In this recipe, Greek yogurt adds the same moisture as extra butter or oil but for a fraction of the calories. It also gives your ultimate healthy zucchini bread a protein boost!
Nerd Alert #5: Sweetener
Traditional recipes often call for anywhere from 1 to 3 cups (or more!) of refined granulated sugar. YIKES!! That’s a whole lot of sugar, especially for something that’s supposed to be a breakfast item… So you’ll definitely skip that in this healthy recipe. 😉 Instead, you’ll use another one of my favorite ingredients: liquid stevia!
Stevia is a plant-based, no-calorie sweetener that contains nothing refined or artificial (aka it’s clean eating friendly!). It’s also high concentrated. You just need 2 ½ teaspoons to sweeten your entire ultimate healthy zucchini bread loaf… Which is the equivalent of around 1 ¼ cups of sugar!
Many stevia brands and products have different sweetness levels, so for the best results, I highly recommend using the same one that I do! I buy it online here because that’s the best price I’ve found, and I love how I don’t notice any strange aftertaste like with some other stevia products.
Tip: I hate “one-time use” ingredients, and I’m guessing you do too. Liquid stevia is NOT one of those! You can use it in all of these other recipes of mine too. (So far, there are 240+ of them and counting!)
Nerd Alert #6: The First Secret Ingredient
There are a few secret ingredients in this ultimate healthy zucchini bread, and the first one is… Plain distilled white vinegar. I know — it sounds crazy! But here’s why you need it to make the best ever healthy zucchini bread!
Vinegar is an acid. Baking soda is a base (you’ll add that later!). When you combine these two, they react and create air bubbles (carbon dioxide, to be exact!). Those air bubbles help your loaf rise, and it also gives your healthy zucchini bread a more tender texture.
By the time your loaf finishes baking, all of the vinegar will have reacted with all of the baking soda, so you won’t be able to taste it at all! Just… Don’t taste the raw batter. 😉
Nerd Alert #7: The Second, Third, and Fourth Secret Ingredients
Time for the next few secret ingredients! One of them is a secret ingredient from my grandma’s recipe, one I added in on a whim (and then kicked myself for not using in my previous rounds of recipe testing!), and the last is another one of my all-time favorite ingredients.
Those are nutmeg (my grandma’s!), allspice (my whim!), and Saigon cinnamon (I’m obsessed!). The nutmeg and allspice created a much deeper and richer spice flavor in this ultimate healthy zucchini bread, so I highly recommend using them!
As for Saigon cinnamon, it’s the only kind I use in my baking recipes now. It tastes stronger, richer, and sweeter than regular cinnamon, which gives your baked goods a much more robust and satisfying spice flavor. I actually buy it online here, and it’s surprisingly inexpensive and affordable!
Hint: You’ll stir the spices in now, rather than later, so they’re evenly distributed throughout the batter with zero clumps!
Nerd Alert #8: Flour
Instead of the refined all-purpose flour found in traditional recipes, you’ll use white whole wheat flour. I know, I know… That sounds like an oxymoron. But it actually exists — and it’s not just a combination of white (aka all-purpose) flour and regular whole wheat flour!
Instead, white whole wheat flour is made by finely grinding a special type of soft white wheat (hence the name!), whereas regular whole wheat flour comes from a heartier variety of red wheat. They both have the same health benefits (like extra fiber!), but white whole wheat flour has a lighter taste and texture… And that lets the moist and tender texture of your ultimate healthy zucchini bread truly shine!
Also, remember to measure the flour correctly, using this method or a kitchen scale! (← That’s the one I own!) Too much flour will dry out the batter and make your zucchini bread dry too. I promise it’s worth taking the few extra moments to properly measure!
Nerd Alert #9: Leavening Agents
As I mentioned earlier, you’ll use baking powder and baking soda to make your ultimate healthy zucchini bread rise. However, this tip isn’t about what they do… It’s about how you should add them!
Do NOT dump them into the bowl! Instead, sprinkle the baking powder and baking soda over the flour. Then stir all three in together! Sprinkling avoids clumps, which means your ultimate healthy zucchini bread will rise evenly and have a perfectly moist and tender texture!
Hint: You don’t want to add these leavening agents with the spices because they start to react as soon as they come in contact with the wet ingredients. If they react too soon, then all of those air bubbles that you create by mixing together the vinegar and baking soda will have disappeared by the time you put your loaf in the oven… So it won’t rise properly or have as moist and tender of a texture!
Nerd Alert #10: Zucchini
It’s impossible to make the best ever healthy zucchini bread without a certain vegetable, isn’t it? 😉 You’ll need freshly grated zucchini — but don’t just dump it into the bowl either!
Instead, you must thoroughly pat the grated zucchini dry first. To do this, place a double-thick layer of paper towels on a cutting board. Spread the grated zucchini on top. Firmly press down with a second set of double-thick paper towels on top until they’re completely soaked through. Keep repeating this with a fresh set of double-thick paper towels on top until you can’t press any more moisture out of the zucchini.
If you skipped this step, the zucchini would release that moisture into the batter while your quick bread baked… And all of that extra moisture would cause your loaf to collapse while cooling. Not good! So be very thorough with drying your zucchini for the best texture in your ultimate healthy zucchini bread!
Hint: Do NOT try to add extra zucchini either! I already tested that for you… And more zucchini just causes your quick bread to collapse while cooling too. Stick with the amount provided in the ingredients list for the best results!
Nerd Alert #11: Baking
Before you slide your loaf pan into the oven, cover the top with foil. Try to “bump” it up in the center to give your quick bread a little room to rise!
The foil acts as a shield. It prevents the top of your ultimate healthy zucchini bread from browning too quickly (or burning!), and it also results in a smooth, gorgeous domed top (rather than one that rises unevenly or is cracked down the center!). Then partway through baking, you’ll quickly and carefully remove the foil to allow the top to turn a beautiful brown color.
Now comes the hard part… Waiting! I know it’s SO tempting to cut into your ultimate healthy zucchini bread while it’s still warm, but resist the urge!
Remember when we talked about egg whites earlier? And how their protein provides structure and helps your zucchini bread maintain its shape while it cools? That structure is still setting while the loaf is warm! So if you cut into your zucchini bread while it’s warm, you interrupt that process, which results in a not-so-great texture.
It’s like when you were a little kid and using Elmer’s glue to fasten construction paper and sequins together to make art projects in elementary school. If you tried touching them before the glue dried, the paper and sequins smooshed and slid all over the place… But if you [im]patiently waited until the glue was fully dry, everything stayed put and looked beautiful!
Thankfully… Your ultimate healthy zucchini bread tastes a lot better than those childhood art projects! 😉
Now it’s time to cut yourself a slice (or two) and enjoy! And when you make your own, remember to snap a picture and share it on Instagram using #amyshealthybaking and tagging @amyshealthybaking IN the photo itself! (That guarantees I’ll see your picture! 🙂 ) I’d love to see your ultimate healthy zucchini bread!
Healthy One-Bowl Zucchini Bread
- ½ tbsp (7g) unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
- 3 large egg whites, room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 ½ tsp liquid stevia (see Notes!)
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup (120g) plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- 2 tbsp (30mL) plain distilled white vinegar
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon (see Notes!)
- ¼ tsp ground allspice (see Notes!)
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg (see Notes!)
- ½ cup + 2 tbsp (150mL) nonfat milk
- 2 ¼ cups (270g) white whole wheat flour or gluten-free* flour (measured like this)
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- 1 ¼ cups (134g) freshly grated zucchini, thoroughly patted dry (see Notes!)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9x5” loaf pan with foil, and coat the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter or coconut oil and egg whites. Stir in the vanilla, liquid stevia, and salt. Add the Greek yogurt, stirring until no lumps remain. Stir in the vinegar. Stir in the cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Stir in the vinegar until fully incorporated. Stir in the milk. Pour the flour evenly over the top of the batter, and evenly sprinkle the baking soda and baking powder on top of the flour. Stir until the flour is just incorporated. Gently fold in the zucchini.
- Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Cover the top with foil, crimping the edges around the pan’s rim to seal, and try to push up the foil in the center to ensure it doesn’t touch the batter while baking. Bake covered at 350°F for 35 minutes. Acting very quickly, remove the pan from the oven, and carefully remove the foil. Immediately put the pan back in the oven, and continue baking the zucchini bread for an additional 30-35 minutes (for a total of 65-70 minutes) or until the top feels firm to the touch and looks golden or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before carefully lifting out and transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
View Nutrition Information + Weight Watchers Points
You may also like Amy’s other recipes…
♡ The Ultimate Healthy Banana Bread
♡ Healthy Zucchini Oatmeal Muffins
♡ Healthy Zucchini Oatmeal Breakfast Cake
♡ Healthy Zucchini Scones
♡ The Ultimate Healthy Blueberry Muffins (One-Bowl Recipe!)
♡ Healthy One-Bowl Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
♡ …and the rest of Amy’s healthy breakfast recipes!