Cranberry Banana Oat Muffins

If you’ve been following my posts, then you know that I love baking muffins, especially with banana.  Truthfully, I take a weekly, if not twice weekly, trip to my local fruit stand to buy a bunch of bananas in hopes that there will be leftover for baking on the weekend!  I love to bake with super ripe bananas…and I mean the black, even slightly mushy ones.  Those produce the most amazing naturally sweet flavor in baking any banana baked good and worked perfectly for these muffins.

Another ingredient that I enjoy baking with is cranberries.  Not only are these tiny gems packed with nutrition, but they provide a burst of flavor to any dish you put them in, especially in baking.  In this case, I used dried cranberries which already have some sugar added to them.  By nature, cranberries are low in sugar and high in acid so they are usually sweetened with added sugars for palatability. Since I did not add any sugar to this recipe, I’ve included the cranberries as dried for that sweet/tart flavor that is just incredible in these banana muffins!

My kids and husband loved these muffins.  Let’s just say I baked one dozen yesterday and have only 2 left!  Those 2 will make the perfect snack for Austin and I during our trip to the playground this morning.

*Oh and here is a tip to making these gluten-free!  Simply replace the whole wheat flour with all-purpose gluten-free flour!

Ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup quick or rolled oats

1/4 cup finely ground flaxseed

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

3 large banana (or 4 small), very ripe and mashed well

1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Line a muffin tin with liners and lightly spray with cooking spray.  
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, oats, flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg and egg white, then add the oil, vanilla extract and applesauce.
  5. Add the mashed banana, and combine thoroughly.
  6. Stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture until just combined. 
  7. Fold in the dried cranberries.
  8. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Veggie Pancakes

My kids love pancakes! I mean who doesn’t? I love trying new recipes and flavors in pancake form. Easy to hold for little hands and these veggie pancakes are a great way to include vegetables in your little one’s diet any time of day! Tzatiki Or a savory yogurt sauce is a perfect dip and you can easily make your own using plain yogurt, a dash of ground cumin, lemon juice and chopped dill! I made these gluten free but you can totally use whole wheat flour for a boost of fiber.

Ingredients:

-1/2 cup gluten-free all purpose flour (whole wheat flour also works for those not following a GF diet).

-1/2 teaspoon baking powder

-2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

-1 egg

-2 tablespoons milk

-3 tablespoons finely chopped onion

-1/3 cup zucchini finely shredded

-1/4 cup onion, finely shredded

-1/3 cup chopped kale

Directions:

1) Combine veggies in a bowl and squeeze out excess liquid using paper towels or a cheesecloth.

2) In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and Parmesan cheese.

3) In another bowl, beat together the egg, milk, carrots, zucchini, and onions.

4) Add egg/veggie mixture into dry ingredients and whisk to combine.

5) Using a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of oil over medium heat. Pour the batter by tablespoons into the pan, making Silver dollar sized pancake rounds.

6) Cook about 2 minutes on each side until golden brown.

Kale and Mushroom Egg Muffins

Before I dive into the details of this recipe, let’s talk about Kale for a second.  Kale still remains one of the most beloved vegetables in the produce aisle and it’s easy to see why. Super versatile and packed with nutrition and high in Vitamins A, K and C. But I’m sure some of you may not realize that Kale is a product of genetic engineering?  That’s right-kale did not exactly grow to be the amazing superfood we all have come to know and adore.   Now I’m not saying genetic engineering  means we shouldn’t eat Kale (I clearly use it, including in this yummy recipe) and recently wrote an article all about GMO foods (click on “Articles” on my blog), but when you buy it just go organic!  Kale is super nutritious and I love introducing my kids to a variety of dark leafy greens.  
In the meantime, let’s talk about this delicious egg muffin recipe.  Easy to make, Gluten-free and the perfect portion size to pair with a whole grain for breakfast.  I love making egg muffins.  The mix-ins are endless.  If you’re like me, you may buy a bit more vegetables than you use in a timely fashion…then they spoil.  So these muffins are a perfect way to add in those veggies that you have in your fridge!  
Ingredients:
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 tablespoons of milk or dairy alternative
  • 1 cup kale, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped (I used shiitake mushrooms but you can use white or crimini)
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
 
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Line a muffin tin with liners for super easy clean up!
  3. Heat a saute pan over medium heat and coat very lightly with unsalted butter or coconut oil.
  4. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with milk.  Set aside.  
  5. Add onion to heated pan and saute about 1 minute until slightly golden but not brown.
  6. Add in the kale and mushrooms. Continue to sauté veggies for about 2-3 minutes.
  7. Remove pan from heat and allow veggies to cool slightly.
  8. Fill muffin liners only ⅔ of each cup as the mixture rises when it’s baking.
  9. Bake in oven for about 20-22 minutes.
  10. Let cool a few minutes and remove from muffin liner.  *Note that the muffins will sink a bit.

Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash and Cranberries

When was the last time you made risotto?  If you’re anything like how I was a few years ago, before making my first risotto dish, you may be totally intimidated.  Well I’m here to encourage you to give it a try! Risotto is not only extremely versatile and delicious, but it’s incredibly easy to prepare.  You may have heard that you need to stand by the risotto and constantly stir-well not exactly.  As you add in the broth or water, give it a stir and allow the liquid to get absorbed before adding the next cup and so on, until you use up all of the liquid.

Customize risotto to include your favorite variety of veggies and/or dried fruits and seasonings!  However, you must try my flavor combo here.  This butternut squash and cranberry risotto dish is hands down my absolute favorite.  It’s creamy, fragrant, satisfying, comforting and super tasty! My mouth is watering as I type just thinking about how amazing this dish was.  The bright and fresh colors of butternut squash and dried cranberries make this a perfect fall dish and holiday side dish.  Totally vegetarian! Give this a try and see just how incredibly easy it is to prepare risotto.  I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups arborio rice

5 1/2-6 cups low sodium vegetable brother

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 small onion, chopped

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the squash on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and toss it with about 2 teaspoons of olive oil.
  3. Roast for 25-30 minutes, tossing once, until fork tender. Set aside.
  4. In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onion on medium-low heat 8-10 minutes, until the onions are translucent but not browned.
  5. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter and onion mixture.
  6. Add 1 cup of broth.  Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5-7 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring every few minutes.
  7. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry and liquid is no longer visible, then add more broth.
  8. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, which should take about 30 minutes total.
  9. Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes, Parmesan cheese, dried cranberries.
  10. Mix well and serve.
  11. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.

Banana-Berry Muffins

This morning, as I woke super early with my older son (and then realized it was even earlier since the clocks were turned back one hour!), I decided to do some baking.  Luckily I had a few very ripe bananas on hand and decided to make these banana muffins with the addition of blueberries and walnuts, so delicious!  Ah, there is nothing like the smell of freshly baked banana muffins.  The aroma still lingers throughout my entire apartment.  These muffins are made with no added sugar, using only the natural sweetness from ripe bananas and blueberries.  I also added walnuts to a few and I find walnuts enhance the flavor and add the perfect crunch but you can leave them out if you prefer or in the case of any nut allergies.  My 18 month gobbled up 2 of them!  I also used unsweetened applesauce in place of butter BUT these do taste even more amazing cut in half and with a little unsalted butter spread on them.

Ingredients

3 1/2 ripe medium bananas, mashed (the darker, the better!). If the bananas are small, use 4.

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 egg

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup frozen or fresh blueberries

1/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a muffin tin with liners.
  3. In a mixing bowl, add the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the mashed bananas, applesauce, egg and vanilla extract.
  5. Slowly pour in the flour mixture and whisk until smooth and just combined.
  6. Next, fold in the blueberries and walnuts if using
  7. Pour batter into muffin liners and bake for 18-22 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Serving suggestion: my kids love these as is, but my husband and I really enjoyed them cut in half with a smear of unsalted butter! Enjoy!

 

3-Ingredient Creamy Banana Mango “ice cream”

Have you ever tried blending frozen bananas?  Well if not, it’s about time you did.  I promise, once you try this frozen treat, you be hooked!  Ok it’s not exactly ice cream since no milk and cream are involved but it sure has the consistency of a creamy ice cream! And even more refreshing! I add whole milk yogurt to my frozen bananas and mangos along with a dash of vanilla extract and came up with this masterpiece… Yes I’ll toot my own horn on this one 😉 My kids love this treat and I feel good about giving them fresh frozen fruits with no added sugar versus anything pre-packaged.  Oh and by the way, the cost of creating these pops is way less than anything you would buy in a package! Healthy + Cost efficient = winner in my book of recipes.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 banana, sliced and frozen (place in freezer overnight for best consistency)

1 cup frozen mango chunks

1/4 cup whole milk Greek yogurt (or lowfat)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional but I found this really enhanced the flavor!)

Directions:

  1. Place frozen bananas and mango in a good blender and increase speed slowly from low to high.  Blend about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add in the yogurt and vanilla if using.
  3. Blend until consistency is nice and creamy.
  4. Now pour the mixture into Popsicle molds and freeze OR simply pour into a freezer safe bowl with lid and scoop out when you want a treat!
  5. Be sure to let the mixture freeze for another 2 hours, especially if you want a harder texture. Enjoy!!

Crustless Blueberry Lemon Cheesecakes

Recently, I entered a contest for the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council recipe contest.  According to the rules, you must create a recipe using blueberries (of course!) and only 5 ingredients! So I really wanted to think out of the box to a dessert that my family loves and is individually portioned.  So came up with these crustless blueberry lemon cheesecakes! Who need the crust when you have this luscious filling!  This recipe is low in fat and sugar, using the naturally sweet taste of bluberries to boost flavor and nutrition!  Give it a try and let me know if you think it’s a winning recipe 🙂

Ingredients:
2-8oz packages of light cream cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 eggs
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2) line a muffin tin with liners and set tin on a baking sheet filled half with water
3) In a blender, combine cream cheese, vanilla, lemon juice and zest and blend on high speed for about 1 minute
4) Add 1 egg at a time and continue blending until combined
5) Fold in blueberries
6) Fill muffin liners with batter and bake for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean
7) Allow to cool and enjoy!