Making Time For You + Banana Bread

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Last Sunday at church our pastor challenged us to go home and make a list of things we wish we would do and the reasons why we don’t. I didn’t need to write anything down as I had been asking myself already why two of my favorite hobbies had been placed on the back burner for far too long. 

Blogging and yoga. Two things that, for good while, were top priorities in my world. Life happens, time gets taken up elsewhere, but I wasn’t working to make that time for myself anymore. Part of the reason was winter. This past winter was really hard on me, like it seemed to be for a lot of people. I felt entirely drained of energy and the thought of doing one more thing felt like too much at times. Hibernation, I suppose. 

Alas, spring is happening and we’re quickly on our way to summer and I feel renewed in all sorts of ways. I even went to yoga this week with a couple of friends (and loved every hot, sweaty, semi-tortuous minute). 

Also, I made banana bread! With toasted coconut and almonds! I used Joy the Baker’s recipe, tweaking a few things here and there (per usual).

ImageBanana bread is a gloriously simple and wonderful thing. So wonderful in fact, that there were three last Sunday for our monthly breakfast potluck. They were all a bit different, which is another great thing about this bread. Make it your own and add what you want, which is really my approach to the kitchen most of the time. 

ImageReally ripe bananas are smashed and mixed with the wet ingredients then folded in with the dry ingredients. Top with extra coconut and almonds because it’s pretty and bake. 

Toasted Coconut + Almond Banana Bread (adapted from Joy the Baker)

1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 cups all-purpose flour (I used up the last little bit of my gluten-free all-purpose flour, but wheat flour works well here, too)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cup mashed banana (from about 3 medium bananas)
1/2 cup toasted coconut, plus 1/4 cup untoasted coconut for topping
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds, plus 1/8 cup untoasted for topping

Preheat to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla extract, and sour cream. Add in mashed bananas and melted butter.

Add the wet ingredients, all at once to the dry ingredients. Fold together, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to reveal any hidden pockets of flour.  Fold in the toasted coconut.  Fold together ingredients, but try not to over stir.

Pour batter into prepared pan and top with untoasted coconut and almonds. The original recipe suggests baking for approximately 1 hour. Mine took closer to 1 hour and 20 minutes for a skewer to come out clean, but that might just be my oven. Start with 1 hour and go from there. The bread came out deliciously dense and very, very moist (almost like a breakfast bread pudding!).

 

Toasted Coconut, Cherry & Almond Granola

Happy Friday, friends! In need of a super-easy, healthy, and fabulous addition to your breakfast this weekend? Well, look no further. I’ve taken Shutterbean’s Maple Coconut Granola and modified it just a pinch. It’s super easy and completely awesome. We’ve been enjoying it with vanilla Greek yogurt and sliced fresh fruit.

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My additions included dried cherries (can I get an amen?), slivered almonds instead of whole (and extra at that!), and extra coconut. What’s great about granola is that it is so versatile and forgiving. Chocolate and pecans? Yes, ma’am. Dried cranberries, blueberries, and apple bits? You betcha. Get crazy. Make it happen.

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All the goodness gets mixed together and spread out on a parchment lined baking sheet. Take time every 10 minutes or so to stir the mix to ensure even toasting.

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Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Added bonus? All those mason jars you bought for your wedding will finally come in handy!

 

Toasted Coconut, Cherry & Almond Granola (Makes approx 6 cups)

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1 1/4 cup raw almonds, slivered
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, combine oats, cherries, almonds, coconut, coconut oil, maple syrup, cinnamon and stir to combine. Once ingredients are evenly coated, add the brown sugar continue to stir. Add in salt and spread mixture over a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring mixture every 10 minutes. Let cool and store in airtight container for up to two weeks. Serve over yogurt with fruit or with milk as cereal. Yum!

Berry and Pecan Quinoa Granola Bars

I’m a lady that likes her snacks. Somewhere around 3:00pm I am searching for something delicious to tide me over until dinner. As of late our snack choices have been of the savory variety: hummus and red pepper slices, mixed nuts with dried cranberries, chips and salsa. I decided this week we needed to mix things up. I was inspired by a recipe I saw on Lean Green Bean for quinoa breakfast bars. A sweet snack I can add quinoa to? Sold.

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The recipe is simple and easy to modify. I started out a quick homemade applesauce – chop an apple, add approximately a 1/4 cup water and simmer until soft. Run through a food processor and boom, you have the healthiest applesauce around. In addition, we have oats and chia seeds for bulk and texture, roasted pecans and peanut butter for protein and a touch of salt, and dried berries and molasses for sweetness.  You can mix in whatever you choose (next time I’ll be sprinkling in a bit of dark chocolate).

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The result? Somewhere in between a muffin and a granola bar… and the perfect late afternoon snack.

Berry and Pecan Quinoa Granola Bars (makes 10):

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup unsulphered molasses
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg white
1 cup cooked quinoa1 cup milled oats
1/2 cup gluten free all purpose flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup orange flavored dried cranberries
Non-stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375 and spray an 8×8 in cooking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

In the base of a stand mixer fixed with the paddle attachment, combine applesauce, peanut butter, molasses, vanilla, egg white, and stir until mixed. Add in the remaining ingredients and stir until well combined.

Pour ingredients into dish and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Nutrition Info:
245 calories, 9.1g fat, 36.5g carbs, 13.4g sugar, 6.6g protein

Vanilla Pear Muffins

It’s a very real possibility that pears are my favorite fruit. They’re certainly my favorite to cook with. As sturdy as an apple, but not as common in baked goods, which lends a uniqueness without losing familiarity . I came across Starkrimson pears at the farmer’s market last week and the deep red skin was too pretty to pass up.

I started off by making my own brown sugar. After seeing how simple Joy the Baker made it out to be (and with too few molasses recipes), I had to give it a shot. Like she said, it’s embarrassingly easy.


The recipe is a modified version of Pastry Affair’s Vanilla Pear Muffins and they turned out lovely. Fragrant from the vanilla and orange zest, with a perfectly soft texture from the pears that are studded throughout.

I can’t even pretend that I didn’t sneak one fresh out of the oven, even though I already had breakfast (and I’m not sorry).

Vanilla Pear Muffins (Makes 12):

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 cup light brown sugar, packed (or 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 tbsp unsulfured molasses)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 ripe pears; 1 sliced, 1 chopped
Non-stick pan spray

Preheat oven to 400 and spray . Spray muffin pan with non-stick spray.

If making your own brown sugar, pour granulated sugar into a medium-sized bowl. Add 1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses and combine with a fork until lump-free. In the base of a stand-mixer, combine brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, orange zest, melted butter, and applesauce. Mix on low until combined.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk until well combined and fold into wet mixture.

Chop one pear and thinly slice the second. Add chopped pears to batter and gently mix in. Spoon batter into muffin pan and top with sliced pear.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Croissanwich 2.0

Sometimes I can sense when sense an oncoming snafu. This morning, I woke up from a dream about cinnamon-sugar blueberry donuts with cream cheese frosting. (In all seriousness, what is my problem?) With sugar on the brain, I decided to make cinnamony-sweet ebelskivers for breakfast. In no time at all, I managed to forget that I was halving the recipe and had to bring it back to full-size measurements; fumble a white/yolk separation; and then completely toss a necessary ingredient (with no extra stash to use). I saw this screw up approaching the moment I realized I had just two eggs to work with. Those devilish little yolks give me trouble more often than not, and this morning was no exception. Long story short, the only thing that got anywhere near an ebelskiver today was my trash can.

With little else to work with (and a hungry Pal), I went to the store. Stocked with eggs, maple bacon (eeek!), and a giant tube of  crescent roll dough (I know, I know), I was on my way to making magic happen. Light breakfast on a Saturday? That’s what the gym is for, friends.

Instead of the more traditional Croissanwiches of last weekend, I decided to wrap everything up inside the dough and bake away. Semi-homemade breakfast Hot Pocket? Pretty much, but just take it up a notch or seven on the tasty-meter, and that was breakfast.

All you need is bacon, eggs, cheese, and your favorite tube of dough. Lightly scramble the eggs (I used 4 eggs and a splash of milk), fry up the bacon (1 piece per wrap, then blot off the excess grease), chop it up, and then you’re just about in business. Roll out the dough and separate into triangles. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, bacon, and eggs. Wrap ’em up and throw a little more cheese on top just for the heck of it. You won’t regret it.

Bake for 12ish minutes and high-five someone, because these things are awesome.

Pal and I restrained ourselves and only had two each. You don’t have to do that.

Croissanwich at Home!

Croissants are amazing in most any form. Yes, you have your super-fancy, your chocolate-filled, your homemade. But, don’t forget about those little canned gems over near the butter in the grocery store. I’ll admit, they’re not the epitome of health food; they’re also not all that bad every once in a while. Plus, these little dough triangles come in handy. You can stuff them with just about anything. The possibilities are endless. While I didn’t stuff them this time around, I did make homemade Croissanwiches with turkey sausage, soft scrambled eggs, and cheddar cheese for breakfast Saturday morning.

This is a pretty easy breakfast, considering most of the ingredients are partially prepared for you. (We buy Jimmy Dean turkey sausage which just needs to be heated up.)

We had them again this morning, but this time with cream cheese in lieu of  cheddar. Heaven on a plate. With mustard for dipping.

Semi-Homemade Croissanwiches: (Serves 2-3, with leftovers)

Ingredients:
1 package of Pilsbury 50% larger crescent rolls
1 package Jimmy Dean turkey sausage
4 eggs
splash of half and half
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Non-stick cooking spray

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Unwrap can and gently roll out dough sheet. Separate pre-cut triangles, one at a time, and roll into a crescent shape. Bend in ends so that croissants are semi-circular to make a better foundation for adding filling. Place on a a baking sheet and bake until barely golden (They’ll have to go back in the oven, so you don’t want to risk burning!).

Heat a skillet over med-high heat and brown 3-4 sausage patties. Once patties are browned, remove from pan and cut in half. In a bowl, scramble the eggs and add a splash of cream. Spray pan and add eggs. Soft scramble and remove from heat.

Remove lightly browned crescents from oven. Once they are cool enough to handle, cut open along round edge and butterfly open. Layer cheese, sausage, and egg. Place back in oven for the rolls to finish browning and the cheese to melt. Remove from oven and thank me later.

 

The Super Waffle

We love breakfast around here, I mean really love breakfast. We’re always making something yummy, from green monster smoothies, to avocado egg toast, to ebelskivers. The past couple of weeks we have been on a green monster smoothie kick, and with Tex’s less than enthusiastic response to another one, I decided to make to create something else.

The challenge: a healthy, filling waffle, that remained lighter on calories.

It’s Waffle Madness!

To my surprise, it was easier than I could have imagined. I added sweetness with berries (not refined sugar), and kept it low fat with unsweetened applesauce (not butter or oil). The result was pretty fabulous–just crisp enough on the outside, but soft and slightly gooey on the inside (from the berries, not undercooking). I also added some additional protein and fiber with chia seeds.

Pink batter? Always yes.

Tex said it was possibly the best waffle he’s ever had. I’ll take it.

My waffle has superpowers.

Pal’s Protein and Fiber Waffle Wonder: (Makes 2)

Ingredients:
Waffle iron
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp chia seeds
Sprinkle of cinnamon
Dash of kosher salt
1 egg
1/2 c berries
1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/8 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 tsp vanilla
Cooking spray

Directions:
Combine wet ingredients and let sit for a few minutes to let berries break down ever so slightly. In another bowl, combine dry ingredients. Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients and whisk until incorporated.

Heat waffle iron and spray with cooking spray. Scoop half of the batter in to the iron and cook until done (I’m willing to bet cooking times can vary quite a bit here, but my Presto Flip Side took 3 minutes).

Top with whatever your heart desires. We use sugar-free pancake syrup (I know, artificial sweeteners are awful, but some things {like 10 calorie pancake syrup}, are really hard to part with).

Nutrition Info (per waffle):
198 calories, 5.1g fat, 29.9g carbs, 3.5g sugar, 7.3g fiber, 8.8g protein

Whole Wheat Blueberry-Orange-Cranberry Buttermilk Muffins

It’s becoming clear that I love orange in everything. It’s incredibly versatile, which makes messing with it so great. I promised my bible study class some muffins recently and wanted to make something delicious, as well as use up the last bit of buttermilk I had in the fridge. I compared a few recipes I saw online and came up with my own. I wanted to incorporate more orange than one recipe had to offer, so I used o.j. for half the liquid I needed. I was worried that it might curdle the buttermilk, but as luck (or chemistry) would have it, that was not the case. The muffins were fluffy, moist, and got rave reviews! I’ll be making them again soon, but want to eliminate some of the oil.

Batter up.

Dense + Delish

Muffin Tops Welcome Here

Ingredients:

2 3/4c whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Zest of one large orange
1 egg
1/2c reduced-fat buttermilk
1/2c orange juice
1/2 c vegetable oil1 tsp vanilla
2c blueberries
1c orange-flavored dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 375, In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt on low. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, orange juice, vanilla, and zest. Again, on low, carefully fold blueberries and cranberries into dry ingredients. Add in wet ingredients until just incorporated. Fill paper-lined muffin cups until almost full and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden.

Ebelskiver Saturdays: Orange-Blueberry Ebelskivers with Grilled Peaches

Ebelskiver Saturdays are back and better than ever! Due to those past few busy weekends, the ebelskivers were put on hold, but this weekend I went all out (and by ‘all out’ I mean healthy and delicious.) I don’t know about you, but I have found that my healthy habits tend to fall by the wayside once Friday night rolls around. Last weekend’s poor choices turned into a renewed focus and energy towards making every day a ‘good day’, and I wasn’t going to go into this weekend any other way. I eliminated all white sugar from this batter, subbed half the milk with orange juice, used fresh blueberries as the filling, and had grilled peaches on the side (I also use Smart Balance with Olive Oil instead of butter… and cut that down about 1/2tbsp from the original recipe). It was great–wholesome, filling, and a nice reminder to make the rest of the weekend just as healthy.

Prep bowls--one way to feel like you know what you're doing.

Fresh.

Easy grilling on a chilly Saturday morning.

Healthy.

As always, you can find the batter recipe here. I wish I could take full credit for the batter, but it’s just not so. I’ve lightened theirs a little, but not changed it completely. However, I did take the time to add up the nutrition info! Hooray!

Orange-Blueberry Ebelskivers with Grilled Peaches Nutrition Info (serving 1):
300 cals, 11.5g of fat, 38g carbs, 14.5g sugar, 8g fiber, 4.5g protein