One awkwardly dead banana and what to do with it

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Banana bread bites.

Somewhere between a cookie, banana bread, and… a scone? Muffin? A skookie? Or a brone? Or a mookie?

Clearly my brain has gone on holiday, can you tell?

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Either way, these are delicious! Vegan, refined sugar free (and low sugar), whole grain, high in fiber, and full of potassium and antioxidants. I can’t even really call it a cookie because it’s so healthy… but then you can have a cookie for a snack and feel good about it, so errrybody wins. And I win, because I’ve been buying an excess of bananas so that I can let some go all mushy and disgusting. This is all on account of Vacuum Vati, you see. I thought I ate a lot of bananas?! Apparently it’s genetic. Sheeeesh. If I didn’t buy extras and explicitly forbid him from eating them, there would never be any banana bread/bites/cake/cookies around here. And that would just be sad. So obviously I just circumvent this by buying an extra bunch and doodling on their skins to designate them off limits. MY DEAD BANANAS! MINE!

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I am, of course, very nice. How, you say? Welll… I share the PRODUCT of the hoarded bananas! I may be territorial regarding my dead bananas, but there are always several lucky recipients of the buuhhnahhhnuhhh creation. I think these went over well…. there are currently two left. *Pause for effect*… I made them yesterday. Obviously time to make something else, wouldn’t you think?

Except now I have one awkwardly dead banana and I’m not sure what to do with it. It needs friends. Does anyone care to donate their dead bananas? Anyone? Anyone? …Bueller?

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Vegan Banana Bread Cookie Pucks

Recipe adapted ever so slightly from Minimalist Baker (fabby blog!), here! The recipe makes about 18 little puck thingies… about 2-3″ across. Freaking delicious. Good for you. There is absolutely nooo reason why you shouldn’t trot off to your kitchen and make these… (unless, that is, you haven’t properly hoarded and defended your dead bananas).

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  • 2 ripe (read: dead) bananas
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp pure almond extract
  • 2 tbsp smooth almond butter (I used Maranatha unsalted)
  • 1.5 tbsp grade B organic maple syrup
  • 1.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 c rolled oats
  • 1/4 c dark chocolate chips

In a bowl, mash the two dead bananas so they can become delicious. Toss in baking powder, soda, salt, flaxseed, extracts, almond butter, maple, and olive oil, and stir to combine. Add in flour, oats, and chocolate chips, and once more stir to combine everything. The dough should be thick and a bit sticky. Cover the bowl with whatever’s handy, and refrigerate while the oven is preheating.

Preheat the oven to 375, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Once the oven is done, grab your chilling dough, and drop heaping tablespoons onto the sheet, with a bit of room between (though I was able to get all 18 on one sheet). Slightly flatten the tops. Bake for 9-10 minutes, until the tops are set. Don’t let them brown, as you want them hydrated and soft! Let cool on a rack for a bit, then store in a tupperware for about five seconds before they all get eaten.

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Pie and my happy place!

Once again, a long hiatus between posts. But this time I have an extremely good reason:

I was here.

happy place.

Among other things, doing some of this:

like a boss.

And a ton of this:

dock yoga!

Yes. You SHOULD be jealous. Be very, very jealous…

Because this also happened:

the best place to do yoga? I think so! I’m on the left in the ridiculous shorts… 

My tenth year at the best, most beautiful place on earth: a counselor for the best campers; laughing, goofing (can I say we pulled the most amazing prank ever?!), singing, eating pilfered brownies whilst stargazing: a group of the most diverse and amazing women I have ever met.

And I came back with sore ribs from laughing so much. Camp is wonderfully restorative—-being covered in camp dirt for ten days always gives me a refreshed perspective on life back home. Camp = love! So much love. I already can’t wait to go back for my 11th summer next year.

pieeeeee!

Anyway—I got back Wednesday night. And all I wanted was PIE. Blueberry pie, to be exact. Don’t ask, I’m not exactly sure why… I do love pie, but it’s not usually my go to (I’m guessing this has something to do with the somewhat temperamental nature of pie crust and the comparative ease of cake, as well as my laziness). I think it might have been the lack of berries up at camp or something, but sheeesh… pie definitely needed to happen. I decided to get experimental and make a teeny pie, just enough for four people (I bought a new 6″ cake pan, since mine are sadly in storage in another state…I had to break it in somehow, didn’t I?!). I also dispensed with the top crust- I like crust, but a bottom one is enough in a small pie, and I wanted to see what happened when I halved the recipe. Great success! Half the crust recipe fit perfectly into a 6 by 2″ cake pan, and left just enough for a top decoration. I wasn’t sure on bake time either, but it turned out perfectly. I think this might be the best crust I’ve ever made—I credit Carolyn McCuaig and her awesome pies for the recipe! Pie is most assuredly happening with greater frequency in the wait…are those…cookies universe, now that pie crust has decided to be a tad more cooperative.

mmm., antioxidants!

Blueberry Pie

Simple and satisfying, and tastes like summer in a bowl. Do yourself a favor, and eat it a la mode, like any self-respecting pie should be eaten (especially for breakfast). Many thanks to Carolyn McCuaig for her pie recipes :) I’ll include the full recipe here. For a pie like I made, make half the recipe and use a 6″ cake pan.

Double crust:

  • 2.25 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 c vegetable shortening (like Spectrum brand)
  • 1/3 c butter (preferably unsalted, although I used salted and the crust was still really good)
  • 5-6 tbsp ice water

Blueberry filling:

  • enough fresh blueberries to fill your pie dish or tin of choice
  • 1/3 – 1/2 c sugar (depending on sweetness of blueberries)
  • 1/3 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • a squirt of lemon juice (I didn’t have any, if I had, I would have added it…but it’s still fab without)
ahh, pie a la mode. Summer in a bowl.

Listen to some awesome music and get yourself in the pie groove:

Preheat the oven to 425, and (if using a cake/pie tin) grease and flour the pan. In a largish bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Cut in butter and shortening (the colder the better) until the mixture looks like cold sand. I like to use a pastry cutter for this. Add ice water a tablespoon at a time until the mixture just holds together, then pat into a flatish disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for a bit. You can roll it out right away, but dough that’s been chilling is easier to deal with. Meanwhile, toss blueberries with sugar and flour (and lemon juice, if using) to coat. When the dough has chilled (I left mine in for about 15 minutes), roll it out to 1/8″ thickness between two pieces of plastic wrap. Peel off one layer, invert dough over pie dish/tin, and press out the dough, crimping the edges as you go. Prick the bottom with a fork a few times, then toss in filling. If using a top crust, make sure to cut a few steam vents in the center.

Place the pie tin on a cookie sheet (to protect against spills), and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350, and bake for another 30 minutes (for a 6″ pie), or 40-50 for a normal sized pie, until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Let cool completely before cutting, to give the filling time to set up.

Eat. Love. Taste the summer and reflect on the people and places you love in life!

kind of weird with the sun, but I love how it makes the berries look.

Lunch of Champions

Lunch of champions.

Guinness brownies.

Need I say more?

Nah, not really. Except that I’m going to,  because these aren’t your average chocolate-stout cake/brownie… oh no. Within these babies lurks a whopping dose of antioxidants and dietary fiber like no one’s business. Which is probably why Vaccuum Vati (for whom these were made in the first place, as he luuurvs Guinness and chocolate) ate two for lunch. With the remainder of the Guinness. Lunch of champions, most definitely. You know why? Because these brownies are made with whole wheat flour and black beans! Yeeeahh. Black beans provide an unbeatable protein-fiber combo, which supports digestive health, blood sugar regulation, and cardiovascular health. Beans, beans they’re good for your heart…! Ha. Besides that, beans AND cocoa powder have tons of antioxidants and phyto-nutrients, which translates to the prevention of several cancer types, as well as a myriad of other health bonuses. YAYAY for beans! Especially when they’re disguised as dessert.

I for one LOVE beans straight out of the can (though definitely not with crumbled up power-bar thrown in there, like my chiropractor… oh Rob, what are we going to do with you?!), but these brownies are another beast entirely. They totally grew on me: straight out of the pan, I wasn’t a super fan, but after they cooled off, I found myself going back multiple times to “trim” the uneven pieces and swipe little crumbs that fell off when I was photographing. Definitely worth it. For lack of instant coffee powder, I used finely ground espresso, which might account for the stronger coffee flavor, but it pairs well with the Guinness and chocolate. And these probably have the BEST consistency of any black bean brownies I’ve tried: perfectly gooey in the center with slightly chewy edges. Deeelicious. Not super sweet, but just perfect (and this is coming from Vati, who swears by death-by-dessert sweets). A win all around, especially since you can fool your brain into thinking you’re eating a fully-fatted dessert ;) Besides all that, these are cholesterol-friendly, with no eggs, butter, or oil.

mmm.

Guinness Black Bean Brownies

I made a half batch, since these are mostly for Vati, but it still made a large-ish batch. I’ll give the half size measurements here, for an 9 by 9 square cake pan. Recipe with thanks from Farm Girl Gourmet, here!

Procure:

  • 7.5 oz black beans (1/2 a can), drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 c sugar*
  • 1/2 + 1/8 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp finely ground espresso (or instant coffee, if you have it)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c stout beer (I used Guinness, what else?!)
  • 1/2ish c chocolate chippies

*More sugar than I would normal use in a recipe, but it’s necessary to balance the Guinness and the coffee flavor, and these still aren’t too sweet. If you want a sweeter brownie, feel free to add sugar to taste.

You'd never guess there were beans in these, would you?

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease a 9 by 9 cake pan (If you double it, use a 9 by 13).

Drain and rinse the black beans, and then put half of them back into the can. Fill it with fresh water, just to the top of the beans. Toss all this into a blender or small food processor, and puree. Set aside in a smallish bowl.

In a larger bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, coffee/espresso, salt, and baking powder. In the smaller bowl, combine bean puree, vanilla, and beer. Toss this into the dry ingredients along with the chocolate chippies, and stir until just combined (try not to over stir). Pour batter into the prepared pan, and bake for somewhere between 20 and 25 minutes. I took mine out at 24, and they were perfectly gooey (but I don’t like SUPER gooey brownies, so bake according to preference: 20 for goop, 24 for gooey with chewy edges. Whatever you do, pleeeease DO NOT overbake them. There is nothing worse than dry brownies! Ew.) I recommend letting these cool completely before eating: the flavors develop and become just that much better :)

hello there, up close and personal brownie...

Channeling my inner Aztec Warrior

Wait... are those...?

Rainy weather needs cookies.

Besides, there was an appalling lack of dessert around here, and I was in need of something to satisfy my sweet tooth (healthfully, if you please). So. I decided to make healthy(ish) cookies! Who doesn’t love cookies? And besides, these are good for you. You want to know why these are good for you? Suuuure you do! Alrighty, here’s the dealio: These cookies have not only oats (a whole grain), and peanut butter (healthy fats), but they also have CHIA SEEDS!

Pause for effect.

chia! I didn't take this photo, though :) credit: http://www.buybigorganic.co.uk

You know, like those little things that you grow chia pets with?  Apparently they’re useful for something beyond growing funny green “hair” on a statue (who knew?!).

I have been putting these on oatmeal since freshman year of college (and, in fact, asked for them instead of candy one year for Christmas), but I’ve never really baked with them until this year! It’s fun, you should try it :)

These tiny little seeds date back to the time when the Aztecs were using them for sustained energy, as the main ration for their warriors (eating them makes me feel fierce). A higher source of omega-3 fatty acids than flax seed, these little babies are a superfood! They’re incredibly high in antioxidants, provide fiber, and are also a good source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc. Woah. That’s a mouthful for a tiny little seed! And they are seriously tiny. But they can be added to all kinds of things, with no taste addition (at least, not that I notice). Apparently there’s also been research that suggests chia seeds slow the breakdown of carbohydrates, which in turn slows their conversion into sugar. They also have anti-inflammatory properties, and provide quality protein. All pluses, in my book. But enough with the nutrition lesson! I just needed to give you even more of a reason to make and eat these cookies.

I’ve just been validated by my lovely roomie as well: as I sit here writing this, I can hear Kira “mmm yumm-ing” from the other room over their deliciousness! These cookies were a big hit with both of us, hooray!

COOKIES!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chia Cookies

Adapted from Yummy Mummy, here! I got 13 decently sized cookies.

  • 1.5 c rolled oats
  • 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 tbsp chia seeds!
  • 1/4 c (half a stick) butter, room temp or softened in the microwave if you’re lazy like me
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 3/4 c natural peanut butter (just peanuts and salt, please! Mine was chunky, which is extra delicious)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • a good handful of chocolate chips (extra points for heart healthy dark chocolate)…mine was about 1/3 c
playing with my food again?! nahhh...

Preheat the oven to 350, and line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: oats, flour, baking powder, and chia seeds. Using an electric mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add in peanut butter, eggs, and vanilla, and beat to combine. Stir in dry ingredients, as well as chocolate chips. This dough is flaky, so I just got messy and used my hands to shape little cookie balls. They don’t spread, so feel free to cram them all on one cookie sheet (instant gratification, yesss). I flattened the tops a bit, and stuck on the chocolate chips that insisted on falling out. (Why do chocolate chips never want to stick to dough with peanut butter in it?!)

Bake them for 10 minutes, until lightly golden! Devour. Channel your inner Aztec warrior.

oops. it fell down!