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banana bread

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Higher Protein Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

May 30, 2012

Espresso and Cream has been pretty light on the recipes lately, and I think it’s time to remedy that! I’ve been doing a bit more baking and experimenting with quinoa flour over the past couple months. Initially, I thought it was a difficult flour to work with. It has a slightly stronger, nuttier taste than whole wheat flour, and it doesn’t contain gluten, so it typically needs to be cut with another type of flour. But once I started working with it a little more, I grew to love the flavor of quinoa flour when mixed with a little all-purpose or white whole wheat flour. I also love that it is higher in protein that tradition flours, which makes it a great addition to quick breads and other treats you want to make a little healthier, like banana bread.

Each week, we buy somewhere between 8 and 10 bananas, which means I’m always looking for new ways to dress up banana bread. There are already a number of recipes for banana bread on Espresso and Cream, but I don’t really believe there is one, ultimate banana bread. There are just too many ways to adapt the bread depending on what you’re in the mood for. Last week, I happened to be in the mood for something that was slightly healthier than traditional banana bread, but still packed with hits of sweet chocolate. This is the perfect breakfast bread or afternoon snack, and Joe even called it the “best banana bread you’ve ever made.”

One measure I use to judge the quality of a banana bread recipe is it’s “aging potential.” In my opinion, a really good banana bread tastes better as the days go by. Somewhere between the second and third day after baking it, the bread truly tastes the best. After taking this bread with us to Minneapolis last weekend and eating it throughout the days we were there, I can assure you that the aging potential is spot-on.

Higher Protein Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Ingredients
*3 bananas, mashed
*1/4 cup butter, melted
*1 large egg, lightly beaten
*1/4 cup granulated sugar
*1/4 cup milk
*1 teaspoon baking soda
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour
*1/2 cup quinoa flour
*1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Instructions
*Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour a loaf pan. Set aside.
*In a large bowl, combine the bananas, butter, egg, and sugar. Beat until well combined. Add in the milk, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and beat until combined.
*In a small bowl, combine the white whole wheat flour and quinoa flour. Add the flour to the wet ingredients and beat until just combined. Do not over beat. Stir in the chocolate chips.
*Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until lightly browned and a stick inserted in the center comes out nearly clean. Cool on wire rack.

Happy Baking!
Madison

Heathier Recipe 1: Banana Muffins

June 17, 2011
Since I had three very ripe bananas sitting atop my fridge, I decided to jump right in on this request to make banana muffins healthier. Banana bread is one of my favorite breakfast treats and an extremely easy food to make healthier because the ripe bananas naturally provide moisture and sweetness to the recipe.
Upon first looking at the original recipe, I noticed a few things. First, it contained sour cream; great for adding moisture and flavor but not so hot nutritionally. Second, they were made with all-purpose flour. Not the end of the world but something that could benefit from a healthy face lift. There was also a full stick of butter in these muffins and a hefty dose of sugar.
So what’s a girl to do? For starters, I stirred in vanilla yogurt for the sour cream to cut down on fat and calories and used a combination of whole wheat and all purpose flour for a dose of whole grains and fiber. I also cut back on the amount of sugar used, since I find most recipes are a little heavy on the sweetness. And I cut back on the butter by a few tablespoons and used a little unsweetened applesauce in its place. 
The calorie comparison (calculated using sparkrecipes.com) between the original and my new, healthier version are pretty impressive: 

Original Recipe: 205 calories, 11 g fat (6 g sat. fat), 60 mg chol., 25 g carb, 14 g sugar, 3 g protein.
New Recipe: 154 calories, 6 g fat (4 g sat. fat), 15 mg chol., 24 g carb., 12 g sugar, 2 g protein.

Banana Muffins 
Recipe adapted from Epicurious.com
Ingredients
*1/2 cup all-purpose flour
*3/4 cup whole wheat flour
*1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
*1/2 teaspoon baking soda
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*2 very ripe bananas, mashed
*6 ounces light vanilla yogurt (such as Dannon Light and Fit)
*1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
*1/2 cup sugar
*6 tablespoons butter, softened
*2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce 
*1 large egg
*1 large egg yolk 
Instructions:
*Preheat oven to 350°F. 
*In a bowl combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. 
*In a large bowl, combine mashed bananas, yogurt, vanilla extract, sugar, butter, applesauce and eggs until well combined. Add flour mixture to the wet mixture. Stir until just combined. 
*Line 12 muffin cups with paper baking liners. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. 
Happy Baking!
Madison

High Protein Health-Nut Banana Bread

March 18, 2011

I’m always looking for ways to incorporate more protein into each meal and snack I eat. After becoming vegetarian, I knew that finding new protein sources was going to be crucial to my success.  Each day I try to drink a protein shake filled with fruit, Greek yogurt flies out of the refrigerator, and I go through peanut butter faster than I want to admit.

And although I enjoy scrambled eggs for lunch or dinner quite often, I can never get myself to eat them for breakfast. It’s got to be on the sweet side for me, without causing a whole bunch of guilt and a sugar crash after. That’s where this banana bread comes into the picture.

Yes, another banana bread, despite the fact that there are already two recipes for it on the site. But this bread is delicious and healthy. It’s not your grandmother’s banana bread. No, it’s filled with yogurt, protein powder, flax seed, whole wheat flour and peanut butter for a hearty dose of protein and fiber. And with only a 1/2 cup of sugar in the entire loaf, it has a mildly sweet flavor that won’t weigh you down.

High Protein Health-Nut Banana Bread

Ingredients
*3 medium ripe bananas, mashed
*5 tablespoons butter, melted
*1/3 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt (I use Dannon Light and Fit) 
*35-40 grams vanilla-flavored protein powder (I use Pure Protein Vanilla Whey Protein)
*1/4 cup sugar
*1/4 cub brown sugar
*2 large eggs
*1 teaspoon baking soda
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*1/4 cup ground flax meal
*1/2 cup all-purpose flour
*3/4 cup whole wheat flour
*2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
*2 tablespoons milk 

Instructions
*Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9×5-inch loaf pan with aluminum foil; set aside.
*In a large bowl, beat together the bananas, butter, yogurt, protein powder, sugar, brown sugar and eggs. Beat until well combined. Add in baking soda, salt vanilla extract, cinnamon and flax meal. Stir until combined.
*Beat in flours until just combined. Reserve 1/2 cup of the batter. Transfer remaining batter to loaf pan. Stir peanut butter and milk into the reserved batter and stir until combined. Spread peanut butter batter atop batter in loaf pan. Run a knife through to evenly distribute peanut butter batter layer.
*Bake for 50 minutes, until golden brown on the surface. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Happy baking!

Madison

Breakfast Muffies

March 4, 2011

You know those special pans you can buy at specialty cooking stores that are designed to help you create muffin tops or ‘muffies’? Yeah, I don’t have one of those pans, but I am most certainly a fan of muffin tops.

Unless we’re talking about muffin tops above your jeans. Definitely not a fan of those.

The good news about these muffies? They won’t give you a muffin top. In fact, they’re actually quite healthy, made with mashed bananas, whole wheat flour, oats, and a little butter and sugar. If you’re a fan of soft, fluffy, cake-like cookie-muffins then these are for you.

Of course, a single muffie on its own isn’t enough to keep me full all morning, so I dressed mine up this morning with a smear of creamy peanut butter and a dollop of Greek yogurt. A divine way to start the morning, indeed.

Breakfast Muffies
This recipe calls for oat flour, which is incredibly easy to make. Just place 1 1/2 to 2 cups of regular rolled oats in a food processor and process for about a minute, until the oats form a finely ground meal. Use as you would flour! 

Ingredients
*1 cup oat flour (see note, above)
*3/4 cup whole wheat flour
*1/4 tsp. baking powder
*3/4 tsp. baking soda
*1/4 tsp. salt
*1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
*3 very ripe bananas, mashed
*1 large egg
*1/3 cup sugar
*2 1/2 Tbsp. butter, melted
*1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Instructions
*Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease with non stick cooking spray. 
*In a small bowl, combine the oat flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ground cinnamon. Set aside.
*In a large mixing bowl, combine the bananas, egg, sugar and butter. Stir until well combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring until just combined. Stir in chopped walnuts.
*Drop by heaping tablespoons onto baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until cookies are lightly golden around the edges and puffed. Remove and transfer to wire rack to cool. Makes 10 muffies

Nutritional Facts per muffie: (estimated from SparkRecipes) 191 cal., 8.2 g fat (2.6 sat. fat), 26 mg chol., 109 mg. sodium, 27 g carb., 3.2 g dietary fiber, 11 g sugar, 4.4 g protein. 239 g potassium

Happy Baking!
Madison

Whole Wheat-Flax Seed Banana Bread

September 22, 2010

I spent all summer eating the same thing for breakfast day-in and day-out. This is not an exaggeration in the least bit. Aside from times when I was traveling, and even then sometimes, my breakfast consisted of Greek yogurt, some type of berries, a little cereal, and a dollop of homemade nut butter.

Maybe that’s strange; in fact, it more than likely is. But for me, breakfast is a particular meal. It really does set the tone for my eating choices throughout the rest of the day, and either makes me feel full of energy or dragging my feet. Anyone else with me on that?

But for the last few weeks, I’ve slowly been stepping out of my self-imposed breakfast box, exploring things like Buckwheat-Greek Yogurt Pancakes and this Whole Wheat-Flax Seed Banana Bread. By keeping a serving of fruit in my breakfast, paired with some healthy whole grains, I’ve found that feel-good breakfasts aren’t really as cut and dried as I’ve made them lately. In fact, breakfast is starting to be a whole lot more fun.

So when I spotted banana bread on the cover of Cooking Light magazine this month, I jumped at the opportunity to put my own spin on an already delicious recipe. My only real complaint about the original was that it called for all-purpose flour instead of whole wheat. In its place I used whole wheat pastry flour, which gives you less gluten development and a lighter texture than regular whole wheat flour (aka it’s better for getting all-purpose flour-like results). If you don’t have whole wheat pastry flour on hand, use a 50/50 mix of whole wheat and all-purpose flour.

Whole Wheat-Flax Seed Banana Bread
Adapted from Cooking Light  
(Printable Recipe)

This recipe calls for baking the banana bread for 55 to 60 minutes. If you prefer your bread to be firm and fully-baked, shoot for 60 minutes. If, however, you are more like me and prefer it to be slightly soft and moist in the center, shoot for something closer to 55 minutes. After eating this for breakfast two days in a row, I can assure you it is even better the second day. 

Ingredients
*3 medium ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
*5 Tbsp. butter, melted
*1/3 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt (I used Danon Light and Fit)
*1/2 cup sugar
*1/2 cup brown sugar
*2 large eggs
*1 tsp. ground cinnamon
*3/4 tsp. baking soda
*1/2 tsp. salt
*1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
*1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
*1/4 cup ground flax meal

Instructions
*Preheat oven 350°F. Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Set aside.
*With an electric mixer, beat together the bananas, butter, yogurt, sugars, and eggs until well combined. Beat in the cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and vanilla extract.
*Add in the flour and flax meal and beat until just combined. Do not over mix. Pour patter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
*Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

Happy Baking!

Madison

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