This Healthy Zucchini Bread recipe features an unusual ingredient that makes it incredibly moist - quinoa! It's easy to make, is just barely sweetened and uses olive oil to pair with the flavour of dark chocolate for an incredible healthy chocolate zucchini bread.
My parent's neighbour went on a big trip earlier this summer and asked us to take care of her garden while they were away. As she left she said, "Pick the zucchinis! Don't let them get too big!"
Can I tell you guys a secret? I *like* letting the zucchinis get all freaky big.
I mean, don't get me wrong, picking a zucchini at a perfect medium size is the thing you want to if you want to make Baked Zucchini Fries or if you wanted to spiralize that bad boy and make a Warm Zucchini Noodle Salad.
But those rogue zucchinis that become the size of small children before you notice them? Those are practically begging to be made into chocolate zucchini bread.
Today we're going to make healthy chocolate zucchini bread.
You know what makes it healthy? First up, there's a butt-load of zucchini in there. But then we're going to light some patchouli and put on pants made out of hemp and we're going to stir a bunch of quinoa right into this healthy zucchini bread.
Quinoa? In chocolate zucchini bread?!
Yup, we're going there. And trust me, you'll never look back. This is a deep, dark, chocolate zucchini loaf with a little extra hippy love from quinoa and you're going to dig it.
What do I need to make this healthy zucchini bread?
- Zucchini! --> Wait, did you see that one coming?
- Flour --> I like to use either all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour in this recipe.
- Cocoa --> Because: chocolate.
- Chocolate chunks --> because double chocolate.
- Quinoa --> yep, we're going there!
- Eggs --> to bind this loaf together.
- Olive oil --> I like the grassy flavour of olive oil with zucchini, but you can use a different oil if you prefer.
- Brown sugar --> Just a little bit to sweeten things up.
- Vanilla extract --> Did you know you can make your own vanilla extract?
- Baking soda and baking powder --> leaveners in the hoooouse!
- Salt --> Just a smidge.
Sounds doable, right?
Why is there quinoa in this chocolate zucchini bread recipe?
Great question. There's quinoa up in here because I'm wild and crazy and like to do insane things like bake with quinoa.
Also because it adds moisture, protein, and a little je ne sais quoi to the recipe without making it taste weird and hippyish, if you know what I mean.
But, I mean, why not? We add oats to recipes all the time and that's totally normal, so let's expand our cooking with grains* horizons, shall we?
*Yes, I'm aware that quinoa is technically a seed, not a grain.
How do you make healthy chocolate zucchini bread?
Friends, here's something important you should know about me: I'm an incredibly lazy baker. Don't get me wrong, I like to bake, and I respect the science of baking, but I don't like fussy and un-necessary extra steps. Who has time for that kind of nonsense?
With that in mind, I've master-minded a one-bowl technique for making this healthy zucchini bread recipe.
Step 1: Grate your zucchini! I find a box grater does a great job, but if you have a lot of zucchini to great then you might want to call your food processor into action with the shredding blade.
If you have more shredded zucchini than you need for this recipe, you can freeze it: How to Freeze Zucchini.
Step 2: In a large bowl mix the eggs, olive oil, vanilla extract, and brown sugar.
Step 3: Place a mesh strainer over the bowl, and sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt directly over top of the wet ingredients.
I'm not really prone to sifting stuff most of the time (see: lazy baker) but when cocoa is in the mix I really must insist you do. That stuff is lump city.
Step 4: Fold in the chunky stuff! We're talking zucchini, quinoa, and chocolate chunks. But reserve some of the chocolate to sprinkle over the top of the loaf; it'll make you look fancy!
Step 5: Bake your loaf! It'll take about an hour, so now is a good time to do the dishes, read a book, have a nap, or whatever you like.
Step 6: Enjoy your healthy zucchini loaf! I think it's great warm or at room temperature, and can never resist a slice when it's just out of the oven.
Tips for making healthy chocolate zucchini bread
- Ok folks, this is super important: we're starting with cooked and cooled quinoa. Not raw, crunchy quinoa. Leftover cooked quinoa is great!
- Do yourselves and your loaf a favour, and line the tin with parchment paper. Everyone will be happier this way.
- Have extra zucchini on hand? Freeze it!
How do I know when my zucchini bread is finished baking?
I like the good old knife-inserted-in-the-middle-of-the-loaf technique to check for doneness. You may hit a chocolate chunk and get a smear of chocolate on your knife, and that's ok. What we're looking for is only a few crumbs of actual loaf clinging to the knife.
Can I make vegan zucchini bread?
Surely you can. I haven't tested this recipe without using eggs, but that's the only non-vegan ingredient that would need replacing. If anyone tests it out using an egg replacer, please let us know in the comments below!
Can I make this gluten free zucchini bread?
Again, I'm sure you can, but I haven't tested it that way. Some readers have tried making this with an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend (like this one) and have had great results.
Can I freeze this healthy chocolate zucchini bread?
You sure can! You can either pop the whole loaf into a reusable freezer bag (I have these ones) or you can freeze slices separated by parchment paper.
I personally prefer to slice before I freeze, so that when I'm in the mood for some chocolate zucchini bread I can pull out just one slice.
Hey Nutrition Lady, is this healthy chocolate zucchini bread?
Every time this Nutrition Lady turns up anywhere with a baked good, that's the inevitable question. Is this healthy?! C'mon Nutrition Lady, you made me a healthy cake, right?
Usually not. I have too much respect for cake.
So when it comes to this particular recipe, are we gonna tag it with a big ol' H for healthy? Well, kinda?
I mean, it's got a crap-ton of zucchini stuffed in there, plus quinoa (just ask the internet hippies, that shit is mega healthy), olive oil, not that much sugar, and everyone knows that dark chocolate is super healthy, right? Right.
It's also definitely calorie dense, packed full of carbs, and has a good amount of chocolate mixed in. So, is it or isn't it?!
While I'd hesitate to refer to something called Chocolate Zucchini Bread as a health food, I also don't believe in bogus food labels like "health food" or "clean" or whatever the kids are going with these days.
I tend to consider anything that's homemade, made with love, and made with real food ingredients to be healthy. So you can tell the people who ask that the Nutrition Lady says this is a very fine chocolate zucchini loaf indeed, and leave it at that.
It's definitely better than your average zucchini loaf, and the specifics are down in the nutrition label if you really want to know.
Other tasty loaves and muffins you might enjoy:
No Sugar Banana Bran Muffins
Whole Wheat Muffins with Cinnamon Roasted Apples
Healthy Cherry Muffins with Dark Chocolate Chunks
Carrot Pineapple Muffins
Fudgy Adzuki Bean Brownies
Healthy Chocolate Zucchini Bread with Quinoa
- 1 ½ cups grated zucchini
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup olive oil or other vegetable oil
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup cooked quinoa
- 1 cup all purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chocolate chips divided
- Preheat oven to 350° F / 180°C. Prepare a loaf pan with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl combine 2 eggs, ½ cup packed brown sugar, ½ cup olive oil, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir to combine.
- Place a sifter over the wet ingredients, and add 1 cup all purpose flour, ½ cup cocoa powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and ½ teaspoon salt. Sift over the wet ingredients, careful to eliminate any lumps from the cocoa powder.
- Stir to combine the wet and dry ingredients, careful to not over mix.
- Stir in 1 ½ cups grated zucchini, ½ cup cooked quinoa, and ¾ cup of the chocolate chips, reserving some for topping.
- Distribute the batter into the prepared loaf tin, and scatter the remaining ¼ cup chocolate chips on top.
- Bake for 50 - 60 min, rotating the pan half way though. A cake tester (toothpick, sharp knife) should come out mostly clean when the loaf is done, and the top should be firm.
- Remove the zucchini bread from the oven, and cool on a wire rack before slicing.
- Leftover zucchini loaf can be stored at room temperature in an air-tight container for 3-5 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.
- Nutrition values are an estimate only.
This recipe was originally published September 2, 2010. It was last updated August 16, 2019.
As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Super easy to make, very moist and great chocolate taste. Would like to try with GF flour.
Great recipe Katie, thanks!
Loooooove this recipe. Made it countless times this summer while zucchini from the garden was, how can I put it, overflowing. 😉 We like it so much I froze a ton of grated zucchini in 3/4 cup puck to use conveniently over the cold season. I am happy to report that my first experiment with thawed zucc (kept the water and all) and frozen cooked quinoa worked just fine.
I also like the versatility of the recipe. I made it with oats instead of quinoa: yum. I made a version without chocolate by replacing coco powder with same amount of AP flour and replacing chocolate chips with golden raisins: yum. In a nutshell: yum!
Love, love, love this chocolate zucchini quinoa loaf!!! It’s sooooo good! Even hubby, who turns his nose up (usually) at ‘healthy baking’ absolutely loved it - only thing is the quinoa was kind of crunchy on the outside of the cake/loaf - the inside was fine. I’m wondering if this is normal or if I perhaps need to cook the quinoa more? The quinoa seems fine to eat as is ... I use it and cook it a lot and have a great electric rice cooker which takes all the guess work away. Thanks.
Oh and I used organic spelt flour and no other flour and it worked like a charm!
Hey Paula, my loaf doesn't normally get crispy quinoa on the outside, but it could be to do with the type of pan I'm using? It's so hard to know without actually being in the kitchen with you. I'd guess cooking the quinoa a bit more might be helpful, as would lining the pan with parchment. Hope that helps!
Phenomenal and super easy to make! I already made three. The quinoa is a delicious a slightly crunchy addition. Perfection. Thanks!
Ok, today I felt brave and I baked it. I got 3 pairs of raised eyebrows when I mentioned the ingredients. Then the comments followed:
- ‘What are the crunchy bits in it?’
- ‘I hope you won’t be making this instead of the chocolate fondant!!!!’
Verdict - I am allowed to make it again without the quinoa (the crunchy bits) and only if I still make the chocolate fondant too.
So, my thoughts and questions are:
- did I do something wrong with the quinoa so some became hard(er)?
- what could I replace the quinoa for in order to keep some nutrients in it? Oats?
- could I turn this into a ‘healthier(ish) after school snack (I know I am obsessed)? I could bake it in muffin cases for individual portions.
Despite all the criticism from the household members I thought it was super tasty (I put 70% cocoa bits in it) and deliciously moist. They won’t kill my curiosity to try new and original recipes! Yeahhh!
Hey Christelle! Your comment made me laugh so hard ????Regarding the quinoa, you did use cooked quinoa, not raw, correct? I've always found that other than a few crunchy bits around the edge, it pretty much disappears into the loaf. You can try overcooking it a bit next time to see if it helps, or, leave it out. You could replace the quinoa with oats, but since the quinoa is cooked you may want to add a bit of extra liquid to accommodate for the dryness of the oats. This could certainly be made with wholegrain flour, and yes, you can bake it in muffin cases, or just freeze individual slices.
I just made this revisor a few days ago using gluten-free flour (Lailas blue mix) and it turned out really well - both husband- and toddler approved! However, the olive oil taste came through a bit strong (could be my particular brand of olive oil), so yesterday I added about 5-6 small, grated apples (ca 2-3 medium-sized apples) + ca 1/4 cup more cocoa to the mix. The result was slightly sweeter, with a ”rounder”, more chocolatey aftertaste, very sense and moist (like a brownie). Super excellent recipe, and much healthier than my earlier choco-zucchini cake favorite.
Thanks for the gluten-free update! And yes, I find that olive oil can taste much more or less olivey from brand to brand. I really enjoy the flavour of olive oil with chocolate, but it's not for everyone, so perhaps you'd enjoy this more with a more neutral flavoured oil or melted butter instead. Adding apples is a great idea as well. I also have a chocolate olive oil zucchini cupcake recipe in the archives which is much sweeter than this one, but again with the olive oil!
Made this yesterday and it is so good and very dangerous because I'm trying to convince myself that it is healthy so I'm definitely eating more than I should.
It's healthy-ish, Sandra! But don't let that stop you from enjoying it to the max 🙂
Hi Katie: Wyatt and Sarah are up for the weekend - the chocolate quinoa loaf was all thumbs up!!! As I got the zucchini from my garden I am going to make a few loaves and put them in the freezer - of course I need to ask your mum if I can borrow her loaf pan again - ha ha! I will need to buy one because of this recipe!!!
Glad to hear it, Anne! It's such a great use of garden zucchini, and the loaf freezes really well. Definitely go out and get yourself another loaf pan!
Can this recipe be used with brown rice flour or other gluten free alternative?
I've recently discovered your website and there's so many amazing recipes, thank you!!
I've never tried it with a gluten-free flour so can't say with any confidence how it would work out. If you were to try it out I'd recommend a gluten-free blend intended to replace all purpose flour. Let us know how it turns out!
Mmmmm! Thanks! I love to find quinoa recipes that use the whole quinoa instead of flour. The flour is pricey and more processed.
I cooked the quinoa with 2x water as you suggested, and it still has some crunchy bits on the sides. I don't know if it will last to soften overnight! The batter was amazing tasting, too. The quantity of batter was impressive and I had to move to a bigger bowl than usual, but the loaves turned out medium sized.
I didn't have chocolate chips, and they would have been good.
I have loads of zucchini, and used 4 cups instead of 3, and that worked fine.
I also doubled the salt, and like it. I wonder how Sucanat or another natural sweetener would work.
My food process grated the zucchini into 2 inch long strands, but it still came out fine.
What a wonderful, versatile recipe!
I think some crunchy quinoa on the sides is unavoidable due to the heat of baking. I'm not sure about natural sweeteners because I haven't tried any with this recipe, but if you try it out please let us know how it goes!
I cooked the quinoa in the machine, and then grated the zucchini in it, then mixed the mixture together in it! It's fab!
FYI to get 3 cups of grated zucchini you need ~ 3 average sized zucchinis or ~630g. I'm adapting this recipe for a thermomix, I'll let you know how it turns out!
Beautiful! Have been looking for a way to get healthy grains and greens into my 3 yr old and I've found it! I've already eaten 3 and they've only been out of the oven 10 minutes! Thanks!
I just had to google thermomix - that machine looks crazy! Do you cook the loaf in it, or is it just for prep? Glad you like it, it's one of my favourite recipes!
We followed the the recipe but it was so dry. It totally didn't turn out. Wonder what we did wrong.
Bummer! It's always turned out really well for me. There's no way of knowing what went wrong without me being in the kitchen with you. I hope you'll try it again!
Trying this one for the first time, fingers crossed that it turns out!
And did it?
Yup...although I left out the quinoa. Trying tonight with the quinoa.
The quinoa is half the point! Let me know how they turn out with the quinoa included.
Just made this one for the 2nd time. YUM! Can't wait till it comes out of the oven!
Yay! It's a good one, esp with all the big zucchini that still seem to be around at this time of year.
Just bought 3 big fat zucchinnis for one dollar! Now for the chocolate...
Me too! I LOVE this blog Katie...so glad you posted it on FB. I have really missed your recipes...
i can't wait to make this.
Is it 1 1/2 cups of grated zucchini or 1/2 cup?
And 1 or 2 large eggs????
Ingrédients and Instructions units for the zucchini and eggs are not the same.. thank you!!
Whoops, sorry! The ingredients list is correct. I edited the instructions today to include quantities because I think that helps people who are looking at recipes on their phones, but I must have done it in too much of a hurry. Thanks for the keen eye!