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Healthy-ish Chocolate Doughnuts

When it comes to "eating right," January starts out so strong.

After the excess and indulgence of the holiday season, the new year comes with the best of intentions. But I have found that strict avoidance of all treats is the quickest way for those intentions to go by the wayside. The trick is to make better choices ("healthy-ish") when choosing to indulge—and these doughnuts are a perfect option.

By swapping just a few standard ingredients (all-purpose flour, butter and sugar) for healthier alternatives, you can still "have your cake" (or in this case, doughnut) and eat it too!

To start, these doughnuts are gluten-free. And you don't have to invest in fancy alternative flour either. Putting oats (you know you have a canister somewhere in your pantry) through the food processor turns them into a perfectly suitable and far healthier substitute for all-purpose flour.

I then replaced half the sugar with unsweetened applesauce, which also eliminates the need for additional fat.

Finally? Zucchini. High in fiber and other nutrients, zucchini also makes for incredibly moist and tender doughnuts. Also, its mild flavor makes it undetectable in the finished product. Promise.

The scrumptious glaze is three-ingredient easy: maple syrup (in place of the usual powdered sugar), cocoa powder and coconut oil. As for the sprinkles? Well, let's be reasonable. It IS only January, after all!

Chocolate Zucchini Doughnuts

  • Makes


    24 doughnuts
  • Meal
    snack, dessert
  • Prep

    15 minutes
  • Cook

    10 minutes
  • Total

    25 minutes


  • 2 1/2 cups oats
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini (from 2 small zucchini)
  • 3/4 cup cocoa, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • colored sprinkles (optional)
  • Photos by Sheri Silver


  • 1. Make the doughnuts: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees; grease doughnut pans.

  • 2. Place the oats in a food processor and process till finely ground.

  • 3. Whisk the eggs and sugar till smooth. Add the applesauce and vanilla, and whisk again. Fold in the zucchini. Add the processed oats, 1/2 cup of cocoa, baking soda and salt, and fold just till ingredients are fully incorporated. Spoon batter into your doughnut pans, filling each cavity halfway.

  • 4. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or till springy to the touch. Remove from oven and transfer doughnuts to a wire rack to cool completely (use a small knife or angled spatula to aid with removal).

  • 5. Make the glaze: Melt the coconut oil in the microwave or on the stove top. Whisk in the maple syrup and remaining 1/4 cup cocoa. Glaze will seem runny at first but will thicken as it cools. If it becomes too thick, simply rewarm briefly.

  • 6. Working with one doughnut at a time, dip the top into the glaze, allowing the excess to drip off, and return to the wire rack. Top with sprinkles, if using, and allow to set. Keep refrigerated in a covered container.

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