Banana-Almond Smoothie

So this smoothie really isn’t much to look at, but its humble looks are deceiving. This is a speedy, satisfying, and healthy drink that is perfect for a weekday morning breakfast, snack, or post workout treat. Just 3 or 4 ingredients, a quick whirl in the blender, and bam, done. You could totally customize this to your liking- swap in peanut butter for the almond butter, use coconut milk (or other milk of your choosing) for the almond milk, add a handful of spinach, add a dash of cinnamon, the possibilities are endless!

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Banana-Almond Smoothie

Serves 1

Ingredients:

1 banana, broken into 3-4 chunks, frozen
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 Tbsp almond butter
1/8 tsp almond extract (optional)

Directions:

1. Place all ingredients in the blender, and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Source: Bon Appetit

Banana Bread

Banana Bread

Oh, how I love banana bread. It’s such a comfort food. It’s one of the things my mom would bake regularly for us growing up, and she was always, and still is always trying out new banana bread recipes. There are just so many out there to try… you could probably make a new one every week for a year or a few, and still not run out, and based on the amount of bananas I have in my freezer, I might just be able to do that 🙂 I love to try new recipes as well, but my favorite banana bread will always be the simple one- unadorned with chocolate chips, or candied ginger, or seeds, or nuts. This classic banana bread recipe from The Moosewood Cookbook is just my cup of tea. I did make a couple of adjustments (leaving out the sesame seed coating, opting out of the addition of nuts and orange zest, reducing the sugar slightly, and adding a bit of espresso powder), but I stayed pretty true to the classic. The addition of coffee adds a little depth, but not overwhelming coffee flavor, and also adds to the moisture level. I love that half the flour is whole wheat (I used white whole wheat for a subtler flavor), so that I can feel a little better about eating this… that said, this is definitely a treat- I mean, look at the amount of butter! This is certainly not a health food 🙂 This does make an excellent breakfast treat every once in a while though, a great mid-day snack, and even a great dessert. I’m sure this won’t be my first and last banana bread recipe on this blog, because I have inherited my mom’s desire to try out every banana bread recipe known to man, but this is a great one that I will come back to again and again.

Banana Bread

Banana Bread

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients:

3/4 cup (12 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled a bit

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp almond extract

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp espresso powder

1 cup ripe banana, mashed (about 2 bananas)

1/2 cup strong, black coffee

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a loaf pan.

2. In a small bowl, combine the mashed banana and coffee.

3.  Add the melted butter and brown sugar to a large bowl, and whisk together. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking after each addition. Add the vanilla, and whisk together. Beat until a little lightened in color.

4. In another bowl, add the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, spices and espresso powder. Mix or sift together until well blended.

5. Alternate adding the banana mixture, and the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture. I added about a third of each mixture at a time. Mix gently after each addition, until all is added, and the mixture is combined. Don’t mix too aggressively, or the bread will toughen.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, pop in the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the bread comes out clean. Remove from oven, let rest in pan for 10 minutes, the remove from pan to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Source: barely adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook

Here are some other banana bread recipes I would love to try out:

Banana Oatmeal Bread from Serious Eats

Crackly Banana Bread from Smitten Kitchen

Jacked-Up Banana Bread from Smitten Kitchen

Banana Bread with Cinnamon Crumble Topping from Orangette

Banana-Coconut Bread from Orangette

 

Strawberry-Coconut Smoothie

Strawberry-Coconut Smoothie

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend, and a smooth start to the week! I went to Washington, D.D. over the weekend to visit my brother and his fiancee, and it was such a wonderful trip. I’ll be posting about it sometime this week! I was not ready to come back to Connecticut at all… if only I didn’t have to work…sigh… How amazing would it be to perpetually be on vacation (whether travelling or just hanging out at home)- I don’t think I’d ever tire of it (as long as I had money to do fun things and eat delicious food that is). I guess that’ll have to wait until retirement, or I suddenly become a millionaire.

So I wanted to give you a quick and delicious recipe to start the week off right. This is a super tasty and healthy smoothie that is such a satisfying snack! It would also make a wonderful breakfast, or even dessert… I think it’s delicious enough to drink anytime of day. This smoothie is thick, creamy, and seems much more decadent than it actually is, and it’s something you can feel good about indulging in.

Strawberry-Coconut Smoothie

Strawberry-Coconut Smoothie

Serves 1

Ingredients:

1 cup frozen strawberries, slightly thawed

1 banana

2 Tbsp light coconut milk

1 tsp lemon juice

3/4 cup water

Directions:

1. Add all ingredients to a blender, and blend until smooth.

Source: Whole Living, January/February 2013

Baked Blueberry Oatmeal

Want a delicious and easy workday breakfast that you can put together on a Sunday night, and then take to work all week without having to do more than put it in a container and heat up a portion in the morning? Then this is what you are looking for! It is seriously delicious and awesome, and while it does contain some sugar, it’s still a pretty healthy breakfast that is hearty enough to keep you satisfied until lunchtime. I loved that I could just take a portion with me to work in the morning, pop it in the microwave, and have a yummy breakfast with no effort at all. The blueberry and banana combination worked excellently (especially combined with the flavors of vanilla and cinnamon). I can see this baked oatmeal becoming more of a regular thing for me! It would be great as a weekend breakfast as well, or as a part of a breakfast or brunch gathering, as its really not much work at all, and won’t leave you slaving over a stove. I also think it would lend itself to different combinations of fruits, and nuts, and I really want to try making it vegan (substituting almond milk for the dairy, coconut oil for the butter, and flax for the egg)… I’ll let you know how it goes when I try it.

Baked Blueberry Oatmeal

Baked Blueberry Oatmeal

Serves 6

Ingredients:

2 cups rolled (old-fashioned) oats

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped (or a combination of nuts- I used walnuts and almonds), divided

1/3 cup natural cane sugar or maple syrup (I didn’t have either, so I used regular granulated sugar)

1 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Scant 1/2 tsp fine-grain sea salt

2 cups milk (I used 2%)

1 large egg

3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled, plus more for buttering baking pan

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 ripe bananas, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen), divided

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter the inside of an 8×8 baking dish.

2. Mix together the oats, half the nuts, the sugar (if using instead of maple syrup), baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, maple syrup (if using), half the butter, and the vanilla extract.

4. Lay your banana slices in a single layer on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle two-thirds of the blueberries over the bananas. Pour your oat mixture on top, and spread evenly. Pour the milk mixture on top, and gently tap the baking dish on the counter a few times so that the milk settles into the oats. Sprinkle the rest of the berries and nuts over the top.

5. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until set, and the top has become golden. Remove from oven and let cool for a little while. Drizzle the rest of the butter over the top. Any leftovers can be refridgerated and heated up for breakfasts throughout the week.

Source: barely adapted from Super Natural Every Day

Banana-Apple Buckwheat Muffins

Weekend breakfasts are wonderful! I love taking my time in the kitchen cooking up some bacon and fried eggs, an omelet or the occasional batch of pancakes, but I am always on the hunt for good weekday breakfast recipes. Because I have to be at work at the bright and early hour of 7 AM, I don’t have time or energy in the morning for a long leisurely breakfast, and even cooking something quick like eggs turns me off because of the dishes it dirties cooking them. These banana-apple buckwheat muffins are a perfect solution. They can be made a couple of days in advance, they are healthier than regular muffins as they are pretty low in sugar (and the sugar comes from natural sources- honey, banana and apple), and to top it off, they are very tasty! This is my first time cooking with buckwheat flour, but it definitely won’t be my last. It’s a great source of protein and is naturally gluten-free!

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Banana-Apple Buckwheat Muffins
Makes 4 Muffins

Ingredients:
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp coarse salt
2 large eggs
1/2 mashed banana
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup sweet apple finely diced (honeycrisp or pink lady would work well)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a muffin tin, place 4 baking cups.
2. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt to a bowl and whisk together. In another bowl, mix together the eggs, banana, and honey. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix together. Add the apples and walnuts, and fold in.
3. Split the batter between the 4 baking cups. Fill the empty cups with water. (This will help the muffins to bake evenly.)
4. Bake for about 30 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Remove from the muffin tin and let cool on a rack.

Source: Whole Living, January/February 2013

Here are some other recipes using buckwheat flour that I’ve come across in my search so far that I’m itching to try:

Chocolate Buckwheat Cake (David Lebovitz)
Vegan and Gluten-Free Vanilla Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes (Oh She Glows)
Yeasted Buckwheat Pancakes (Not Without Salt)
Buckwheat Crepes (Gluten-Free Girl)

Green Monster Smoothie

Did you know that the term Green Monster was coined by Angela over at Oh She Glows?  I didn’t know that until this week when I was researching different Green Monster smoothie-type drinks.  I’ve been reading Oh She Glows for a while, and I found this news to be very exciting!  It’s the small things that excite me- Dunkin’ Donuts, a good burger, a basket of kittens, you know, the usual!

I’ve been very curious about these green drinks for a while, and because I’m really working on sticking to my New Year’s resolutions of eating well, and exercising, I figured it was the perfect time to try one of these out. I am so happy to say that I loved my green monster.  There are a lot of variations of this smoothie, and I’m sure that I’ll be experimenting with them frequently, but my very first try was awesome!  You can really barely taste the spinach- I think there is a very slight hint of something green, but except for the green color, I think you’d be hard-pressed to pinpoint it if you didn’t know what was in this. Me?  I don’t mind the green color at all- after all, it is my favorite color.

Green Monster Spinach Smoothie
Serves 1

Ingredients:
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup 0% vanilla Greek yogurt
1 banana, sliced, and preferably frozen
1 tbsp peanut butter
2-4 cups baby spinach
Ice, optional (I use about 3 ice cubes in mine)

Directions:
1. Add all ingredients to your blender and blend until smooth.
2. Drink your greens 🙂

Source: Iowa Girl Eats and Oh She Glows