This Montana reader’s family favorite is trimmed down in time to enjoy with seasonal squash.
Credit: Randy Mayor

The Reader: Martha Kitchens Parks, 52, X-ray technologist, Missoula, Montana

The Story: Parks has been a fan of this quick bread since taking her first bite more than 25 years ago. Warm cinnamon and crushed pineapple turn ordinary mellow zucchini bread into a distinctive sweet snack or dessert. The recipe yields two generous loaves, which is a fine way to use the abundance of fresh zucchini harvested from her garden during the summer. The bread freezes well, too, and Parks keeps frozen portions of shredded zucchini on hand to prepare a fresh batch any time of year. However, with her current personal goals of lowering overall fat intake and cholesterol, Parks is eager to find a more healthful, lower-fat version of this treasured bread.

The Dilemma: The original recipe’s relatively large proportion of fat (and the calories therein) overshadows any benefits from its fruit and vegetable ingredients. Each slice has 207 calories and 11 total grams of fat, almost one-fifth of a daily recommended fat allotment for a 2,000-calorie diet, according to the USDA Dietary Guidelines.

The Solution: We tackled the excessive fat content by reducing the amount of oil to 2/3 cup; this step dropped nearly five grams of fat and more than 40 calories from each slice. Replacing vegetable oil with heart-healthy canola oil improved the fatty acid profile to reduce the saturated fat. Because we used less oil, we needed to adjust the liquid to retain the pleasingly moist quick bread texture. First, we replaced one egg with 1/2 cup egg substitute. Then we doubled the amount of pineapple to promote a tender crumb and add a boost of sweet-tart flavor to the delicate zucchini. Because there is less fat, which tamed some of the assertive flavorings, we halved the amount of ground cinnamon and used one teaspoon less vanilla extract.

The Feedback: Parks is delighted with the lighter texture of the new recipe, and she finds it’s an improvement on the heavy original. Even her son, Brian, her toughest Zucchini-Pineapple Quick Bread critic, doesn’t miss the fat. Best of all, Parks loves being able to serve this longtime favorite with the knowledge she is providing a more nutritious alternative for her friends and family.

Before | After
Calories per serving: 207 vs. 167
Fat 11.1g vs. 5.9g
Percent of total calories: 48 percent vs. 32 percent