Grammy’s Banana Bread (whole wheat, vegan, low sugar)

This Mother’s Day I spent a lot of my time thinking about my grandmother, Jeannine Betsch (nee Morin), who passed away last year. She was an amazing lady who had a killer banana bread recipe. I decided to make her banana bread this morning when I noticed our bananas were a bit past their prime. But, I wanted to see if I could make this recipe with more protein, more healthy fats, no eggs for the wee one, and, most importantly, minus the 1 cup of refined sugar.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me take a bow because this banana bread is delicious, crunchy, not too sweet, and actually very healthy. Per slice, there are ten grams of protein and just 1.4 grams added sugar (from the molasses).

Grammy’s Banana Bread

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Wet Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (solid, room temperature)
  • 5 well-ripe to very-ripe bananas
  • 2 flax eggs (Note: I’ve been boiling whole flax seeds in water and keeping the gooey mixture in the fridge. I used 1/2 cup of the mixture in the recipe, but you can also do 3T ground flax seeds with 1/2 C water and let stand.)
  • 4t milk or orange juice
  • 1/4 cup mollasses
  • 2T dried unsweetened coconut
  • 1t ground cinnamon
  • 1T vanilla extract

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 C whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 C vital wheat gluten
  • 1 cup walnuts, crushed
  • 2t baking powder
  • 1t baking soda

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F
  2. Combine all wet ingredients in a food processor (or blender) and blend until smooth. Try to reduce whole flax seeds and chunks of coconut oil or banana. You cannot over-mix this.
  3. Mix dry ingredients well in large bowl.
  4. Add wet into dry and mix until just combined. If dry, add more teaspoons of milk/orange juice.
  5. Pour into a greased or lined metal loaf pan and cook at 350*F for 1 hour (325*F if glass pan).
  6. Remove from loaf pan after letting rest for five minutes. Let cool (cutting in too soon releases the gases that keep it fluffy).

 

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Finger-licking, easy, low sugar BBQ Sauce (vegan, GF, allergy friendly)

I’ve adapted this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen’s Paleo-friendly recipe found in their book “Paleo Perfected.”I made the recipe bigger, easier, one pot, and lower in sugar. Their’s was a little complicated, mine is stupid easy. Their’s might make the heavens sing, but with this one you get serenaded by at least one angel…So, I am satisfied.

Finger-licking low sugar BBQ Sauce (vegan, GF, allergy friendly)
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Ingredients

  • 1 32oz can of tomato puree
  • 1C Water
  • 2T Molasses
  • 1/3C Cider Vinegar
  •  1/3C Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2T Salt
  • 1/2T White Pepper
  • 2T Onion Powder
  • 2T Garlic Powder
  • 1T Chili powder
  • 1T Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2t Cayenne Pepper (or more for hotter sauce)

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients in a low, large non-stick pan on medium-low. Cook until mixture has reduced by half, about thirty minutes. The sugars will start to caramelize on the bottom and on the sides, just keep stirring frequently to mix in all those yummy bits.

Enjoy!

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On Becoming a Runner: The first twenty minutes are the hardest

After my medically-induced running hiatus this winter into spring, I am starting to run again, and it is SO painful. My body is woefully out of shape. It reminds me of starting running, and I wanted to share some pearls of wisdom:

(1) You DO have a runner’s body

Some body types are naturally faster than others, or can handle long distances with less cross training and slow mileage creep-ups. But guess what? None of that matters. You get to run for you, not for other people and certainly not for those who won a genetic lottery. Go your pace, and you will be a hell of a lot faster and go a hell of a lot farther than those that never even start. Do you have a body? Yes? And do you run? Then you have a runner’s body!

Of course, there are indeed a very small percentage of people who cannot run, and only a trained orthopedic doctor, physical therapist, or sports medicine doctor can advise you on this. Note that I do not say “any doctor.” If you suspect that you might have a back or knee injury that keeps you from full mobility, you should see a specialist before ruling anything out. I cannot tell you the number of people I meet who were told that running was “dangerous” by their PCP for reasons not based on science or logic or anything worth following.

(2) Running for 20 minutes for the first time is AS HARD AS IT GETS.

Really. Training to run 20 minutes will be more painful than training to run for 2 hours. That first 2 miles you put in, you will think, “PEOPLE DO THIS? WHY DO PEOPLE DO THIS?” Keep going. Remember that this is your body getting used to something new. You will not regret it.

I remember the first time I tried to run for 20 minutes straight and I thought I had entered a hell dimension. It took me months, and I was so proud. This week I worked up from 5 minutes to 10 minutes of running in four days. Next week we’ll do 20, and from there I know I will be quickly doing 3, 4, 5 miles and beyond.

(3) You’re not running against the other runners, you are running against the voice in your head that tells you to stop

This voice will be strong sometimes. This voice does not know what it is talking about. Mental toughness is as important as physical toughness when it comes to running. This is not to say that every run is going to be painful, but there will be points in your runs where you are like, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING, DEBBIE?” And remember that feeding this voice will only lead you to a dark, giving-up kind of place. Overcoming that voice will bring you a sense of pride that will awe you.

So, what?

So, start. Everyone (nearly) can be a runner. YOU can be a runner. You do not need to be the fastest, best, most amazing runner, but you can train for a 5k or a 13.1 or anything you wish. You are actually the only restrictive force in this equation.

Here are some great beginner guides:

 

Happy Running,

Cassie

On setbacks and finding snapping turtles in duck ponds

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I write this while coughing, asthmatically. Setbacks. All. These. Setbacks.

When you get them clustered together it feels like a great voice in the sky saying, Just give up, Maryann! And, Sit on the couch and eat chocolate, Deborah, until the pain goes away! And, well, these options are rather alluring until you realize the long-term effects.

Last night, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, so I ate a vegan scone without “balancing” it out. By balancing, I mean eating an appropriate amount of protein to keep the simple carbohydrates in the baked good from spiking my blood sugar and insulin levels. (To learn about insulin and water retention and weight gain, see this article by the Joslin clinic.) I woke up this morning exhausted with swollen hands, feet, and face.

Setbacks sometimes beget setbacks. Not getting to do what we want, often what we define ourselves by or what makes our heart happy, is at first frustrating and then demoralizing. I think this is how one setback becomes a spiral.

Today, my son and I went to our local duck pond to feed the ducks. Do you see what I see? No ducks. But he never gave up hope, and sure enough after throwing crackers in the water for twenty minutes a snapping turtle two feet across came up and ate all the crackers we had brought. Sometimes, life doesn’t work out how we planned, but it works out anyway.

I joined the Oiselle Volee Team, despite the fact that my training is desperately behind. I realized I had developed tunnel vision. I can probably run next week, and if not the week after. This gives me hope. I also learned a lesson, that all is best when I am taking impeccable care of myself and that maybe it will all turn out ok even if it does not turn out the way I planned.

What setbacks have you experienced in your training? How did you move on?

 

Vegan High Protein Chocolate Cream Pie (vegan, gluten free)

I like a chocolate cream pie with a nice graham cracker crust, and I’ve been experimenting with how to make this recipe sing–how to make it something that in moderate doses is actually healthy–for a long time. Tonight we celebrate, because I finally got it.

The recipe is made with firm tofu, 85% cocoa chocolate, and a mix of nuts and seeds. It is sweetened with fruit and there are a few spices added to the mix. Overall, it is easy to make and a powerhouse of antioxidants and protein with a measly 3g sugar per serving.

Vegan High Protein Chocolate Cream Pie (vegan, gluten free)

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Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 cups total ground walnuts, cashews, pepitas, or other seeds and nuts
  • 2T-4T cashew, almond, or peanut butter, or water if nuts are oily
  • 1T coconut (optional)
  • 1t cinnamon
  • 2t vanilla
  • 1 dried date

Filling

  • 1 packet firm or soft
  • 3.5oz 85% chocolate
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2T vanilla
  • 1 date

Instructions

  1. Add nuts and seeds and cinnamon to food processor, grinding until they are a rough crumble. Add the nut butter or water 1T at a time until the nuts make a “dough”. Pack this dough into the bottom of a 9″ pie pan or a glass pyrex pan.
  2. Heat tofu for ~1 minute in the microwave, or until it is warm but not cooked. Set aside. Heat chocolate in separate bowl for 20 seconds at a time until it is melted. Pour melted chocolate into the tofu and stir. If any chocolate hardens when in contact with the tofu, put entire mixture back in the microwave.
  3. In food processor, puree banana and date with small amount of tofu mixture, to ensure there are no chunks. Once smooth, add rest of mixture to food processor plus the vanilla.
  4. Pour tofu mixture over nut crust. Let sit in refrigerator or freezer until set, about 4 hours for the fridge and about 1 hour for the freezer.

Makes five servings. Enjoy with fresh or thawed fruit, such as bananas, strawberries, cherries, blueberries, or raspberries.

Beet Noodle Salad (GF, vegan)

I was introduced to this yummy dish on Friday by my friend Jocelyn, who does awesome things through her organization SPUR (check SPUR out here). It is simple–just spiralized beets lightly roasted with a quick vinaigrette and some herbs. But, oh, this is so yummy.

Also, my obsession with beets should be rather… obvious.

Beet Noodle Salad (GF, vegan)

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Ingredients

  • ~6 cups spiralized beets (you can get one on Amazon or buy pre-spiralized at Whole Foods)
  • 1T olive oil
  • 2T red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup sliced fresh herbs, such as basil, mint, thyme, dill, cilantro, or tarragon (I like mint or dill)

Instructions

  1. Combine beets with olive oil and roast at 425*F for 15 minutes, or until desired consistency (this is going to depend on the beets and your oven)
  2. While warm, add in vinegar, salt and pepper, and herb. Toss.

Serve warm or cold.