Hello, I’m a stressball and this is what I ate last week

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Here we go again with one of those hopefully-not-too-often posts of, “hello, I’ve been super stressed and super busy and have therefore not cooked often enough for my liking but I love my bloglet and invisible internet friends and I can’t abandon them sooooo… here is a post of ‘this that and the other thing’ I’ve eaten recently…”

Just bear with me. I’m still recovering from taking the GRE, which was the test equivalent of something sucking out your soul and dancing on it. Four hours staring at a computer screen, testing. And testing. And testing. Ewww. Good thing I face planted into THIS afterwards.

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All I wanted was carbs and cheese. Literally.

Thank you, Zachary’s, for saving my soul. Seriously though, what a horrible thing to make people do. Ugh. Just thinking about it is making me want pizza again from the horrible stressyness of it all. But actually I just love Zachary’s pizza anyway so that’s not too hard of a sell.. mmmkmovingon!

Also this. Oops. But I shared, don’t worry.

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And then of course Jill and I had our annual monthly-ish cooking extravaganza. So delicious beet caviar happened {adapted from this recipe here}, like this {our iteration had less garlic, used yogurt, and more lemon juice}:

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And then mmmm spaghetti squash with chard and chickpeas {recipe adapted only slightly from here}:

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And then we baked. I mean, of course. What else would we do?!

Cookies. Vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free. Like this, and found here:

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Note scientific fork division of chocolate chip filled cookies and carob chip filled cookies. It’s SCIENCE.

And then cake. Pumpkin pecan with pumpkin seed crumble. Vegan, gluten free and refined sugar free, but I have to say it’s delicious with ice cream (because really, what isn’t). Recipe was as is, minus the addition of flax, here.

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And also apparently my dresser looks like an iSpy page. Which is totally fine with me… it makes hunting for appropriate jewelry so much more fun. No surprise my nickname is Little Magpie….

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i spy, anyone??

Squash Wrestling Champ

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You don’t even want to know my struggles yesterday involving a kabocha squash.

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Well…

Maybe you do. They’re kind of funny.

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Let me just preface this with a simple suggestion. Don’t ever ever ever go to jazzercise on circuit day and then expect to be able to wrestle open a kabocha squash for roasting purposes an hour later. Just don’t. It will end badly, with the knife stuck in the squash and your arms aching. Also that weird spot where your arm meets your body?? You know, not your armpit but in front of it?? Yeah. That is impossibly sore too, which means picking up squashes and putting them in the oven (as well as taking the heavy bottom of the food processor down from the ridiculous high place that it’s stored in), not to mention cutting them open, rather difficult. I FINALLY got that squash cut in half (a little unevenly but don’t you judge me) after quite the struggle. We’re talking two hands on the knife, full body weight bearing down on the stupid thing trying to make things happen. Safely, naturally. Those squash don’t give up easily, let me tell you…

I think I might actually be sore-er today due to squash wrestling yesterday. For reals.

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Also I made so many things yesterday!! Day off + too much studying+ in between forcing myself to study + fall + pumpkin = bopping around in the kitchen all day! Which I love. Hello, kale chips out of the dehydrator, roasted and curried kabocha squash soup, and gluten free, vegan, date sweetened pumpkin cookies!!

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Aside from all that, I have some other pretty pictures of stuff [food. obvs]:

Darling skillet brownie for two! Paleo, gluten free, vegan. From this:

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To this!! Oops.

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And cranberries! Hi Fall, I love you. IMG_1336

This soup is delicious. And I love kabocha squash (minus the difficulties of getting them open) for their bright orange color and sweet flavor. I actually like them better than butternut—there’s something about the flavor of the kabochas that is richer, or more caramelized? Anyway. They’re easy to roast—toss them in the oven (halved) on a lightly greased baking sheet for about 45 minutes, until they can be pierced with a  fork easily. Take them out, flip them over and let them cool off… then scoop all that pureed goodness out and toss it in some soup. Or something. Like this:

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Roasted and Curried Kabocha Squash Soup

Yield: a vat. I used this recipe from My Darling Vegan, but obviously used a roasted kabocha squash instead of pumpkin. I reduced the garlic to 1 clove but went heavy handed on the cumin and curry powder, and I blended in all of the cashew creme instead of saving some for topping. Delicious all around, I wouldn’t change a thing!

And then obviously you need some beta carotene to go with your beta carotene… and some cookies to follow up that soup sooooo…..

THESE happened. Obviously.

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Date Sweetened Pumpkin Cookies

Vegan, gluten free, and refined sugar free! These cookies are soft, but not cakey. They’re oaty, pumpkiny and spicy—everything you want in a fall cookie. I made 3/4 of the recipe (don’t even ask) for a yield of 22. Recipe adapted from Tasty Yummies, here! They do tend to soften as they sit, so I like to store mine in the fridge in an airtight container.

  • 1 c pitted dates, soaked in near-boiling water for at least 10 minutes
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed+ 3 tbsp water)
  • 1.5 c almond flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • heaping 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • heaping tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 c avocado oil
  • scant 1 c pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1.5 c rolled oats
  • 1/4 c extra dark chocolate chips

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Preheat the oven to 350, and line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper.

In a food processor, make date paste out of your soaking dates. Chuck em all in there with a little bit of water and whizz whizz whizz until it’s mostly smooth. This isn’t an exact science and I love chunks of dates in my cookies so I don’t go crazy trying to get it to smooth out. Set aside. Make your flax egg by combining flax and water in a small bowl, and set that aside as well.

In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a slightly smaller bowl, whisk together oil, pumpkin, vanilla and gelled flax egg. Stir wet into dry, add in oats and chocolate chips, and stir until combined. Drop by large tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheet, flattening them slightly and rounding the edges if you like perfect looking cookies (I usually opt for the rustic variety). Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the tops are lightly browned and slightly firm. Let cookies cool on the cookie sheet for at least 3-4 minutes before moving them (they’re soft, be careful!). Let cool completely on a cooling rack and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

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I’ll have all the fall things, puhleez

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I feel a little neglectful of my bloglet but uggghh I’ve been buried under endless math flashcards and GRE study. Eeew ew ew. My free time from now until November 10th is non existent and has been replaced by studying math that I haven’t needed to know since high school. No big deal, I’ll just re-learn how to FOIL because that is SO USEFUL. Not.

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But. That is off my chest now and I can think about all the fun things happening right now like boots and scarves and FALL and pumpkin and ginger and baking and cold, snappy air!! AND grilled cheese festivals with E. WITH UNLIMITED GRILLED CHEESE. We were very, very happy. Obviously.

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But actually I love fall because baking becomes legit again. Who wants to turn the oven on when it’s hot in the summer?! I make the sacrifice but really I hate it. It’s much more fun when it’s chilly out and I get to heat up the kitchen while I putter around. Putter putter putter. What a great word.

Even Jessie gets in on the fall sunbathing. The sun feels sooo much better when it’s brisk out.

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Side note: this was my breakfast. Sometimes I amaze even myself.

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And all I want is ginger. And pumpkin. And fall-spiced things. So I made two kinds of pumpkin bread in one week.

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And then I made these: Almond Butter ginger cookies that were amaaaazing… they got eaten pretty much too fast to take decent pictures.

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And then not even a week later I made these: Molasses Ginger Cookies [Chewy, dense, and spicy. Everything a fall cookie should be]

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Can someone save me from myself, please??

But actually don’t. Just hang around so I can feed you things and make more things. Okay? Okay.

Molasses Ginger Cookies

Makes a nice small batch of about 9 cookies. Vegan, gluten and grain free, refined sugar free, and full of healthy fats and fall spices. The recipe is only slightly adapted from the Roasted Root, here! Also it probably only took me a max of 10 minutes to have these in the oven and the dishes washed. And then they only bake for about 8 minutes so really, there is nooo excuse not to make them!

  • 1.25 c almond meal
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 heaping tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 heaping tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bigish bowl, whisk together almond meal, baking soda and powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and freshly grated ginger. Stir in molasses, vanilla, and melted coconut oil. Roll into a roughly ball-like shape and drop by the tablespoonful onto the cookie sheet, flattening the cookies slightly. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned at the edges. The tops will still feel a teeny bit soft, so let them cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before removing them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

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My sandwich is exploding kale

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Drool drool drool.

I had no idea these bars were going to be so spectacular!!! But they were. And thankfully for me and my sweets consumption they went on the plane to Oregon with m&v, those lucky ducks. I have serious problems when I go to Portland… I just want ALL THE FOOD. And I run into that reoccurring problem of most mortals in that only so much goodness will fit in my stomach. With whom do I register a complaint for this ridiculous design flaw?!

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But anyway. They needed plane snacks and any excuse to bake is fine by me so these happened.

And I am soooo glad they did.

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Sorry in advance for the next bajillion posts being sweets, don’t say I didn’t warn you… Jill (of the blog Halfway There and the tamales and flan madness) and I are having our bimonthlyish baking extravaganza later today sooooo there will be cake and ice cream and cookies. And quinoa pizza…just to, you know, round things out. Because why make just one thing?! How boring. But more on that later.

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Also tacos. And feet. And there was a pool behind me and what more could you want on a weekend? Sadly that was last weekend (of the light side/dark side bars) and there is currently no pool in sight for me. Harumph.

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Also KALE!!! Could there be any more kale in this sandwich?! I think not. KALE EXPLOSION! Love love love. I know it’s random but KALE!!! is AMAZING!! And it’s my blog. So I’m sharing.

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But for now. BARZ. M&V needed something that traveled well and wouldn’t be too crumbly so obviously dates. And nuts for sustenance whilst traveling (much better than that garbage you typically find in airports). And only five ingredients, all whole foods, all things that come from nature and are eaten while still resembling their natural state. Wheeee!

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Pecan Date Bars

Beyond simple to put together! Chewy, naturally sweet and delicious. Gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free, dairy free!  Might be paleo? Easily veganized. Healthy fats [pecans], a good source of vits/mins [dates], antioxidants [extra dk chocolate] + protein. Perfect travel (or anytime) snacks. Recipe adapted from Ellaphant Eats, here! Makes 9 giantish bars, or more if you cut them smaller… but… why?!

  • 1 c pitted medjool dates [soaked in hot water for about 10 minutes if they’re like rocks]
  • 2 c raw pecans
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 eggs*
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate, chopped or chips (mine was chips for hurried baking)

*or two flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flaxseed+6tbsp water) veganizes this nicely 

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Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease an 8 by 8 pan with your thing of choice (I like coconut oil).

In a food processor (what on earth would I do without these?!), process softened dates and pecans until a sticky, clumpy dough forms. The pecan pieces should be relatively small (just don’t over do it and end up with nut butter…). Pulse in vanilla and sea salt, followed by the eggs. Remove the blade and stir in 1/4 c chocolate chips. Scoop the batter out into the prepared pan, and flatten it out with a spatula or your fingers or whatever. Press the remaining chocolate chips into the top of the bars. Bake for just about 19-20 minutes, until the edges are browned. The center will still feel slightly soft, but a tester should come out clean. Let cool in the pan, then cut and store in a sealed container in the fridge.

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Baking. Because… camp is imminent!

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Welcome to my ritual.

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I ALWAYS bake before I leave for camp. I’m not sure when this started but… it did (shocking, I know… me? Baking?! Weird) and I have no reason to be breaking this delicious trend.

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And I leave tomorrow! This totally snuck up on me but I am so ready for ten days of mountain fun with my camp fambam. Dirt. Hair that could scrub out a pot (yes, I was told I should do that last summer and immediately decided I would shower; as much as I love having steel wool for hair) (my hair does really interesting things when it isn’t washed for a zillion days) (yes I’m too lazy to shower because I just get dusty again and I’m camping and I’m in the lake soooo who cares?!). Enough with the parenthetical rambles. Moving on.

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Campfires where I go to bed smelling like woodsmoke… brownies to die for even though they’re made with a mix, I’m obsessed… eating outdoors, every meal… stars so bright you think your eyes are malfunctioning… singing the most ridiculous songs because you can… yoga on the dock… a complete technology detox… beautiful scenery…friends. My indescribable camp family. So much Two Sentinels love!

But anyway, haven’t left yet, and in between last minute packing, I made these!

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Whole wheat buttermilk biscuit peach shortcakes with vegan caramel sauce and ice cream.

Because fruit.

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Peeeeeaaacheeesssss. My favorite part of summer. Actually that would be a tough call since I love berries equally as much… all the fruit. I want ALL of it!! But besides that, we happened to have an excess of peaches this week so instead of eating them all leaning over the sink with juice going everywhere, I made dessert. Of course.

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And happily fulfilled my pre-camp baking ritual! Happy days. See you on the flip side, let’s hope I get all the dirt off this time (unlike last year.. you know it’s good when there’s still dirt on your face *after* your post-camp shower…)!

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Whole Wheat Peach Shortcakes with Vegan Caramel (And ice cream. Obvs)

I like barely sweet shortcakes, since they highlight the super-sweetness of perfectly in-season summer fruit. Mmmm. These are whole wheat, made with buttermilk for a bit of a tang. Perfectly balanced against the sweet peaches and maple caramel.. and ice cream. Because summer dessert = ice cream. Or whipped cream, also fine, I just went with what I had. Shortcake recipe lightly adapted from Food52, here, and caramel borrowed from Blissful Basil, here! Yield: 6 shortcake/biscuits; I made a half batch of caramel for 4 peeps, so those measurements are listed below. Makes about a cup.

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For the shortcakes (whole wheat is good for youuuu! So is a little butter now and then):

  • 1.75 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 4 tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cut into smallish pieces
  • 3/4 c buttermilk (mine was low fat)

For the filling:

  • An excessive amount of peaches, diced (I leave the skin on mine), tossed in a bit of coconut sugar if yours are less than perfectly ripe
  • ridiculously delicious ice cream of choice

For the caramel (full of healthy fats and good nutrients!! Winning):

  • 1/6 c coconut oil
  • 1/4 c unsalted, creamy almond butter
  • 1/4 c pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 runneth-over tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 450, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a largeish bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and soda, salt, and sugar. Cut in the butter using your fingertips (my preferred method) or a pastry cutter, until things start looking like coarse cornmeal and the butter is distributed evenlyish. Make a well in the center (look! You get to play with your food!), pour in the buttermilk, then use a spoon or spatula to stir it all together, until just combined (do try not to over mix). Divide the dough into six cute little balls, then flatten slightly and place on the baking sheet. Bake for just about 15 minutes, until the tops are firm and lightly browned. Let cool slightly on a rack before serving.

While the shortcakes are baking, make caramel!

In a small saucepan over medium, heat coconut oil, almond butter, maple, and sea salt over medium until all are melted and incorporated. This shouldn’t take more than a minute or two, which is excellent for instant gratification. Turn off the heat and stir in vanilla. Serve warm or cold, and store leftovers in the fridge!

I could tell you how to assemble your shortcakes but that might insult your intelligence… but I would suggest cutting them in half to get maximum cake square footage to soak up excessive amounts of ice cream and caramel and peach juice…

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Rustic chunktastic cookies strike again

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Food girl strikes again.

And so does Cookie Thursday. Or okay fiiiiine…. cookie Wednesday. Picky picky.

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I haven’t posted a good, rustic chunktastic cookie in awhile but these are pretty fantastic. And sort of sorry (except not really) that the last eleventy posts have all featured cookies. My savory life these days is a little lacking, sadly, due to ridiculous scheduling (sort of my fault, sort of not) soooo… yeah. At least I have cookies! Life is really lame if you don’t have cookies, trust me on that one.

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And well, cookies.

Because, Thursday.

And look! I just can’t help it. Once a mermaid, always a mermaid. Beachy weekend day off= happy happy happy!

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I’m feeling slightly less than coherent at the moment—I just came from jazzercise and then pounded down some toast (hello, enthusiastic and energetic dancing requires immediate carb replenishment, obviously) and now it’s only 10:45 and I already want lunch. Um. Hello, stomach? You’re not being very cost effective right now. Kind of like when you make me so starving at work that I eat ALL of my food on my first break and then that apparently doesn’t make a dent so then I have to go scrounge up some other victuals. As I said.. Not cost effective. But also, I like eating… so really, maybe we can come to some middle ground here…

Like lunch. At 11. Ha.

Oaty Coconut Almond Cookies

Recipe lightly adapted from Curly Girl Kitchen, here! Thick, chewy cookies filled with oats and coconut. They have a fab almond taste from the almond butter and extract, so if almond is your jam these are for you. Whole grain, refined sugar free, and gluten free. I made a half batch for a yield of 12 [measurements for the half batch posted here].

  • 1/4 c smooth, unsalted almond butter
  • 1/6 c maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c rolled oats
  • 1/2 + 1/8 c almond flour
  • 1/4 c unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • heaping 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 c dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together almond butter, maple, coconut oil, vanilla extract, almond extract, and egg. In a smaller bowl, combine oats, almond flour, coconut, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sea salt. Stir wet into dry until combined, and fold in chocolate chips.

Drop by the large spoonful onto the prepared cookie sheet. These won’t spread too much, so feel free to cram them all on there. Bake for 8 minutes, then let cool on the cookie sheet for a minute or two. Remove them to a cooling rack until they cool completely. Store them in an airtight container, if they last that long…

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This has absolutely nothing to do with cookies but just illustrates how I’m really like five years old. Ice cream is not complete without rainbow sprinkles, everyone knows that…

Happy Tummy Conga Lines

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YOU. GUYS.

I know I have like umpteen zillion banana bread recipes on the blog, but seriously. Ignore the other ones (well, not really–they have their merits too.. just for today!)

THIS is my favorite. Hands down, I’ve-already-eaten-two-slices-and-am-heading-for-another-one-someone-stop-me kind of bread. Like, half the loaf is gone (I’ve had help, let’s be real here).

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And besides that, it is FAB with blackberry jam. Especially when that jam is handmade and acquired from a lovely local source. I’ve never put jam on banana bread before now but I’m probably not going back. Ever.

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Luckily for me, not only is this one a fast and easy one to whip up, but it’s full of healthy for me things like coconut oil and buunahhnuhhsss and whole grains and honey.  Good thing too that we had literally two bunches of dead bananas spread out between the fridge and the freezer and they were looking so sad and dead and brown… clearly they needed to go into something delicious like this. They’re much happier now, they wanted me to tell you.

Go make your dead bananas happy. Bake them into something that then makes your tummy do a happy dance! Mine is, we could have a tummy conga line. Umm yeah okay this is getting out of hand with talking bananas and gastrointestinal conga lines, but seriously. Make, eat, love!

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Why is it gone?!

Coconut Oil and Honey Banana Bread

If you’re not a coconut fan, don’t worry! There’s no coconut flavor noticeable in the bread—I used refined coconut oil for baking, as it can take high heat. This bread is SUPER hydrated (remember, we don’t use the m word), but not squishy. It’s the perfect balance between hydrated and dense, with a nice crumb. It only has a 1/4 c of honey added, so make sure your bananas are deady-dead-dead. The deader the bananas, the sweeter the bread! Mine were literally black. So gross…until they aren’t! This makes one loaf, and the recipe is (ever so slightly modified) from Relishing It, here! SO happy I found it.

  • 1/3 c refined coconut oil
  • 1/4 c honey (mine was local, yay!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1.5 c mashed, dead bananas (I used about 5)
  • 1.75 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • a few sprinkles of chia seeds (can be left out)

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Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease a loaf pan (I use more coconut oil).

In a mediumish bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sea salt, and chia seeds. In a smaller bowl, have fun mashing up all of your dead bananas and trying not to be too disgusted by how brown they are. Ahem, moving on…

Stir together coconut oil and honey until they’re creamy and mixed. Slightly beat eggs and then stir them in as well, followed by vanilla. Mix lightly until combined, then stir in dead banana mashup. Adding the dry ingredients a bit at a time, stir them in until the dry is just incorporated–don’t over mix! No one wants tough buhhnahhnuhh breadz.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, and pop it into the oven for just about 45 minutes—mine came out at 45 but probably could have gone for a few more. Let cool in the pan for a bit, then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. I’m sure it stores well, but as mine is rapidly disappearing I’m sure we’ll have no issues on that front…

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