Healthy and Easy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

I love blogs with beautiful photos of ridiculous things I might not ever make.  But truth be told, sometimes I want to see recipes I’ll actually make.

So recently, while I was brainstorming ideas for Peanut Butter & Co.’s Peanut Butter/Oat extravaganza, I decided to share a recipe I make all the time.

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I have an enormous sweet tooth.  I want to eat cake every single day.

No really.  Every. Single. Day.

But I also want to be healthy.  So sometimes I make compromises and find ways to tone down my sweet tooth and still be satisfied.

Peanut Butter + Oats + Banana is the perfect way to do it.  They’re not terribly sweet, but they do the job when I want a big fat cookie without all the extra fat and sugar.

Peanut Butter and Co. teamed up with Bob’s Red Mill to do what they are calling #Oatober.  I love both oats and peanut butter, so I couldn’t help but participate.

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I seriously made these cookies every other week in some variation or another.  Today I’m sharing an oatmeal, raisin, date inspired cookie, but I’m thinking I’ll try a pumpkin version later this month.

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Healthy and Easy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Peanut Butter
2 cups of oats, blended in a food processor
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chocolate chips
5 dates, chopped

Pre-heat oven to 350F.  Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  You’ll get a thick dough.  Form dough into balls and flatten slightly to form a cookie shape.

Lay cookies on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Bake 15 minutes or until golden on the bottoms.  Allow to cool and serve!

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That’s it.  They’re super easy and perfect with a cup of tea.  I really do make them all the time.  Sometimes I omit the chocolate chips.  Sometimes I do raisins.  I also tried making this with Peanut Butter and Co’s new Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter and they were all sorts of awesome!

What’s your favorite Peanut Butter/Oat Combo?

 

Healthier Banana Coffee Cake with Maple Oat Topping

A quick cake for when you need something a little bit on the healthier side.

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I had a rough morning a few days ago.  Then I gave myself a pep talk and remembered that being healthy is something I have to consciously do everyday. For me, being normal means eating three meals a day, focusing on eating a lot of vegetables and protein and NOT eating 3 slices of cake after lunch.   Pretty simple right?

The reality is I’m always going to want dessert, and eating dessert is ok in moderation. Eating a donut, chips and ice cream all in the same day (aka this past Sunday) is a little too much for me .  There is definitely a balance.

Somedays I want to embrace it and make real, delicious desserts, because I love baking.  But then other days, I want to make healthier alternatives with a little more consideration for the ingredients, like this cake:

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It’s lower in sugar than traditional cake and gluten-free (if that matters to you).  It only uses whole oats so you don’t have to worry about processed flours.

Healthier Banana Coffee Cake with Maple Oat Topping

1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup rolled oats, ground*
1/2 cup almond flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 medium ripe  bananas, mashed
1/2 tbsp powdered sugar (optional, for dusting)

For Topping:

1/4 oats
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp maple syrup

Pre-heat oven to 350F.  Grease 6 inch baking pan (I used a springform pan).

In a bowl, mix together oil, maple syrup, egg and vanilla.  Set aside.

If you haven’t done so already, grind your oats in the food processor (or blender like a vitamix). *use gluten-free oats if you’re gluten intolerant

Add dry ingredients to oil mixture.  Stir to combine.  Lastly, fold in the mashed banana.

In a small bowl combine ingredients for topping.

Pour batter into baking pan, sprinkle oat topping on top and bake for 30-40 minutes or until cooked through (I think might took about 40 minutes).

Allow to cool.  Dust with powdered sugar if you’d like (optional).

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This turned out great, but doesn’t any type of banana cake/bread always turn out amazing? I think next time I’d try reducing the maple syrup some more.

If you’re curious about the nutrition information on this, here it is:

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This does not include the topping and each serving is 1/8th of the cake (a small ish piece).

Not the best and not the worst.  I guess that’s what it’s about overall, right?  Balance.

 

 

Healthier Pancake Toppings and Options

With my series of overindulgent posts as of recent, I feel the need to balance out the calories and cholesterol with something a little bit healthier: Pancakes.

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That’s not a joke.  I totally think pancakes can be healthy.  You just have to know how to do them. As a kid, I hated pancakes.  I always thought they tasted funny.  Then something magical happened, I tried IHOP’s pancakes and I loved them.   That’s when I realized what I hated was Bisquick pancakes.  That’s all my mom ever made.  Sorry mom, but bisquick is just gross. When I discovered my love of pancakes, I wanted to eat them all the time.   While we all know pancakes aren’t always the healthiest breakfast, there are ways to lighted up your pancakes and especially the toppings so they’re still fun and delicious but won’t undo your workout. Here are a few ways to keep your pancakes a little on the healthier side so you can enjoy them guilt-free. peachpureepancakes2text

Choose a Better Pancake Base

Pancakes can basically be a carb fest (nothing wrong with that), but if you’re looking to balance your meal, adding protein powder is a great start.  I’m a big fan of protein pancakes because the extra protein helps keep you full.

Some of my favorites are:

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Vanilla Coconut Protein Pancakes
Pumpkin Protein Pancakes
Banana Protein Pancakes

The fun part of protein pancakes is you can play with different flours and protein powders and find a mix that you love.

If making your own pancakes from scratch isn’t your thing or you’re really not looking to add some extra protein, there are some pancake mixes that are pretty natural and overall healthy.  I love Kodiak Cakes, because they’re super easy to make (just add water) and the ingredients are all natural.

You could also go the Paleo Pancake route.  It’s not exactly a pancake but still pretty darn tasty.

Lighten Up Your Toppings

When I was younger, I ate the regular old pancake syrup you get at the grocery store.  Nowadays, I try to stick with toppings that don’t have any chemicals or artificial sweeteners.  Straight up maple syrup is a little too intense for me, so generally I like to mix it up to create different types of syrups and sauces and toppings.

My latest obsession is fruit purees mixed with maple syrup.

I like to puree some fresh peaches and mixed it with maple syrup… about 2 tbsp peach puree + 1 tbsp of maple syrup for one person.  You can also just puree the fruit and skip the maple syrup.  I tried that with banana (simmered them in water first, but raw works) and it was awesome:

pancakesbananasyrupMy other favorite combo is plain greek yogurt with maple syrup.

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But in general, fruit is a great topping.  It helps bulk up the volume without adding as many calories as eating extra pancakes.  Berries are always a great addition…

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But you can also get creative, like topping your pancakes with persimmon!

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 Portion Control

I love a big stack of pancakes.  Mostly because it looks pretty, but also because it’s fun to eat.  But eating 4 or 5 full sized pancakes is a lot.  So what I do is I made them smaller!  That way I feel like I’m eating a lot but really I’m not.

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I generally use a tbsp measurer to prepare my pancakes.  Each pancake is composed of 2 tbsp of batter, instead of about 1/4 cup (4 tbsp) which is normal.

In the photo above, the banana slices show how the pancakes are actually pretty small.  Despite the fact that the portion size is smaller, I still feel like I’m getting a good amount of pancakes.

 

I’m all for eating a full stack of pancakes with butter and maple syrup every once a while.  But on a normal day basis, I like to keep it a bit lighter.  Pancakes can still be enjoyed if you’re trying to stay healthy.  It’s just about making sure you make the right choices.

What’s your favorite way to slim down your pancakes?

Banana Cupcakes with Chocolate Hazelnut Buttercream Frosting

I’ve been a little bit out of control with my sugar intake this week.  But that’s totally ok.  Monday will start a new week and we’ll be good to go with some more clean eating.  But before that, let’s talk cupcakes.

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A few weeks ago, Nocciolata sent me some samples of their tasty chocolate hazelnut spread to try. It’s seriously amazing and is certified organic, which cool! I really like that this has actual recognizable ingredients in it. Now, you might remember that I loooooove chocolate hazelnut spread (aka I went crazy with Nutella when I lived in Rome and gained 15lbs, no joke) and my favorite combo by far is chocolate/hazelnut + banana.

So with these samples sitting in my house, I tested out a few recipes for chocolate hazelnut frosting.  I failed 3 times and finally went back to the basics: buttercream.  Buttercream is delicious and always pleasing.  And I knew that the frosting I created would go perfectly with banana cupcakes.  So that brings us to these guys:

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Lately, the world has gotten ridiculous on the cupcake frosting front (myself included), but sometimes you just want to have a cupcake that looks homemade.  You know, like spread with a knife.  No fancy piping bags necessary.

Something familiar, comforting and tasty (like chocolate hazelnut spread).  Let’s concentrate on flavor, not on looks, because that’s really what this spread is all about: Great Taste.

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Banana Cupcakes with Chocolate Hazelnut Buttercream Frosting

For Cupcakes:
1 cup + 1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp corn starch
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1/2 cup sugar, heaping
1 egg
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp whole milk
1/2 tsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla

Frosting:
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup chocolate hazelnut spread
3-4 cups powdered sugar

Make cupcakes.  Pre-heat oven to 350F.  In a bowl combine flour, corn starch, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.  Using a mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes).  Add egg and beat for another minute. Add mashed bananas and beat for another minute.  Add remaining wet ingredients then start to add dry ingredients.  Beat until combined.

Fill lined cupcake pan with 1/4 cup of batter each (or until each cupcake slot is about 3/4 the way full).  Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden and cooked through.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely. This recipe will yield about 13-14 cupcakes.

Next make the frosting.  Beat together butter and chocolate hazelnut spread.  Gradually add powered sugar until it gets a thick spreadable consistency.  If it’s too thick, thin out with a bit of milk.  Spread frosting on cupcakes.  Top with sprinkles if you like, then serve!  (P.S. You can totally add more Chocolate Hazelnut spread to this frosting have it be even more flavorful, you just might have to adjust the powdered sugar amount.  I would have added more but I ran out of samples with my many fails).

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I’m definitely a fan of the chocolate-hazelnut + banana combo!  What’s your favorite thing to combine with chocolate-hazelnut spread? 

Thanks to Nocciolata for the samples!  Be sure to check them out.

Banana Protein Pancakes with Persimmon Topping

I was totally going to start this post apologetically, but then I remembered this article in Huffington Post about the 23 things women should to stop doing.  #sorrynotsorry

So instead I’m going to talk about how much I love pancakes, because all of a sudden I’m obsessed. Ok not really, I made them twice.  Once pumpkin style and now these guys…

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Really what I like about this is how full it keeps me.  For someone who often thinks about eating lunch at 11am, these pancakes made me not even think about food until 1pm.  Crazy, right?  I’m totally pleased.

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You should make these. Just saying…

Banana Protein Pancakes with Persimmon Topping

For Pancakes:
2 tbsp buckwheat flour
2 tbsp almond meal
3 tbsp protein powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of ginger
pinch of cinnamon1/2 banana, mashed (about 3 tbsp)
1 egg
4 tbsp milk (or almond milk)*

For Topping:
1 tsp butter
1 persimmon, diced
2 tbsp rum
pinch of ginger
pinch of cinnamon

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.  Add wet ingredients and stir to combine.  Heat a greased skillet over medium heat.  Spoon 2 tbsp of batter to form each pancakes. Once the top starts to bubble, flip over and cook an additional minute.  Plate and set aside.

Melt 1 tsp butter in a small skillet.  Add persimmon and spices cook a few minutes, tossing occasionally. Add rum and stir.  The liquid will steam and sizzle. Once it’s mostly evaporated, turn off and pour on top of pancakes.  Serve with maple syrup (optional).  This recipe makes 4-5 pancakes for 1 person.

*Note: the amount of milk necessary might vary depending on what type of protein powder you use. I used Spiru-tein which has a thickener in it.  If you use a different protein powder, you might need less liquid.

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Just to throw it out there, this persimmon topping would be totally awesome on the Pumpkin Protein Pancakes I made last week.  Just saying… get your antioxidant on with pumpkins and persimmons.

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Ok so enough about pancakes…

I go to Peru in two days and I’m totally not ready.  So much work has to be done. I haven’t packed. I’m not feeling ready.

This always happens to me.  I have mini anxiety attacks anytime I go anywhere.  Weird right?

How do you prep for a trip? Also, what’s your favorite pancake combo because I’m always looking for new tasty ways to switch up breakfast!

Banana Birthday Cake for My Mom

Today is Memorial Day, but it’s also my mother’s birthday.  While you’re all probably grilling and pie-making, I made a cake to celebrate a very special lady.

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My mom claims to not like cake and dessert, but really I know she’s just picky.  She loves certain desserts and she loves everything banana.  No crazy combinations here, because of her picky palate, I went the simple route.

I made a simple banana cake like the little banana cake I made before (recipe doubled for a full cake), but with a few changes to the filling

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I whipped up a ton of whipped cream with sugar and a touch of vanilla for filling and frosting, fried some bananas with rum and added some slivered almonds.

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and ta-da! A birthday cake just for my mother.  I added some fresh flowers for a pop of color.

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Happy Birthday Mom!

Is your mother picky about desserts like mine?  I feel like that’s one thing my children will never have to worry about.  I’ll pretty much enjoy anything.

Epic Banana Bundt Cake

I’ve rewritten this post about three times, trying to come up with something as epic as the recipe to come.  But I can’t.  My brain is asking me for a rest.

Between work and blogging, my creative juices are dried up, in terms of writing that is.  Because recipes… I’ve got sooooo many for you to look forward to.  But first let’s talk about bananas.

I’m a banana fiend.  I eat one daily.  I learned it from my mother, she probably eats two daily.  That’s ok.

Bananas are on the top of my list of things I think are out of this world, let’s talk about my other favorite thing on the planet: cake.

And combine the two… Banana Cake! Why not?  In fact, this cake was so good it had to be made twice.  It really was THAT good.

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Ok I’ll be honest.  I really made this twice, because the first time around I hated my pictures.  It was a labor of love (or gluttony or vanity?) to make it again, but that just means I know the recipe is extra perfect for you.

I know everyone and their mother has a recipe for banana cake (and no, this is NOT banana bread).

Even if you think it looks similar, trust me.  This is definitely banana cake.  What’s the difference?

Texture.  Banana bread is dense.  This is lighter, and it has an icing.  Icing goes on cake.  True story.

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Epic Banana Bundt Cake

2 cups + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tbsp corn starch
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon plus pinch of salt
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 bananas, very ripe and mashed
1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk)
1 package vanilla instant pudding (3.4 oz)

Icing/Glaze:
3 tbsp butter, melted
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsp heavy cream (or milk)
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)
1-2 tsp of water for thinning, if necessary
Pre-heat oven to 350F.
In a bowl, sift together flour, corn starch, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.  Grease and flour a bundt pan (or any other pan you choose to make this in, I’ve also made this in two 9 inch pans, baking times adjusted).
Using a mixer beat together sugar and oil.  Beat in eggs, one at a time until fluffy (about 2 minutes).  Beat in vanilla and bananas.  Start adding some of the flour mixture, about 1/4 cup at a time, alternating adding milk.  Once all the flour is in the batter, beat in the instant pudding.  Once combined, pour batter into prepared bundt pan.
Bake 45 minutes.  Then turn the oven down to 325F and continue to bake until golden and cooked through (usually another 15-20 minutes, but this will depend on your oven).  Once fully baked, remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
Once cooled, make glaze by combining all ingredients.  The pour glaze over cake.
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I didn’t actually pour, I did the spoon/drizzle method, because I think it looks better than pouring.
Serve and enjoy!
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This cake goes great with a cup of coffee and a good book.  It’s also fantastic served to a friend with a little bit of gossip.
Truth be told, I’m not sure if I’m half monkey or something, but I want to keep making this cake, over and over and over.  It’s a good idea, because I seriously think this might be my new favorite cake.
Stay tuned for lots of good new recipes and other fun things… like maybe some trip planning.  How does that sound?

Little Banana Cake with Caramel Filling

Sometimes you just don’t want a big commitment.  Saturday, I went on a 16 mile hike up the highest peak in Orange County.  That was a big commitment; there was snow at the top of the mountain.. in Orange County…

I was totally ok with that commitment.

But sometimes, dessert can be a big commitment, especially cakes.

Because of this, I think my 6 inch cake pans were a great investment, and I think this banana cake has been my greatest creation from them so far.

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I actually made this twice, so I can tell you with confidence that it’s doubly tasty.

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Little Banana Cake with Caramel Filling

adapted from Epicurious

For Cake:
1 cup + 1 tbsp flour

1 tbsp corn starch
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter
1/2 cup sugar, heaping
1 egg
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp whole milk
1/2 tsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla

Caramel filling:
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

Icing:
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 350F.

Sift together flour, corn starch, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Add in egg, continue to beat for another minute or two.  Beat in mashed banana, milk, vinegar and vanilla.  Add in flour mixture until well combine.

Pour batter into 2 (6 inch round) cake pans (greased, floured and bottom lined with parchment paper).  Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden and cooked through (mine took 25 mins, but yours might differ based on your oven so start checking after 20 mins).  Allow to cool completely.

Make caramel filling.  Melt sugar in a sauce pan over medium heat.  Once sugar starts to melt turn flame to low.  Work out any clumps by stirring.  Once the sugar syrup is a deep amber color, remove from heat stir in butter (mixture will foam a lot but keep stirring), stream in cream as you stir, then stir in vanilla and salt.   Set aside to cool a bit.

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Level off each layer using a serrated knife.  Place your bottom layer crumb side down on a plate (put some pieces of parchment paper around the edges to get a clean frost).  Spread half the caramel in the middle of the cake.  Put second layer on top and spread with remaining caramel.  Caramel should still be warm to the touch but not pourable.  You’ll have to spread it with the wooden spoon and it will smooth out on its own (if you let it cool too much you won’t get a smooth top.  Alternatively if the caramel is too hot, it might flow over the edges, no biggie, you can cover that with icing).

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Next make frosting.  Beat half a cup of heavy cream, once it starts to form soft peaks add in sugar and vanilla.  Continue to beat until it forms firm peaks.  Frost the cake as desired.  If you plan to frost the entire thing (including the top) and decorate, double the frosting.  I only frosted the sides

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then used a piping bag with a star tip to decorate the edges to leave the caramel exposed.  Both are great, tasty options.

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If you’re ready for a big commitment (aka a full size cake), double the recipe and bake in two 8 or 9 inch cake pans.

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Either way, store this cake in the fridge until about 45 minutes before you’re ready to serve it.  Don’t come complaining to me that your caramel is too hard if you take it out of the fridge and slice it immediately.  Like all commitments, that part needs time too.

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What’s your next commitment?

Please tell me it’s this little banana cake!

Banana Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 great things inspired this blog post.  They both start with a B.   The first is Bacon.

That word inspires so many people to eat copious amounts of things.  I feel like Bacon is particularly fitting today, as it’s Super Bowl Sunday.  I would be a big fat liar if I told you I wasn’t excited for today, but I’ll be honest.  I’m more excited for the food than for the game, and only marginally more excited for Beyonce (that’s the second B…).

She’s my lady, and I love her.  Probably as much as most people like bacon.

So my contribution to Super Bowl Sunday (aka this…

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are these cookies

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Banana Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup butter
6 slices of bacon, cooked and fat reserved*
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips
 2 cup banana chips, roughly chopped

Cook bacon in a pan over medium heat until crispy.  Place on to a paper towel and allow to cool.  Once cooled, chop and set aside.  Reserve 1/4 cup of bacon fat.

Cream together butter, 1/4 cup bacon fat, and sugars.  Add each egg, beating about 1 minute after each.  Add flour and baking soda, beat until almost combined.   Fold in bacon, banana chips and chocolate chips.  Chill dough in the freezer while you preheat the oven to 350F.

Form dough into walnut sized balls, and place on parchment paper-lined baking pan.  Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown (this varies on the size of your cookies and your oven).  Allow to cool completely and serve.  Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

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*Note: if you don’t want to use bacon fat, omit bacon fat and use 3/4 cup of butter instead of 1/2 cup.

So make sure you get on this quick.  You’ve got a few hours until Beyonce (and the Super Bowl).  Run and get some bacon then make these cookies!

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Bourbon Banana Pie

I wish I could say that New Years Resolutions mean that pies are on hold for a while.  But no.  No no, I don’t wish that, because pies are always a good idea.

You know what else is a good idea: bourbon.  Oh and bananas.  We can’t forget bananas.  I eat one everyday; they’re good for you.  I don’t have bourbon everyday; we won’t talk about that.  But in this pie form, I might be willing to do so.  Although pie everyday might not be a good idea either, resolutions remember?

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How about a resolution to try new things?  I’ll be honest, the bourbon flavor is subtle, not overpowering.  It’s pretty much perfect, like this pie.  And really aren’t you tired of traditional banana cream pie?   If you are, or even if you’re not, try this:

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Bourbon Banana Pie

1 stick of butter, melted
1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup mashed banana (about 1 1/2 medium bananas)
1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk
3 tbsp Bourbon or other Whiskey
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sugar

Pre-heat oven to 325F.

Combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and powdered sugar.  Press into a 9 inch pie dish.  Put in the fridge until ready to use.

In a large bowl, beat egg yolks for a few mins.  Beat in banana, sweetened condensed milk and 1 tbsp bourbon.  Pour mixture into prepared pie dish.  Bake for 45 minutes (or until no jiggles when you shake it).  Allow to cool completely.  Once pie has cooled, make topping.  Mix together sour cream, sugar and remaining 2 tbsp bourbon.  Spread over the top of the pie.  Refrigerate for a few hours and serve!

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So given my obsession with adding alcohol to everything, it might seem like I’m an enormous lush.  Trust me, I’m not cool enough to be one of those people.  Pie on the other hand…

I’m definitely cool enough for pie.  So are you.  Go make this pie!  or Pin It for future reference 🙂 This is one you’re going to want to try.