morning glory muffins

Thank goodness I made these muffins on Monday or else you wouldn’t have a post to read today! We’re still making progress on our projects. I’ll have the ‘after’ photos for you next Monday!

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On Sunday I realized I had 2 very ripe bananas hanging on our cooking wall and 7 frozen in the freezer. It was about time to start using them.

Banana bread is one of my favorite snacks but I wanted to change it up and find a different recipe. I searched my cookbooks and came up empty so I went to my trusty Cookinglight.com and searched ‘bananas’. I found a recipe called Morning Glory Muffins with over 50 positive reviews. By substituting some of the ingredients I didn’t have to go to the grocery store first therefore it was a winner.

I went a little overboard with the substitutions but hey, I can’t not. Experimenting is fun! If you’re wondering about the Peach Yoplait, Al hates that flavor so I wanted to use it up and of course I didn’t have regular yogurt on hand.

To explain it all, I put my changes in parenthesis after the original ingredients in the recipe below.

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Morning Glory Muffins
(source)

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (about 4 3/4 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 ounces) (White Whole Wheat Flour)
  • 1 cup regular oats
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar (Cane Sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon wheat bran (Chia seeds)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain fat-free yogurt $ (Peach Yogurt)
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2)
  • 1 large egg $
  • 1 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (Pecans)
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried pineapple $ (Dried Cherries)
  • 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed (about 2 tablespoons whole (Raw Buckwheat Groat)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Place 18 muffin cups liners in muffin cups; coat liners with cooking spray.
  3. Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flours and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine yogurt, banana, and egg; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Fold in dates, walnuts, and pineapple. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle evenly with flaxseed. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove muffins from pans immediately; cool on a wire rack.

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So I guess I created a variation of the original recipe. My ‘substitutes’ aren’t all similar to the original ingredients! It’s almost like I knew what I was doing.

Fresh out of the oven with a little butter or earth balance. These muffins were amazing. I thought all the dried fruit and crazy yogurt would make the muffins way too sweet so I cut back a little on the dried fruit when I made them. I think this helped because the sweetness was definitely there but it didn’t overpower the pecans or oats. The oats, raw buckwheats, and pecans gave the muffins an awesome chew which contrasted with the gooey fruit.

It’s ridiculous how good these muffins are! No wonder so many people on Cooking Light felt the need to give there two cents.

I’ve taken two with me to work each day this week. I could have probably eaten one for my morning snack and one for the afternoon but once I start one I can’t leave the other all by itself. 🙂

Do you have a yummy muffin recipe?

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zucchini chocolate chip muffins

This marathon training is making me eat carbs. It’s either making me because I’m craving them all the time or I’m just using the training as a super good excuse to scarf down anything with flour in it. Case in point: 12 mile run on Sunday = one stack of sweet potato pancakes. 🙂 Yum.

I’ve even been told from my Sports Backers coaches that you really are supposed to eat pasta-like dishes before your long runs so really, it’s a requirement.

Because of this, I went on a carb recipe hunt on Monday. I wanted a quick snack that I could take with me when I’m out and about. That way I won’t be tempted to buy unhealthy eats when I’m grocery shopping and whatnot.

I searched my regular food blogs and found Mama’s Peas recipe for Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins. Muffins with chocolate and hidden veggies sounded awesome to me!

To make you’re life easier, I thought I’d post the recipe here instead of just the link like I usually do. I’ll try and do this from now on.

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins
(source)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. canola oil
  • 1/4 c. applesauce
  • 2/3 c. organic sugar (I used half Nu Naturals Stevia Baking Blend)
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. grated zucchini
  • 1/2 c. dark chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with muffin papers.
  • Combine zucchini, oil, applesauce and sugar in a medium bowl.
  • Combine remaining dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just mixed.
  • Spoon batter into muffin cups until they are about 2/3rds of the way full.
  • Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

I’m shocked to say that we still have some left!  It helps that I put them on top of the fridge where we don’t usually keep snacks.

Also, it’s Thursday and they’re still super gooey and delicious! Mama Pea never steers me wrong.

I’ve already eaten these babies for breakfast, lunch, and dessert. I plan on making two batches next time! I was also thinking of substituting some of the zucchini for carrots just to try something new. That sounds like a tolerable substitute, right Elisa?? 🙂

What are you baking this week? A snack or maybe an awesome dessert?

chocolate chia bites

Dates (the food) are interesting. Interesting in a way that when I left two in a zip lock bag on the kitchen counter my husband got super annoyed because he thought I had left Olivia’s fecal sample where we prep food. TMI? Well they are pretty funny looking. They taste great though! Especially as a pre-run snack with peanut butter. Yum.

Anyways, I’ve had a Sam’s size tub of them in my fridge for a while so I thought I’d use some up. And this week Al and I are steering clear of anything unhealthy and really packing in the fruits and vegetables so I thought I’d make us a healthy yet tasty dessert!

I headed over to Ashley’s blog and typed in ‘dates’. Alright, Chocolate Chia Bites it is! I was missing a couple ingredients but you know that never stops me!

Before I began, I had to create the required makeshift chihuahua bed for Belle. That lady will step all over my feet the whole time I’m in the kitchen! ‘Tis pretty cute but I think she’d rather lay down and watch me cook (hence the bed) because as soon as I make one… plop, she’s down and settled.

Yes, I use a ramekin for her dog bowl. HA.

First, I pitted the dates and chopped them up a couple times to prep them for the food processor.

I processed them into a big ball by themselves before adding the other ingredients.

Like Ashley says, once the other ingredients are added, it really does look like dirt!

I had two substitutions in the mix. I didn’t have any almond extract so I used cinnamon which is what Ashley suggested. The other thing I did was use whole wheat flour instead of chia flour. It appears that whole wheat is a lot drier than chia because I couldn’t get the bites to shape into balls, they were just too crumbly. I got the soaking food processor out of the sink and added five more dates to the mix. It was the perfect consistency after that. So if you happen to use a flour other than chia, I would watch the sticky factor!

After all that, I added in the chia seeds and shredded coconut then shaped them into little balls using my hands.

That’s it!

They’re like little gooey brownie bites. I’m keeping them in the fridge to make sure they stay nice and chewy and have already tucked them in the back so we don’t scarf them in one sitting. Better than eating a tray of ‘real’ brownies though right??

What’s your favorite dessert? I might just have 5.

april’s foodie pen pal

This past month I participated in a blogger pen pal program. You can read about it here. Pretty much it’s a fun little exchange of food gifts that helps bloggers connect with each other.

I got my package right before I left for Australia. I was so pumped!

My pen pal is Roberta and she’s awesome. She stalked me, found stuff she knew I’d like and got me all of it for under $15! Super impressive. I only bought three things for my penpal! I’ll have to try harder next time to find the deals. Tsk, tsk.

So I now have a great variety of healthy and ‘green’ products in my pantry: coffee, trail mix, 2 salsa mixes, chili mix (from the Woman’s Bean Project), local goat milk soap, bean seeds, and doggie treats!

Healthy, ‘green’, and something dog related. She knows me so well. 🙂

Once the girls got a whiff of the dog treats, they began dancing around and performing every trick they know (even though I didn’t ask) to try and get it. It was hilarious so you know I have to show you.

Roary went for the more advanced ‘roll over’…

while Olivia tried ‘shake’.

After a couple more excited moves I gave in. They scarfed those babies down in a second.

They thank you, Roberta and I do too! We already dug into the trail mix for our travels and I can’t wait to try everything else!

If you’re interested in any type of food or meeting people I would suggest signing up for Foodie Pen pals. You’re only required to do it for one month, you’ll meet a couple new friends and get tasty presents! It was a lot of fun and I look forward to joining in again soon.

I’m thinking these types of gifts would be good for birthdays! Instead of buying something for someone that you don’t know if they’ll like, why not expand their taste buds and buy varieties of foods that they love! Fun and functional.

Hmm, who’s birthday is coming up next?! 😉

yummy: banana (protein) bread

This week I needed to refill my husband’s stock of homemade protein bars. Even though they’re very tasty, I decided to change it up since we’ve been eating the same kind for over a month.

I made banana bread instead!

It’s a treat from my childhood that my mom would sometimes make when she has too many bad, frozen bananas in the freezer. I’ve followed in her footsteps and do the same thing when it happens to me.

I think I had 6 frozen bananas and 2 that were going bad. Oops!

Again like my mom, I turned to my Cooking Light cookbook for help and used this recipe. When I was a kid she used to get the magazines. I don’t remember reading them at all but I DO remember looking at all the delicious photos.

I decided to make two loaves so that I could freeze one to eat next week.

Prepare yourself. I changed a couple of the ingredients per the usual but this time it all worked out swimmingly. It was not a  Mama Pea’s Cookie repeat!

The first change up was the flour. Instead of using  two cups of all-purpose flour (white flour), I used one cup of white whole wheat and one of just plain whole wheat flour.

I’ve read many times that if you want to add whole wheat flour to a recipe you should put in half of what the recipe calls for and then use normal all-purpose flour for the rest. This is what I normally do for recipes but I thought I’d try the white whole wheat and see what happens. I’d say the bread is a bit more dense but still very very good with a lot more nutrients!

My next change up was subbing Earth Balance for butter. If you didn’t know, Earth Balance is a dairy-free buttery spread. I didn’t know what it was until last month when I needed it for a different recipe! But anyways, I didn’t taste any difference at all!

Belle follows me EVERYWHERE when I’m home by myself so to help her settle, I have to bring one of the dog beds into the kitchen so she has a place to rest. It’s sweet and cute. 🙂

Fun little tip: Don’t freeze the bananas whole like I did. You end up with something mushy and super kinda gross when they defrost. Instead, when you’re bananas go bad, peel them, cut them into a couple chunks, and then freeze them all together in a freezer bag. That was you can use them for smoothies, bread, or maybe even banana soft serve!

Alright, my main ingredient change was this protein powder. Since this bread is supposed to be a substitute for protein bars, I added some (the recommended serving) into the batter. I just put in a little less flour to make room in the recipe. I think the vanilla flavor helped bring out the bananas. It didn’t change the texture or anything! That surprised me because some brands often have a gritty/chalky texture. Trader Joe’s for the win.

Ever wonder what the difference is between baking in a metal non-stick pan and baking in a silicone ‘pan’? Look no further.

Honestly, there wasn’t much difference at all. I thought the ‘fancy’ silicone would somehow make the bread better but it didn’t. They both tasted great! The bread from the silicone DID taste more moist but I think it’s because the bread bakes quicker in the metal pan. Interesting, eh? I thought so.

Proof of my official taste test. A little Earth Balance on top.

Shockingly, I only ate the two slices pictured here!! And I haven’t had anymore… yet. Course now that I’ve had to write this post and I see all the tasty goodness, I might just have to get down to the kitchen and get myself a slice.

So if you ever decide to make a protein-filled snack, remember it doesn’t have to be just bars. Throw your protein into anything! I bet it’ll work out just fine and you’ll have another healthy food to add to your snack arsenal!

What snacks do you eat? Do you make anything in advance?

yummy: guacamole

It is sad to say that I am the only avocado lover in the house. This means that the only time I get to devour one is at lunch, usually in the form of guacamole.

Last week they were on super sale so I picked up two.

I usually just wing it with simple ingredients and taste test as I go. Here’s what I used for this batch:

  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 of a red onion
  • leftover orange bell pepper
  • salt
  • cilantro
  • lime

Normally I don’t use bell pepper but my sister had some leftover in the fridge and I was scared that it was going to go bad before she ate it. 🙂

First I chopped up the onion into tiny pieces. Please make sure they are SMALL pieces! Often times I’m so excited to be eating guacamole that I chop up the onions into larger chunks only to painfully choke them down later when they’re burning my mouth. No good.

Then I chopped up the bell pepper. I could taste them in the guacamole but they didn’t overpower anything so I might start adding them regularly to my recipe. Usually when I make this, I eat the whole thing and lots of chips, so any added veggie is a nice bonus.

Next I mashed up the avocado.

Mixed in the onion and bell pepper then shook in some salt.

I added in the dried cilantro but if you’re fancy (unlike me), you could use fresh. Oo la la.

Finally I squeezed in the ‘fresh’ lime juice and mixed it all together.

Pour a giant bowl of chips and dig in! A tasty, healthy snack… or lunch.

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NOTE: My sister just read this post to proofread it and said, ‘Now that just makes me hungry.’

And I responded with, ‘But you don’t like guacamole!’

To which she said, ‘No, but the chips!’

Nice, guacamole hater.

Do you have a favorite food that everyone else seems to hate yet you love it with all your heart? Mushrooms is another one for me!