nanatella muffins

banana nutella muffins

I can’t think of a single person who actually dislikes banana bread. And I dare you to find someone who doesn’t like that oh so dreamy creamy cocoa hazelnut spread (aka nutella). They’re two very lovable things, and when combined will put a smile on anyone’s face.

So what happens when you mix banana bread with nutella? Well, there could be many outcomes, but mine just happened to be these banana-nutella swirl muffins. And given 98% of our population’s fondness of the two components, these muffins are the perfect treat to bring to a party, a potluck, or a very special friend’s birthday… as I did for my very special friend Corey. Continue reading

Nikki’s healthy cookies, revisited

favorite banana cookies

One of my first posts was my adapted version of Nikki’s Healthy Cookies from 101 Cookbooks, a “classic” healthy cookie of the blog world. Butter-less, flour-less, egg-less, and sugar-less, these continue to please as my go-to healthy cookie and friends still ask me for “that banana cookie recipe you always made.”

Well with time after time of baking these and my unending obsession with changing up recipes, I have for you my new and improved healthy banana cookie. It’s peanutty, banana-y, coconutty, puctuated with drops of creamy chocolate (or carob), and to me the flavors never get old. Substantial + healthy enough to eat for breakfast, ideal for a midday snack, and decadent enough to satisfy my sweet cravings…. what more do I need to say? :)

Get baking and have yourself some guilt-free deliciousness! Continue reading

coconut flour cookies – gluten free & grain free

Not often does one get offered a giant bag of coconut flour because someone has just too much of it. So when my uncle offered me an extra bag he had lying around (my gluten-free aunt orders online in bulk because it’s cheaper), I was glad to take it off their hands :)

I left their home after dinner with arms full of goodies— coconut flour and bunches of collards and lettuces fresh from their garden. It’s been nice living close to them for 4 years of college; I never left without something yummy, usually homemade applesauce or jarred South Carolina peaches. mmmm.

Anyway, with more coconut flour than I ever thought I’d have in my possession (that stuff can be expensive!) I was dreaming up all the recipes I could add it to. And what did I settle on first? The classic chocolate chip cookie, of course. Except this one’s not so classic

I knew my aunt had been on a search for the best tasting gluten-free cookies, so I thought I’d add a homemade recipe to the competition. And it’s not only gluten-free, but grain-free, vegan, refined sugar-free, and very low in sugar overall. The baked cookie certainly has a different texture than the classic—a bit more dense, soft, and dough-like—but delicious in its own way.

I absolutely love these cookies and could easily just eat balls of the raw dough as well. I know my aunt enjoyed them, and even if you’re not avoiding gluten you should give them a try! A soft, dense, chocolatey, coconutty, just-sweet-enough treat, without any of the guilt ;)

grain-free coconut flour cookies, adapted from girl meets life.

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup almond meal/flour
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1 T agave
  • 1/2 T coconut oil
  • 1/4 t vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup almond or soy milk
  • 3-4 T dark chocolate chips (I use grain-sweetened or dark mini chips)
  • other options: cocoa nibs, coconut flakes, chopped nuts Continue reading

spinach frappe

This should really be called a banana mocha frappuccino, but I like to say spinach frapp just cause it sounds gross. Don’t get me wrong, I love my spinach. But who really wants it in their sweet blended coffee drink?

Leafy greens—fresh or frozen—turn out to be a great addition for smoothies and shakes. They add vitamins and fiber and substance to your smoothie without loading in the sugar, fat, or ice that waters down the flavor. Nor does it add any flavor of its own, so don’t worry about you frappucino tasting like a drinkable salad.

This homemade frappe has it all — sweetness from a frozen banana and vanilla soymilk, fiber from the spinach and banana, richness and antioxidants from the cocoa, a jolt of espresso, and extra protein (optional) from protein powder — without too much ice watering it down! To indulge in a mocha frappuccino for breakfast and not feel one bit of guilt? Mornings just got way sweeter. Continue reading

banana chapatis

Bananas find their way into my diet every day, although I can’t remember the last time I’ve actually peeled and eaten one. Such an abundant, cheap and versatile ingredient—they can be used to sweeten and lend subtle flavor to breads and smoothies, pureed to replace fats in baked goods, even grilled or roasted into caramelized sweet goodness.

I actually get anxious when I wake up in the morning and walk into a banana-less kitchen. Whatever I’m going to eat that day, I know it’ll somehow involve nanas. Someday [soon] I’ll post a list of my infinite banana ideas and creations.

I even have a pinboard on Pinterest dedicated to banana recipes, which I am rapidly working my way through. One of those pins had been catching my eye lately: sweet banana flat breads or chapatis. Chapatis are a type of Indian whole-grain flatbread cooked on a griddle– thinner than a pancake but thicker than a crepe, bubbly with big air pockets, and they typically accompany spicy Indian dishes. But with the subtle sweetness of mashed bananas I found these perfect for breakfast, spread lightly with butter and drizzled with honey and cinnamon.

Chapatis are SO simple to make, considering that the basic ones are solely whole wheat flour and water. That leaves the spices and other additions up to your imagination ;]

sweet banana chapatis, from here

1 cup whole wheat flour, plus extra for dusting

½ cup mashed banana

1 T olive or canola oil

salt to taste

water or milk as needed

Mash banana well and combine with flour and a pinch of salt to make a stiff dough. Add oil and water/milk as needed and knead well to form a smooth, medium-soft dough. After dough is smooth, cover and set aside for 10-15 minutes to rest.

Divide dough into 1-1/2 inches pieces and roll each into a small ball. Either dust the balls with flour or sprinkle flour onto a flat surface to prevent sticking. (I later read that you shouldn’t incorporate too much extra flour into the chapatis or they will be tough, which I think is what happened with mine). Roll each ball out with a rolling pin until it resembles a thin pancake (about 1/6” thick).

Heat a griddle over medium-high heat. When hot lightly grease with oil and place a chapatti in the center. Turn it over with a spatula when small brown spots and small bubbles appear, about 1 minute. Continue cooking about 2 minutes until both sides have brown spots. Makes 8-9 chapatis.

Enjoy your flatbread warm with some butter and honey or jam!

Continue reading

banana honey breakfast shake for 1

I make healthy shakes and smoothies all the time. For breakfast, a snack or dessert — I never get bored because there are so many combinations and no smoothie ever comes out the same! Almost every smoothie and shake I create contains a banana and vanilla soymilk, which both lend a nice sweetness without any added sugar. This is the first time I’ve actually measured out and recorded the ingredients, so here’s my recipe for the perfect mellow breakfast shake! And of course I encourage you to be creative and play around with your own spices and flavors.

3/4 cups vanilla soy milk

1 large banana [frozen is even better :]

1/2 cup yogurt [plain or vanilla]

1 t honey [I used this awesome ginger-infused honey I brought home from Ecuador!]

1/4 t vanilla extract

1/8 t ground nutmeg

1/8 t cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling

Throw everything in the blender… It takes about 30 seconds. Get it good and smooth and then serve with a little sprinkle of ground nutmeg + cinnamon for looks.

To mix things up, try additions like espresso powder, coconut extract or shredded coconut, cocoa powder, peanut flour, or top with some peanut butter banana granola. This morning I made my shake after going to the gym so I decided to throw in some bourbon vanilla protein powder I had sitting around. It was delicious and super filling!

Continue reading

Peanut butter banana [guilt-free] granola!

Granola. The word itself makes many people think health food. But store-bought and even homemade granola recipes are almost always loaded with butter, oil, sugar, even chunks of chocolate or m&m’s. Still sound healthy? It’s unfortunate that typical granola is so fattening and calorie dense, but what is fortunate is how easy it is to make your own, guilt-free granola without sacrificing any of that sweet n’ salty crunchiness!

The secret is using a fruit or vegetable puree instead of butter, and using a lesser amount of an unrefined sweetener like honey or maple syrup. In this case, pureed bananas add their own sweetness, so all that’s needed is a touch of honey. This stuff is so great in milk or yogurt, and my favorite is to dump in some raisins and dark chocolate chips and munch away as fast as I can!

Peanut Butter Banana [guilt-free] Granola, adapted from here

2 ½ cups rolled oats

2 cups puffed cereal [rice, wheat, etc… I used Kashi 7 Whole Grain Puffs]

¼ cup flax meal or whole flax seed

¾ cup chopped pecans

1 ½ large ripe bananas, cut into slices

1/3 cup peanut butter, melted slightly [I used a mixture of regular pb and Better’n Peanut Butter]

2 t honey

1 ½ t vanilla

½ t cinnamon

¼ t salt

Preheat oven to 300F. Combine all of the dry ingredients [oats, cereal, flax, nuts] in a bowl.  Set aside.  In a food processor/blender add the banana, honey, peanut butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.  Process until completely smooth [or mix and mash it by hand].  Pour over the dry ingredients and mix until it’s all combined.  Pour onto a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray or lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 20 minutes, stir, and bake 15-20 minutes longer until the granola is golden brown and crunchy.  Let cool completely before storing. I put it into several mason jars so I don’t mindlessly eat it all at once! Makes about 6 cups. Enjoy!

Optional: for a healthy and addictive snack mix, dump in a few raisins, nuts, dark chocolate chips, and I haven’t tried this but I bet banana chips would be awesome!

And p.s—stay tuned for my apple-cinnamon and pumpkin-spice variations when the season arrives!


This post is linked to Love Your Heart Month

“Nikki’s Healthy Cookies”– my go-to healthy cookie

Let me redeem myself for providing you such a devil of a cookie recipe. I promise indulgent treats will be a rare occasion and I’ll do my best not to tempt you [and myself] with them. But while we’re on the subject of chocolate chip cookies……

A year or so ago after attempting this mystically butter-less, flour-less, egg-less and sugar-less cookie (isn’t that just about everything that makes up a cookie?), I would be forever changed. No, it did not contain any of those heart-clogging, empty calorie ingredients which make “the cookie” such a sinful temptation. But the combination of these ingredients worked their magic and emerged from the oven as toasty, hearty, chewy, perfectly sweet and coconutty bites of bliss exploding with chunks of melty dark chocolate. I can honestly say they satisfied my cookie craving 100% as well as my classic beloved chocolate chip cookie. And they’re that much more enjoyable when there’s zero guilt to follow.

Continue reading