Chocolate Greek Yogurt Banana Bread

My sister served me this bread last week for breakfast and I enjoyed it quite a bit, so this weekend I decided to make myself a loaf. It's a wholesome chocolate banana bread made with whole wheat flour and Greek yogurt. When eating a breakfast bread, I like like having a nice thick slice; something I can really sink my teeth into. This bread is perfect for that. And topped with a little peanut butter for a little extra protein umph is my favorite way to finish it off! 

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I streamlined the original recipe here, just so I didn't have to use as many bowls! Mix the wet ingredients in one bowl, the wet in another and mix them together. Done. I also did what I seem to always do and cut back on the sugar from 1/2 c honey, to 2 tbs honey + 2 tbs brown sugar (so 1/4 cup total). Feel free to double this for a sweeter and more indulgent bread. 

 
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Chocolate Greek Yogurt Banana Bread
Adapted from The Baker Mama 
Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (180 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup (40 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons (42 grams) honey
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup (110 grams) milk
  • 1 cup (225 grams) mashed ripe banana; about 2 large bananas
  • 1/2 - 1 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks (optional)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour a 9x5-inch loaf pan and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt, set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the remaining ingredients until well combined. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix with a spatula until mostly combined. Add in the chocolate chips or chocolate chunks if using, and continue to mix until completely combined with no more streaks of dry flour in the batter. Batter will be thick.

Spread batter evenly into prepared loaf pan. Press more chocolate chips into the top of the batter before baking, if desired. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for about 50 minutes, turning halfway through, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let the bread cool in the pan for about 20 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely and serve.

Yields: 8-10 slices

Protein Breakfast Cookies with Oats and Chocolate

I'm a big fan of breakfast cookies. They are so fun, and delicious. I love being able to eat a cookie at any time of day or night. I've seen various cookie and bar recipes that incorporate some beans or legumes for a healthy protein boost and have been wanting to try it. I finally did with these cookies. They start out seemingly like a pretty typical oat cookies, but then there's a little surprise; 1/2 cup cooked white beans! It's a nice little way to add some nutrition to your breakfast, but still make it feel like a treat. 

Once these cookies bake up, it really is hard to tell that there are beans mixed in. They do taste a little different than a "normal" cookie, but not at all in a bad way. They are delicious, and are a feel-good way to start the day. Enjoy!

After I made these cookies I had a sneaking suspicion that I may have accidentally doubled the coconut oil... Oh well! I couldn't remember for sure how much I put in but it may have been 1/4 cup instead of the 2 tablespoons I call for. I'm going to have to try them again and find out. What a problem!

 
 

Protein Breakfast Cookies with Oats and Chocolate
Adapted from Foolproof Living
Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chia seeds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (70 grams) old fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup (60 grams) oat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 can (120 grams) white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons (56 grams) coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons (56 grams) maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons (42 grams) Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set it aside. Mix chia seeds and water in a small bowl and let it sit on the counter for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, process 1 1/2 cups of the rolled oats in a food processor until it turns into flour. Transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Stir in the rest of the rolled oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

Place the white beans and coconut oil into the bowl of the food processor and process until creamy. Add in the chia seeds (with water), maple syrup, orange zest, applesauce, and vanilla extract. Pulse until everything is combined and it is smooth mixture.

Pour the white bean mixture over the rolled oats mixture. Add in the chocolate. Stir to combine. 

Shape the dough into 12 equal balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 16-20 minutes, flipping the sheet halfway through the baking process.

Cornmeal Sourdough Bread

I've got another great sourdough bread recipe today. It's a super simple loaf that comes together very quickly and bakes up beautifully. This bread slices up well and makes the best sandwiches. Made with a majority whole wheat flour for nutrition, but with a little white flour for optimal texture, it's just the right combination. I included a little butter for additional tenderness and flavor, and a little honey for just a hint of sweet, just how I like it. This recipe is great for me, allowing me to use up some sourdough starter without even thinking ahead since I used the cold starter straight from the fridge. Maybe sourdough purists would be appalled, but it works for me in my life and kitchen. If this sounds appealing to you, I encourage you to give this recipe a try.    

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I got some GREAT oven spring out of this bread! It's always exciting to take that first peek into the oven about halfway into baking and see how beautifully tall the bread has risen above the top of the pan. It makes me so happy! This bread has a nice dark brown crust, with a fluffy and light interior, just fantastic. And it's a really easy and quick recipe as yeasted bread goes. I've managed to get it all done in 4.5 hours start to finish. You'll need about another 2 hours to let it cool before slicing, but overall pretty simple and quick. 

 
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Cornmeal Sourdough Bread
Adapted from Easy Sourdough Loaf
Ingredients

  • 110 grams sourdough starter; cold, unfed from the fridge
  • 250 grams whole wheat flour
  • 100 grams all purpose flour
  • 30 grams coarse grind cornmeal
  • 8 grams salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons yeast
  • 30 grams butter, softened
  • 15 grams honey
  • 180 grams water

Directions
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine all of the ingredients. Mix in low speed until the ingredients are incorporated, adjusting the water as needed to achieve a medium dough consistency (you may need additional water). Continue mixing to in medium speed to a medium-high level of gluten development.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours. 

Turn the dough into a lightly floured counter and shape into a tight loaf. Generously butter a 8.5 x 4.5-inch loaf pan. Place the dough, seam-side-down, into the prepared pan. Proof, covered, for 1 hour, or until the top of the dough has risen to about 1.5 inches above the edge of the pan.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven, with baking stone on the bottom rack, to 425F. Once you are ready to bake, place loaves in the oven, reduce the temperature to 400 degrees and bake for 25 minutes. Take the loaf out of the oven, remove the loaf from the pan, and place it directly on the baking stone, and bake for approximately another 15 minutes, until the crust is a deep golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack. Let bread cool completely before slicing. 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Homemade granola bars. You can never have too many recipes. I'm always trying out new variations, and new renditions. They're all yummy and wonderful to have on hand for (healthy-ish) snacks. This version is a winner because Chocolate!! When I add some nice dried fruit, or delicious nuts or seeds to a granola bar, they're always delicious, but I always want chocolate. Always.  :) 

This bar is a version of my cranberry walnut granola bars, but I replaced the almond butter with peanut butter, and then obviously used chocolate chips instead of the cranberries and walnuts. Both good options, but when that chocolate craving hits there's only one option!

 
 
 
 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
Adapted from Delectably Mine
Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) butter
  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup (112 grams) honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups (160 grams) old fashion oats
  • 1/3 cup (38 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 12x9 inch or 8x8 inch pan, or line with a parchment paper sling, and set aside. 

Place the butter, and peanut butter in a large microwave safe bowl and microwave until the butter melts. Stir until the well combined. Mix in the honey, vanilla and salt and give a good stir. Add the egg and stir the whole mixture until smooth and combined. 

Add the oats, whole wheat flour, and chocolate and stir everything together until well combined and there are no more dry pockets of flour. 

Transfer the mixture into the prepared  pan and pat down firmly into an even layer. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Allow to cool completely before cutting.

Yields: 14-16 granola bars
 

Banana Rye Muffins

Is there such thing as too many banana bread recipes? Not in my book! Here it is - a perfectly simple and wholesome banana muffin recipe. Not fancy, but oh so good. Perfect with my morning coffee. I decided to switch things up a bit by mixing whole wheat and rye flours, as well as some whole oats for chew. Of course I had to add a little chocolate for a few pockets of sweetness. They baked up beautifully, and I have been enjoying them all week, I'm sure you will too!

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Banana Rye Muffins
Adapted from Broma Bakery
Ingredients

  • 2 extra ripe bananas (approximately 200 grams, or 1-1.25 cups)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) butter
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (120 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 (60 grams) rye flour
  • 1/2 cup (40 grams) old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4-1/2 cup chocolate chunks

Directions
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line 10 muffin tins with muffin liners, spray with non-stick baking spray, and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk mashed banana, eggs, brown sugar, butter, oil, yogurt and vanilla extract until well combined.

Use a spatula to fold in both flours, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, mixing until combined. Fold chocolate in during the last few strokes of mixing.

Scoop batter into prepared muffin tins, they will be about 3/4 full. Bake for 5 minutes at 425°F, then turn oven down to 375°F and bake for an additional 10-12 minutes, until muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle has a few moist crumbs clinging to it, don't overbake as the end result will be dry. Remove from oven and allow to cool. 

Strawberry Rhubarb Bran Muffins

For the last few weeks I've been resisting the rhubarb at the farmer's market for no particular reason. I didn't have anything specific in mind for what to do with it, so I kept walking right on by. However, this past week I realized that if I didn't pick some up it would soon be gone, and then I would be very sad that I didn't enjoy this lovely spring vegetable (?) when I had the chance. First thing up, some baking with the classic strawberry rhubarb combination. I couldn't resist. Why mess with success? 

I recently ran across this simple bran muffin recipe and thought it looked like a winner. Sweetened with molasses and a little honey as well as a some applesauce, it's definitely more on the healthier side of the muffin spectrum. Since I almost never have applesauce around, I replaced it with mashed banana making these strawberry rhubarb banana bran muffins. Yes, the banana adds some of it's characteristic flavor to the muffin, but with the deep flavor of molasses as well as the strawberry and rhubarb it's really not that noticeable. Plus, I love bananas so it didn't matter that much to me. If you prefer a more neutral flavor, stick with the original applesauce. 

I halved this recipe and ended up making 8 muffins. I was going to make 6 but there was too much batter for that! This may be due to the fact that I just threw in a banana that had been hanging out in my freezer for far too long without measuring it. The batter was likely a little wetter than it was supposed to be, but it all worked out deliciously in the end!

These muffins turned out moist and sticky, strongly flavored with molasses so if you're not such a huge molasses fan just be warned. I'm guessing you can replace some of the molasses with a little more honey, but I haven't tried that yet. However, these muffins were so easy and nutritions that I know I'll be experimenting with them more in the future. 

 
 

Strawberry Rhubarb Bran Muffins
Adapted from Food 52
Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (30 grams) wheat bran
  • 3/4 cup (90 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2-3/4 cup of a mix of chopped rhubarb and strawberries
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup (85 grams) molasses
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup mashed banana
  • 1 tablespoon oil

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400° F. In a large bowl, whisk together the wheat bran, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the strawberries and rhubarb to the flour mixture.

In a medium bowl, mix together the milk, molasses, honey, egg, banana, and oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Place 12 paper cups in a muffin pan, or grease the cups. Divide the batter evenly between the 12 cups. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Mocha Zucchini Muffins

First things first, Happy Easter!

Christ the Lord is risen today.
All creation join to say. 
Raise you joys and triumphs high.
Sing ye heaven and earth reply. 

Love's redeeming work is done.
Fought the fight, the battle won.
Death in vain forbids him rise.
Christ has opened paradise.

What a glorious day! When I think about all I have in Christ I am continually blown away by what I have been given, not because of anything I have done, I can take credit in no way for my salvation, I believe because God first chose me. How humbling is this truth. 

I this beautiful day, full of celebration and new birth I was inspired to create something new and delicious out of something old. I've had a bag of shredded zucchini floating around in my freezer since last summer. I keep meaning to do something with it, but I always say "next time". Well, not this time! I found a new zucchini muffin recipe, adjusted it for what I wanted, and finished off last years produce, finally! This was the perfect way to do it too. A light and healthy whole grain muffin, lightly sweetened and filled with one of my favorite treats; chocolate covered espresso beans!!

When I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it. I didn't have a go-to zucchini muffin but this one looked promising, and I was right. It's just rich enough to make it special, but not too rich to make it feel overly indulgent. The original recipe calls for a streusel on top which would be marvelous, but I skipped it this time out of laziness, but did chop up a handful of dark chocolate espresso beans for pizzaz. And chocolate. Come on. 

The final product came out as beautiful as I had hoped. Flecked with green from the zucchini, and chocolate from the espresso beans. I added some espresso powder for a little extra mocha flavor, and probably could have added more (I think I'll try 1/2 teaspoon next time!). They turned out light and satisfying. A perfect zucchini muffin. 

 
 


Mocha Zucchini Muffins
Adapted from The Almond Eater
Ingredients

  • 1 cup (120 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 1-2 tablespoons (12-25 grams) brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) milk
  • 2 tablespoons (37 grams) maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup grated zucchini
  • 1/4 cup chocolate covered espresso beans, roughly chopped

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a muffin tin with muffin liners, set aside

Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and espresso powder in a bowl and set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and then add olive oil, milk, syrup and vanilla. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients. Add the zucchini, and stir until combined. 

Transfer the batter to the prepared muffin tin. Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven, wait a few minutes for the muffins to cool before removing them from the tin.

Yields: 6 muffins

Lentil Salad with Tomatoes and Gorgonzola

It's finally spring here in Michigan. Yesterday was lovely, and today is looking like it's going to be even better. Unfortunately I'm working this weekend, but hopefully I'll get out in time to enjoy a little of the beautiful sunshine. During the winter and early spring, before any spring produce has hit the farmer's market, my quick meal repertoire is full of grains, legumes and roasted veggies. I never get tired of any combination of these things. There are endless possibilities, different combinations of these various components as well as different spices, sauces, and other add-ins. It's really almost impossible to go wrong. Some might turn out a little better than others, but I'm always happy with the end result.

I usually just find myself throwing a bunch of things together depending on what's in my fridge at the moment. For this recipe however, I actually did follow a recipe from the cookbook Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi with just a few minor adaptations. I love his recipes and so wanted to actually follow one of them fairly closely to see his magic at work. I find that when I just do my own thing I can get stuck in a rut of the same flavor combinations, or at least very similar combinations of ingredients. Deferring to someone else from time to time can help inspire me to try out something new.

I kept this recipe pretty true to the original. I didn't have chives so used green onion instead. Added a bit of lemon zest at the very end to perk things up a bit, add a little brightness. I also used pomegranate vinegar instead of balsamic vinegar because I don't have any balsamic right now. This is a light and fresh salad; delicious, simple, healthy. Really exactly what I love. The sweetness of the tomatoes pairs perfectly with the creamy Gorgonzola and sharpness of the red onion. All the herbs really amp up the flavor adding even more freshness.

There are endless variations are possible on this basic theme. I would keep the tomatoes, onions and obviously the lentils, but could change up the cheese to anything nice and creamy, and can swap out the herbs for your favorite herb or whatever you have on hand. Add some spices, sauce, more roasted veggies. To really make it a filling meal you could add some chicken, or tofu on top depending on your preference. It could all go on top of a bed of greens as well to bulk it up and turn into more of a green salad. All wonderful, and I'm sure delicious, ideas.

 
 

Lentil Salad with Tomatoes and Gorgonzola
Adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
Ingredients
Oven-dried tomatoes:

  • 3 plum tomatoes
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate or balsamic vinegar
  • salt

Salad:

  • 1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup (120 grams) French lentils
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small garlic clove, crush
  • black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped green onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dill
  • 1 1/2 ounces Gorgonzola, crumbled
  • lemon zest (optional)

Directions
To make the oven-dried tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Quarter the tomatoes vertically and place skin-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Arrange the thyme sprigs on top of them. Drizzle over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with some salt. Roast for 1 1/2 hours, or until semi-dried. Discard the thyme and allow to cool slightly. 

Meanwhile, place the red onion in a medium bowl, pour over the vinegar and sprinkle with the sea salt. Stir, then leave for a few minutes so the onion softens a big. 

Place the lentils in a pan of boiling water (the water should come 1 1/4 inches above the lentils) and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until tender. Drain well in a sieve and, while still warm, add to the sliced onion. Also add the olive oi, garlic and some black pepper. Stir to mix and leave aside to cool down. Once cool, add the herbs and gently mix together. Taste and adjust seasoning. 

To serve, pile up the lentils on a large plate or bowl, integrating the Gorgonzola and tomatoes as you build up the pile. Drizzle the tomato cooking juices on top and serve.