Behold! Banana Bread

For as much as I love to bake, there has been one item that never seems to turn out the way I want, and it’s name…. Banana Bread.

I’ve tried tons of recipes, with minor tweaks to fit my lifestyle, and they have all been less than par.

Can’t a girl just get herself some banana bread where she tastes more banana than refined sugar?!

I took a leap and tried a recipe a bit outside of my comfort zone, making my adjustments, and I’m never going back.

Banana Love Boat

Adapted from FatGirlTrappedInASkinnyBody
Serves 16
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 2/3 cup granulated Splenda
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar or white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Splenda brown sugar (or ¼ light brown sugar)
  • 4 egg whites16522258_10158176838340228_2136179329_o
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mashed banana (about 3 medium bananas)
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (unless using another flavor profile)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease, or non-stick cooking spray (I love Baker’s Joy), a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan* and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the applesauce, Splenda and sugar. Add the egg whites, one at a time, beating after each addition, and then the vanilla and almond extract.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture, alternating with mashed banana and coconut milk.

Mix until just combined. Stir in the flaked coconut. Pour the batter to the prepared baking pan.

Bake for 45min to 1 hour and 15 minutes, when a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, depending on your oven, elevation, and type of pans used.

Let completely cool before slicing.

*OR 4 mini loaf pans (45min) OR bundt pan (45min) OR muffins (45min)

Nutrition (1/16): (does not include add-ins)

Calories: 129, Fat: 2.6g, Sat. Fat: 2.3g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 138.3mg, Carbs: 23.6g, Fiber: 1.5g, Sugars: 7.1g, Protein: 3g

The shredded coconut added this extra texture not typically found in banana bread (and I’m a texture girl). But I think its the coconut milk that really adds that extra umph of richness and flavor.

Since the first batch six months or so ago, I have continued to utilize this recipe to make tons of flavor profiles: peanut butter chocolate cinnamon chip, pumpkin spice butterscotch, Chinese 5 Spice, and even lavender. Yes, lavender! (You all know I need as much help in the “chill” department as I can get).

The photo above is a 50/50 bread of peanut butter chocolate cinnamon chip and pumpkin spice butterscotch, I omitted the original cinnamon in the recipe, above, and divided the batter in two.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cinnamon Chip20170205_152113

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp peanut butter baking chips
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon baking chips
  • 1 Tbsp mini semi-sweet chocolate morsels
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Add the following to the above nutritional facts: Calories: 47, Fat: 2.1g, Sat. Fat: 1.5g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 14.1mg, Carbs: 6g, Fiber: 0.3g, Sugars: 5.3g, Protein: 0.8g

Pumpkin Spice Butterscotch20170205_151222

  • 1 1/5 Tbsp pumpkin spice baking morsels
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp butterscotch baking morsels
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp toffee bits (also in the baking section)
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice

Add the following to the above nutritional facts: Calories: 51, Fat: 2.5g, Sat. Fat: 1.7g, Cholesterol: 0.9mg, Sodium: 12.3mg, Carbs: 6.9g, Fiber: 0g, Sugars: 4.9g, Protein: 0g

Using a chopping knife, chop through the baking chips/morsels (they start to look more like shavings).* Add them, along with the spice, to their appropriate bowls. Fold them into the batter, pour it into the prepared pan and bake.

*I like this method because I get flavor in every bite rather than just those with a whole morsel in it.

**Keep in mind these measurements are for half of the batter. If you choose to make the entire banana bread one flavor profile, please double the measurements.**

More recently, I made Strawberry Banana Muffins, and, yes, they taste as good as they sound.

I am ahead of my assignments at the moment, so I want to take what time I can to check in with everyone. This blog has been such a staple in my recovery process. There is no way I am forgetting about it or you.

Look for follow-up posts with the recipes to make more of those flavor combos I mentioned above.

God Bless and thank you for always welcoming me back!

 

Pin-tresting

Apples and cheese are a classic fondue pairing. So on Pintrest, it really doesn’t surprise me that there are so many apple-cheddar pies. Some put the cheese in the crust, others in the pie, and others on top. And it didn’t just stop at cheddar and pie. There was Brie, and gallettes, and hand pies, soups, and dips.

You all know my experimentality and how much I adore playing in the kitchen. Needless to say, Pintrest got my gears turning… Some food combos just taste odd together, like this grapefruit protein shake I made one time (not a good post, Pintrest)… But lets face it… bacon goes with EVERYTHING!

Apple-Cheddar-Bacon Pie

serves 8

  • 11 slices thin slice turkey bacon (2 slice for 35 calories)
  • 3 apples (enough to yield 4 cups)
  • 1 medium onion (about 2 1/2 in diameter), finely diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, finely choppedWP_008337
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 tsp ground sage
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp thyme, to taste
  • 1/2 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Splenda Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp granulated Splenda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, apple pie spice, or pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cup fat free shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup Fiber One bran cereal
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • salt and pepper, to top

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 9-in pie pan with nonstick cooking spray and weave 8 slices of turkey bacon. Line the last three slices of bacon around the walls of the pie pan to create the crust. I found that making a little tear in the middle of those three slices helps keep the bacon from rolling down the sides of the pan. Bake for 20 min.

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In the meantime, core and thinly slice the apples. Then, cut your slices in half and measure 4 cups. Combine the apples, celery, and onion in a large skillet on medium heat with 1/2 cup of water. Cover with a lid for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and sprinkle with thyme, sage, garlic, Splendas, cinnamon, salt, pepper, vanilla, and lemon juice. Toss the mixture. Whisk the cornstarch with cold water until dissolved and pour over apple mix. Recover with the lid until bacon crust finishes baking.

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Meanwhile, in a food processor, chop 3/4 cup shredded cheddar. Set aside. Next, process the cereal until extremely fine. Add the remaining 3/4 cup cheddar to the processor, and blend until evenly distributed.

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Stir just the processed cheese into the apple mix, and transfer mix to the baked bacon, spreading the cheesy blend evenly over crust. Return to the 350 F oven for 15 minutes.

Lastly, add the unsweetened applesauce to the processor of cheese and Fiber One crumbs and blend until a crumble is created. Get messy, and use your hands to crumble on top of the warm pie. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and return to the oven for a final 25 minutes. Let it cool for about 10 minutes, while you make the optional sauce.

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What really is the icing on the pie is this sweetened thyme yogurt sauce!

Thyme Yogurt Sauce

  • 1/4 cup plain non fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar free syrup
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme

Blend and dollop!

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Rather than sticking with the sweet/tart, salty feel, I wanted something a little more savory. I was really impressed that the bacon crust stayed perfectly together when the pie was sliced. I was  even more impressed by the the afterthought of dressing up some yogurt. Thank goodness for that afterthought, too, because it tied all the sweet and savory flavors if the pie together.

Nutrition: (1/8 of pie and 1/2 Tbsp sauce)

Calories:119, Fat: 2g, Sat. Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 14mg, Sodium: 391mg, Carbs: 17g, Fiber: 3g, Sugars: 9g, Protein: 10g

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I would imagine that this could also be served with an over-easy egg, where the yolk would act as the yogurt sauce.

I’ve sort of rediscovered my love for apples recently so you may see another apple pie riff sooner that you think.

Everything is Better With Bacon

While mindless cruising the internet one night, Barry and I found a picture of a cinnamon roll with bacon in it… Yeah baby! I made these for breakfast the other day and served them with eggs to Barry and Dad. Dad, then took a baggie of them to work for a snack .

 

Sweet Bacon Rolls

makes 8WP_005831

  • 1 pkg Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tbsp Splenda brown sugar
  • 1 tsp granulated Splenda
  • 8 slices of Thin & Crispy Turkey Bacon (Butterball)

Preheat over to 350 F. Lay out a piece of plastic/saran wrap. Roll the crescent roll pieces out and pinch together the seems to create 1 large rectangle. Cover the dough with another piece of wrap and proceed to rollover it with a rolling pin or can, to make the dough seamless and to thin it out. Make sure you roll out the dough so a slice of bacon can perfectly lie across it. Remove the top plastic wrap.

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Combine the cinnamon, applesauce, and two Splenda blends. Brush the sweet paste over your rolled-out dough, to reach all the edges. Lay the bacon evenly spaced over the paste-covered dough. Begin to roll the dough up. I find the bottom layer of plastic wrap, really helps to evenly roll the dough. Slice the log into 8 pieces and arrange on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, and enjoy!

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Nutrition: (1 roll)

Calories: 123, Fat: 7.3g, Sat. Fat: 2.4g, Cholesterol: 7.1mg, Sodium: 310mg, Carbs: 12.3g, Fiber: 0g, Sugars: 4.1g, Protein: 2.5g

They were so buttery and tasty and went perfectly with eggs! I would most definitely suggest this for a bunch, a light on the go breakfast/snack, or to pair with eggs, like we did.

WP_005777There is just something so classic and addicting about the salty bacon and the sweetness from the applesauce and cinnamon.

We had one left that I left on the counter, before running a few errands. It mysteriously disappeared, but the wrapper magically appeared next to someone’s bed and a paw print was found at the scene of the crime…. Apparently Labs like these roll, too!

Its Almost Here

Wednesday

Food and Emotions

As proud as I was of my eating last night at work, one thing was on my mind when I left: those donuts from the morning. I decided that slicing a quarter would be a nice treat. Although it didn’t do the trick like I thought it would, it put a sweet tooth in me that needed to be satisfied. I traveled around the kitchen biting into crackers, cheerios, Reese pieces… Anything with a salty sweet crunch. I realized it was anxiety, not hunger. I wish I would have realized it earlier but at least I realized it, and still did not go over my calorie allotment.

I’m finding the closer my exam gets, the more anxious eating I want to do but the more calorie paranoid I get. Yeah… A catch 22 kind of thing. I really am quite nervous for my exam. Just scheduling it made me nauseous and now that everyone has been passing, I have this nightmare that I’m going to be the one that fails.

I have faith in myself. Most importantly, I have faith in the Lord. I know the Lord wants me to be a nurse, to care for His children. I have trial through so much during nursing school, at work, home, and school, and there is no doubt in my mind that I shouldn’t pass. God will guide me.

Start back on track at the next meal.

WP_003387With today being National Creamsicle Day, I honored it by making a Creamsicle Shake using half a packet of Betty Lou’s Low Glycemic Orange Cream powder, water, ice, 1/2 tsp SF orange jello, and 1/4 tsp xanthum. Yum!

Before laying down, in an attempt to sleep before work, I ate a big bowl of watermelon to fill me up!

I’m packing  a Smart Ones Chicken Marsala for my night shift meal to see if it can compare to my beloved Lean Cuisine version.

At this point, in the studying game, I have officially killed two highlighters and am working on #3. I couldn’ t sleep because all I could think about was the exam. I am literally sick to my stomach over this thing. I’m have chest pain and I just want to cry from this nervousness!

Thursday

Although everyone’s meals smelled delicious, my stomach was too upset to enjoy my intended Smart Ones meal. I opted for my emergency soup with saltines. I saved some celery sticks and PB2 for a later snack. The shift went rather quickly as a I spent all my down time studying for the upcoming exam.

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Upon arriving home this morning, I was definitely hungry. Since the temperature serious dropped this morning, I opted for something warm. I came across this by accident, one day, I brewed coffee in the Keurig and mixed it with an Atkins Mixed Berry shake.

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The box was kind of banged up and I wanted to use it soon, so I took advantage of this cool morning. While sipping on this, I channeled my nervous energy into baking. I was inspired by my Strawberry muffins, the other day, to make a different type of muffin. I, of course, I had to try them out.

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Take One wasn’t bad. I think I know what alterations I need to make to satisfy your and my muffin craving.

After studying the day away, after being told I should take the day off, I finally fell asleep for a brief hour or so. Upon waking up, although my anxiety had messed with me to the point of losing my appetite, I wanted to keep with my plans for dinner.

Pistachio and Honey Mustard Crusted SalmonWP_003527

serves 4

  • 2 Tbsp Honey Mustard sauce, or mustard of choice
  • 2 tsp non fat sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp Braggs Liquid Aminos, or reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • half 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • half 1/8 tsp dill
  • 1/4 cup pistachios, in shell (15g out of shell)
  • 4 4oz salmon fillets

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine mustard through spices and mix well. Set aside. Remove the pistachios from the shells and chop. Place the salmon fillets, skin side down, on a baking sheet covered in foil and sprayed with non stick cooking spray. Divide the mustard mix over the salmon fillets and top with chopped pistachios. Bake uncovered for about 8 minutes-10 minutes, until salmons center is opaque.

I served mine with a side of spinach, onion, and mustard, like a pseudo-salad,

After a cinnamon covered almond, I came up with the idea of topping a 100 calorie bag of kettle corn with cinnamon and a packet of Splenda. Kind of genius!

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Friday

Recipe for Success

I woke up in the right mindset. I called my Alarm the “Alarm of Success.” I began the day as I do all exam days: with Dunkin and oatmeal. I took a brief jog to the Dunkin to burn off some nervous energy, grabbed my coffee, and like always, I grabbed dad one and a toasted everything bagel with cream cheese. I even got my little brother a little something.

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I sat down at the kitchen table and stuck with tradition. Dad came over to give me good luck hugs and to enjoy a bit of breakfast. I made sure to take a nibble of the bagel, like I always did. I knew I needed to stop studying! I brought Barry lunch at work and killed some time there. As he walked me back to my car, I could feel a panic attack setting in.

I sat in the car trying to breath and divert my attention elsewhere. I checked my email, and it was just what I needed! It was from my manager. Usually I cringe when I get emails from him (you never know whats in store):

gianna

“I’m gonna be a nurse! I’m a nurse!” I shouted this in the car as I drove away from Barry’s work!

I headed home, called my grandma for some calming words of wisdom and inspiration, and headed off to the exam. I sat in the car, music playing, singing loudly in the parking lot, and enjoying my sugar free mint pattie, as I always do, pre exam.

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This thing was more intense than nursing school exams. I was only allowed my ID and ATT card. They asked me to remove my necklace, but wrote a note that I kept it on since it was a cross. I removed my watch and hair ties off my wrist and locked them in a provided locker. They even noted any visible tattoos! It was intense. Now, I play the waiting game. The nauseous waiting game causing me nervous snacking and more anxiety! The nauseous waiting game causing me nervous snacking and more anxiety and body issues! Yeah… its like that.

Bye-Bye Bars

Happy Fat Tuesday! My exciting plans, while girlfriends are enjoying wine and chocolate? Writing a paper and studying my butt off with some exercising thrown in there.
I took control of the clinical manager position in clinical today and I think I did pretty well. The gears were definitely turning as I examined the pathophysiology of my patients. I welcomed lunch times, which was pretty tasty for being a canned soup: Progresso’s High Fiber Chicken Tuscany Soup with some hospital grade saltine crackers.

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I started thinking this morning… What do I want to give up for Lent? For those of you who don’t know, Ash Wednesday starts the 40 days of Lent. Ideally, we, as Catholics, try to give something up during these days to better ourselves and to feel like, we, too, are sacrificing something.

Growing up, I always gave up things like chips or soda in an attempt to “be healthy.” But this year, I’m giving something up that is going to be a BIG challenge! I’m giving up the things I spend a ton of money on, and eat entirely too many of. Its one of the items that I binge the most on. Protein bars. I’m an addict. I get twitchy when I see one and impulsively buy it! I run to my car and scarf it down. I’m on the run all day long and by the time I get home an want to enjoy REAL food, I’ve already eaten my days calories in bars. These things truly are my weakness and I know this is going to be a challenge. I’m not giving up snack bars or fiber bars because they are so great for clinical mornings, but I know I need to do this. I need to prove to myself that I am in control of my life, my eating habits…

To say “see ya later” to the bars, I enjoyed 3 today: a Lemon Zest Luna bar, a Chocolate Peanut Butter Special K Protein bar, and a Fruit and Nut Delight KIND bar. Wow! This is going to be rough! I think the KIND bars are going to be the hardest to refrain from, especially the Peanut Butter & Strawberry (I review it here) and the Almond Cashew and Flax.

I forget my veggies for lunch today, so after clinical I stopped by Wawa and picked this up:  Veggies with Light Ranch Dip. I  added a handful of Dutch Cocoa Sumersault snacks for dessert (I love these things! Dutch Cocoa and Cinnamon are my favorite flavors.) WP_001142

What a great packaged snack! I was so surprised by how fresh and crisp the veggies were and the sugar snap peas were so sweat! My dad would have loved this!

Today, as sleepy as I was, I completed Day 3 of the Couch to 5K Challenge. My chest, but especially around my shoulders, were really sore today because of yesterday’s upper body weight training.

Dinner tonight was nothing spectacular. In fact, it was not that attractive, nor very impressive. I ate a Lean Cuisine: Fajita- style Chicken Spring Rolls. It definitely does not look anything like its picture.

It actually reminded me of the taquitos you buy from 7-Eleven when your drunk and have the munchies. I ate these with some chunky salsa to try to improve them a bit.

I plan on some hard core cramming tonight and tomorrow.

Wish me luck ( on both my exam and my Lenten Promise)!

Thunderbird power, Activate!

Its another shortened day since I’m working night shift tonight. Hey, a broke college girls gotta do what shes gotta do.

I’ve recently discovered a new brand of bars and thought I’d give them a try. This morning I enjoyed Almond Cookie Pow Wow by Thunderbird energetica. What caught my attention about this energy bar is that it was apricot based, not date based. I really enjoyed it fruit-roll-up like consistency and simplicity. It also contains coconut sap, which I’ve never seen before, and quinoa.

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The wrapper caught my eye, as well. This bar is vegan, raw, soy, agave, and gluten free, with a low glycemic index. I give this company a lot of credit since each bar is handmade. Did I mention this bar, in its compostable wrapper, is shaman-blessed.

I looked up this bar in the website and its considered the “Spirit Animal” bar. After reading the bars wrapper, it really motivate me for the rest of the day! Its about channeling your inner spirit animal to tackle the challenges of everyday life!

I tackled my first challenge of the day, but completing Julie’s Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop circuit. I felt so energized when it was done!

I had every intention at trying Katie’s Vanilla Pear Cobbler; but since I had no one to share it with, I went another route.

A really scrumptious dessert is baking a pear and topping it with ricotta and cinnamon. I decided to take dessert the breakfast way. I sliced up a pear, than cut those slices in half. I tossed them in a bowl, along with a 1/4 cup of fat free ricotta and 1/3 cup Special K Cinnamon Pecan cereal (another cereal I prefer to eat dry). Purrtty Yummers. Its was a combo of refreshing and classic!

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My goal today is to tire myself out so I can sleep before night shift. I have a long class this after noon, so I’m trying to get as much done as I can before its time to leave.