Banana Sweet Potato Bread

Banana Sweet Potato Bread 4
Some things you just get a gut feeling about. When you have too many bananas, and too many sweet potatoes and get that gut feeling about a sweet potato banana bread, you go with that feeling.
Banana Sweet Potato Bread
I had no reason to believe that this recipe would turn out even mediocre, because I was sort of making it up as I went, but it turned out marvelously! I love naturally sweetening by using sweet fruits and veggies. Nature has so many options. Sweet potatoes, apples, carrots, beets … the list goes on and on. Can’t wait to see where the next surplus of produce takes me.Banana Sweet Potato Bread 2
Banana Sweet Potato Bread
Recipe heavily adapted from The Minimalist Baker
Ingredients:
  • 2 large very ripe bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup oat bran
  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 3/4 cup sweet potato puree (I just bake mine whole until tender and scoop out the flesh)
 Preparation:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease or spray a loaf pan with nonstick spray. I like to put a strip of parchment paper that extends above the top of the pan for an easier removal at the end.
  2. Mash bananas and add all of the ingredients except the oats and flour, whisking to thoroughly combine.
  3. Add flours, oats, bran and flax. Stir to combine.
  4. Pour batter into the loaf pan and smooth the top. I added chopped pecans on top. Feel free to do the same, or chocolate chips stirred in would be wonderful.
  5. Bake for about 1 hour, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool on a rack. Then slice and serve.

Banana Sweet Potato Bread 3

Black Bean Brownies

I’ve been wanting to try black bean brownies for a long time now. Everyone says you can’t detect the beans at all, and gee whiz, now that I’ve had them I can say … they’re right! I created this brownie recipe after researching tips from other recipes online and struck gold.

They taste even better than they look, and I’m fully aware of how good they look.

Black Bean Brownies 3

Dense and fudgy with an intense cocoa flavor, these brownies are incredibly addicting and that’s ok – because they’re good for you too. If you’re like me, and always seem to have a can of black beans and bananas on-hand, make these immediately. This is not a drill. Go!

Black Bean Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cover the bottom of an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper or spray with non-stick spray.
  2. Put all of the ingredients except the chocolate chips into a blender or food processor. Process until a smooth batter forms.
  3. Add the chocolate chips and fold into batter.
  4. Pour the batter into prepared pan and sprinkle more chocolate chips on top.
  5. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out mostly clean and there are cracks in the top of the brownies.
  6. Cool the pan completely and then refrigerate until chilled. If you used parchment paper, you should be able to lift the brownies out of the pan easily. Cut the brownies as you like. I got 16 squares out of my pan.

Black Bean Brownies 2

Black Bean Brownies 4

Black Bean Brownies

Strawberry-Banana Spelt Muffins

This is a guest post from a talented chef with a great recipe for a unique twist on banana muffins.

Banana Strawberry Spelt Muffins

From Chef Thomas:

“I love eating bananas raw, but I am very specific about my raw bananas. They have to be all yellow, or yellow and green; no spots! Once the brown spots start to form, I just don’t like the flavor. But I can’t throw spotty bananas away, so what should I do? I guess I could make some sort of baked good… *twist my arm!*

But baked goods typically have a ton of butter and sugar … what about my diet? I decided to take a basic banana bread recipe and try to put a healthy twist on it.

As I started to throw ingredients together, I became bored with the idea of just plain old banana bread. I started to think of things that are usually combined with bananas and it hit me. Strawberries!! My first go at it, I used almond flour, strawberries, bananas, maple syrup, honey, coconut oil, etc. I used the measurements from an online recipe I found. I had really high hopes. I put the mix in the oven for sixty minutes. I was so excited as I paced back and forth, waiting for the bread to be done. The buzzer went off and I strutted to the oven, confident I would find an amazing loaf of strawberry-banana bread! I swung the door open and was greeted by a goopy mess. Disheartened, I left the loaf in for several more minutes before giving up…for the day. I would make this work!

I told Maggie what had happened and we began to brainstorm about how to make this recipe work. She told me not to use only almond flour because it well make for a very wet bread. Maybe we could put some oatmeal in there to soak up some of that moisture. Maybe add a bit more flour. Sunday she came over and we began to put our recipe together. We added a bit of lemon zest and some oatmeal to the banana mixture. We  used two cups of spelt flour instead of a cup and a half of almond flour. We put some chopped cashews in there for some texture. The mixture looked great, we had high hopes. Then we started talking about how we would cook this mixture. While banana bread is great, it is not the most practical form of food for those of us on the go. We decided muffins would be perfect! We threw them in and enjoyed a beer while we waited. As we swung the oven door down we were met with an intoxicating smell and the sight of perfectly cooked muffins. We put the muffins on a cooling rack and they taunted us, daring us to take a bite …

The next thing I knew, our friend Ruth was taking a bite of one and her face said it all. Maggie and I joined Ruth in pure muffin bliss. We had done it! We came up with an amazing strawberry banana muffin recipe. I hope it brings you all the same amount of happiness that it brought us!”

Strawberry-Banana Spelt Muffins

Yield: 20 muffins 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 7 strawberries, diced
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 cup raw cashews (or any other nut you prefer)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease muffin tins.

In a small bowl, combine bananas, strawberries, lemon zest, and oatmeal. In a large bowl, combine coconut oil, honey, and pure maple syrup in a stand mixer and blend together for one minute, or until creamed. Mix in eggs, salt, vanilla, and then add oatmeal mixture. Slowly, add dry ingredients into the wet ingredient, mixing only until combined. Fold in cashews.

Pour batter into greased muffin tins, about 3/4 way full. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 mins, but keep an eye on them. The muffins are done when the tops spring back when touched.

Healthy Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies 3

These cookies have revolutionized my late-night sweet cravings. I have made a batch of these every week for (muffled sound) weeks now, and I don’t feel guilty at all because they are super healthful!

The original recipe I began with used pumpkin puree as the fruit base, which was good, but not nearly as sweet as bananas. The sweetness is important because I have omitted sugar from the recipe (except what’s contained within the dark chocolate chips). I have also tried sweet potatoes which work just as well as bananas. These little goodies are the perfect way to indulge in something sweet, but still get some nutrition in too.

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies 2

They’re also very forgiving. I have been sloppy with measurements more times than not and they always turn out perfect. It’s important to know though, that these cookies will be soft when you take them out of the oven, and remain soft even after they’re cooled. They definitely need a few minutes to set up on the baking sheet after they’re cooked, but will hold their shape just fine thereafter.

I am obsessed with these babies at the moment and no one can stop me. So soft, so yummy, and so decadently chocolately.

You’d be a fool not to make these immediately.

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Healthy Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe adapted from Chelsea’s Messy Apron 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup mashed bananas (or cooked and mashed sweet potato)
  • 2 tablespoons honey (more or less to preference)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (optional, but I like the spiced flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup oat flour (oats that have been blended)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (I like Ghirardelli semi-sweet or bittersweet 60%)
  • Note: I’m usually heavy-handed with the chocolate chips 🙂

Preparation:

In a bowl, mix together the banana, honey, and egg. In another bowl, stir together the cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and oat flour.

Note: Oat flour is made by blending old-fashioned or quick oats in a blender or food processor until they resemble a flour consistency.

Combine the wet and dry and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Chill the dough for 30 minutes and then preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a cookie scooper, portion the dough out onto a cookie sheet. I usually get around a dozen cookies. Press the tops down to flatten slightly. Bake for about 8 minutes, or until set.

Devour and feel great about it!

Banana Granola Bars

Banana Granola Bars 2

This picture should tell you how good these bars are. I forgot to snap a pic before I started eating!

Banana Granola Bars cooked

These granola bars are my own creation and they are awesome. No sugar, no butter, no unhealthies.

At about 150 nutrient-dense calories each, these bars are nutritious, tasty, and filling. Perfect for an anytime snack. I love to slather one with natural peanut butter and devour. ❤ Enjoy!

Banana Granola Bars 4

Banana Granola Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats 
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour 
  • 1 tbsp flax meal 
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans 
  • 1/3 cup raisins or dried cranberries 
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 bananas
  • 1/4 cup molasses (or honey, pure maple syrup, etc.), more or less to preference 
  • Scant 1/4 cup natural peanut butter (or almond butter)
  • 1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, optional

Preparation:

Toast oats and pecans for about 10 minutes at 300 degrees. Watch carefully so they don’t burn.

In a large bowl mix the coconut flour, coconut, flax, cranberries/raisins, salt, and cinnamon. Add the toasted oats and nuts and mix all together.

Microwave bananas for 2 minutes until broken down and all sweet and liquidy. Add molasses (or other sweetener) to hot banana puree and stir to combine. Then add the peanut butter and vanilla to the banana mixture and stir until well combined.

Pour wet mix into the dry ingredients and incorporate completely.

Line an 8 x 8 inch pan with parchment paper. Pour the mixture into the pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top if you so desire! Press mixture firmly into pan.

Bake in 350F oven for about 30 minutes. Let bars cool completely.

When completely cool, remove from pan by pulling up by the parchment paper.

Place parchment and bars on a cutting board and cut into bars or squares. They will keep for several weeks in the fridge.

Banana Granola Bars 5

Banana Granola Bars 3

Banana Granola Bars

Banana Granola Bars cooked 2

Calorie count: 1,745

# of bars: 12

Calories per bar: 145 calories

Spent Grain Banana Bread

Spent Grain Banana Bread 6

I recently came into possession of some “spent grains” from a fairly famous local brewer. 🙂 Spent grains are basically “the leftover malt and adjuncts after the mash has extracted most of the sugars, proteins, and nutrients.” They can be used for all sorts of things, but of course, I used them to bake something delicious.

Spent Grain Banana Bread 2

In researching different recipes to utilize the grains, I became somewhat disheartened, because so many comments to the recipes noted how dry the end product was. I decided to use a recipe I already had, and use a small amount of spent grains to add some toasty flavor. I sort of eased my way into using spent grains so I wouldn’t end up with a dry and bitter banana bread on my first try. To use spent grains in baking you typically have to dry it out in the oven for several hours, then grind it up into a flour consistency. I used the method found here to make my spent grain flour.

Spent Grain

Spent Grains pre-drying in the oven.

Spent Grain 2

Dried spent grains being ground into flour.

Spent Grain 3

Alas! Spent grain flour.

Spent Grain Banana Bread 5

My god is this banana bread good. I’m fairly certain I semi-collapsed when I took my first bite, fresh out of the oven. It helps that I had an amazing base recipe to start with, but I am definitely patting myself on the back for this one. The recipe comes from Dominique Ansel, a very famous New York pastry chef. I used to work mere blocks from his bakery, so I am verrryyyy familiar (embarrassingly so) with his talents. One variation in technique I always make to my banana breads, is to microwave the ripe bananas before mixing them with everything else. This draws out a lot of the sugars and gives them a sort of roasted flavor. I’d like to think Dominique himself would be interested in this technique. It really adds something special in my humble opinion.

Spent Grain Banana Bread 7

This recipe is perfect (seriously you should just stop what you’re doing, go buy some “Manager’s Special,” overripe bananas, and get down to work on this right now), but next time I work with spent grain, I think I will make a hearty, savory bread to really highlight the toasted flavor of the grains. And then perhaps pair that hearty bread with a complementary brew. Excuse me now while I go look into that …

Spent Grain Banana Bread 8

Banana Bread with Spent Grain

Recipe from Dominique Ansel 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour (or 2 cups flour if you’re not using spent grains)
  • 1/2 cup spent grain flour (omit if you’re only using regular flour)
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 overripe bananas, mashed
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preparation:

Note: This recipe is for 1 regular sized loaf. If you’re making mini loaves like I did, do everything the same except only bake for about 25 minutes. It could take less or more time, but that was how long mine took.

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Place peeled bananas in a medium bowl and microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. This will draw out some of the natural sugar and juices.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, spent grain flour (if using), baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and combine with the mashed bananas. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix together until just combined. Fold in the melted butter until fully incorporated.

Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan (or mini loaf pans) and bake until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Mini loaves will take about 25 minutes. Allow to cool for 20 minutes before slicing.

Spent Grain Banana Bread 3

Spent Grain Banana Bread 4

Spent Grain Banana Bread

Spent Grain Banana Bread 9

 

Banana Nut Granola

Banana Nut Granola

Well, I found out this weekend that I cannot handle being alone with a bowl of granola. Or a box of cereal, or a bag of popcorn kernels … you get the idea. Let’s just say, this granola never saw me coming. Poor thing was gone in less than 24 hours.

This recipe was kind of an experiment, but it came out surprisingly well! I’ve never made a granola with actual fruit blended and cooked with it before. It added a nice level of sweetness and actually sort of made granola clusters. It really did taste like a delicious deconstructed banana nut bread with raisins.

This is the kind of recipe you can adapt easily based on what you like. Next time I might try pumpkin instead of banana and chocolate chips or cranberries instead of raisins. You can use whatever nuts you like, whatever spices you like, even add ingredients like shredded coconut or seeds. Enjoy!

Banana Nut Granola 2

Banana Nut Granola

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats (I used a rolled grain blend with all kinds a good stuff)
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup honey or pure maple syrup
  • 1 banana
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup raisins

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Place banana in a bowl and microwave for 3 minutes. Sounds bizarre I know, but I learned this trick from America’s Test Kitchen, my absolute favorite PBS show. Cooking the banana releases sugar and juices and helps it infuse even more sweetness into what you’re baking. It also softens the banana so it can be easily blended with the other wet ingredients.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the softened banana, coconut oil, honey or syrup, and vanilla extract. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, pecans, spices, and salt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and toss to coat until everything is well saturated.

Pour the granola onto the prepared pan and spread out to make an even layer. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the granola is dried out and toasty. Every 10 minutes take the pan out and toss the granola so it doesn’t burn. Toss hot granola with raisins so they plump a bit.

Banana Nut Granola 3

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Because of the holiday weekend, yesterday felt like a Sunday. And Sundays, are for baking.

Banana Peanut Butter Bread

I’ve been trying to expand my flour collection and knowledge, so I ventured into sweet sorghum flour for the first time this weekend. A bag of it has been sitting my cupboard for quite awhile and I decided it was finally time to do something about it.

Sorghum is supposed to have more protein and fiber than other flours, but it can be pretty heavy if used alone. When combined with other flours (white, wheat, corn, rice, quinoa, etc.) it can make for very hearty and tasty treats.

I definitely noticed a difference in the consistency of my banana bread – it was fairly dense and a little drier than usual. It worked out well though, because usually my terrible oven burns everything! It burns on the outside while keeping the inside uncooked, no matter the temperature. I thought the sorghum might help to soak up the wet ingredients and … well, I get tired of saying this, but … I was right! The bread actually cooked better on the inside because of it.

I will need to do more experimenting before I have mastered sorghum and will probably stick with whole-wheat flour until I’m feeling adventurous again. You can try this recipe with sorghum or just stick to whole-wheat or regular all-purpose flour.

This recipe makes a truly delicious and healthy bread, with the added bonus of peanut butter! Banana bread is delicious alone, but when you add creamy peanut butter and a hint of coconut from the sugar and oil, it’s really spectacular. I love this bread because it’s guilt-free, comforting, and super yummy. It’s perfect alone, but if you want a little somethin’ extra, you can slather on extra peanut butter, jam, honey, molasses … the possibilities are endless. I’ve been eating it for breakfast, and snack-time, and post-lunch time, and dessert time … us Hobbits eat a lot, ok?

Banana Peanut Butter Bread 2

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Yield: makes 1 loaf or 12 muffins 

Ingredients:

  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup natural peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 sorghum flour (or just use all whole-wheat flour)
  • 1/8 cup flaxseed
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp clove

Preparation:

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Spray loaf pan or muffin tin with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl whisk together the bananas, yogurt, peanut butter, and oil. Once fully mixed incorporate the eggs, one at a time. Then mix in vanilla, syrup and coconut sugar.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet. Don’t overmix. Once fully incorporated pour into prepared loaf pan or muffin tin.

Bake muffins for 18-22 minutes until set. Bake loaf for 45-55 minutes.

Healthy Banana Bread with Walnuts and Dark Chocolate

This is a great recipe that you can feel good about. It’s perfect for breakfast, a snack, dessert, late-night craving …

If I don’t have healthy treats around that I can nosh on when I get the urge, things can get preeeetty dicey. Like, late night chocolate cake making or cheesy pasta dicey. If I have something like this delicious bread sitting around, I have nothing to worry about because it’s easy, tasty, and full of good things!

This bread is one of the best healthy banana bread recipes I have tried. The recipe I used as inspiration had unsweetened applesauce instead of Greek yogurt and olive oil, but I improvised and used what I had. I am a big fan of using applesauce in baked goods though – it’s perfect for adding natural sweetness and moisture. If you omit the chocolate chips in my recipe (which I clearly could not do), this is pretty much guilt-free. I don’t even feel guilty for the chocolate though, because it’s good for the soul. #truth. 

banana bread

Healthy Banana Bread with Walnuts and Dark Chocolate 

Recipe adapted from Ambitious Kitchen 

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 4 mashed banana (overripe is best)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt (Fage)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (more or less to your liking)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (more or less to your liking)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9-inch loaf pan with nonstick olive oil cooking spray.

In large bowl combine mashed banana, yogurt, olive oil, honey, egg, almond milk and vanilla until well combined and creamy. In separate medium bowl whisk together whole wheat flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix just until combined.

Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 60-70 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean with a few crumbs attached.

Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely. Keep bread tightly wrapped to maintain moisture.

Enjoy!

Tropical Mint Smoothie

Mint Smoothie 2

This past weekend I picked up a beautiful bunch of mint (for only $1!) at the Farmer’s Market. I placed it in a cup with water so it would keep until I decided how I was going to use the gorgeous little bushel.

MintSmoothie 5

I have plans for a Greek inspired dinner this week utilizing the mint, but there’s plenty to go around! So this morning I started my week off right with a healthy mint smoothie. Inspired by Women’s Health Magazine’s weekly #Shareyoursmoothie campaign, I made this beauty for #MintSmoothie week. I was in a rush, so I threw together what I thought would go best with mint, and it turned out delicious. Really put a minty pep in my step!

Tropical Mint Smoothie

Yield: 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1 cup-1 1/2 cups coconut water
  • 1/2 tbsp chia seeds
  • handful of fresh mint leaves

Preparation:

Toss all ingredients into your blender – chia seeds last so they don’t get stuck to the bottom. Blend together and enjoy immediately! This smoothie comes out to just about 200 calories so it’s a perfect post-workout drink as well!

Note: You don’t have to use frozen pineapple and banana, but I find I like the texture of frozen fruit so much better than adding ice.

Mint Smoothie 4

Mint Smoothie 3

I threw all the ingredients into the blender, then ran out the door and drank my smoothie on the way to work, along with a little baggie of my homemade granola. 🙂

Mint Smoothie 1