Monthly Archives: December 2017

No Bake Choconut Banana Bites

Have you ever baked with banana flour?  Maybe the better question is, have you ever heard of it?  I was recently asked to provide a list of high satiety foods for a Prevention magazine article and started to do research on unripe bananas, specifically green banana flour.  The nutritional profile is pretty incredible and I’ll be the first to admit that even as a dietitian, I really wasn’t fully aware of the potential health benefits of underripe bananas until recently.    Here is what I’ve learned about banana flour that is backed by research.  But first, what exactly is banana flour?

Yes, it’s made from bananas but if you’re like me, I had many questions about how it’s made.  In a nutshell, young, green bananas are picked and peeled before most of their starch has had a chance to ripen into sugar.  Next, the bananas are dried slow enough to maintains vitamins, nutrients and resistant starch (which I’ll talk about below) and ground into flour.  That’s about it!

In general, underripe bananas are naturally high in resistant starch (which they start to lose as they ripen), a type of starch that resists digestion in the small intestine, which has been shown to increase satiety, reduce feelings of hunger and may lead to lower energy intake in subsequent meals.  A 2016 Journal of Functional Foods study showed that adding unripe banana flour (5g resistant starch/serving) to non-daily consumption of soup for 6 weeks promoted higher satiety, lower ghrelin (hunger hormone) and high peptide YY release (a hormone which helps to reduce appetite and limit food intake).  How’s that for some gluten-free flour?!  I was quite impressed with the previous and even more recent research on banana flour.  In fact, back in 2011, banana flour was touted as one of the most exciting nutritional breakthroughs.  Resistant starch has been suggested to help your body’s ability to burn fat while keeping you fuller, longer.  Studies have also shown that it improves blood sugar control, boosts immunity, and may even reduce your cancer risk.   This is an excellent option for just about anyone to try especially those with a gluten allergy or intolerance or anyone who is avoiding grains. 

According to Let’s Do…Organic, when replacing grain flour with banana flour in baking, use 25% less green banana flour (example: your recipe calls for 1 cup of wheat flour, so use 3/4 cup of green banana flour). No extra eggs or liquid ingredients are needed.

This recipe is adapted from Alison’s No Bake Banana Flour Banana Balls by Let’s Do…Organic.  When I first saw this recipe, I had to make it, especially since it included two of my favorite words “NO BAKE”!!  The main difference in my recipe is that I added in rolled oats for a boost of fiber and texture and vanilla extract for flavor.  With the addition of cocoa powder,  no refined sugar and solely sweetened with maple syrup, these balls of goodness will satisfy your sweet tooth without giving you a toothache!   This is a treat you can totally feel good about giving your kids too.  My boys (and husband) gobbled these up and asked for seconds! Let’s just say they didn’t last more than one day.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons Let’s Do…Organic banana flour
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  • 3 tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1 1/4 rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup Let’s Do…Organic shredded coconut

Directions:

  1. Line a plate with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients (except coconut and oats) and mix well.
  3. Slowly add in the oats and continue mixing until texture thickens enough to form balls.
  4. Take about one tablespoon of the batter and roll into balls, then roll in the shredded coconut and place on the parchment lined plate.
  5. Place the plate in the freezer and freeze for about 20 minutes and enjoy!

 

 

 

Blueberry Oat Bran Muffins

Looking for a healthy way to start your day?  Give these fiber-rich blueberry oat bran muffins a try!  I mean check out these bloobz.  I’ve been planning on using oat bran in baking for some time now and finally decided to use it in muffins.  The result was delicious, filling muffins that my kids gobbled up too.  Now you may be wondering what oat bran is.  In general, oats come in so many different ways that it’s easy to get dizzy from it all.   Oat bran is the outer layer of the oat and is the most versatile part.  With an exceptionally high fiber content, oat bran makes for the perfect and satisfying warm morning breakfast cereal and is a great addition to baked goods.  Compared to an equal serving as oatmeal, it contains more fiber and less calories.  Just 1/3 cup contains about 6 grams of dietary fiber (3 of it being from soluble heart-healthy fiber) and about 5 grams of protein!  Here are a few other ways to include oat bran in your daily intake:

-sprinkle on salads; add to smoothies, yogurt and cottage cheese; use in place of breadcrumbs; mix it into a soup or stew.

With baking, be sure to allow the oat bran to soak in with the liquid ingredients before baking.  I found that this helps to soften the bran and create a moister muffin.  Happy Baking!

Ingredients

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1 1/2 cups oat bran

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup vanilla low fat or nonfat yogurt (I used Siggi’s vanilla)

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 1/2 cups blueberries (I used a mix of fresh and frozen)

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a 12 cup muffin tin with muffin liners.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together oat bran, flours, baking powder, soda, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, applesauce, vanilla and yogurt.
  4. Add wet to dry ingredients and mix until well-blended and let stand 10 minutes which helps the oat bran to soften.
  5. Fold in blueberries
  6. Bake at 375 degrees F for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown

 

Savory & Sweet Cream of Wheat with Lentils

When I went to the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo last year, I stopped by the Lentils booth and tried this delicious dish that I have been re-creating ever since with my own little flavor spin! Savory & Sweet Cream of Wheat with Lentils.  You may not think lentils + cream of wheat go together but they do! and tastes amazing.  The addition of honey, dried cranberries, apples, cinnamon and vanilla make this warm dish extra flavorful and nutritious.  Not to mention that this dish is gluten free and you get a boost of fiber and protein from pulses!  The variety of toppings are endless and totally customizable to your taste preferences.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds (or pumpkin seeds)

1 tablespoon 100% pure maple syrup

2 cups of unsweetened almond milk

1/4 cup Cream of Wheat

1/4 cup split red lentils

1/2 apple, finely chopped

1 cup of water

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the lentils and water.
  2. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, in a small bowl combine the apple, almonds and 1 teaspoon of the maple syrup. Set aside.
  4. Pour milk into a medium saucepan, bring to a light boil and whisk in cream of wheat.
  5. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the cranberries, vanilla, cinnamon and 2 teaspoons of maple syrup.  Whisk to combine.
  6. Once lentils are cooked and soft, pour into a mesh strainer and use a whisk or spoon to extract any excess liquid from the lentils.
  7. Pour lentils into the cream of wheat mixture and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes.
  8. Portion out mixture into individual bowls and top with the apple and almond mixture.  Serve warm.

The FDA’s Warning on Consuming Raw Flour-What every parent needs to know

As parents, we always make sure our children know to never eat raw eggs and wash their hands after coming in contact with them due to risk of Salmonella.  However, according to a recent statement issued by the FDA, flour, regardless of the brand or type (ex: unbleached, all-purpose, self-rising), can also contain bacteria that cause disease.  Raw dough could transmit harmful or evenly deadly pathogens which can make adults and children sick, while cooking the dough through methods such as roasting or baking-kills the bacteria.  Aside from cooking, doing crafts that include raw flour such as making play-doh can be just as dangerous if the dough is consumed.  See the link below for the complete FDA statement which includes tips on handling food safely but in the meantime, please see my tips on ways to help keep your children safe in some situations where they may be exposed to raw flour.

How to keep your kids safe

With the holiday season in full swing, Christmas cookies are one baked item that I make often and even give as gifts to family and friends. And whenever I make cookies, I always get my kids involved to help with the preparation and decorating and with this new FDA warning on raw dough, it’s important for parents to know how to keep their kids safe when making homemade cookies. Although cooking with kids is very important, it’s even more important to make sure they are safe and not consuming any potentially harmful ingredients. Here are a few tips that I use to keep my kids safe while baking cookies or even making crafts that require flour.

  • Hand washing! I can’t stress this enough. Washing hands after coming in contact with raw dough or raw flour is very important. To ensure my kids wash their hands immediately after handling either of these raw components, I have them wash their hands right at the kitchen sink while standing on their stools. This way, I can make sure it gets done right in front of me instead of relying on them to head to the bathroom to do it (which is where they usually prefer to wash their hands on their own). I then wash any utensils or work surfaces that have come in contact with the raw dough and flour.
  • Keep your kids informed. Often times, kids understand more than we realize so be sure to take the time to explain this raw flour/dough warning and what can potentially happen if they eat raw dough. Also, explain the rules of the kitchen and baking with mommy or daddy, and include “no eating raw flour or dough” and “hand washing after preparation”, etc. as part of those rules.
  • Keep raw foods separate from other foods. Due to it’s powdery consistency, raw flour can spread easily. Be sure to keep any other food products far from the flour and your work surface when preparing cookies or other baked goods that require flour. Kids often like to spread the powder as well, so removing all other foods items from this area will prevent any contamination that may be present from spreading.
  • Keep dish or paper towels close by.  Having some type of dish cloth or torn sheets of paper towel to wipe up excess flour (which parents know can get out of hand while baking with kids) will help to keep it from going on their little hands.
  • Be cautious when making homemade crafts that require flour. Homemade play-doh is a ton of fun to make with kids and makes the perfect rainy day activity but since it requires raw flour, it’s important that you have it in your sight at all times and be sure to have children wash their hands immediately after making it. I would also suggest discarding it afterwards or keeping any homemade play-doh in a safe area, far from where the kids could reach it. You may also want to save a craft like this for older children who do not mouth objects and have a better understanding of why raw flour cannot be consumed.

 

https://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm508450.htm?utm_campaign=11.27.17%20CU%20Raw%20Cookie%20Dough&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua