Biting into rich, sweet zucchini bread brings back memories of long summer nights, sun-kissed days and warm-weather baking that incorporates the ripe zucchini from your garden. And while zucchini bread is definitely delicious, it's not low-carb. Most of the carbs in zucchini bread come from flour and sugar, though, and making a few simple substitutions can make it work for more permissive low-carb diets.
Carbs, Sugar and Calories in Zucchini Bread
As a rule of thumb, any bread will likely contain lots of carbohydrates, and zucchini bread is no exception. While the exact calorie and carb content of zucchini bread depends on the variety, one store-bought version has 200 calories and 32 grams of carbohydrates per 2-ounce serving. Chocolate-flavored zucchini breads may be even higher in calories because they might contain sugar-laden chocolate chips, for example, or more sugar added to offset the bitterness of cocoa. These carb levels make it impossible to fit zucchini bread into very-low-carb diets, and you might also have trouble fitting it into more moderate low-carb diets. If your diet allows 50 grams of carbs per day, for example, you'll still use up most of your carb "budget" on a single serving.
Reducing Carbs With Chickpea Flour
The refined flour used to make most zucchini bread contributes a significant amount toward its total carb count. Each cup of white all-purpose flour has 89 grams of net carbs -- a term used to describe the carbs that get broken down into sugar during digestion. While a cup of flour is spread out over several servings of zucchini bread, it still adds a significant amount of carbs to each slice.
Simply opting for a lower-carb flour -- or making tweaks to reduce your flour use -- can help you make your zucchini bread lower in carbs. Switching out all-purpose flour for chickpea flour cuts the carb contribution of the flour nearly in half, since a cup of chickpea flour has 43 grams of net carbs. While chickpea flour will slightly change the flavor of your bread, the switch brings out the subtle earthy flavors of the zucchini, making for a more complex flavor profile overall.
Cut Carbohydrates With Flaxseed
If alternative flours aren't your thing -- or they're not readily available in your area -- you could replace half of the all-purpose flour with ground flaxseed, which has just 1 gram of net carbohydrate per 1/2 cup. Ground flaxseed absorbs liquid, so you may need to add some water or unsweetened almond milk to your batter to ensure there's adequate moisture. But that water-absorbing quality has a major payoff, since it can mean your zucchini bread turns out rich and moist.
Another bonus of using this method is the flaxseed infuses your zucchini bread with ultra-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which promote heart health and fight inflammation. You'll also get a generous amount of fiber for healthy digestion -- 1/2 cup of ground flaxseed adds about 16 grams to your batch of bread.
Alternate Sweeteners for Low-Carb Bread
Zucchini bread tastes so sweet for a reason -- it's often loaded with sugar, which boosts its carb content. Try using natural sweeteners, like applesauce, in place of sugar to lower your carb intake. A cup of applesauce has 25 grams of net carbs, compared to 200 grams in a cup of sugar. If you don't mind that your bread doesn't taste overly sweet, applesauce easily cuts your sugar intake, and it also adds more moisture to the batter to work perfectly with a flaxseed-for-flour low-carb "hack." If you need to satisfy your sweet tooth, shop the baking aisle for an artificial sweetener designed for baking. One commercially available sugar substitute has just 20 grams of carbs per cup and will create a sweet-tasting bread that more closely resembles one made with sugar.