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Coconut Chia Seed Banana Bread {Gluten Free, Dairy Free}

28 Apr

This weekend has been great, although I have to say, it would be even greater if I were hangin’ at Stagecoach right now with friends (SHOUT OUT!) – and probably most of the Los Angeles population!

I’m not sure about the entire musical line-up, but from what I’ve seen, Keith Urban & Rascal Flatts aren’t there anyway, so I’d really be in it for Brad Paisley and fun times with fun people in this AMAZING weather!  I suppose since I already missed Coachella this year, I might as well call it a wash and make sure I hit up both of them next year!  I can get into that. =)

Moving right along, I guess it’s time to talk about bread!  The perfect lazy, eat out on your patio with a cup of tea, weekend morning bread!  Packed with yummy banana, coconut-y goodness, chia seeds for omegas, and juuuust enough pop from the molasses & honey to keep it sweet.

Gluten free.

Dairy free.

And almosssssst vegan.

SOLD!

Gluten Free Dairy Free Coconut Chia Seed Banana Bread

This bread would be vegan if it weren’t for the honey, which I know some have issues with it in terms of the treatment of bees, etc.  As far as I’m concerned (not strictly free from ALL animal byproducts), this is vegan, but for those of you who want something “truly” vegan, you can simply add in maple syrup or some more molasses in its place – easy peasy!

Ingredients:

* 1 cup gluten free flour blend (I used Bob’s Red mill)
* 1/2 cup coconut flour
* 1/3 cup brown rice flour
* 1/4 cup oat flour
* 1/4 cup tapioca starch
* 3 Tbsp chia seeds
* 2 Tbsp ground flax seed
* 2 tsp xanthan gum
* 2 tsp baking powder
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 3 large bananas, mashed
* 1/2 cup coconut-flavored almond yogurt (any non-dairy yogurt would work)
* 2/3 cup honey
* 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
* 1/4 cup coconut oil, warmed until liquid
* 1/4 cup rice milk (soy, almond, coconut, etc. would work)
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* 1/4 cup coconut flakes for topping (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350* F.  Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, and grease with coconut oil on uncovered ends.

Sift together the flours, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the honey molasses, and coconut oil.  Add the bananas, yogurt, rice milk, and vanilla extract.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients slowly, mixing between additions.

Add in the ground flax and chia seeds.  Once well combined, pour into prepared pan and sprinkle top with coconut flakes.

Bake about 45-50 minutes, checking at the 25 minute mark and covering with aluminum foil if browning too quickly.  Bread is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes before lifting out and allowing to finish cooling on a cooling rack.

Chopped walnuts, almonds or pecans would be PERFECT added to the batter before baking, as would dried cherries, blueberries, or even cranberries!  Next time, next time!

Super cute banana bread hearts topped with banana slices, toasted coconut & sprinkled with chia seeds anyone?

Next time I’m dusting these with cinnamon.

Enjoyed with a yummy organic  iced soy chai tea latte <3 Lovvvveeeeeeee

And the company of this little rascal  <3 <3 Looooveee loveeee…

All up in my GRILL! ha!

Keepin’ it short & sweet so I can get back to enjoying my day!

Happy Weekending, y’all!

Come back with a slew of Stagecoach pics….;)

Chewy Lime Zest Sugar Cookies (Dairy Free)

15 Mar

I spoke too soon and jinxed myself when I mentioned wanting the weather to stay sunny and awesome…so much for 70 degree t-shirt weather, now it’s rain, rain, rain!  We need it, but I’m still no ray of sunshine myself in the midst of all the gloom, if you know what I mean.  I took one look out my window today at the gray and drizzle and wanted to burrow under my blankets and cuddle the day away, only emerging for mug a few steamy mugs of coffee or hot chocolate.

 

Fall and winter before last, while I was still in school, I devised the most brilliant plan I’ve ever had to this very day.  One morning while untangling myself from the warm cozy depths of my 18 blanket-clad bed in search of the elusive coffee that feeds my spirit and brings my limp, sleepy body to life in the morning, I realized the absurdity of just what I’d been a slave to all these years.  No, the coffee is not the enemy here, if that’s where you think I’m going with this (it’s the giver of life).  Instead of going to the coffee, the coffee should be coming to me.  And so it happened- I promptly relocated my coffee pot to my bedside table.  The very next morning, I had coffee at the reach of an arm.  Done.

Now, I wish I could say this story was leading up to a declaration that I was able to accomplish the very same coffee situation with such ease on this particular dreary morning, but alas, I didn’t have the foresight.  Bedside coffee may be making a long-overdue return if the weather keeps up this way!  I realize this story has absolutely nothing to do with limes.  Coffee doesn’t even taste good at all with lime in it.  Also, at this moment all I can think about is chocolate, so there’s that.

 

Not only is there no coffee in this recipe, there is also no chocolate.  Ooof.

This weather is really doing a number on me!

 Chewy Lime Zest Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

* 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 1/2 tsp baking powder
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1 cup non-dairy margarine
* 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
* 1 egg
* 1 tsp vanilla
* 1-2 Tbsp non-dairy milk
* Juice of 1 lime
* Zest from 1 lime
* 1/4 cup granulated sugar mixed with zest of 1 lime (for rolling)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*F. Line a cookie sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.

Cream together the margarine and 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat in egg and vanilla, and then lime juice, 1 Tbsp non-dairy milk, and zest.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing on low speed between additions. If the dough seems too dry, add the second Tbsp of non-dairy milk, or a little more vanilla.

Scoop out 1-2 Tbsp size portions of dough and roll into balls. Roll in the sugar/lime zest mixture and place on baking sheet, about 1-2″ apart.

Bake 8-10 minutes, depending on your oven. Mine needed almost exactly 10 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the pan before transferring cookies to a cooling rack.

 

I can happily say, however, that these little cookies fit the bill for my green food-themed month perfectly!  What I really like about these cookies is that unlike most sugar cookies, they don’t require all of that rolling pin and cookie cutter drama.  Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place – Christmas cookies, heart-shaped Valentine’s day sugar cookies, my Noah’s Ark Frosted Animal Cookies *cough, cough*…

But this is not that time.  Nor that place.

 

This is the place of simple, yummy, chewy, lime-spiked sugar cookies that melt in your mouth and clear the clouds from the sky…

Ok, let’s not push it.  They’re just cookies, they can’t change the weather!

….But they will put a smile on your face! :))))

Zucchini Cupcakes with Avocado Buttercream Frosting (Vegan)

11 Mar

First of all, happy Sunday!

I hope daylight savings isn’t kicking your butt as much as I know it’s going to kick mine once my better senses kick in and realize I’ve lost a sweet, sweet, precious hour of sleep! Hoping this gorgeous, sunny, blue sky weather we’ve been having lasts and helps me through this…with a teeny bit of help from the most giant mug of coffee of all time! =)

Anyway, if this post doesn’t do it, I’d like to make it clear that I’ve taken it upon myself to use March as an excuse for baking with more green foods!  It’s a Leprechaun’s world and I’m just living in it, St. Patty’s Day style.

When you hear “green foods,” there’s a good chance your mind immediately snaps to thoughts and images of leafy greens, herbs, green peppers, and zucchini – rarely ingredients that you’d see featured in dessert foods – but stay with me here.  My biggest concern here was keeping things yummy, somewhat healthy, green-colored, and yet FREE from ARTIFICIAL COLORING!  So the wheels started turning…

At the risk of blog readership plummeting big time, I ruled out spinach brownies (though I’ve heard those are good!), avoided celery ice cream, and didn’t even let my mind wander to a place where I’m 100% sure I’d be spending my entire post trying to convince you to try green onion pie.  You’re welcome.  Also, there’s no possible way I could even convince myself of that, so I’ve also spared myself the guilt of lying my way through an entire post.  I’m welcome?  Nevermind.

Anyway, I did, however, wrap my head around the prospects of zucchini and avocado, and found the idea to be promising!  Afterall, I’ve featured zucchini prominently in several recipe posts like this  and this, waxing rather poetic about the versatility and ease with which it blends into sweet treats.  Avocados hold a special place in my heart, too, and though featured here  as a savory Super Bowl snack, it’s still a fruit, dangit!

Zucchini bread and coffee cake inspired zucchini cupcakes seemed like the perfect choice!  Avocado could have been more challenging, but thankfully its creamy smooth texture practically begs to be made into frosting.  Ideal.  I wouldn’t recommend the frosting if you don’t like avocados, but then again if that’s the case I’d recommend you start liking avocados because they’re super delish and healthy!

 

And so, zucchini spice cupcakes with avocado buttercream frosting were born – TA DA!

Somewhat healthy?  Let’s be real, these are still cupcakes, but made with nutrient-packed plant-based ingredients.

Since we’re talking avocados, I think it’s important to note just a few of the awesome health benefits these powerful little green guys boast.  Not only are they high in vitamins and minerals such as folate (for heart health and prevention of birth defects), B-6, and potassium (helps to regulate blood pressure), they are also host to nutrients that combat oxidative damage, cholesterol levels, inflammation, and even cancer.

So again, healthy?  Ya, check!

Green color without any artificial coloring?  Yessir – Check.

Yummy?  Duh.  I mean, check.

I’ll be the first to admit these aren’t the sexiest little cupcakes – they’re sorta more like the homey looking little sweethearts that have a great personality, ha!  No, really.  Love them!

Zucchini Cupcakes with Avocado Buttercream (Vegan)

(Makes 6)

 Lightly spiced, zucchini-laced cupcakes with a super tender crumb – you’d never guess they were vegan if I didn’t blatantly tell you – really!  Perfectly accompanied by an unexpectedly smooth, delicious buttercream frosting packed with healthy omega-3’s and vitamins.  Double the recipe if you want to make a dozen.

 Cupcakes-

 Ingredients:

*7/8 cup all-purpose flour

*½ tsp baking powder

*½ tsp baking soda

*½ tsp ground cinnamon

*½ tsp ground nutmeg

*¼ tsp salt

*¼ cup granulated sugar

*¼ cup brown sugar

*½ cup non-dairy milk of your choice

*¼ cup canola oil

*1 Tbsp vanilla extract

*½ Tbsp white vinegar

*½ cup grated zucchini

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Line a cupcake pan with 6 cupcake liners.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, stir together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and canola oil.

In another bowl or cup, stir together the non-dairy milk, vinegar, and vanilla.

Pour the milk, vinegar, and vanilla mixture into the sugar and oil mixture.  Add grated zucchini and mix.  Gradually stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, until just combined.  You don’t want to over mix.

Fill lined cupcake wells to just about full.  Bake for 15-18 minutes, rotating the pan half way through, until tops slightly spring back when pressed on.  Remove pan from oven and allow to cool about 10 minutes before removing cupcakes and placing on a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.  Allow to cool COMPLETELY before frosting.

Frosting-

This frosting is thinner than a typical buttercream frosting because of the softer texture of avocados compared to margarine or butter, but has just the lightest, yummiest hint of avocado vanilla flavor!

Ingredients:

*2 small avocados

*½ stick non-dairy margarine

*3-4 cups confectioner’s sugar

*1 tsp vanilla

*Dash of salt, to taste

Directions:

Peel avocados and remove pits.  Cream together the avocado and non-dairy margarine in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add vanilla extract.  Slowly add confectioner’s sugar, ½ cup at a time until consistency is as desired.  Add salt to taste.   Frost your little heart out!  Go to it =)

Happy Spring!

Happy March!  Happy St. Patty’s month!

 

 

Martha Stewart’s Coconut Cupcakes and the Frosting that Changed my Life

4 Feb

Over the past few years especially, coconut, and namely the type of fat it contains, has become overwhelmingly controversial in terms of health and nutritional value.  There is no disputing the impressive vitamin (most notably folate), and even more so, mineral (very high in manganese, with a good amount of copper and selenium) and amino acid profile of these fruits, known as “drupes,” hailing from the palm family, but the fact that they are comprised of a generous ratio of saturated fat to carbohydrate and protein is what concerns some health conscious individuals and experts.

True, saturated fat has been touted as the “evil” fat said to raise levels of “bad” cholesterol in the body known as LDL cholesterol, and contribute to obesity, and for the most part, that is accurate.  However, what is rarely mentioned is the presence of different types of saturated fats, which vary greatly based upon their size.  Saturated fatty acids, or triglycerides, appear in foods as short chain, medium chain, or long chain fatty acid chains.  The problem with the typical American diet is that it contains way too many long chain saturated fatty acids, found in meats, dairy, and even some plant sources of fat, which are tough for the body to break down and convert to energy.  Coconut, on the other hand, as well as palm kernel oil, contains medium chain saturated fatty acids, which are thought to be used by the body much differently.  According to some research, medium chain fatty acids are more easily oxidized by the liver to produce energy, causing less of the fat to be stored long term in the body.

The bottom line here is not that the saturated fat in coconut would be recommended over unsaturated fatty acids like those found in foods like avocado, olive oil, fatty fish, and various seeds which raise levels of “good” HDL cholesterol in the body, but that it serves as a better replacement for other saturated fats that are already in the diet.  So, don’t feel like you have to steer clear of coconut because of the fat content in order to feel “healthy”!  Some fat in the diet is absolutely necessary for a healthfully functioning body, and the satiety factor we need to feel full and nourished.

Make some healthy substitutions every once in awhile, like for instance, drink coconut milk occasionally instead of your usual 2% dairy milk, or bake with coconut milk rather than butter, and you could be doing yourself a favor with a little health boost!  Go ahead and make a batch of these coconut cupcakes and enjoy (*cough* Super Bowl Party!! *cough*)…I’m not claiming these cupcakes are health food by any stretch, but let’s face it, coconut tastes awesome, too – just don’t go overboard!

Or, if you prefer freshy, citrusy lemon, you might enjoy Martha Stewart’s Lemon Cupcakes instead!

Martha Stewart’s Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream Frosting

These are dense, hearty little cupcakes.  My favorite part of the recipe is that it includes ground coconut in the batter, and can easily be made dairy-free!  Ok, that’s one of my favorite parts, the other is the frosting.   The cupcake recipe is from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes, but the frosting is all my own… it changed my life…it’s THAT good! 🙂  Sprinkle with sweetened shredded coconut, unsweetened shredded coconut, coconut flakes, or just leave them as is!  I used sweetened shredded coconut since that’s what I had on hand, but I gazed longingly at the photo of Martha’s version with its large, glorious, luxurious-looking flakes, and wished I could have used those instead!  I urge you to do so, if you get the chance…and then send me photos!

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:
* 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 tsp baking powder
* 1/2 cup packed sweetened shredded coconut
* 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, or dairy-free butter spread like Earth Balance
* 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
* 2 large eggs + 2 egg whites
* 1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract
* 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk, from either a can or carton
* Coconut Buttercream Frosting (below)
* Sweetened or unsweetened shredded coconut or coconut flakes for topping

Frosting:
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or dairy-free butter spread
* 1/4 cup Coconut butter (the thick portion at the top of the coconut milk can, or pre-made coconut butter in a jar)
* About 2-3 cups confectioner’s sugar
* Dash of salt
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* 1/2 tsp coconut extract

Directions:

To make the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350*, and line standard muffin tins with paper liners.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Grind sweetened coconut shreds in a coffee grinder or food processor until finely ground, and stir into flour mixture.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or by hand, cream butter or dairy-free butter spread and sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the whole eggs, egg whites, and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Reduce mixer speed to low and add flour mixture, alternating with additions of coconut milk until everything is combined. Don’t overmix!

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each just about full. Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan half-way through cooking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and turn out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting:
Cream together the butter or dairy-free butter spread and coconut butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Slowly add in the dash of salt and confectioner’s sugar by the spoonful until course, crumbly mixture forms. Add in the vanilla extract and coconut extract. Beat frosting until smooth, adding more confectioner’s sugar if the frosting is too thin, and more vanilla extract, coconut extract, or splash of milk of choice if it’s too thick.

Slather with frosting, and top with coconut shreds or flakes at your own discretion….

…I’m still finding coconut shreds in places I didn’t know existed, so fair warning – Coconut bombs are a very real situation!

Disclaimer:

I am NOT a licensed or certified nutritionist or registered dietician.  I am NOT currently, but am on my way to becoming, a certified personal trainer.  I do, however, hold a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences with an emphasis in neurobiology, physiology, and behavior, as well as a strong interest in holistic and medical nutrition, especially as it applies to the prevention of disease, but PLEASE consult your doctor or a registered dietician for more comprehensive and tailored diet, fitness, and health information if you have health concerns or questions regarding any of the topics I discuss.  I am simply expressing my knowledge and opinions based upon my own research, reading, and education within the health, fitness, and science fields.

That being said, I hope you enjoy what I write and maybe learn something interesting along the way.  Thank you!