Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

IMG_2227I love chocolate. I love zucchini. But chocolate AND zucchini sounds like a weird disastrous combo like marshmallows with celery or white chocolate with tomatoes. At least that’s what I thought years ago before I had my first slice of zucchini bread.

Zucchini bread is amazingly moist and lightly sweet, plus, it’s getting you to eat your veggies right?!

They are lovely versatile summer veggies that I absolutely love all year-round, I’ve even made them into pancakes and chips!

For my first attempt at zucchini bread, I followed Chelsea’s Messy Apron blog’s Healthy Greek Yogurt Zucchini Bread. There are many ways to “healthify” your zucchini bread and this recipe does it in every way – from using coconut oil (instead of butter or vegetable oil), dark chocolate chips (instead of milk chocolate), and sneaking in some oats (instead of all white flour).

You will need:

  • 1 bread loaf pan, greased and floured or lined with parchment paper
  • grater
  • blender (if you do not have oat flour)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup low fat greek vanilla yogurt (you can use plain to reduce sugar)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup of melted coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 3 tablespoons of mashed banana
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed (I think I even used less to cut down sugar)
  • 1/2 cup oat flour, measured after blending
  • 1 cup white or whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or nuts (optional)

IMG_2208First some of your ingredients require some extra prep work: zucchini needs grating, banana needs mashing, and oats need blending. But the results are well worth the effort.

As you start grating the zucchini, wrap handfuls in a paper towel and squeeze out all the water. You don’t want soggy zucchini bread. Do this until you have about 1 cup of grated zucchini. IMG_2210Pre-heat your oven to 325°F.

If you don’t have oat flour at home, that’s ok! I always have some old-fashion oats at home (mostly for baking purposes, secondly for breakfast!) and I just pulse it in my food processor for a few seconds and I’ll have finely ground oat flour that will give the bread some subtle chewiness. IMG_2215In a large bowl mix all your wet ingredients: yogurt, vanilla extract, egg, melted coconut oil, and honey. Add in mashed banana and light brown sugar.

In a small bowl mix all dry ingredients: oat flour, white flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix well.

(I know I accidentally switched around the bowl sizes, I always do this!) IMG_2216Add the dry flour mixture into the wet mixture and stir until just enough to blend everything together. Don’t keep mixing unless you like very dense bread. IMG_2217Lastly, gently stir in the zucchini and optional nuts/chocolate chips. IMG_2218Pour into your greased or lined bread loaf pan. IMG_2219 Set your timer for 40-50 minutes. It’s a big time range but you just have to see if the bread looks “done”- when the sides pull alway from the pan and the top gets a golden brown color. I took mine out at about 46 minutes. IMG_2222I was suppose to wait 10-15 minutes for the bread to cool, but I think I waited 5 and couldn’t help but taste test the softest, perfectly sweetened, and most delicious zucchini bread! IMG_2224

Nutella Swirl Banana Bread

Ahh….Nutella. Pretty much a gift from the gods. The most wondrous thing about this stuff is that you can put it in almost anything: cake, cookies, fruits, toast. And it’s an excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast. I wanted to make something more than the usual home-comfort banana bread, so I used Cup of Jo’s Nutella Swirled Banana Bread recipe.

Not only did it taste divine, but pretty too.

2014-06-08 23.38.52I’ll have to work on my knife swirling next time.

2014-06-08 22.08.57I actually cut the recipe in half to make 1 loaf, but here is the original recipe:

  • 3 large or 4 medium (2 cups mashed) bananas, very ripe – for a 1 loaf I used just 2 bananas 
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup milk – I used unsweetened organic soy milk 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. rum, optional
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup Nutella

Prep work: preheat oven to 350ºF. Line the loaf pans with parchment paper and butter well- makes clean up a lot easier.

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Start by mashing up the bananas with a fork or whisk, mash it until you just have some small chunks left.

In a stand mixer: combine the 1 cup packed brown sugar + 1/2 cup melted butter, 1/2 cup milk, 2 eggs, 2 tsp. vanilla and 1 tablespoon rum.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 3 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the sugar/butter mixture, just until smooth. Add the bananas and mix just until they are combined.

2014-06-08 22.31.31Here comes the fun part! Microwave 1/2 cup of Nutella in a small heatproof bowl for about 20 seconds to get it a little more like chocolate sauce. Drizzle about 2/3 cup of it into the banana bread batter.

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Do not mix it into the batter but gently fold the Nutella into the batter, using a spatula scoop under the batter and bring it back up, folding over the top- do it about 3-4 times. At this point if you are making 2 loaves, divide the batter evenly into the pans.

Take the remaining Nutella (honestly, add more of you want!!) and drizzle it in two straight vertical lines down the top of the batter, then run a knife through the lines horizontally to achieve the swirl effects. 2014-06-08 22.49.51

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Bake for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. After taking it out from the oven, let it cool for about 10 minutes. Gently lift out with the sides of the parchment paper and cut into thick slices. 2014-06-08 23.57.34The bread is actually not too sweet/sugary, it allows the naturally sweetness of the ripened bananas come out and the rich nutty flavors of the Nutella take center stage. Great with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk. Grab a slice for breakfast, afternoon tea or post-dinner dessert.

(Super) Healthy Raspberry Chocolate Protein Brownies

Thought I’d kickoff this month with this super-healthy recipe that will rock your taste buds. June means summer and summer means getting in shape and you can’t do that with regular sugar-ladened brownies (well at least I can’t). I’m on a no-additive-sugar kick for the past few weeks, but last night I was kind of dying and looking for ways to cheat. I stumbled upon Ambitious Kitchen’s 100 Calorie Raspberry Chocolate Protein Brownies– and they were the answer to my prayers.

Yes, I know the chocolate chips probably have sugar.

2014-06-01 21.31.02The true miracle here was that I just so happen to have all the ingredients I needed including the raspberries (freshly bought before I intended to make these brownies), whey powder, agave nectar and coconut oil. These aren’t things I lot of people just have stocked up in their kitchens I assume.

You will need:

  • 8×8 square pan, greased (or use parchment paper)
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats + blender (or oat flour)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup Whey vanilla or chocolate powder (I got mine from Trader Joes)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce (which I didn’t have but I used a nice ripe banana instead)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon honey (replacement: agave nectar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup almond milk (or soy milk should be fine)
  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips + 2 tablespoons for later)
  • 1/2 cup raspberries (rip in halves or pieces)

Preheat the oven for 350 F. Put the oats in a blender and blend for 45 sec to 1 min: instant oat flour! Cool beans.

2014-06-01 21.42.55Mix the oat flour with the cocoa powder and whey powder. Set aside.

2014-06-01 21.45.11Blend the wet ingredients well: mashed banana (or your apple sauce), egg, agave, vanilla extract and milk.

2014-06-01 21.45.25In a microwaveable bowl: heat up the chocolate chips with the coconut oil for about 45 seconds. The coconut oil looks like water, but don’t worry keep stirring and it blends well together.

2014-06-01 21.50.59Combine the wet mixture in with the dry mixture and then lastly, add the melted chocolate: blend blend blend away!

2014-06-01 21.52.23Pour into your prepared pan and arrange the raspberry pieces on top and sprinkle the extra chocolate chips on top.

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I’m not the biggest fan of raspberries, but these beautiful red gems make a HUGE difference in taste and texture with the finished product. The raspberry provides an extra tartness that brings out the very very (very!) subtle sweetness of the brownies.

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Bake for about 22-27 minutes and then take out to cool. I baked it for an extra 5 minutes than the original recipe because I wasn’t sure if the brownies were suppose to be that soft- I got a little worried that I did not bake them long enough. The extra 5 minutes firmed up the brownies a bit more.

2014-06-01 22.43.50The texture is definitely very similar to gluten-free or flourless desserts: very fudge-y and dense. I have to admit when I first bit into one I was like, it’s not sweet at all!!! Ugh! But I guess that’s what happens when I’m so used to eating lots of high-sugar foods. I really had to take a moment to find the subtle sweetness from the chocolate chips and agave. Mmmmm!

2014-06-01 22.43.36Remember to store these in a air-tight container and in the fridge. I have to warn you: these do taste super-healthy. It’s not going to taste like a Betty-Crocker brownie and have 100 calories: the world doesn’t work that way. But I definitely learned to appreciate these and since they are full of protein I can feel less guilty nibbling on one of these post-workout! Happy baking!

2-Ingredient Healthy-licious “Pancakes”

As you may be able to tell from a few of my recent posts, I’ve been on a health kick and that means finding creative, healthy, yet delicious recipes to try! I’ve also recently discovered Blogilates and this girl rocks socks. She also introduced the healthy banana pancakes that just uses TWO ingredients. So no excuses! This recipe is cheap, easy, fast, and-most importantly- surprisingly delicious!

Here is a video recipe:

I got to go into work a little later than usual, so I finally had to time to cook a real breakfast and eat it (and take pics of it).

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Get a banana (preferably a very ripe one) and 2 whole eggs – mash it all together.

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Whisk until quite watery, it’s okay if there’s some small chunks in there.

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Heat a nonstick skillet or pan with some olive, coconut or vegetable oil. Drop big spoonfuls of the batter in and cook until it looks solid enough to flip over. Once they start getting a little brown they really do start looking like pancakes!

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A lovely breakfast with 1/2 a sugar-free muffin and some earl grey tea with almond milk. The pancakes were so good, I wish I had made more! Of course they aren’t going to be fluffy or “cakey” like regular pancakes, but they are low-cal, gluten-free, and all that jazz. I was planning to drizzle some honey or agave nectar on it but I realize the banana gives it a light, sweet taste already, no need for anything else!

A lot of people who tried the recipe, added their own twists to it like adding some oat flour or oats for those who really want a more pancake texture. You can also add in anything you’d add into a regular pancake: blueberries, chocolate chips, cinnamon, or crushed nuts.

Enjoy!

1 Ingredient “Ice Cream” + endless twists!

Summer is officially here! And with that I think of two things: sweet cool ice cream….and swimsuit season. I don’t know about you but the first part makes me happier. Now with this mind-boggling-ly simple recipe for low-fat, super-easy “ice cream” you can enjoy both!

I just came back from hitting the gym (swim suit season), but I’m craving something sweet and cool (ice cream). I purposely keep no ice cream in the house to tempt me and I froze banana slices in the freezer earlier today. Now to have ice cream, all I need is a banana and a blender!

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My old roommate in grad school taught me this, when you blend a frozen banana it becomes a creamy, smooth mixture that resembles ice cream and has very little banana taste to it! Toss the slices in a blender along with whatever “twist” you want to flavor it with. Today I have Safeway’s version of Nutella, tapped a spoonful of that in and blended away!

*You may have to add a little bit of almond milk or soy milk if the frozen pieces don’t seem to be touching the blades. I don’t know my blender was having some technical difficulties. But don’t put too much in or else it will become a smoothie not ice cream!

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And voila! It’s easy, it’s cheap, it’s healthy, and it’s yummy….what more can you ask for?

*If the “ice cream”‘s consistency is kind of runny, then stick it back in a fridge for a few minutes.

The best part is there is an endless list of toppings for whatever your tastebuds desire:

  • cocoa powder
  • coffee powder
  • marshmallows
  • almond butter
  • vanilla wafers
  • oreos
  • strawberries
  • sea salt, honey
  • agave nectar
  • pretzels, caramel, chocolate chips

Here is a great website with some more great ideas and if you browse around the web there are tons out there! Have fun!

Banana Cake

It’s really hard for me to eat fruit usually but I seem to love using it in baking, especially bananas! Yes, it’s another banana recipe but this time it’s banana cake. I’ve never made a banana cake before but it seemed fitting for the emerging Spring weather- something lighter and fluffier than banana bread. This recipe I used is from Allrecipes.com Banana Cake VI.

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A few days before this idea hit me, my boyfriend was nice enough to go to the store to help me get some buttermilk for my previous recipe: Blueberry muffins, but he got me a huge carton of it! I had a ton left over so what was I to do? Keep baking of course.

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This recipe was a bit labor intensive as it require 4 separate mixtures to be slowly combined together.

(From left to right: sugar and butter creamed, dry ingredients, butter milk, mashed banana mixture)

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Mix mix mix! Mixing the good ol’ fashion way with my red spatula from Target. Good arm exercise at least.

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Ready for the oven! I did not take a picture but I actually added some left over cinnamon sugar streusel from the previous “To Die For Blueberry Muffins”….I wasn’t sure what it would taste like so I only spread it on half of the cake. Turned out great though! I should have known….how can you go wrong with streusel!

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Banana Dessert Boats

Happy Sunday! I came back from cardio kickboxing famished this morning! Even after lunch I still wanted a little something…looked around my shelf…maybe a banana?

Wait….why just have a plain ol’ banana when you can stuff it full of marshmallows and chocolate chips?!

I remember seeing something like this on Pintrest and when you Google “banana marshmallow chocolate” – wondrous recipes pop up with many variations. Possible topping ideas:

  • Nutella hazelnut spread
  • peanut better/ nut butters of any kind
  • chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, etc.
  • marshmallows
  • honey
  • crushed almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, etc.
  • graham crackers (S’mores!)

For this version I threw in mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, and crushed pecans I found in my baking pantry.

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Start by slicing open into a ripe banana with the peel on. Careful to not cut through to the other side.

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Stuff it with as much goodies as you can and want.

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Wrap banana in foil and place in oven for about 10-15 mins for at 300 degrees F. You can put it in longer if you want everything extra gooey.

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And there you have it: a sweet snack or well-portioned dessert.

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A somewhat healthy dessert? Hey I got you to eat a fruit didn’t I?

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Tell me that doesn’t look tempting?