Saturday, May 21, 2011
One of the first recipes I ever made using whole wheat flour was a honey whole wheat banana bread. My mom makes a mean banana bread. In fact it is one of her best and most requested family recipes. So when I started on the healthy track, I wanted to have that wonderful, moist bread that I remember from my childhood, without all the white stuff.
The original recipe I found called for all the traditional ingredients you would find in a banana bread but used whole wheat flour and honey in place of the flour and sugar. It's delicious and very easy to make. But what I like best about it, is that you can make a whole different bread every time just by adding fruits and/or nuts to it. A few years ago, I taught my niece Hailey how to make this bread. As we were baking, I was talking to her about choosing healthy ingredients, (using canola oil, why whole wheat is healthier, making sure that what you eat fuels your body as well as feeds it, etc.) It was a great bonding experience. I told her that she could make this bread "her own" by making some choices. She chose to add strawberries to it, and she definitely had good instincts because it was delicious! She went home with a treat for her family and a recipe for "Hailey's Banana Bread."
This morning I decided to use the two ripe bananas sitting in the bowl on the kitchen table and see what I could come up with as a new bread idea. I ended up with a raspberry almond banana bread, which I would highly recommend! I'm sharing here the basic recipe and then the variations to make the raspberry almond one. Enjoy!
Whole Wheat Banana Bread
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup agave nectar (or honey)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature
2 medium bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or white whole wheat flour)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 to 3/4 cup berries or other fruit
1/2 cup chopped nuts, if desired
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk canola oil and agave nectar in a bowl until well blended. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in vanilla and bananas. On parchment or wax paper, whisk flour and salt together. Stir into wet ingredients until moistened. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Stir into batter. Stir in fruit and nuts. Bake at 325 for 55-60 minutes or until tester comes out clean.
Raspberry Almond Banana Bread:
For flour- Use 1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour and 1/2 cup almond flour
For vanilla- Use 1/2 tsp. vanilla and 1/2 tsp. almond extract
For fruit- Stir in 3/4 cup halved raspberries
For nuts- Stir in 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds, chopped
Monday, May 16, 2011
I've invented two more cookie recipes. It has become a sort of hobby of mine to create healthier versions of desserts. The problem is that I have no concept of reasonable quantities when I begin eating them. So unless I am bringing them to serve at a function, I eat way more of them than I should. And so I try to bake only when there is an occasion so I have plenty of time to work off the extra calories that I obviously consume.
This weekend, I brought my two new cookies to my niece's birthday party. The first is a chocolae chunk mixed nut cookie. I used my basic healthy chocolate chip cookie recipe, but instead of the 60% Ghiradelli chips, I used my new favorite chocolate- Lindt 70%. I've tried lots of different brands of dark chocolate and this is by far the creamiest, most delicious in my opinion. I have been eating a square of it after dinner as a treat, and it has made me so happy, that I just had to try it in a cookie. I'm also a big fan of all kinds of nuts, so I bought a mixture of cashews, macadamia nuts, and pecans, all unsalted, from the bulk section of Wegmans. I doubled the cookie recipe so it would make lots of big cookies, and they turned out really delicious. Interestingly, the chocolate, which I cut into small chunks, ended up spreading out into these chocolatey smears on the cookies, so when you bite into them, you get this yummy chocolate goodness! They were a big hit at the party and at home, and they are unfortunately GONE after only two days.
The second recipe is a blueberry almond cookie that I modified from Giada's original recipe. I loved the idea of those flavors, and I had never had a cookie with blueberries in it, so they sounded intriguing. Substituting was pretty easy (agave for the sugar, whole wheat pastry flour for the all-purpose), and I ended up using fresh blueberries instead of frozen ones. They came out like little morsels, but I think next time I would make them bigger and serve them as breakfast cookies. They definitely have a "breakfasty" taste and a scone-like texture. I also used more almonds than originally called for, which gave them both a soft and crunchy texture at the same time. I'll definitely make these again, and maybe experiment with different berries and nuts.
Let me know if you try these and how you like them. Hopefully you will have more restraint than I and let them last more than a day or two!
Chocolate Chunk Mixed Nut Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup agave nectar
1 tsp. baking soda dissolved in 1 tsp. hot water
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
1 tsp. salt
7 oz. Lindt 70% cacoa chocolate, diced into small chunks
1 1/2 cups mixed unsalted nuts, coarsely chopped
Beat butter and agave until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanillathen dissolved baking soda. On a piece of parchment or wax paper, whisk together dry ingredients. Mix into wet ingredients in thirds. Stir in chocolate and nuts. Refrigerate if necessary. Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake at 325 until golden. Cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to rack to cool completely.
Blueberry Almond Cookies (modified from Giada's Almond Blueberry Cookies)
2 cups whole wheat pastry or white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
2/3 cup agave nectar
1 egg york
1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons lemon zest, about 1 lemon
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
In another medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar using a hand mixer. Add egg and beat to incorporate. Add milk, almond extract, and lemon zest.
Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Fold in the almonds, then the blueberries. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Using two small spoons, dollop mix onto cookie sheets. Bake until golden brown around the edges, about 15 minutes.
Cool the cookies on a wire rack.