Action Packed Zucchini, Pepper and Smoked Provolone Muffins

Prep: 15 mins / Cook: 15 mins / Total: 30 mins / Servings: 12

Action Packed Zucchini, Pepper and Smoked Provolone Muffins One of my first restaurant jobs was in super trendy restaurant snuggled between Nob Hill and The Tenderloin district of San Francisco ... an area lovingly referred to as the "Tender Nob". It was an area precisely in the center of high end buildings and picturesque views, magnificent churches and dirty grime, crime, filth and flarn. I was 18 years old and I was a baker. My day began at 3:30 AM, where I'd roll out of bed and walk to work ... in and amongst the other people wandering around that area at 4:00 AM. An interesting place and time to be strolling along the streets, I tell you!

In any event, the place I worked was a bit unusual, even for a 1991 hot spot. The chef loved food, but seemed to have a special place in his heart for bread, baked goods and sausages. Arrival at this restaurant was greeted with the single most magnificent basket of bready treats I've ever seen, then and since. The bread basket was an evolving blend of paper thin foot long sheets of seed covered cracker, golden parmesan crusted breadsticks ... thin and majestic 4 foot long strands of dough, twisted into the shape of a silly straw and baked. Herbed and dried fruited scones, or roasted garlic and olive stuffed hushpuppies. Every day it seemed to be a new floury concoction, lovingly kneaded, cut, baked, steamed or fried and gracefully stacked in a warmed basket. The bread basket would arrive at the table with a variety of infused oils, flavored compound butters and spreads.

That was my job. I baked those treats every day, for 6 months. Aside from the handmade croissants and pinwheels, I also created steamed buns, golden baguettes and every kind of muffin under the sun.

I've never had much of a sweet tooth, but ... that 6 month stretch really cemented the idea that dough and batter, filled with a sea of chopped, dried, grated, flaked or otherwise lovingly manipulated goodies is fun, varied, delicious and people love it. It's a strange point of pride that one of my favorite restaurants in my history is largely memorable because of the way each meal began ...

In other news, this simple muffin recipe would've been right at home snuggled up in there, warm and fresh with all its little buddies. Give it a shot! Or, simply use the base recipe to fold in your own goodies? Try different cheeses and herbs, or little flecks of diced pepperoni and sundried tomatoes, or grated carrots, orange zest, bacon bits and rosemary! It's a spectacularly simple and easy to throw together muffin batter ... waiting and wanting ... your creative twists.

Chia Seeds Note: I've become a huge fan of chia seeds, both on their own as breakfast puddings, but also ground and used as a flour. It's easily my favorite new ingredient. I grind my own with a cheap coffee grinder and just have a tub of it floating around my kitchen. If you don't have the chia, you can replace the chia by adding 4 more eggs and reducing the almond milk from 1 cup to only 1/4 cup (remove 3/4 of a cup).
IngredientsCaloriesFatProteinCarbsFiberSA'sNet Carbs
2 cup (224g)  almond flour1280112484824024
1/2 cup (56g)  coconut flour2486143624012
1/4 cup (16g)  ground chia seeds (I used white)70537601
2 tbsp (24g)  baking powder30006006
1/2 tsp (2g)  salt0000000
1/2 tsp (3g)  'Swerve' or other sugar replacement0003030
1 cup (240g)  unsweetened almond milk453.523102
4 large (200g)  whole eggs28620262002
1/4 cup (54g)  olive oil, divided477.55400000
1 each (118g)  small green zucchini, cut into small cubes or discs19.371.464.021.4602.56
1 small (74g)  red bell pepper, seeded and diced22.940.744.441.4802.96
1/2 lb (227g)  smoked provolone cheese, grated796.2260.1958.475.16005.16
1 tsp (1g)  fresh thyme, chopped1.01.02.06.24.1400.1
1 tsp (2g)  chili flakes (optional)6.28.34.241.1.6800.42
Totals:3281.95261.42g153.97g119.96g58.76g3g58.2g
Per Serving:273.521.78g12.83g10g4.9g0.25g4.85g *

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F (177 C).
  2. Place a baking tray or pie pan in the refrigerator.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine almond flour, coconut flour, ground chia seeds, baking powder, salt and powdered sweetener. Mix together.
  4. Add almond milk, eggs and 3 tbsp (45 mL) of olive oil. Mix until a wet batter has been created. Set the batter aside (the chia will absorb some of the liquid and will somewhat thicken over the next few minutes).
  5. In a small mixing bowl, combine the diced zucchini with the diced bell pepper. Add the remaining 1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper. Mix to coat the vegetables with the seasoning and oil.
  6. Heat a large sauté pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the oil coated vegetables and sauté for about 2 minutes, or until a little bit of color is added to the outside. Evenly spread the hot vegetables on the chilled baking tray and place back into the fridge. We want to add this to the batter, but we don't want to cook the eggs. We just want the veggies to cool down a bit.
  7. The batter should be roughly as thick as a thick pancake batter. Once the vegetables are about room temperature (4 or 5 minutes), add the vegetables, diced cheese, chopped herbs and optional chili flakes. The moisture from the veggies will thin the batter out. If it's still too thick, add a touch more almond milk and mix in, being careful not to squish the veggies.
  8. Evenly divide the batter between 12 muffin tins.
  9. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Some delicious melted cheese leakage may occur. That's just for you to enjoy, hot from the oven. Be careful, it's hot ... but delicious!
  10. Cool the pan on a rack long enough to remove the muffins and enjoy warm!