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Healthy Banana Pudding

August 5, 2013


If I had to pick one dessert to eat for the rest of my life it would be banana pudding. I haven’t always loved banana pudding, since I hated bananas for a good chunk of my childhood. But once I realized the error of my ways and discovered my love for bananas, I was head over heels in love with banana pudding. I still remember visiting my grandmother in North Carolina a number of years ago and being greeted with a huge aluminum casserole dish filled with the most delicious banana pudding I’ve ever tasted. It’s a food memory that will stay with me forever.

While I could easily eat banana pudding every day of my life, I try to show a little restraint by treating myself only now and again. It’s not exactly waistline friendly, until today! And now that I’ve discovered a healthier alternative to my favorite dessert, I’ve been enjoying it a whole lot more often.

Ever since I discovered the tastiness that is tofu pudding, I’ve been crazy about playing around with different ways to enjoy this healthy dessert. I have no idea why it didn’t strike me earlier to use my beloved tofu pudding as the base for a banana-flavored version. The base is made with tofu (silken firm tofu is a must, don’t sub anything else!) and two ripe bananas. Blend them together with a little cinnamon, vanilla extract, almond milk and stevia and you’ve got yourself a crazy tasty dessert.


Healthy Banana Pudding
Makes 2 generous servings
16 oz silken firm tofu
2 medium ripe bananas
1/4 cup almond milk or other milk of choice
2 packets stevia sweetener
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine all the above ingredients together in a high powered blender or food processor. Blend until completely smooth. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or until completely chilled. Serve with sliced bananas and cinnamon, if desired.

Happy Cooking!

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

*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 

*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!


Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes

October 25, 2010

Cue the Jack Johnson song because I’m making banana pancakes. And you should, too. Actually, I’ve been making banana pancakes for over a week now and am convinced these pancakes are the best breakfast yet on Espresso and Cream. This recipe is loosely adapted from the buttermilk pancakes in my most recent cookbook obsession, Gourmet Today. I’ve been reading and cooking my way through it, recipe after delicious recipe, entirely shocked it sat unused on my shelf for almost a year.

What makes them so great? They’re fluffy and light, despite being made with whole wheat flour, and the addition of mashed bananas and cinnamon gives the sensation of eating banana bread without the 50 minute bake time. And my personal favorite part is that they’re just slightly sweet so they don’t send you into a sugar coma. Breakfast sugar coma? Gross.

Aside from making banana pancakes to start off our Saturday, Joey and I headed off to Minnesota to watch his brother Jason play football. It was a great weekend spent with J’s family and some of our friends from Bethel.

Joey’s sister Amber and her husband Jake came from Chicago. 
Profile shot of the cheering section. 
Sarah and I have been friends since we were four. Coincidentally, she married one of Joey’s close college friends, Kurt, in June. Aren’t these newlyweds the cutest? 
 The whole gang: Joey, me, Amber, Jake, Jason, Ali, and Joey’s parents, Lisa and Brian. Thankfully most of the rain stayed at bay and we were able to bypass the ponchos. Have I mentioned how much I love fall weather?

Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes
(Printable Recipe)

*1 medium ripe banana, mashed
*1 large egg
*1 tsp. baking soda
*1/4 tsp. salt
*1 tsp. ground cinnamon
*1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
*1 Tbsp. sugar
*1 cup milk
*1 Tbsp. ground flax (optional)
*1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
Nonstick cooking spray
Sliced bananas 

*In a large bowl, combine the banana, egg, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, vanilla, and sugar. Stir to combine. Add in the milk, ground flax, if desired, and flour. Stir until well combined.
*Preheat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
*Spoon batter, two pancakes at a time, into preheated skillet. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until bubbles form in the center of the pancakes. Flip and cook an additional two minutes. Serve with sliced bananas and other desired toppings. (Peanut butter is my favorite)

Happy Cooking!


Banana Pudding Trifle

May 7, 2010

Before getting to regular posting news, I have an exciting announcement…. Espresso and Cream is losing and switching to a .com! All that basically means for you all is that when you are searching, typing, or sharing how to find Espresso and Cream you can save yourself the extra effort and type in Readers who go to the old address will automatically be re-directed to the new one, and for the next couple of days if some things aren’t functioning properly, you know the reason. By the end of the weekend, everything should be fixed! Thanks in advance for your patience.

Now back to regular posting:

I’m not entirely sure what has come over me lately, but for the past two months I have been waking up craving the most unusual foods. Maybe not unusual to most people, but certainly unusual to me, since most of the foods I suddenly find myself wanting to eat are things I have previously sworn off as foods I hate. But before you get all hot and bothered, I can 100% assure you these cravings have nothing to do with possible impending motherhood (amen!) and a lot more to do with my life as a food editor. 

Growing up there was a whole list of things I wouldn’t eat, but as the years passed and I matured, so did my taste buds. What was once a picky eater turned into an adventurous one, and up until college graduation, only a few foods remained on the no-eat list, like pickles, coleslaw, mayonnaise, bananas, gravy, and watermelon.

Unfortunately, I still don’t have a taste for watermelon or gravy, but a slow trickle of cravings over the past couple weeks led me to discover that I do, in fact, love pickles and coleslaw, and mayonnaise. Strange but true. And today, at work, I suddenly couldn’t figure out why I’ve gone 22 years without eating banana pudding. With half of my family being southern and having been born in the South, I felt shame and confusion creep over me along with an intense desire to make banana pudding.

Within five minutes of returning home after work this afternoon I was barefoot, in my kitchen, stirring a saucepan of what would be the pudding for my banana pudding trifle. Since I had never made banana pudding, I was shocked to realize that after some intense research on that most ‘banana puddings’ are really just vanilla puddings with banana slices, which really suited me just fine. And once the whole trifle was assembled and photographed, I dug out two heaping bites, bananas and all, and basked in the deliciousness and satisfaction of being right: I love bananas and above all, banana pudding. 

Banana Pudding Trifle
Courtesy of Southern Living magazine
*3 cups milk (2% or whole)
*3 large eggs
*3/4 cup sugar
*1/3 cup all-purpose flour
*2 Tbsp. butter
*2 tsp. vanilla extract 

*4 medium bananas, sliced
*1 (1-lb.) pkg. peanut butter sandwich cookies (Nutter Butters), coarsely crumbled
*2 cups sweetened whipped cream

*Whisk together first 4 ingredients in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, 15 to 20 minutes or until thickened. (make sure you really do whisk/stir constantly) Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla until butter is melted. 
*Pour into a bowl, place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of pudding, and refrigerate until cool. 
*When pudding is cooled, in a bowl or trifle dish, pour half of the pudding in the bottom of the dish, followed by half the bananas and half the cookies. Repeat with remaining pudding, bananas, and cookies. Top with the whipped cream and additional cookies, if desired. 

Happy Cooking!


Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins

March 17, 2010

Last night, one of my oldest and dearest friends (yeah, I know I’m only 22 so how ‘old’ can this friend really be, but just play along) gave me a call to catch up. Like me, he recently graduated from college and is adjusting to life in the real world, which includes feeding himself.

I’m not entirely sure how the topic of eating habits came up, but after our conversation I’m pretty sure he wishes it hadn’t. Because after telling me he eats up to 10 fast-food meals a week, starts every morning off with a Pop Tart, and gets on average one fruit or vegetable a day, I went on to spend the next 20 minutes telling him how he is going to die prematurely or live the rest of his life dependent on prescription medications. Yup, I can be a charmer on the telephone. I promise, it was all said out of love.

But what our conversation really did was get me thinking – about food, nutrition, and taking small steps in the right direction. Maybe it’s not about being perfectly healthy, just a bit healthier than the day before. So while my plan was to make these muffins with 100% whole wheat flour, I reconsidered and tried to create a breakfast muffin that would be healthier than a Pop Tart but would satisfy those, like my friend, who are reluctant and skeptical.

Many times whole wheat flour gives baked goods a denser, heavier texture. So to mimic the texture of a muffin made with 100% all-purpose flour while adding in a fiber-rich dose of whole grains I settled on a combination of 50/50 all-purpose flour and instant oats. I found the combination to be the compromise I was hoping for. Instant oats, which are ground finer than regular rolled oats, don’t weigh down the texture of the muffins like whole wheat flour might and instead yield a light, airy texture. The other great part of this recipe is its adaptability. Feel free to play around by substituting a cup of canned pumpkin, cooked and mashed sweet potato, or grated zucchini for the mashed bananas.

Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins
Loosely adapted from “Whole Wheat Muffins” by The New York Times
*1/2 cup butter, melted
*2 medium bananas, mashed
*1 egg
*1/2 cup milk (I used 1%)
*1 tsp. ground cinnamon
*1/4 tsp. baking soda
*2 tsp. baking powder
*1/4 tsp. salt
*1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
*1 1/4 cup instant oats
*3/4 cup sugar
*2 Tbsp. brown sugar
*1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

*Preheat oven to 375*F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners and set aside.
*In a bowl with a fork or whisk, mix together butter, bananas, egg, milk, cinnamon, baking soda, powder, and salt until well combined.
*In another bowl, mix together flour, oats, and sugar. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix together until just combined, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.
*Evenly divide batter among the 12 muffin cups. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the 12 muffins. Bake for 18-20 minutes until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Happy (healthy) Baking!


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