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Posts tagged with Nuts

When life gives you bananas, you make muffins

Not like your mom used to make, but that's OK.

Not like your mom used to make, but that's OK. by Sarah Henning

We buy a LOT of bananas. We use at least two a day in the morning smoothie that the kiddo and I share. Plus they're perfect for pre-workout snacks, after-school snacks and banana ice soft serve for dessert.

But, sometimes, just like any other family, we miss the mark and just don't get to them. The result: Perfectly ripe bananas going black while waiting their turn in the fruit bowl.

And, because I'm my mother's daughter, what I do with over-ripe bananas is make banana bread.

As one does.

But when I last had too many bananas, I wanted to try something a little different. This winter, I got pretty good at making desserts out of pumpkin and almond butter (see these pumpkin pie bars and doughnuts as evidence), so I thought I might try the same with bananas and almond butter.

After a bit of trial and error, I ended up not with great banana bread, but with great banana-nut muffins. (Muffins beat out the bread version mostly because they made for easier portion control.) They're dense and moist and perfect for the morning, either plain or topped with some honey or jam.

You might be able to tell from that last suggestion, but what these muffins aren't is sweet. The bananas and only 2 tablespoons of maple syrup sweeten the whole batch. I realize this might be a turnoff for some people (my kiddo wasn't a fan), but my hubby and I really liked that we didn't feel like we were eating a sugar bomb first thing in the morning.

That said, if you like your muffins sweeter, you could add another 2 tablespoons or so of maple syrup to get them a big sweeter, though they still will never rival traditional banana bread in the toothache arena.

Low-Sugar Banana Nut Muffins

4-5 ripe or over-ripe bananas

1/2 cup almond butter (no salt and raw, if possible)

4 eggs or the equivalent of an egg substitute like a flax egg

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted if solid

2 tablespoons maple syrup (or more)

1/2 cup coconut flour (this is really absorbent, so you don't want to substitute another type)

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 pinch of salt (adjust if your almond butter is salted)

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 12 to 15 muffin cups with paper liners and set aside.

In a blender, combine your bananas (cut up), eggs or egg replacement, almond butter, coconut oil and maple syrup. Blend well. If you're using regular eggs, it will be quite frothy.

Pour the blender contents into a bowl and add the remaining ingredients except for chopped walnuts. Mix well. Fold in the walnuts and mix again.

Fill each of the liners two-thirds of the way full. If you add more maple syrup, chances are you'll have more batter and get closer to the yield of 15.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean in the center. Serves 12 to 15.

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Smuggling (healthy) snacks into ‘Skyfall’ like a spy

Super-Duper Superfood Trail Mix: Totally worth getting caught with at the movie theater.

Super-Duper Superfood Trail Mix: Totally worth getting caught with at the movie theater. by Sarah Henning

I have a secret to share. And I bet you anything you probably have the same one.

I totally sneak treats into the movie theater.

I don’t do it all the time, but occasionally, I want something they don’t have at the movies. Hey, it’s not my fault theaters don’t have the healthier options I crave. If they had tubs of pomegranate seeds or packages of dried figs stuff in there between the Twizzlers and the Junior Mints, I’d gladly pay out the nose for them. Seriously.

But, because that’s not a reality (yet, anyway), I’ve resorted to turning back to my teenage years to totally sneak in my favorites. (Though, back then it was copious amounts of Jelly Bellies that I kept undercover. Oh, how times change.) Of course, I DO feel guilty when I pull it off, so it’s probably a good thing that I barely ever go to see a movie in the theater these days (Hey, with a sitter added in, it’s really expensive to do dinner and a movie.)

That said, we decided to make this weekend one of those rare ones where we try for a night out. We really wanted to see “Skyfall” and our babysitter was available, so we gave it a go. And, in case you’re wondering, the new James Bond flick was totally worth the final price tag for the night: $85.

I knew I’d want something to munch on, even after dinner out, so I opted to smuggle in my new favorite version of homemade trail mix. I’m calling it “Super-Duper Superfood Trail Mix” because it’s full of antioxidants, minerals, amino acids aka the building blocks of protein, healthy essential fatty acids and, oh, yeah, TASTE. (Though, I’ll admit, it’s a far cry from the Jelly Belly mixes I could concoct as a 14-year-old. Le sigh.)

My mix’s star is the goji berry. These little red dried fruits resemble raisins, though they’re not as sweet. These little suckers are high in iron, calcium and protein. In fact, they have more than 20 trace minerals and 18 amino acids. Plus, they’re antioxidant superstars.

Next, I’ve included raw pumpkin seeds, which are also known as pepitas. They are chock full of zinc, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and they have been shown to work as well as non-steroidal drugs and reducing inflammation. Oh, and they’ve been shown to protect your liver.

Adding to the mix’s staying power and nutrition are raw almonds, which have been shown to reduce spikes in blood sugar that often accompany a meal by working to lower the glycemic index.

And, finally, I almost always round out my trail mix with chocolate — home to high-quality antioxidants and minerals like magnesium and copper. I prefer to chop up an ounce of dark chocolate so that I can keep the variety up. In the mix pictured above, I used a high-quality dark chocolate that had been infused with orange peel. But this mix is good with pretty much any dark chocolate bar (try to get 70 percent cocoa content and up so that you get the full range of antioxidants available).

So, there you go, a healthy alternative to the M&M/peanut/raisin trail mix (or the espresso-jalapeño-watermelon-buttered popcorn-marshmallow jellybean mix) of your childhood. Enjoy!

Super-Duper Superfood Trail Mix

4 tablespoons goji berries

2 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

2 tablespoons raw almonds

1 ounce good-quality dark chocolate, chopped

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl or sandwich-sized baggie. Makes about a half cup or two servings.

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