Walnut and Fig Zucchini Bread

Bread, which has been called “the staff of life,” has been a staple of the human diet almost since the beginning of man’s existence. The Egyptians baked bread before the 20th century B.C., and there were public ovens for bread baking in ancient Rome and Greece. What has changed dramatically, however, is the unlimited variety of breads found today. Despite this vast selection, this week’s recipe is a standout by any standard.

Combining the unique tastes of walnuts, fig and zucchini, our home-baked bread is sweet and hearty. Remarkably free of butter and oil, low fat yogurt and orange juice help keep the bread moist and offer a hint of tartness.

The commercial form of yogurt, which provides protein and calcium, has its roots in Spain. In 1916, Isaac Carasso of Barcelona introduced packaged yogurt to Europe and named it Danone, his son Daniel’s nickname. The tart plain yogurt reached the U.S. in the 1930s, but did not catch on until Dannon – Danone’s American name – started mass production.

The bread’s satisfying crunch comes from the walnuts. They also provide healthy monounsaturated fat and are the only nut that contains a significant amount of omega-3 fat, the type of fat identified as protective against heart disease, dementia, inflammation and, potentially, cancer.

This week’s recipe is a great choice for breakfast, dessert or a mid-day snack. It also makes a delicious hostess gift for this season’s holiday parties.

Walnut and Fig Zucchini Bread - Makes 12 servings.

1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup plain low fat yogurt, divided
2/3 cup dried figs, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
Nonstick cooking spray
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
2 cups zucchini, grated
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Coat 9x5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Set aside. Combine sugar and orange juice. Stir in zucchini. Set aside.

Combine flours, cinnamon, cloves, baking powder, baking soda and salt in medium mixing bowl.

Stir half of flour mixture into zucchini mixture and stir in half of yogurt. Repeat with remaining flour and yogurt. Stir until blended. Fold in figs and walnuts. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack. For maximum flavor, wrap bread in plastic and store overnight before serving.

Per serving: 210 calories, 3.5 g total fat (0 g saturated fat), 44 g carbohydrate, 5 g protein, 4 g dietary fiber, 55 mg sodium.

The Author:

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $86 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.

Article Posted: December 8, 2008

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