This chocolate zucchini bread is easy and simply loaded with chocolate. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

This chocolate zucchini bread is easy and simply loaded with chocolate. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

Sweets for a sweetheart’s lunchbox

This chocolate zucchini bread is easy and simply loaded with chocolate

My husband’s alarm wakes him in the witching hour between late night and early morning. He kisses me goodbye and makes his way downstairs in the darkness to prepare himself for another long day. He tiptoes through the house, careful not to wake our child as he pours his coffee and retrieves his packed meals from the kitchen.

He leaves the house before 4 a.m. each morning, and often does not return until dinnertime, hungry and weary. It’s not a job he particularly enjoys, certainly not a dream position, but he drags himself from his bed each morning to provide our son the ultimate luxury of his mother’s constant care.

In the Navy, I dried the tears of mothers forced to return to the office just six weeks after meeting their babies, long before either was ready, long before their bodies had even healed. I watched them suffer the many tearful hours away from their children each day, listened to their hushed but frantic phone calls to the daycare to check that they were still breathing, and I promised myself I would never endure that misery.

As the world changed, I realized this dream was drifting further and further away from reality, and that to survive and raise a family on one income alone would take tremendous effort and sacrifice, and I would have to ask that of my partner.

I worry about him throughout the day. I send him cute pictures and affectionate words to brighten his mood, and I try to create a warm and inviting home for him to return to, but I still feel guilty.

My job certainly isn’t easy, but it’s the one I chose, my dream position, and I get to do it because of him. I remind myself that this was all part of our plan, and that this will not last forever. Someday too soon our children will be in school, and I will emerge from our nest to finally ease the burden he will have carried all the while.

In the meantime, I pour my heart into nurturing our son’s growing mind, and I bake sweets for my love’s lunchbox prepared with plenty of gratitude, to keep him going a little longer.

This chocolate zucchini bread is easy and simply loaded with chocolate — just the way he likes it.

Chocolate zucchini bread

Ingredients:

½ cup unsalted butter — melted and cooled

¾ cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

2 cups shredded zucchini

1 cup chocolate chips — either semi sweet or milk chocolate

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together your flour, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk your cooled, melted butter, vanilla and brown sugar until the color lightens.

Add the eggs and whisk until smooth.

If you’re working with frozen zucchini, like I did, you’ll need to strain some of the liquid. If you’re using fresh, it will not be necessary to wring it out.

Add the shredded zucchini and chocolate chips to the wet ingredients.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and gently stir until combined. The batter should be thick and sticky.

Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the top is firm and springy.

Allow to cool completely in the pan to retain moisture.

Store in the refrigerator.

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