In my brain, there is a cycle that goes like this:

“Oh shit.  I’m feeding the kids nothing but processed food for breakfast.  I’m a monster.  I’d better fix that.”

For next 2-3 weeks: “Everything is made from scratch.  I rock.  The kids seem smarter already.”

Week four: “I’m tired.  These multi-grain waffles from Trader Joe’s are just a temporary thing.  A little won’t kill them, right?”

Devil mom on shoulder: “Remember that article you read about sugar and brain development?  Remember?!!!”

Me: “But I’m so tired.”

Devil mom: “Don’t care.  Get to work.  Chop chop.”

Not sure where you are in this cycle, but I have something that might help.

One of the processed foods that my kids *love* are those Veggie Delights chocolate muffins that I sometimes buy by the case at Costco.  I like baking, so I thought why not have a go at them?

I rooted around the internets and found a recipe, but I of course had to tinker with it.  My version passes the if-it-didn’t-come-out-of-the-plastic-wrapper-it’s-crap picky kid test.  So there’s that.

Pro-tip: because the zucchini is the worst/most time-consuming part of this, I eventually figured out that it’s much easier/faster to make a shit-ton of the zucchini and freeze it for later use.  Instead of spending 20 minutes preparing just enough of the zucchini every time we want muffins, I spend 30 minutes making A LOT of zucchini.  Then, making some muffins on a Saturday morning because the kids decided they NEED them is way more manageable.  I usually do the zucchini prep completely separately from making the muffins, and throw the bag of frozen green cubes into the freezer with a totally satisfied sigh.

If by now you're thinking "just show me the damn recipe already," here ya go.

Zucchini prep:

  • Buy several zucchini - basically as many as you think you can fit into your food processor after being chopped into large chunks

  • Chop raw zucchini into large chunks

  • Throw the zucchini into the food processor

  • Add water, a few tablespoons at a time to help it loosen up and puree

  • Put the pureed zucchini into the old baby food freezer trays (got them on Amazon and I still use them a lot and love them.  

  • In the recipe that follows, use approximately 8 cubes of frozen (defrosted) zucchini in place of 1 cup of the fresh stuff. Since ice cube/baby food trays vary in size, you should test how many cubes 1 cup of puree will fill with your particular tray and adjust accordingly.


  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c pureed zucchini
  • 1/2 c carrot applesauce (or just applesauce)
  • 3 tbs canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c whole milk


  • 1/2 c chocolate chips
  • extra chocolate chips for topping


  • Defrost zucchini puree in microwave, or leave at room temp for a couple of hours

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  • Line one 12-cup muffin tin with liners and spray the liners with non-stick cooking spray. NOTE: depending on how much batter you use in each liner, you make have enough to make a few extra.  I usually make around 16 instead of just 12.

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, sugar).

  • In another medium bowl, combine wet ingredients (zucchini, applesauce, eggs, milk, vanilla, oil).  Whisk slowly with wire whip to combine.

  • Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients.  Stir thoroughly to combine.

  • Fold in chocolate chips.

  • Divide batter into the liners + top with chocolate chips (great fun for littles to help with this part).

  • Bake 22-25 minutes or until a cake tester/toothpick comes out clean.  If you have a convection oven, the timing will be around 18 minutes.

  • Let cool on wire rack.

  • After a couple of hours, put cooled muffins into a ziplock bag and freeze until use.  At breakfast, microwave each muffin ~20 seconds on high to thaw/warm, or set them out the night before.

Warning: these mofos are messy.  Expect chocolate covered faces and fingers.  Have wipes nearby and consider bibs for littles who still eat like animals.

Would you like a printable version of the recipe?  You got it.