Chocolate Banana Walnut Muffins and a Shameful Secret


I had to cut out the back row of my muffin pan on this picture because I messily devoured one of these right as it came out of the oven.  Crumbs EVERYWHERE.

No, that’s not my shameful secret.  The secret is that the original recipe for these muffins comes from the newest batch of beachy treats from the Tone it Up girls.  “Who are they?” you might ask.  Meaning that you have never been a woman with a mission to look better naked and hours of internet time to spend searching for just the thing to get you motivated to FINALLY eat right and work out regularly.  Good for you.

I think I stumbled onto the Tone it Up website after a meal of grilled cheese sandwiches and ice cream.  I wasn’t feeling to good about myself and the website’s impossibly girly aesthetic drew me right in.  It was a nice change from all the paleo sites I usually frequent.  It’s run by Karena and Katrina, a pair of Southern California best friends and personal trainers whose mission is to help you become a “beach babe”.


Yeah, I kind of wanted to barf, too.  But I also kind of wanted to BE them. So I kept visiting the website, joined the online community, and coughed up a stupid amount of money for their nutrition plan.  Never mind the fact that I almost never go to the beach and when I do, it’s in Oregon so I’m dressed like this.

With my mom, in July.

With my mom, in July.

Oh well, everyone has to have their guilty pleasures and the muffins are pretty good.

Chocolate Banana Walnut Muffins
adapted from Tone it Up
makes 12

– 1 cup brown rice flour
– 1/4 cup xylitol
– 1/4 cup brown sugar
– 1 tsp salt
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
– 1/2 cup cocoa powder
– 2 bananas, mashed
– 3 Tbsp maple syrup
– 3 drops vanilla-flavored stevia
– 1 1/4 cups milk
– 5 Tbsp melted coconut oil
– 2 Tbsp ground flax seeds
– 2 tsp baking soda
– 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
– 1/2 cup toasted walnuts

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, xylitol, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, protein, and cocoa powder.  In a separate bowl, mix bananas, maple syrup, stevia, milk, coconut oil, and flax seeds.

Mix baking soda and apple cider vinegar together in a small bowl, let fizz and add to the wet ingredients.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just blended.  Fold in walnuts.

Divide batter among 12 muffin cups and bake for 25 minutes.

Banana, Chocolate, and Hazelnut Muffins (Gluten-Free)


I think it’s been too long since I’ve posted a tasty baked item on this blog.  I’m not sure why that is.  I always seem to have some kind of homemade treat lying around the house.  Perhaps the issue is that I’m always on a mission to “health-ify” my baked goods.  I’ll adjust flours, fats, and sugar content until I end up with something I don’t have to feel too bad about eating every day.  The problem is, I often end up with something that perhaps not everyone will appreciate.  I end up with healthy-tasting cakes, brownies, cookies, etc that just can’t compete with the utterly Southern pound cake shipped to us by Jeremy’s mother.  Or if I make something AMAZING it gets eaten up and I don’t take any pictures (that was the fate of a recent lemon custard pie).


So I feel pretty proud about having gotten things together for this post.  These muffins are good enough to inhale in an afternoon, but recent New Year’s resolutions have allowed them to stick around for a few extra days to be photographed and savored.  The recipe is adapted from the gluten-free cookbook La Tartine Gourmande, which I can’t recommend highly enough.  Just as in her blog, the recipes and photos are a delicious inspiration.  Everything I have made from the book has turned out beautifully.

Last year: Danish(?) Trabak (which I have now learned is probably “Tvebakker”)

Banana, Chocolate, and Hazelnut Muffins
makes 12 muffins

1/3 cup hazelnuts, soaked and dried if possible (benefits of soaking nuts here)
2 eggs
1/2 cup xylitol (or you can use regular sugar)
8 Tbs butter, melted
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 cup quinoa flour
1/2 cup hazelnut flour (you can make this by simply grinding about 1 cup hazelnuts)
1/2 cup white rice flour
pinch of sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 ripe bananas, mashed
3 oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

Toast hazelnuts until lightly browned.  Place in a kitchen towel and roll to remove some of the skins.  Roughly chop them and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350F and prepare 12 muffin cups with paper liners or cooking fat of choice.

Beat eggs and xylitol together in a large bowl.  Add melted butter and yogurt and whisk until well combined.  In a separate bowl, combine flours, salt, baking powder and baking soda, lightly mixing.  Add to the wet ingredients and stir just until mixed together.  Add banana, hazelnuts, and chocolate and stir in.

Divide the batter among the muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Let cool and serve with a healthy pat of coconut oil or butter.

Smart Cookies (with protein!)

I go back and forth on the whole concept of protein powder.  Sure, it’s an easy add-in for the morning smoothie and it can help keep me satiated until lunch.  BUT, protein powders are expensive, often contain unnatural ingredients, and can taste like, well, butt.  So lately I’ve been choosing to avoid them and to rely on eggs, nuts, meats, and raw milk for my protein.  In the meantime, a very expensive bag of protein powder has been wasting away in my cupboard.

This is the Vanilla SunWarrior Warrior Blend protein.  I bought it after trying a free sample and I thought I was in love.  When my whole 2 pound bag came in the mail, though, I found that my tastebuds had done a complete switch.  I found it to be just tolerable and, a few weeks later, not even that.  By the time I was halfway through the bag, I hated the stuff.  And so we’ve been at an impasse, with me unable to either consume it or throw it away (I figure there’s a good $20 worth of product still in that bag!).  BTW, I’m not trying to point out SunWarrior as having a worse-than-average product.  Based on the online reviews, it seems that most people love it…just a matter of taste.

This long story is to tell you that  these cookies finally vindicated my purchase.  When baked into these hearty cookies, I find the Warrior Blend to be absolutely amazing.  It lends a nice, sweet vanilla flavor and plenty of healthy staying power.  Next time I make these, I may even increase the amount of protein and decrease the whole wheat flour, just to see what I end up with.  Use your favorite (or maybe least favorite) brand and whip these up for quick breakfasts or snacks.

Have you ever found a way to repurpose something that was languishing in your cupboards?

Smart Cookies
makes 12-15 large cookies
adapted from Blissful Bites

– 1/4 cup coconut oil
– 1/4 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
– 2 Tbsp peanut butter
– 1/4 cup honey
– 1 egg
– 1 tsp vanilla
– 1/2 tsp almond extract
– 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
– 1/2 tsp baking soda
– 1 tsp cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1/2 cup vanilla protein powder (I used Warrior Blend)
– 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
– 1/2 cup dried cherries
– 1/4 hazelnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F.  Beat oil, milk, peanut butter, honey, egg, and vanilla and almond extracts until smooth.  Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and protein.  Mix until thoroughly combined.  Fold in oats, cherries, and hazelnuts.

Form cookies with large scoops of dough and place them on a nonstick baking sheet.  Bake 12-15 minutes, until beginning to brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Peanut Butter White Bean Blondies

If you’ve read this blog before, you might know that I like to try to sneak healthy ingredients into my meals in unexpected ways.  I’m always happy throwing some spinach into a smoothie or having turmeric with breakfast.  Which is why I was thrilled to find Chocolate Covered Katie’s incredible recipe for Peanut Butter White Bean Blondies.

Instead of using flour, the batter is based in white beans…but you really couldn’t guess it based on the taste and texture.  In fact, I’m thinking we might want to change the name to “Dense, Gooey Pieces of Peanut Butter Heaven”.  Who’s with me?  And while you’re enjoying your decadent treat, you can feel smug about all the protein and fiber you’re eating.

Perfect for a Fourth of July picnic.  Or for my inevitable anxiety snacking as I begin my final term of nursing school with a night shift clinical rotation and impending licensure exam and job hunt.  What?  Oh I’m fine.  Just fine.  (Eats another blondie.)

Does anyone else have big plans on the horizon for the summer?

Peanut Butter White Bean Blondies
makes 1 8×8 pan
from Chocolate Covered Katie’s recipe

Note: I didn’t really make any changes from the original recipe, but katie lists a few options for how to make these.  This is the version I used.  Check out her original recipe for substitution ideas!

– 1 1/2 cups white beans
– 3/4 tsp baking powder
– 1/8 tsp baking soda
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 3/4 cup coconut sugar
– 2 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
– 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
– 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Blend all ingredients except for chocolate chips in a food processor until very smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.  Fold chocolate chips into batter and pour into an 8×8 inch baking dish.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Allow to cool and enjoy.

* I added this post to this week’s Fresh Bites Friday, Fight Back FridayPennywise PlatterFull Plate Thursday, and Wellness Weekend.

Spelt Banana Bread (No added sugar or oil)

My long and leisurely spring break is coming to a close and it would be a tragedy if I didn’t get some baking in before classes begin again.  This wholesome banana bread is sure to keep me happy during my long day in the classroom tomorrow.

Especially if it's slathered in coconut butter.

My spring break was decidedly laid-back.  No beach vacations for this girl.  I stayed in Portland for some quality reading and kitchen time.  Other highlights include: my sister coming to visit (all the way from Ft. Worth, TX), a day of walking around in the sun and shopping with some girlfriends, game night, and seeing an AMAZING show with the bands Onuinu and Yacht.  (My boyfriend produced and mixed Onuinu’s record and plays drums in the live show…so of course I like them.  As for Yacht, I have never seen a show like theirs.  They are from outer space.  In a good way.)

But back to the banana bread.  I like this recipe because all of its sweetness comes from the bananas.  It’s got no added sugar, no oil, and it’s whole grain.  And it’s vegan, if that matters to you.  I hope you enjoy!

Spelt Banana Bread
makes 1 loaf
adapted from GB&J

– 1 1/2 cups whole spelt flour
– 1/2 cup almond flour
– 1/3 cup rolled oats
– 1 tsp cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 tsp baking powder
– 1/4 cup coconut milk (or other type of your choice)
– 5 ripe bananas (the riper they are, the sweeter the bread will be)
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/2 tsp almond extract
– 1/4 cup almond butter
– 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
– 1/2 cup walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, mix together flours, oats cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and baking powder.

In a separate bowl, mash the bananas well and mix in the vanilla and almond extracts, and the almond butter.  Alternatively, you can give all those ingredients a whirl in the food processor or blender.  I used my Vitamix, which was incredibly easy.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry just until combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts.

Pour batter into a loaf pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.

* I added this post to this week’s Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Monday Mania, Real Food 101, and Make Your Own Monday.

Peanut Butter Spelt Cookies

Whenever I make cookies at home, I run into a big problem…I end up with a lot of cookies at home.  And I just haven’t figured out how not to eat way too many when they are just over there on the counter.  Calling my name.  Maybe I’ll get the hang of it when I’m a real grown-up.  But for now, I have to resort to sneakier methods of self-control such as (1) giving most of the batch away, (2) putting half of them in the freezer where instant gratification is less of an option (frozen cookies just don’t have the same siren call), or (3) making cookies that only contain ingredients that I would put into a healthy snack.  These fall into the last category.

My favorite part of these crumbly, sweet, and salty treats is that they are made with whole grain spelt flour, which is a good source of fiber, manganese, copper, and zinc.  My second favorite part is that it contains Grade B maple syrup as the sweetener instead of refined sugar.  Also, the ingredients list is simple and to the point.  They’re on the small side, so you can eat two and say that it only counts as one.  And they’re vegan, in case you’re looking to cut animal products.  I like to think of these as my all-of-the-satisfaction-with-none-of-the-guilt-peanut-butter-cookies.  But that’s too much of a mouthfull.

Before baking

And after. Hey, there's some sunlight in this picture! Thanks, Portland!

Peanut Butter Spelt Cookies
makes about 4 dozen small cookies
adapted from Green Kitchen Stories

– 2 cups whole grain spelt flour
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 1 tsp sea salt
– 1 cup natural peanut butter
– 1/3 cup tahini
– 1/2 cup maple syrup
– 1/3 cup walnut oil (you could use olive oil here instead)
– 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Lightly grease 2-3 baking sheets.  If you are using non-stick baking sheets, you probably don’t need to grease them.

2. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt.  In a separate large bowl, mix peanut butter, tahini, maple syrup, oil, and vanilla extract until well-combined.

3. Add peanut butter mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined.  The dough will be quite soft.  Drop dough by the tablespoon-full onto your baking sheets and lightly press down with the back of a fork.  It helps to get the fork a little wet occasionally to keep it from sticking.

4. Bake for 8-10 minutes.  They may seem a little under baked when you remove them from the oven but they will seem less doughy when they cool.

* I added this post to this week’s Fat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesday, Whole Food Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked, Real Food Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, and Hearth and Soul Hop.

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

These are not healthy.  When I was contemplating making cookies, I thought about how I should substitute applesauce for some of the butter.  Then I started baking and it completely slipped my mind.  So despite the inclusion of ingredients like whole wheat pastry flour and brown rice syrup, please do not think I’m trying to pass these off as a health food.   They are just delicious.

I used to use whole wheat flour for all my baking, including treats like these.  It’s hard for me to reconcile my desire to be healthy with using refined carbohydrates in any of my recipes.  The problem with this was that I could always taste the whole wheat even when I didn’t necessarily want to.  I’m not sure how this drama in my kitchen is going to end, but for now I’m going with the tactic of using about half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour in this kind of recipe.  As a trade-off, I’m going to try to eat fewer of the cookies.  Wish me luck with that.

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

makes 2 dozen cookies

based on Angela’s recipe from Oh She Glows

– 1 stick butter (8 Tbs), softened
– 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
– 1/4 cup brown rice syrup
– 1 egg
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/2 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
– 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
– 1/4 tsp cinnamon
– 1/2 cup rolled oats
– 1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts
– 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks

1. Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly grease 2 cookie sheets.
2. Cream butter and brown sugar.  Mix in egg, brown rice syrup, and vanilla.
3. Mix together dry ingredients except walnuts and chocolate chunks.  Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix until well-incorporated.  Fold in walnuts and chocolate chunks.
4. Drop by the spoonful onto the baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes.