Best Ever Healthy Banana Bread (Vegan, Oil-Free, GF)

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As I strolled around my kitchen, staring at the sad image of limited items in my pantry, I wondered if I should even attempt to make banana bread. The 3 limp and dark bananas laying on my counter top had an imminent death and I wanted to make use of them because all bananas deserve to turn into something beautiful rather than end up in my backyard’s soil. I’ve successfully made healthy banana bread in the past, but I had some source of fat replacement such as Greek yogurt or applesauce. But today, I had neither. However, my food science course has taught me a lot this year, making me more knowledgeable than ever on how I can ingeniously utilize my pantry staples. And with some playing around, I somehow created my BEST ever healthy banana bread. It was so surprisingly moist and flavorful versus an expected dense and dry bread. Well, science really does wonders…


Healthy Banana Bread (Oil-Free, GF, Vegan)

yield: 1 loaf OR 3 mini loaves

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. oat flour (I made my own; instructions below)
  • 3 ripe medium bananas
  • 1/3 c. sweetened soymilk, unsweetened may also be used, just add more of the sugar source
  • 8 dates (medjool or regular) soaked in hot water for 5 min. (use 12 dates if you used unsweetened soymilk)
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tbsp. ACV or lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. To make oat flour (if necessary), blend 2 cups of oats in batches in a high speed blender. Blend until a fine flour is formed and sift all the flour! The sifting is necessary for the bread to be as flaky and smooth as possible. Discard any extra chunks left behind or blend until it’s able to sift through the sieve.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the oat flour, baking powder and soda, and salt.
  4. Mix the soymilk with ACV or vinegar in a small bowl. It should curdle in a minute or two.
  5. In a blender or food processor, blend the dates until a caramel paste is formed. You can add a tsp. of the hot water to help the mixture blend as well.
  6. In a medium bowl, mash the bananas and add the curdled soymilk, date paste, and vanilla extract and stir to combine.
  7. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mix and stir until the batter is completely homogeneous. OPTIONAL: Add in some nuts, dried fruit, or chocolate chips:)
  8. In a greased loaf pan or one lined with parchment paper, pour the batter in. If using a loaf pan, bake for 50 min. If using mini loaf pans, bake for 20-25 minutes.
  9. Remove loaves from the oven and cool on a cooling rack for a minimum of 5 minutes.
banana bread

baked loaves

I honestly cannot contain my excitement over how scrumptious this banana bread is. If you take a moment and consider what your are eating, you’re basically eating a bowl of oatmeal in solid form! All the fiber, antioxidants, and minerals from the oat flour, potassium from bananas, and Vitamin B6 and B12 from the soymilk help to keep your body full of energy without any ounce of fat! It’s hard to believe, but this banana bread is actually gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free, and oil-free!! It’s a long pretentious list of “healthiness”, but why not make a delicious, moist cake-dessert healthy? It’s a win-win right here.

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moist and flaky

And thus, I sat at my table and feasted on the best-ever healthy banana bread with a cup of cold milk. As you could tell, it was a beautiful moment.

 

Fudgy Brownie Cookies (GF, Vegan, + Refined Sugar-Free)

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Have you ever dreamed of a scrumptious, decadent, warm brownie cookie that simply melts in your mouth? Paired with a cup of milk and it almost  suddenly feels as if the world is free of problems. I think about such chocolate-y goodness on a daily basis, but the sad reality of the poor nutritional value of a brownie cookie permits me to consume only a few in a month. However, a wave of excitement recently inundated my insides when I discovered that sweet potatoes make an incredibly convincing substitute for butter and sugar. Additionally, a simple swap of all purpose flour to oat flour lowers the glycemic index of the cookies and adds a boost of fiber to a diet. All natural ingredients packed in one cookie. Let’s stop blabbing and just get to the recipe…


Fudgy Brownie Cookies (GF, Vegan, + Refined Sugar-Free)

(Scroll below recipe for step pictures)

yield: 9 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 c. mashed sweet potato (yellow and purple yams work as well; I just a yellow yam)
  • 1/4 c. nut butter (I recommend almond or cashew butter; peanut butter will overpower the chocolate flavor) (Here is the recipe for 1 ingredient homemade almond butter)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. oat flour
  • 2 tbsp. non-dairy milk
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. liquid sweetener (i.e. agave or maple syrup)
  • 3 tbsp. dark chocolate chips
  • chopped nuts (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F.
  2. In a blender, combine the sweet potato, nut butter, liquid sweetener, and milk for about 30 seconds until mixture is smooth and evenly incorporated.
  3. Add in the oat flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder until the mixture is the consistency of cookie dough. Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts.
  4. Wet hands to prevent the dough from sticking. Roll the dough balls and pat down slightly to form cookies on a greased cookie sheet or non-stick pan.
  5. Bake in the oven for approximately 12 min.
  6. Remove from the oven and let them set for approx. 10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and enjoy with a cup of milk!

The cookies will come out of the oven a little fudgy, but I like them best when they have set for a little, hardened a bit on the outside, and pipe hot steam when broken apart. These cookies are ideal for breakfast on to go or as a snack, and will fuel your day without a doubt. Fiber from the sweet potatoes and oats ensure lasting energy, and Vitamin E and monounsaturated fats from the almond butter helps maintain heart and brain health.

Whip these cookies up, give it a try, and I can guarantee you that you may not want to return to an original cookie recipe because of how delightful and nutritious these fudgy cookies are!

ingredients

Cookie ingredients

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pre-baked cookies

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baked cookies

Fudgy brownie cookies

-Jamie

 

 

Soft Maple Cookies (Oil-Free, GF, Vegan, Refined Sugar Free)

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I have recently been intrigued by a website called Feasting on Fruit, where the author, Natalie, creates mostly sweet but also savory recipes that uses fruit to replace the fats or the refined sugars. After watching some of her videos, I was a little skeptical of these recipes because some of the outcomes looked a little dry, but I decided to try a few of her recipes and was pleasantly surprised with how scrumptious the desserts were. It is so difficult to fathom that these desserts are good for you and made with natural ingredients. I was inspired by Natalie to make up my own recipe, and using her techniques, which often involves using a date paste as the fat and sugar, I came up with a soft maple cookie recipe that is out of this world. I highly recommend you all to check out Natalie’s site, and without further ado, let’s get baking!


Soft Maple Cookies

yield: 8-10 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 c. oat flour
  • 10 pitted dates soaked in hot water (any type of dates work)
  • 1/3 c. non- dairy milk
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 tsp. maple extract
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 °F.
  2. Place the dates in a food processor and pulse while slowly adding in the non-dairy milk. Do not add all the milk in at once because it may splash all over the place out of the food processor. Then add in the maple extract. A sticky date paste will form.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the oat flour, baking powder, chia seeds, and cornstarch until evenly incorporated.
  4. Pour the date paste into the dry mixture and mix until a dough is formed.
  5. Using wet hands, roll the dough into balls and flatten to form a small cookie. You can decorate the top with some cacao nibs or sprinkle with nuts!
  6. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
  7. Take out and enjoy!

These cookies taste best when they’re fresh out of the oven and piping with hot steam. They won’t have a gooey consistency, but will instead taste soft, moist, and cake-y. Let’s also not forget to mention that your entire kitchen will smell like maple 🙂

Soft maple cookies

 

 

 

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies (GF)

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almond flour cookies

Vegan AND gluten-free???? That sounds like a pretty good deal to me. As much as I love “treat yo self” days where I can enjoy a warm, gooey pizookie with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream, my GI tract often feels discomfort from the gluten and lactose gone into those cookies due to my unfortunate food intolerance to the two. However, when I made these vegan chocolate chip cookies, I felt more energized and suffered no discomfort at all because everything that went in to the cookie was really clean, pure, and minimally processed!!


 

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies (GF)

yield: 14 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. almond flour/almond meal
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 flax/chia egg (3 tbsp. water + 1 tbsp. flax meal/chia seeds)
  • 3 tbsp. vegan sweetener (or honey if not vegan)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • dash of vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1/4 c. dark chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine water and flax/chia and set for a minimum of 5 minutes for the chia egg to form.
  2. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, baking soda, and salt and combine well.
  3. Add the solid yet softened coconut oil, sweetener, vanilla, and egg until all the contents are mixed throughout. Mix in the chocolate chips.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees C. Form the cookies and place on a non stick baking tray.
  5. Bake the cookies for approx. 11 minutes or until the cookie is baked completely through.

These cookies are really to die for and I’ll often eat one as part of my breakfast or as a snack on the go. They also freeze really well so you could make a big batch and save them up, but I honestly finished all these cookies in just a few days :/

-Jamie

Microwave English Muffin (Vegan + GF)

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This is a recipe taken from Big Man’s World that is absolutely simple, foolproof, and healthy! I have made these for breakfast multiple times and they never disappoint. The great thing about this recipe is that it is low-cost, vegan, and gluten-free so it’s an ideal bread alternative for someone with Celiac’s disease. All the ingredients used are natural and are a great source of fiber from rolled oats and alpha-linoleic acid from the chia seeds. I ended up making an eggs benedict-type of breakfast with the English muffin, it goes great with almond butter (check out how to make homemade almond butter!), jam (check out how to make homemade chia jam!), honey, ricotta… really whatever you have on hand would serve as a great topping for the muffins.


Microwave English Muffin (Vegan + GF)

yield: 1 large English muffin

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup rolled oats (gluten free, if necessary)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds or flax meal
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce (I used a quick homemade apple sauce where I microwaved apple slices and placed in a food processor)
  • 1 tbsp non-dairy milk

Instructions:

  1. In a blender or food processor, process the oats, chia/flax seeds, and baking powder until a fine and evenly mixed powder forms
  2. Transfer to a small cup, bowl, or ramekin, and add the applesauce and nondairy milk, and mix until dough forms. Flatten the top of the dough.
  3. Microwave for 2 minutes on high.
  4. Let it cool for 2 minutes and then slice, toast (optional), and enjoy with your toppings of choice!

On a side note, I made my English muffin breakfast a tad crazy as I loaded on the toppings, but I am all for creativity so top as you please! I included caramelized onions, tomatoes, goat cheese, cucumber slices, and turkey bacon.

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pre-microwave

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post-microwave

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a close up on the goodness

-Jamie

Banana Carrot Cake Breakfast Bars (Vegan + GF)

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Packed with protein and fiber!

The best way to use up downright blackened bananas is to make desserts because they are far too soft to enjoy, yet they are the sweetest at this point. In the past couple weeks, I’ve been terrible at consuming my bananas at their peak aesthetic and have been forced to make banana bread from the charcoal-black colored bananas. However, I am shocked to find myself say that I’ve gotten tired from banana bread, since I’ve baked a surplus of loaves, but today two blackened bananas lay on my counter and I couldn’t stand tossing them in the compost bin. Making banana bread was obviously not an option, so I decided to make some banana carrot cake breakfast bars, which also helped me use up some carrots in my fridge! A win-win situation, and I know have scrumptious to-go breakfast bars!


 

Banana Carrot Cake Breakfast Bars

yield: 12 squares

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. rolled oats
  • 3/4 c. almond meal
  • 3 tbsp. vegan sweetener (agave/ maple syrup)
  • 2 tbsp. almond butter (check out how to make homemade almond butter)
  • 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 c. grated carrots
  • 1/4 c. flax seeds
  • 2 overly ripe bananas
  • 1 tbsp. applesauce or flavorless oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F.
  2. Place the rolled oats and almond meal into a food processor and pulse until the mixture becomes coarse crumbs, but has not completely turned into oat flour yet. Then add the cinnamon, ginger, and flax seeds and pulse until the flax seeds have become slightly chopped.
  3. Add in the sweetener, almond butter, bananas, and applesauce/oil and pulse until the mixture begins to clump together and is thoroughly incorporated.
  4. Pour in the grated carrots and pulse for about 10 seconds, or until the carrots are combined into the mixture.
  5. Pour into a square baking pan lined with parchment paper or sprayed with cooking spray. I also used a pan that cuts the bars before baking, which is convenient.
  6. Optional: Top your bars with walnuts, chocolate chips, or any toppings of your choice. I put dark chocolate chips on half of my bars.

These breakfast bars are perfect on the go and a great option for breakfast because they’re low in sugar and high in fiber and protein, certain to keep you full for your busy mornings!

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pre-baked bars

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baked bars

Power Smoothie Bowl (Vegan)

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Power Smoothie Bowl

To say that I love smoothie bowls would be honestly be an understatement. I enjoy having a smoothie bowl for breakfast, lunch, and sometimes even dinner to pack in potassium, fiber, and folic acid for the day! While I am more than happy to consume a bowl of sliced fruits topped with granola, there is something extremely refreshing about an icy, cold mixture that cools the body down during the sizzling summer days. The seemingly never ending list of smoothie bowl pro’s often conceals the fact that smoothie bowls are alarmingly high in sugar content (ahh!!), and I hate how my body feels lethargic when I consumer too much sugar. The fructose in fruit is all-natural, but consuming many grams of fructose does not benefit the body, and so I have concocted an flawless blend of fruits that keep the sugar content in a smoothie bowl relatively low. 🙂


 

Power Smoothie Bowl

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c. frozen spinach or kale
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/3 c. sliced frozen strawberries
  • 1/3 c. non-frozen mango
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened (vanilla) almond milk

Directions:

  1. Blend all the ingredients in a food processor or powerful blender until smooth.
  2. Top with toppings of your choice! I used fresh dragon fruit, mango, pumpkin seeds, unfrosted bran flakes, and chia seeds.
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Blend all ingredients together

The major sweetener in this smoothie bowl was the non-frozen mango, and it’s important to use non-frozen because it’ll make the smoothie bowl sweeter since it’s really the only sweetener here. Although bananas and strawberries can be sweet, they lose sweetness once they are frozen so they don’t contribute much sweet flavor to the smoothie bowl.

This power smoothie bowl kept be full for 5 hours and I felt exceptionally energetic after consumption!

1 Ingredient Almond Butter

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Homemade almond butter

If only almond butter were as cheap as peanut butter, I would have jars after jars of almond butter orderly lined up on my pantry shelves. But unfortunately, a typical 12 oz. jar costs at least $7 and at the rate that I consume almond butter, I’ll be exceptionally broke in no time. However, I recently whipped up a batch of homemade almond butter at home, resulting in a jar made at a fraction of the cost of store-bought AND the recipe requires 1 ingredient ONLY. You heard that right, 1 ingredient almond butter? I was utterly shocked as well, but through experimenting, I found that the natural oils in the almonds is enough to make the spread creamy. No added sweeteners, fats, or preservatives. Need I say more?


 

1 Ingredient Almond Butter

yield: 12 oz.

Ingredients:

  • 3 c. unsalted almonds ( roasted or raw, doesn’t matter)

Directions:

  1. Spread the almonds out on a baking sheet and bake at 300°C for around 8 minutes. This activates the oils in the almonds and gives the almond butter a deep, decadent roasted flavor. Once baked, remove the almonds from the oven and allow them to cool for 10 minutes to prevent heat from touching the plastic food processor.
  2. Pour the almonds into a food processor with a blade and process for 15-20 minutes. I used the “chop” mode and kept the processor running consistently. After every 2-3 minutes, I scraped down the sides with a spatula so that the mixture would all be on the bottom of the food processor. side note: the almonds will become a coarse texture, like almond butter. After more processing, the almonds start to look like a thick paste, and you’ll be tempted to add oil because it’ll look too dry, but DON’T, just continue to process for about 5 additional minutes. 
  3. After 20 minutes, the almonds should have become almond butter: thick and creamy, and your entire kitchen will smell like almond paradise.
  4. Store the almond in an airtight jar and store at room temperature. Because the almond butter is literally almonds, the butter can last for up to a year.

If you had enough patience to finally see the almonds transform to almond butter, I want to congratulate you!! It’ll be difficult for me to ever buy almond butter, knowing that I can save money by making it at home as well knowing that it is only made with 1 ingredient.

Enjoy you almond butter with toast, make cookies, or muffins, or simply eat it out of the jar!

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Processed almond butter after 20 minutes

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Store in an airtight container

A Glorious Loaf of Bread: Nut and Seed Bread Recipe (GF and Vegan)

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Topped with chia jam and avocado

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Nuts and seeds bread

Loitering among the miscellany of breads and baked goods in Central Market continuously induces contentment because wheat-infused air and the overwhelming display of intricately-crafted balls of gluten rings perfection. I’m a bread enthusiast, constantly exploring the art of bread-making. In front of my eyes was a glut of bread samples, and I shamelessly began the carb-adventure with a plain ciabatta bread, working through hatch pepper cheddar scones, lemon ricotta cookies, purple wheat bread, and ending with a “seed bread” packed with poppy and sunflower seeds. Instantly, I fell for the seed bread as I reached for seconds and thirds because seeds in bread provides an earthy taste and crunchy texture that I love.

However, stores rarely add enough seeds and nuts to my liking, and if they do, they loaf costs around a whopping $11. It only seemed sensible to make my own, packed with nuts and seeds, resulting in a high-protein, high-fiber, healthy loaf of bread. I formulated a vegan and gluten-free recipe, inspired by a Paleo, Stone-Age Nordic Bread Recipe, which comprises a variety of nuts and seeds.


 

Nut and Seed Bread

yield: 1 loaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 c. flax seeds
  • 1/2 c. nuts (almonds, walnuts, or hazelnuts; any nuts work) I used raw almonds
  • 1 c. gluten-free rolled oats
  • 4 tbsp. ground flaxseeds
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 tbsp. agave or maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp. oil (I used coconut oil, but you can use olive oil if you would like an olive scented loaf)

Directions:

  1. Cut the nuts in half (I found this to be beneficial because whole almonds made the loaf a bit more difficult to slice). Then, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and pour into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap and let the loaf sit for at least 5 hours.
  3. Bake the loaf in a pre-heated 350 °C oven for 25 minutes.
  4. Remove the loaf from the pan and bake on the wire rack for 30 minutes.
  5. Cool the loaf on a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes, which will allow the bread to firm up, making it easy to slice.

A little of this bread goes a long way because it is packed with protein, fiber, and OMEGA-3s that cause satiety for a long period of time. You can top your bread with any toppings you would like, but a couple ideas include avocado and strawberry chia jam, which I will post a recipe for tomorrow.

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Pre-baked loaf

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Baked loaf

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Two breakfast toast options

-Jamie

Broke College Student #6: 4 Ingredient Vegan Overnight Oats

Broke College Student, food, healthy

My intention for going to Target was to purchase party supplies for my friend’s birthday, but damn does Target know how to do business. I immediately walked and saw to my left their extremely aesthetic dollar section filled with pastel colors, gold calligraphy words, and vintage looking items, all for $5 or less. I always ignore the snacks or little toys, but there was a section of mason jars and glass spice containers that caught my attention, and they were only $3. How do I even pass on such a deal? Deciding that mason jars are too large for my food portions, I selected the pack of 4 small spice jars for $3 with the idea of testing overnight oats. Several years ago I made overnight oats and thought it was the grossest thing ever, until after self-reflection I realized I made “48 hour oats” rather than “overnight oats”. I despised the mushiness of the oats as I wondered why overnight oats were even a thing, like do people like eating mush? But that was my mistake. Do NOT soak your oats for over 7-9 hours, it’ll be disgusting.

Eagerly ripping over the package of 4 glass jars, I improv’d with a simple dorm-friendly, 4 ingredient overnight oats recipe. I am not certain what the measurement are since I eyeball’ed so all measurements are estimates.

4 Ingredient overnight oats (yields 1 jar):

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. microwaveable instant oats
  • 1 tbsp. nut butter, I used peanut butter in 2 jars and almond butter in the other 2
  • 1 tsp. chia seeds
  • 4 tbsp. almond/soy milk

Instructions:

  1. add all ingredients into a jar and mix
  2. place in the fridge for 7-9 hours and enjoy

Tip: since I bought 4 jars, I prepped each jar with the recipe above except the addition of the milk. I recommend to add the dry ingredients and add milk only if you will be eating the oats 7-9 hours after to prevent oversoaking and mushiness.

Note: Do not eat if it hasn’t soaked for 6 hours. I tasted my first jar after only 3 hours and I got a major stomachache.

-Jamie