Thursday, August 06, 2009

Recipe for Low-Sugar and Whole Wheat Zucchini Muffins with Pecans

Low-Sugar and Whole Wheat Zucchini Muffins with Pecans found on
Low Sugar and Whole Wheat Zucchini Muffins with Pecans

In Utah we're getting close to the time of year when giant zucchini start to appear overnight in the garden, and even a dedicated zucchini-lover like myself is searching for ways to use them. Last summer I posted Ten Delicious Zucchini Recipes to help those who are zucchini-challenged, but this year I got fixated on the idea of finding a version of zucchini bread or muffins that didn't use white flour or sugar. I tried a few recipes that were close, but the winner was this recipe, adapted from the Zucchini Muffins posted by my good friend Elise at Simply Recipes. Elise's recipe made a lot of muffins, so I cut it in half to make 12 small muffins, which I've been enjoying for breakfast the last few days. Even if you think you don't like zucchini bread, give these muffins a try and I bet they'll be a hit at your house.

You can grate the zucchini by hand easily enough, but if you're getting the food processor out to grate zucchini, why not do a bunch of it, and freeze the grated zucchini so you can make these muffins again?

Start by mixing a beaten egg, vanilla, sweetener, and Agave nectar. (You can replace the sweetener and Agave nectar with sugar if you prefer.)

Next mix the grated zucchini, and then oil, into the wet ingredients. Sprinkle the baking powder and salt over this and mix in.

Next combine the white whole wheat flour, ground cinnamon, and ground nutmeg and mix to combine. (I used whole nutmeg and grated it fresh, which smelled heavenly.)

The cinnamon adds a lot of flavor to the muffins, and I was excited to try out this lovely Cassia cinnamon I got from The Spice House in Chicago. (Full disclosure: Patty from The Spice House generously gave this as a gift to the food bloggers who were attending the BlogHer Conference, but I'd happily buy it myself!)

Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until just combined, then gently fold in the chopped pecans. (Don't overmix the batter.)

Spray muffin pan or these cute muffin cups with non-stick spray or vegetable oil, then fill with the muffin batter, dividing equally to make 12 small muffins. Bake at 350F - 175C for 25-30 minutes.

Low-Sugar and Whole Wheat Zucchini Muffins with Pecans found on KalynsKitchen.comLow-Sugar and Whole Wheat Zucchini Muffins with Pecans
(Makes 12 small muffins, recipe adapted from Zucchini Muffins at Simply Recipes.)

1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup Stevia In the Raw Granulated Sweetener, Splenda, or other sweetener
1/4 cup Agave nectar
(you can also use 2/3 cup sugar to replace the sweetener and Agave nectar)
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini (squeezed, then packed into measuring cup)
1/3 cup canola oil (can also use melted butter)
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (can also use all-purpose flour)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon (I used a generous rounded teaspoon of cinnamon)
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup chopped pecans (or use walnuts or almonds if you prefer)

Preheat oven to 350F - 175C. Grate zucchini by hand or using a food processor, then gently squeeze grated zucchini to remove some of the water. Measure 1 1/2 cups (packed) zucchini for this recipe, and if you have extra, freeze it for another time.

In a medium-sized bowl, beat egg, then add vanilla, sweetener, and Agave nectar and mix to combine. Stir in the grated zucchini, then the oil. Sprinkle baking soda and salt over the top of this and mix in.

In a smaller bowl, combine white whole wheat flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir dry ingredients into the zucchini mixture, then fold in chopped pecans.

Spray muffin pan or individual muffin cups with non-stick spray or vegetable oil, then divide batter evenly among cups to make 12 small muffins. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (I baked mine exactly 30 minutes to get the nicely browned color in the photo.) Let muffins cool a few minutes in the muffin tin or cups, then remove and cool a few minutes more.

Muffins can be eaten warm or cold, but I like them best warm, and I've been microwaving them for about a minute to reheat.

South Beach Suggestions:
If you make the muffins with white whole wheat flour, Splenda and agave, and using canola oil, this recipe is suitable for phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet.

More Ideas for Zucchini Bread or Muffins:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Two Recipes for Zucchini Bread from Simply Recipes
My Special Zucchini Bread from 101 Cookbooks
Soaked Zucchini Bread Recipe from Food Renegade
Savory Onion Zucchini Bread from What Geeks Eat
Whole Wheat Zucchini and Cherry Bread from Daily Unadventures in Cooking
Whole Wheat Zucchini Muffins from Pink Stripes
Zucchini Basil Muffins from Just Hungry
Martha Stewarts Zucchini and Cranberry Muffins from The Food Librarian
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)
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  1. Those look soooo good. *scurrying to kitchen to put zucchini on shopping list*

    I'm going to have to figure out agave nectar and if I can get it at Super Wal-Mart. :-)

  2. Deann, in lots of stores the Agave Nectar will be sold by health foods. I usually buy it at Whole Foods, but I think most stores have it now.

  3. Kalyn,
    Do you think spelt flour might work instead of whole wheat flour? I'd love to give these a go, but right now, I have a bag of spelt flour waiting to be used in the pantry (and no ww flour).

    Dean, I've also seen agave nectar at Trader Joe's and actually at one of my local grocers.

  4. Emily, I've never used spelt flour so I really have no idea. Give it a try and let us know!

  5. Ok i have two questions for you..
    1) where do i get my hands on silicone muffin cups like yours?
    2)can you explain to me how i read (or what the math is to figure out) a lable to decided if it is low carb or good carbs?

  6. Wendy, I bought the baking cups at Sur la Table in San Francisco, but I know you can get them at I like them better than the silicone pans, because the pans get dark when they're in the oven.

    Reading labels for carb counts is pretty easy. Just look under Total Carbs on the label, and the lower the better if you're counting carbs. If you're following South Beach (which doesn't count carbs) the sugar number is the most important. For example, in beans (which are high in carbs, but they are "good" carbs) there ar 25 grams carbohydrate per serving, but only one gram of sugar. When I buy prepared foods like salad dressing, I try to keep the sugar grams at 2-3 grams sugar per serving.

  7. The muffins look great! You can't say that you are not a baker anymore, your baked goods turn out perfectly!

  8. Maria, I've been lucky lately, but truthfully I'm still a bit baking impaired!

  9. Thanks for the print recipe button! It does make it easier to print receipes and the printed version looks so much nicer than my cut and paste techniques.

  10. I've been wanting to add the print recipe button for a long time, but finally got help figuring it out. I'm going to announce it on the blog when I get a few more done. It's going to take me a while (probably about 6 months) but eventually I'll add it to all the 1,000+ recipes on the blog.

  11. Cant wait to try the recipe. Looks and sounds great. Love the "Printer Friendly" option!!!! Thanks,

  12. Kalyn, these look sooo good. I can't want to try them.

    On the web page recipe, it says you can substitute 2/3 cup sugar for the Splenda and agave nectar but in the Printer Friendly Recipe it says to substitute 3/4 cup sugar for the Splenda and agave. Thought you would want to know about this difference.

    And Deann, Super Wal-Mart does carry agave nectar where I live.

  13. Dawn, thanks! Glad you like it.

    MsBlueKatt, I am scratching my head trying to figure out how that happened? Anyway, I meant for it to say 2/3 cup sugar, which is what the original recipe would have been cut in half. Just hope not too many people already printed it! I HATE making mistakes like that but I don't think it would really hurt the muffins.

  14. HI Kalyn! Love your recipes! I would like to use Agave only no splenda...trying to get away from the artificial sweeteners....How much Agave should I use then if I leave out the splenda?

  15. Grace I have no idea how to adapt the recipe to use all agave, since it's a liquid and Splenda is a dry ingredient, sorry. (This is where my baking impairment kicks in!) If you do experiment and come up with a good ratio, would love to hear about it.

  16. I just discovered thsi blog today! I am SO glad that I did!

  17. These look so good, I love the use of pecans! Thanks for the shout out.

  18. Perfect timing, Kalyn, I have my first 2 zucchinis in the garden that are ready to pic! thanks.

  19. Kalyn, I just came back from vacation to find Louisville Slugger size zucchini in my garden. Seeded and shredded it, packed into freezer bags and just now sat down to find a recipe for a healthy zucchini muffin. What a pleasant surprise that you posted one today! I'm going to make these first thing in the morning. Thanks!

  20. So glad to hear my timing is on with the arrival of the monster zucchini!

  21. Kalyn,
    I wanted to let you know that I gave it a shot with spelt flour - well, 1 cup spelt flour, 1/2 cup protein powder (you can't taste it one bit, besides the flavor of the powder, cinnamon bun) and it worked out great!

    I don't think I've ever made a recipe so quickly after it was blogged/I discovered it, but with zucchinis impatiently waiting for me, it was great!

    I'll blog up the recipe and pictures by the weekend for anyone else that's interested, but just FYI for everyone - spelt flour totally works!

  22. Emily, thanks! Come back and leave the link when you post about it on your blog.

  23. These look delicious! I'm a big believer in 5-6 small meals a day as opposed to 3 large ones, and this is a great, hunger-curbing mid-morning or afternoon snack. I'm going to try out the recipe!

  24. You can order an excellent organic agave on Amazon. I buy it by the 6pk for about $36-delivered to my door. I don't use sugar anymore.

  25. I made two batches of these last night, and they are delicious! I used straight Splenda, but I don't know at what cost. Moisture? They are a bit dry, but it doesn't hurt the tastiness. It just tastes like it's supposed to come out that way. When they came out of the oven, my husband came over and said, "Mmmmm, those look....healthy!" haha! But he loves them, too.

  26. Okay, I went to Super WM yesterday and got zucchini and couldn't find the agave.

    I looked around the sugar/sweeteners and around the honey.

    Hopefully someone that has found it there will comment and say where!

  27. Natalie, great snack idea.

    Anonymous, thanks for the reminder about Here is the link for the Agave Nectar Six-Pack at Kalyn's Kitchen Amazon Store if anyone is interested. (I do earn a few cents on the dollar when you buy things through my store, thanks!)

    Amber, glad you (and Tom) liked them. Maybe add a few T more oil if they seem dry with all Splenda?

    Deann, I would check by the health foods. That's where it usually is, or see the link for above.

  28. Those are superb looking muffins, Kalyn!

  29. These look so awesome!! I love zucchini bread and cake, so these muffins look awesome. I'm not a huge fan of Splenda, but other than that, they look perfect.... wondering if you could use all agave instead of Splenda or sugar?

  30. Thanks for posting this one, Kalyn!

    I made these this afternoon and added about a dozen fresh, pitted cherries.

    Also, I completely forgot to add the oil until I put the muffin pan in the oven and noticed the bottle sitting on the counter. Haha. Too late at that point, so I went ahead and baked them. Hubby and I thought they were very good. The cherries might have helped keep them from getting dry. However, I bet sugar-free apple sauce would work just as well in place of the oil.

    I used a jumbo pan and came out with 6. I will probably make some more Saturday or Sunday. I'd love to make a bunch and freeze them for the winter when cherries and zucchini are no longer in season.

    LOVE these!

  31. Christine, thanks.

    Kirby, as I said to a previous commenter, not sure how it would work with all agave. I'm thinking since the Splenda is a dry ingredient you'd probably need more flour.

    Anonymous, glad it worked out for you. Cherries sound interesting!

  32. An answer for Wendy at Murray State about carbs...

    My approach to carbs (which has worked really well for me) is to try to make sure each meal and each snack has an equal portion (in grams, or whatever) of carbs and protein, and then at least as much non-starchy vegetable in addition to that. And, also, trying to avoid the bad carbs (white/refined stuff) and steer towards the good ones (whole grain).

    This has helped my weight drop. It drops more slowly this way than with SB Phase One, but I've learned that when I go too low-carb, it messes up my serotonin -- which is *not* a good thing for the mood!

  33. It does look really yummy! And what's great about it has low sugar, has zucchinis, and is made of whole wheat, so it's definitely a healthier choice! Would love to check out other healthy zucchini recipes that you've shared. Thanks so much!

  34. These muffins look SOOO good when they're baked in the the silicon muffin liners.

  35. I found agave nectar at my local Walmart!

  36. Jana, I think everyone should use the approach that works for their own body chemistry, so good for you for figuring it out for your body.

    For other zucchini recipes on the blog, just enter "zucchhini" into the search bar. There are a lot of them!

    Megan, I love those silicone cups!

    Anonymous, glad to hear you found it. I think agave is really quite mainstream now. I'd be surprised if most big stores don't have it.

  37. Mmmm....zucchini muffins with pecans--they sound delicious!

  38. I've never used agave nectar before. What's the advantage to using it vs. Splenda or honey? How does its sweetness factor compare with the others?

  39. Jill, thanks.

    Amy, Agave is a natural sweetener, but it's also low on the glycemic index (unlike honey.) Personally I like the combination of agave and Splenda better than each individually in baked goods. I don't use honey, but as far as sweetness, I think Splenda is a bit sweeter than agave.

  40. Kalyn,

    I made these this morning for my mother and myself. They are SO good. And filling.

    Thanks for a wonderful recipe!

    The only change I made was to decrease baking time to about 21-22 minutes. I think my oven cooks a little hotter and I like my baked goodies to be slightly undercooked.

    Thanks Again!


  41. They look so great! I can't wait to try them!

  42. Thanks for the great recipe! I made these with 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup honey and they turned out great! So moist and delicious, and just the perfect amount of sweetness. I also used 1/2 cup of white flour to replace some of the WW flour. My DH loved them and he normally doesn't like such "healthy" recipes:)

  43. Anne, so glad you liked them, and thanks for letting us know that those variations will work.

  44. I made these and they were really good. My 15 yo son was analyzing them, "What's this?" "Muffins." "So what's in them? "Zucchini, pecans and sweetener and flour...." "So is this zucchini I just bit into?" *holding up a pecan piece* "No, that's a pecan, you can't see or taste the zucchini, it just makes them moist." "Oh, they're good."

    They disappeared pretty quickly. I need to make more.

  45. DeAnn, that's great! So glad they were a hit.

  46. Hi Kalyn,

    Do you think using a bit of agave helps the muffins to brown? I am comparing this recipe with your blueberry-lemon oatmeal muffins, and I am wondering if I should add some agave to those in addition to Splenda. My guess is that it might improve the flavor in addition to helping them brown.

    Also, do you ever have trouble keeping low-sugar muffins fresh? I made some over the summer with only Splenda, and the fruit inside (apples) became moldy in just a few days. I was wondering if you refrigerate yours? I also live in a very humid climate (New Orleans), so I'm sure that had something to do with it.

  47. Jamie, I am so inexperienced at baking that I can only guess about what adding agave will do, and I wonder about the liquid/dry ingredient ratio when I start making those kinds of changes in a recipe, but I did like how it worked in this one. The Flourless Zucchini Muffins I made browned very well, and they didn't have agave (but I did add 1 T brown sugar.) If you try it in the blueberry muffins, please report back on how it works.

    I do always keep all my bread and muffins in the fridge, partly because I don't eat them that quickly.

  48. I find my agave nectar at a natural foods store. Richard's has it and also our oocal Publix grocery has it in the health food section. Sometimes I see it near the honey. I am sure you could also find it at Shaw's or Hannafords.

  49. Hi Kalyn, thanks for this recipe - I just discovered your blog and this was exactly the kind of muffin I was looking for! For those who were wondering about cutting out the splenda, I made these muffins with 1/2 cup agave and no splenda and they came out delicious. Also used whole wheat pastry flour instead of white whole wheat, and walnuts/cranberries instead of pecans...just blogged about them :)

  50. Alissa, thanks for that info; good to know that other variations will also work just fine.

  51. Kalyn,

    Can you substitue the ww flour with almond flour or anything that would be good for phase 1 on SB?


  52. Aleese, I do have a recipe for low sugar and flourless zucchini muffins, but even if you used all Splenda and almond flour in that recipe, it would not be phase one, since nuts are so limited in portion size for phase one. (Since I posted that recipe, a reader helped me find where it says that ALL flours are prohibited for phase one, even nut flours.)

  53. Yummmmm - for a change, I made the muffins without the added pecans and added a sweet topping, turning them into cupcakes. The low carb ssweet topping is so easy - mix a 250gm container of lowfat cottage cheese with a packet of diabetic jelly powder (strawberry is great) in your food processor until blended and smooth. It seems really unlikely, but it turns out the consistency of butter cream icing and makes a bright and sweet addition - and will keep well in your fridge until the use by date of the cottage cheese.

  54. Cherie, thanks for that sweet topping recipe, sounds interesting. I appreciate you leave it here for others to try.

  55. Kalyn, what is the difference between white whole wheat flour and whole wheat flour?

  56. I put this link about white whole wheat flour in the recipe, because that post explains what white whole wheat flour is.

  57. So Kalyn, can I use Whole Wheat Flour in this recipe since I don't have any white wheat flour?

  58. Whole wheat flour is denser and won't give exactly the same results as white whole wheat flour (which acts more like white flour in baking.) I wish I knew more about baking to advise you how to adapt the recipe for regular whole wheat, but I don't. You can try it; would love to know how it turns out with regular whole wheat.

  59. Maria - I would sub some of the whole wheat flour with regular white flour instead of using all just whole wheat flour to keep it from getting too dense. You could do half and half or some ratio like that.

    I have used whole wheat pastry flour and had good success with that in this recipe instead of the whole wheat white flour.

    Just my two cents. :-) (Hope I didn't overstep!)

  60. Sheila, not at all, Thank You for chiming in. Good idea to mix the white whole wheat with white flour (although that makes it less suitable for South Beach if that is an issue.) I should have thought about whole wheat pastry flour (which is finer than regular whole wheat flour.)

    Believe me, I can use all the baking advice I can get! Speak up any time.

  61. I just tried this last night. I did it with whole wheat flour (because that's all i had) and it worked okay, but they cooked in about 20-25 minutes and were a darker, denser colour.

    in addition to that, i decided to use a little applesauce (i had a bit too little zucchini) so i reduced the oil a bit. AND i mixeed in a finely diced apple, skin and all, at the end. The apple was a big hit!

    Thanks again for all the recipes, you are my go-to site for SB friendly, yummy, food.!

  62. Thanks Andie; glad it worked out with your variations.

  63. I found agave nectar at Giant in the syrup aisle. Hope that helps!

  64. have you ever used stevia instead of slpenda?

  65. Teresa, a few years ago I started using granulated Stevia (in the Raw brand) and I think it would work great in these muffins.

  66. Hi Kalyn,

    Since I bake for my parrots as well I always modify the recipes slightly. I just made a variation of these WW muffins with the Wheat Free ones with the almond flour. I did half wheat and half almond flower. I reduced the sweetener dramatically and only added about 3 Tbs of Agave. I added Orange zest to make up for the sweetener. They just came out of the oven and they are amazing. And the birds Love'em too which is good because they have the most discerning pallet of all !!!

  67. You’re clearly super creative when it comes to zucchinis! Very tasty – thanks for the recipe!


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