Banana Bread Goes… Healthy?!

This poor blog has been sorely neglected of late.  I thought about deleting it, but really it’s my personal recipe box – all my “go to” recipes all in one place.  The last recipe I posted was almost 4 months ago, and to be quite honest – there hasn’t been much time for cooking and baking (aside from necessity) since then.  Once we hit Thanksgiving last year it was a downward slide into Christmas and then into travel season for me… and all the sudden it’s now Easter and April is next week.  What happened?!

Anyway, I first made this recipe last Christmas and have been wanting to post it since.  Given all the horribly unhealthy food that lays around during the holidays, I went looking for a healthy option to regular banana bread and found this.  There’s a lengthy story at the front end of the post, but I’m glad I kept digging to find the recipe.  When I saw brown bananas on the counter this morning my inner Dutch girl made an appearance and we pulled out this recipe again.

I’ve made some changes to the recipe linked above and it works just fine.  I think you could easily add chocolate chips or some shredded coconut to this and it’d come out great.

By the way, am I the only person who doesn’t do well with baking banana bread in one large loaf pan?  The outsides are dry and the middle is still raw.  I’m bound to my mini loaf pans, which is fine with me… but what am I doing wrong?!

BANANA BREAD GOES… HEALTHY?!

  • 3/4 c. white sugar
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 2 T. butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 oz. low- or non-fat greek yogurt
  • 1 large apple, peeled and shredded
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • dash of cloves
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. white flour + 2-3 T.
  • 1 c. wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine sugars and butter until pebbly.  Add eggs, yogurt, shredded apple, bananas (whole – let the mixer do the work), vanilla, spices and salt.  Combine flours and soda in a separate bowl and add to batter.  Mix until just combined.

Grease 4 mini loaf pans and distribute batter evenly.  Bake for 20 minutes, rotate pans 180 degrees, and then back for 20 minutes more (or until toothpick comes out clean).

I get 8 slices out of each loaf.  Based on that, here’s the nutritional breakdown:

  • Calories:  90
  • Fat:  1 g
  • Saturated:  .06 g
  • Cholesterol:  15 mg
  • Carbohydrates:  18 g
  • Fiber:  1 g
  • Protein:  2 g

Sorry, no photos on this one – I just don’t feel like taking, editing and uploading this time because it just looks like… banana bread. 🙂

 

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Coconut Muffins

I decided recently that we need to use up some of the stuff in the cabinets, and this weekend happened upon a half-used bag of sweetened coconut I bought to make Coconut Macaroons  a couple months ago.  Coconut keeps forever, but I wanted to get rid of it and had bookmarked a recipe for Coconut Bread a while back so we decided to give it a go.  Muffins tend to go faster than bread around here, so I scooped the batter into muffin liners instead of a loaf pan.

I followed the recipe pretty closely with a few changes: instead of 1 c. milk I used 3/4 c. milk and 1/4 c. coconut rum, I used a full cup of coconut instead of 3/4 c. and I sprinkled more coconut on the top of the muffins before popping them in the oven.

COCONUT MUFFINS

  • 1/4 c. butter, softened
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 c. flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • 1/4 c. coconut rum
  • 1 c. shredded coconut
  • additional coconut and sugar to top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter, sugar, egg and extracts.  In separate bowl combine flour, salt and baking powder.  Alternate adding flour mixture and milk until combined.  Add rum and coconut and mix through.

Spoon into muffin papers, sprinkle with coconut and sugar and bake for about 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Makes about 16 muffins.

Ina’s Granola Bars

Anyone who really knows me knows I love me a little Ina Garten.  The woman is the ultimate food snob and I just love it!  (Don’t use just any old vanilla, use pure Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla!)  On a random day off I watched her make granola bars and, while it took me 6 months to get around to it, I finally did it about two months ago and haven’t bought a granola bar since.  I’ve learned a few things along the way, and would absolutely recommend that you give these a try.  AWESOME!

Ina’s original recipe can be found here.  If you couple it with a few tips and tricks I’ve figured out (see below), your granola bar success is 100% guaranteed.

Also, try mixing your dried fruits.  As long as it adds up to 1 1/2 cups of dried fruit you’re golden.  I tried combining dried apricot, dried pineapple and dried mango a couple weeks ago and it might be my favorite combo so far.  Have fun!

INA’S GRANOLA BARS

  • 2 c. old-fashioned oats
  • 1 c. almonds
  • 1 c. shredded coconut
  • 1/2 c. wheat germ
  • 3 T. butter
  • 2/3 c. honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. dried apricots, diced
  • 1/2 c. dried chopped dates
  • 1/2 c. dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put almonds and 1 c. oatmeal into the blender and pulse until the nuts are broken down pretty well.  Spread onto a cookie sheet with remaining oatmeal, coconut and wheat germ and bake for about 10-12 minutes or until coconut has started to brown.  Remove tray and reduce oven temp to 300 degrees.  (Why, you ask?  Honey burns at a higher temp!  If you’re baking something with honey in it, reduce your oven temp and cook longer – I guarantee that whatever you make will taste better.)

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring honey, butter, vanilla and brown sugar to a rolling boil for one minute.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Add toasted mixture and dried fruit to a large mixing bowl and pour honey over top.  Mix VERY well.  With wet hands, press into a foil-lined 7×11 pan and bake in that 300 degree (reduced temp) oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges are very slightly browned.

Now, as tempting as it may be to want to cut into that pan, BACK AWAY SLOWLY!  Let those bars sit and cool for about 2 hours before cutting into 16 pieces. Try it too early, and they’ll completely fall apart on you and all that work will have been for naught.

For those of you watching what you’re eating, here’s the nutritional info on these babies (compliments of my Lose It iPhone app):

  • Calories:  233
  • Fat:  8.4g (2.9g saturated)
  • Cholesterol:  5.7mg
  • Sodium:  28.7mg
  • Carbs: 39.6g
  • Fiber:  3.9g
  • Sugars:  23.2g
  • Protein:  4.8

One more little tidbit:  These are great post-work out bars because they’re relatively low in protein.  The experts (by the way, I am not one) say that consuming foods with both sugary carbs and protein post-work out actually slows down how quickly your body metabolizes sugar because the protein acts like a blocker.  The carbs and sugar get your blood sugars back up and there’s not much protein to get in the way.  Nice, huh? 🙂

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

I don’t believe that I’ve ever baked something with such a long title, but my, my, my… yum!  I had a banana that was about to go bad and didn’t want the norm.  Recipezaar came through again with this one!  This is a half-recipe from what they published and I divided it into 3 mini-loaf pans.

PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP BANANA BREAD

  • 1 1/4 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 T. baking powder
  • 3/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/2 c. skim milk
  • 3/8 c. peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 egg, whisked (I know – weird, but it worked)
  • 1/2 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine dry ingredients and set aside.  Put milk, peanut butter, vanilla, egg, and banana in mixing bowl and mix until well combined.  Slowly add dry ingredients.  Pour into 3 greased mini-loaf pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Can also be made into muffins.

Maple Nut Scones

Since I teach lessons on Mondays and Wednesdays and work late on Tuesdays, Thursday is my self-proclaimed baking night.  I always look for something new to try and usually try to make it a semi-breakfasty item.  This week I decided to make scones.  I had a coupon a while back for a free pastry with purchase of coffee from Starbucks and the only thing I could get by the time I got there was a maple nut scone.  I cracked a corner off thinking that it probably wasn’t going to be good… but it was!  Crumbly, hearty and some sweet from the glaze.  Perfect with a skinny latté.

For those that haven’t used Recipezaar recipes before, I highly recommend the site.  They have everything under the sun, and their recipes include great step-by-steps as well as nutrition info.  I tried #157241 and was pleased with the results.  That being said, scones are supposed to be eaten with coffee or tea – they’re dry.  These were a little dry, but not nearly as dry as the Mocha Chip Scones I previously posted about.

MAPLE NUT SCONES

  • 1 c. oats, ground in blender to fine consistency
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/3-1/2 c. wheat flour
  • 2/3 c. chopped pecans
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 T. pure maple syrup
  • 2 1/2 T. cold butter, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 1/2 -3/4 tsp. maple extract (there’s a $1 off McCormick coupon floating around)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Combine first 9 ingredients in mixer and mix to combine.  In a separate bowl combine cream, egg and extract.  Pour into dry mixture and violá – batter is done.  (How easy is that?!)

Here’s where I changed things up a bit.  The original recipe says to dump the mixture out and form it into an 8 to 10-in. circle and then cut into 8 pieces (the pizza wheel is great for that); however, I have way more than 8 co-workers… and those scones would have been HUGE!  So, I doubled the recipe and used my ice cream scoop (which also works great for muffin and cupcake batter).  I scooped them onto the cookie sheet and then flattened them to about 1/2-in. with my palm.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until you see that the edges of the bottom have just started to brown (over-done scones make great hockey pucks).

While scones are baking make the glaze:

  • 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. maple extract
  • 1 1/2 T. water

Put 1 T. glaze over scones and let melt.  Sprinkle with additional nuts if desired.

Enjoy!

Cran-Apple Bran Muffins

I was recently in Texas for the Texas Music Educators Convention, and convention food… well, it’s gross.  That being said, I did enjoy a Starbucks’ Apple Bran Muffin one morning and while sitting waiting for people to stop by decided that I’d like to try my hand at them.  I believe that their muffin has cranberries in it, so went online in search of a Cranberry Apple Bran Muffin recipe and found one on wikibooks.org.

I need to eat healthier, and decided this would be a good recipe to attempt to doctor health-wise, so here is the recipe I found with a few heart-healthy and calorie conscious modifications.

Two disclaimers:  1)  there will be a lot of dirty dishes, and 2) we’re still working through a Sam’s Club size bag of Craisins, thus all the recipes with cranberries.

CRAN-APPLE BRAN MUFFINS

  • 3/4 c. natural bran
  • 3/4 c. skim milk
  • 1 1/3 c. wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/3 c. apple sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 c. chopped apples (mcintosh or jonathan)
  • 1/2 c. dried cranberries

Rehydrate cranberries by measuring them into a bowl of hot water and set aside.  Combine bran and milk, stir and set aside. Peel, core and dice apples into a bowl of water with a splash of lemon juice (to prevent browning).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix together dry ingredients and set aside.  In mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, applesauce and egg.  Mix well and add the milk soaked bran.  Slowly add dry ingredients.  Drain craisins and apples well and add to batter.

Here’s the part I learned the hard way:  DON’T USE PAPER MUFFIN LINERS!  Because there is virtually no oil in this recipe, the majority of the muffin will be stuck to the paper and you’ll be scraping your beautiful, healthy muffins off the liners with whatever utensil is at your disposal.  (Or, if you’re my brother, you’ll eat the majority of the liner while trying to bite the muffin off the paper.)  Rather, generously grease muffin tins with cooking spray and fill each cup about 3/4 of the way (an ice cream scoop works great for this).

Bake for 15-20 minutes (mine took 20) or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in tins for 10 minutes before removing and placing on cooling racks.  After muffins are completely cooled, store in an airtight container.

Makes about 18 muffins.

Cinnamon Rolls

I was in Michigan recently chatting it up with my Aunt Deb over a cup of coffee and she handed me a recipe that she said I HAD to try.  I’m always game for that, so I did… YUM!  Supposedly these are supposed to taste like Cinnabons; however, I’ve never had one, so I’m not sure if they do or not.  What I do know is that they’re soft, delicious, and not too difficult… but you’ll be doing a lot of dishes! 🙂  (Aunt Deb, I did mess with your recipe a little.  Sorry!)

I used a Kitchen Aid mixer with a dough hook attachment.

Cookie sheet.

ROLLS

  • 1/2 c. warm water (between 110-115 degrees)
  • 4 1/2 tsp. yeast (2 pkts.)
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 1 small box vanilla pudding
  • 2 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 6 c. flour

FILLING

9x13 pan.

  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 3 c. brown sugar
  • 4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2/3 c. golden raisins or chopped pecans (opt.)

FROSTING

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 3 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 1 T. milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Sprinkle yeast and sugar over water in mixing bowl and lightly whisk.  Set aside.  In a separate bowl, combine pudding mix, milk, melted butter, eggs, salt and cinnamon.  Combine with yeast mixture.  Slowly add flour.  Dough will be sticky.  Place in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise until doubled, punch down and then let rise until doubled again.  Roll out onto a floured surface into about a 20-inch by 30-inch rectangle.  (This is some STICKY dough, so flour surface generously.)

Spread softened butter onto dough and top with brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.  Sprinkle optional raisins/nuts over and roll tightly (roll from 30-inch side).  Make 1 1/2-inch marks down the roll and slice by sliding a piece of dental floss under the tube and pulling ends to the opposite side (I know, it sounds weird, but it works like a charm!).  You should get about 20-24 rolls.

Please rounds onto a greased cookie sheet about 1-2 inches apart and lightly press down.  Let rise until doubled and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, or until golden.  Frost while still warm.  Store in airtight container.

NOTE:  I’ve made these twice (in one week) and the second time I put them in a 9×13 instead of a cookie sheet.  I’ve posted pics of both – you decide which you like!  (Even though they’re prettier on the cookie sheet, I’m a fan of the 9×13.)