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.

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Healthy Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

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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.

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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!

Toasted Oat and Coconut Muesli

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It all started when I bought a massive tub of old-fashioned oats from Aldi’s yesterday.

Muesli

I wanted to make something with them so badly and I was feeling snacky, so I went for my go-to granola. That recipe typically takes at least 40 minutes. Well, within 15 minutes my granola was burnt to a crisp. My oven is a nightmare and my landlord will now get an earful about how her oven burnt my granola, among other deceased baked goods. May they rest in peace.

Muesli 6

(Crystallized Ginger. Mmmm)

I couldn’t eat my granola, but I wasn’t done with the oats. I wanted to DO somethinggggg with them. For whatever reason, I thought of muesli. I’ve never made muesli before. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten muesli before. In fact, I’m not even positive I have seen muesli before. But I was going to make it.

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(Coco-Cran-Almond-Ginger-Chia Muesli, to be exact.)

Muesli is like a less fancy granola. But seemingly boring things can surprise you sometimes.

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Muesli is super easy and surprisingly delicious! The preparation is easy peasy, but you do have to plan a little before you enjoy it. The oats have to soak up the milk for at least a couple of hours, or even overnight. It ends up super creamy, dreamy, soft and lovely. The cranberries get all plump and somehow the almonds maintain their crunch. Also, if you add frozen blueberries, everything turns a magical shade of lavender.

The whole thing is like cereal that’s gotten a little soggy in the milk too long, but you like it like that. You really, really do.

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Toasted Oats and Coconut Muesli

Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
  • 1/2 cup dry-roasted almonds (unsalted), chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (low or no sugar)
  • 2 tbsp crystallized ginger, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • Almond milk
  • Optional: frozen fruit, honey, pure maple syrup, etc.

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment and bake oats in an even layer for 5-7 minutes, or until toasted. Watch carefully so they don’t burn. Take out oats and dump in a large bowl. Pour coconut on same sheet with parchment paper and bake in an even layer for 3-5 minutes, or until toasted. Watch even more carefully! Take out and dump coconut into the same large bowl.

Toss the oats and coconut together, then add the dried cranberries, chia seeds, spices and salt. Mix until everything is combined.  … and, that’s it!

As I said, you need to plan a little before enjoying muesli, so once it’s all mixed together you can store in single-serve mason jars for an easy and portable breakfast. To prepare: the night before, or at the very least, about 2 hours before you want to eat it, take your cute jar of muesli and sprinkle some frozen blueberries on top. Pour almond milk over top just until the milk covers the blueberries. Place in the fridge and then, right before serving, drizzle with some maple syrup or honey. I found that the crystallized ginger provided plenty of sweetness, so I didn’t use anything extra.

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Muesli 2

Muesliafter

Single Serving Oatmeal Cookie

Single Oatmeal Cookie 3

Sometimes I really impress myself. It almost always happens when I’m desperate and hungry.

Today, I wanted a cookie for breakfast. Like, a healthy cookie. But I found myself without. So I attempted to make one. Yes, just one. And it was pretty successful!

Single Oatmeal Cookie

It’s not so much a recipe as it is a technique. You just take a little leftover cooked oatmeal (I used steel-cut oats), about 1/4 cup, and add in whatever extras you want. This time I added honey, dried cranberries, cinnamon and unsweetened coconut. Next time, I will add peanut butter and raisins. If I had thought of the peanut butter thing this time, I would have done that first.

You mix it all up in a little ramekin and press it down firmly with the back of a spoon. Then you microwave for about 3-4 minutes until the oatmeal mixture starts pulling away from the sides of the ramekin and has dried out a little.

At this point, I was able (with the help of an oven mitt – it’s hot!) to simply flip the ramekin over onto a little plate and out popped my single-serving cookie. It was perfect with my espresso and just what I wanted. Great start to October … it’s the little things.

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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

Flourless Pumpkin Pie Muffins

Flourless Pumpkin Pie Muffins 2

Allow me to introduce you to the perfect fall treat …

Everyone, this is flourless pumpkin pie muffin. Pumpkin pie muffin, this is everyone. Welcome to the world, muffs.

Flourless Pumpkin Pie Muffins

Simply put, these muffins are amazing. They are sweet and moist like you would expect a traditional muffin to be, but aren’t really like regular muffins at all.

No sugar, no oil, no butter, no flour.

As with any flourless recipe, they are denser than their flour-full counterpart, but it makes them that much more decadent. That’s also why they’re called pumpkin PIE muffins. They have that thick, custardy characteristic that makes pies delicious. Also, did I mention the apartment smells absolutely incredible while they’re baking?

These muffins are so healthy you can feel good about having them for breakfast, or anytime really. They have whole grain in the oats, a serving of fruit with the pumpkin, and healthy fats and fiber in the natural peanut butter and the flax. Cinnamon is an antioxidant known for its health benefits with respect to weight control, digestive health, your immune system, and a host of other things. The egg even provides a little protein and vitamins.

Try ’em out, let me know what you think, then thank me profusely. Let’s just say, you owe me.

Flourless Pumpkin Pie Muffins 1

Flourless Pumpkin Pie Muffins 

Recipe adapted from Running with Spoons

Yield: 10 muffins 

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup natural peanut or almond butter (or any nut butter)
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 5-6 tbsp honey or pure maple syrup (or a combo of both)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp flax meal
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/4 cup mini dark chocolate chips

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray.

Add all of the ingredients, except for the chocolate chips, into a food processor or blender. Blend on high until the oats are broken down and the batter is creamy and smooth. Stir in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into prepared muffin tin, filing each cavity about 3/4 way full. You will get about 10 muffins.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until muffins are set and the tops spring back when touched. Cool muffins in pan for 10 minutes. Turn out and enjoy!

Note: This recipe comes to about 1,200 calories total. If you make 10 muffins, that is 120 calories per muffin.

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!

Road Trip Granola Bars

Homemade Granola

Along with the Spiced Nuts from my last post, I also made some homemade granola bars for my road trip. They’re easy to make, really delicious, and a healthy snack to have on hand.

Granola bars are great because you can “make it your own,” as Simon Cowell would say an infinite amount of times on American Idol circa 2003. You can change the nuts and fruit to suit your preferences, and also make them super healthy or less healthy by playing around with the sweeteners and binders. For example, the recipe I based mine off of used butter and brown sugar, but I swapped in honey, pure maple syrup and olive oil instead. I used pecans in place of almonds, and I also added in natural peanut butter because I apparently cannot live a single day without peanut butter. I aaaaallmost drizzled some dark chocolate over top, but thought it might make a mess if they’re left in a hot car. One thing to note, is that these granola bars don’t hold together quite as well as others when you cut them, I’ll have to investigate that issue further once I’m off the road. Otherwise, they’re cute little bundles of delicious joy!

Homemade Granola 2

Road Trip Granola Bars

Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.

Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Place the olive oil, honey, maple syrup, peanut butter, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute. Add in vanilla, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the apricots and cranberries and stir well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.

Homemade Granola 1

 

Granola Bars 3

Maple Pecan Granola

Granola 2

I literally wince every time I look at the price of store-bought granola. I’m not exactly sure what is so special about their granola that makes it almost $10/bag … but there has to be some sort of magic involved. If not, then it’s just not worth it I say. It’s much more satisfying and economical to make your own. Plus, you know exactly what’s going into it, which is very important to me. I love this recipe because there’s no sugar, butter, or other sneaky extras making this a healthy snack for anytime. You can also swap out the nuts and fruit for whatever your favorites are! I used walnuts along with the pecans this time.

I was also quite proud of this particular batch of granola, because to get the shredded coconut I had … cracked open a fresh one, scraped out the flesh, pulverized it in the food processor, and then toasted it myself. My gold star should be coming in the mail any day now.

Most people eat their granola on top of yogurt or with milk, I usually take the barbarian route and grab a mouthful with my bare hands. Granola is an art. You do you.

Maple Pecan Granola

Recipe from Joy the Baker 

makes about 12 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans  (walnuts work too!)
  • 8 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 heaping cup coarsely chopped dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, toss together coconut, pecans, rolled oats, cinnamon, and salt.

In a medium suacepan over low heat, stir together the oil, maple syrup, and honey.  Stir until melted together.  Remove from heat and add vanilla extract.  Stir together.

Add the wet ingredients, all at once, to the rolled oat mixture.  Toss to coat, insuring that all of the dry ingredients are coated in the maple syrup mixture.  Divide the mixture between the two prepared baking pans.  Spread into an even layer.

Bake granola for 45 minutes to 1 hour, removing the pans from the oven twice during baking to toss and stir.  Once mixture is evenly browned and toasted, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.  Add dried fruit and store granola in an airtight container at room temperature.

Granola will last for several weeks … in theory. In reality, it will be gone within the hour.

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