Pumpkin Smoothie

What. is. up?

I was just about to tell you all about the person I’m mad at, the situations I’m frustrated with, and things I’m worried over.  Thats lame though, and really, I don’t think you wanna hear about it.

Instead, I’ll tell you this…

Love well today.  Be grateful for the sunshine.  Delight in the clouds.  Rest in the truth that you are loved.  Share your heart with the people around you.  Be vulnerable enough to real talk a couple of conversations.  Walk into your fear.  Confront what challenges you.  Tell five people you appreciate them.  Find meaning in the silence.
Go for a walk.  Crunch fallen leaves under your feet.  Drink water.  Don’t beat yourself up.  And make a smoothie.

A pumpkin smoothie, of course.  Super simple and full of good for you ingredients.

Literally, it takes less than five minutes to make this smoothie.  All the ingredients blend perfectly into a cold, fall beverage without the guilt (or cost) of a pumpkin frappe.  Winning.

Happy Friday!

Don’t forget to give the next person you see a high five/fist bump… whichever you prefer.

Pumpkin Smoothie

Adapted from Lululemon Blog

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder (you can also use vanilla)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • Toasted pecans, optional

Directions

  1. Place pumpkin, banana, protein powder, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and almond milk in a blender with a few ice cubes.  Blend until smooth.
  2. Pour smoothie into a glass.  Top with cinnamon and toast pecans.
  3. Now drink it like nobody’s business.

{Chocolate Coconut} Peanut Butter Banana Bread

 

Oh man.  I am ready for the weekend.  This week and last have been one of those I-just-want-to-crawl-in-a-hole-as-fast-as-possible weeks.  I’ve messed up what seems like a million times at work this past week or so and it is so frustrating.  I just want to punch myself in the face.  Not really though.

Okay, maybe a little bit.

As a slight perfectionist, I find it quite difficult to make mistake after mistake, especially when you aren’t the only one having to bear the consequences of those mess ups.  My boss is completely nice about it but I hate that feeling of “letting them down.”  And I have a ridiculous time letting it go.  All last weekend my mind would wander toward what I did wrong at work, how I could’ve fixed it, what my co-workers were thinking/saying about me, how I could make it right… My mind would not stop going there.  I was worrying about a situation that I had no current control over, and fretting about mishaps that I couldn’t take back.

It’s true that we have to live with the decisions that we make, or the things we do wrong, no matter how big or insignificant they may be, but there is a point when living with it can cross over to being consumed by it, and I have been consumed.  I find myself being swallowed up by my own thoughts, concerns, future projections, and other’s opinions quite a lot.  I take myself out of the current moment to instead be in a negative space that leads me nowhere.

There is a point where I must remind myself that I am human, I will make mistakes, I will learn as best I can to avoid doing them again and I will let. it. go.

Then I will reward myself with a high five and a slice of chocolate coconut  peanut butter banana bread… whew thats a mouth full.

Let take a quick second to talk about this peanut butter.  Its…  just really delicious.

What could go wrong with chocolate and coconut swirled into creamy peanut butter?  Nothing, thats what.  Absolutely nothing.

Well, except maybe my waning self control once I hold this jar of pb in one hand and a spoon in the other.   I’ll just consider that a tasty mishap.

Okay, here’s the deal.  Quick breads are fantastic for many reasons.  They are very versatile, quick to put together, hard to screw up, and freeze well.  Plus they are delicious.

All you really need are two bowls.  Whisk together your dry ingredients first.  Whisking them before adding them to the wet ingredients ensures that everything is equally distributed.

Next, things start to get wet and wild.  Sugar and eggs are whisked into a lovely mixture.  Add bananas, yogurt, melted coconut oil, and peanut butter.  Things start to get really crazy when the sugar, banana, peanut butter situation invites the dry ingredients into the party.  They mingle and turn into a silky batter ready to be baked.

But first generous dollop of peanut butter gets swirled into the batter.  You can always leave this step out and the bread will still be delicious… but, really, why would you?

Here it is.  A version of banana bread that you will come back to again and again.  The flavors are well balanced, playing nicely and sharing the spotlight.

The peanut butter and banana combo is an obvious win.  The addition of chocolate and coconut are like the moment you get the win, rip your shirt off, and fall on the grass in just your sports bra.

Thats a bad comparison…  does anyone even remember that?

Oh well, make this bread and your tummy will be happy… high five!

{Chocolate Coconut} Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Slightly adapted from Joy the Baker

Ingredients

  • 11/2 cups bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup chocolate coconut peanut butter, or any other nut butter
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon slat
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter one 9×5 in loaf pan or 3 6×3.5 loaf pans (this is what I did).  Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, flax seed meal, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and allspice.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, brown sugar, and eggs until well incorporated. Add yogurt, bananas, peanut butter, and coconut oil.  Whisk to combine.
  4. Pour flour mixture into the banana mixture and stir until just combined.  Don’t over mix!
  5. Pour batter into loaf pan(s), about 3/4 of the way of the pan.
  6. Optional: Put three dollops of softened peanut butter on top of the batter.  Swirl into the batter with a toothpick, skewer, or knife.
  7. Place in oven and bake for 45-60 minutes (if you are just using one large loaf pan it will be more on the 60 minute range.. opposite for the smaller pans!).  Test to see if the bread is down by placing a toothpick in the center and having it come out clean.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for for about 20 minutes.  Run a butter knife along the edges to invert from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Bread will last well wrapped for up to 4 days at room temperature.  Alternately it can be stored in the freezer for a rainy day or just a crappy work week.

Chocolate Popsicles

We’re thick in the middle of summer livin, summer lovin.

The sun is out.  The sandals are on.  And my legs are still a nice shade of pale white.  What can say?  I blame Oregon.

Its play-outside-eat-on-the-patio-have-a-breakfast-picnic weather.

Its float-the-river-drink-a-gin-cocktail-on-the-porch weather.

Its wear-a-maxi-dress-let-your-hair-air-dry weather.

And its definitely make-lots-and-lots-of popsicles weather.

I’ve never been a huge fan of popsicles, preferring ice cream, or a Flinstones push-pop, when I craved a cold treat.  I think part of it is that they are just so sweet and I hate the fake fruit/sugar taste of most popsicles.

However, this summer popsicles have been all the rage in the blogosphere so I decided to try my own… chocolate style, of course.

I’m not sure these could get any simpler.  Dark chocolate chips and chunks get tossed in a bowl.  Coconut milk is heated up and poured over chocolate.  Then we wait.

Bananas get mashed.  Coconut nectar gets measured.

All ingredients are whisked together.  The chocolate deliciousness is poured into cups that remind me of the dentist.  They always brought the dreaded fluoride to me in those cups.

After being placed in the freezer for about 30 minutes the cups are removed and a wooden popsicle stick is placed in the middle.

Back to the freezer for another hour and half… at least!

The result is a creamy, cold treat that I’ve been guiltlessly indulging in every night the past two weeks, except the night I went to Salt and Straw… but thats a whole other scoop of ice cream.  See what I did there?

I’m not gonna lie, these choco pops are rich.  If you don’t enjoy dark chocolate you are very welcome to use a lower percentage of chocolate chip/bar.  You can also use honey or maple syrup instead of coconut nectar.  Maybe you’d like to add peanut butter?  And maybe slash I definitely will give you a high five if you do.

Add salted caramel, try a different fruit, make 12 batches, and share them with a friend.  Why not?

After all it is feel-like-a-kid-again-eat-popsicles-for-breakfast-let-your-imagination-go-wild weather.

Chocolate Popsicles

Makes about 6

Ingredients

  • 2.5 ounces 99% dark chocolate
  • 2.5 ounces 67% dark chocolate
  • 1 banana, ripened and mashed or pureed
  • 1 tablespoon coconut nectar
  • 1 cup coconut milk

Directions

  1. Heat milk and coconut nectar in a small sauce pan until simmering around the edges.
  2. Place chocolate in a small bowl.  Pour coconut milk over chocolate.  Set aside for at least 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk coconut milk and chocolate together until mixture is smooth.  If your chocolate did not melt all the way place bowl over a pot of simmer water to completely melt chocolate.
  4. Whisk in banana until combined
  5. Pour mixture into small cups or popsicle mold.  Place in freezer for about 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from freezer and place popsicle sticks in the center of each pop.  Return to freezer for at least 1 1/2 hours.
  7. When you are ready to enjoy, cut a slit in the side of the cup and remove the cup from the popsicle.  Now, see how many licks it takes to finish!
  8. Store popsicles in an airtight container in the freezer.

Banana Ice Cream

Dear Future Me,

Its me.. I mean you.  Uhhh same thing.  Here are a few tips I’ve learned lately that you might want to remember.

One:  Wear a suit to an interview.  You might feel like your body is in some strange universe since you’ve been wearing stretchy pants for the last five months, BUT a suit is the way to go.  You’ll be looking mighty sharp next to all the people wearing t-shirts and jeans.  Also, bring cookies with you if you are telling them that you went to culinary school and like to bake.  It will be a good move.  Promise!

Two: Don’t be self conscious about going to the movies by yourself.  Yeah maybe you’re seeing a sappy love story sitting all by your lonesome while everyone else in the theater is sitting next to their best friend or significant other.  That says nothing about your self worth.. it just builds character.. somehow.  P.S.- Peanut m&ms build character too.

Three: Buying the Whole Foods brand of peanut butter might not be a good idea.  Yes, it tastes so good and reminds you of Peter Pan peanut butter cups but those four or five spoonfuls will catch up to.

Four:  Quit being a worry wart.  Its just unnecessary stress that leads to a dead end. Nothing good comes of it.

Five: Listen to people.  I mean like eye contact lots of empathy type listening.  It will make them feel loved and understood.  Its what you really want. We all need that.

Six: Write a handwritten letter to someone you love, appreciate, admire, or are thankful for.  Bring snail mail back in vogue.  The receiver will be delightfully surprised.

Seven: Make banana ice cream.  Again.

Let me tell you about this “ice cream.”  No cream.  No eggs.  No sugar even.  Its just bananas.

Yep, thats it!  Peeled. Frozen. Pureed.  Its that easy.

The result is a creamy, ice cream like treat that lends itself well to a multitude of toppings. I made three types from this batch; plain with a little cinnamon on top, peanut butter with a touch of cocoa powder, and chocolate chocolate.. cocoa powder, melted chocolate, and chocolate sprinkles.

The possibilities are many.  Let your imagination guide your taste buds.

Banana Ice Cream

I first saw this from Zuzanna a while back.

Ingredients

  • 1-2 frozen bananas (I used 2 and it made about 11/2 cups)
  • Extra toppings- nut butters, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, fruit, coconut, vanilla extract, etc.

Directions

  1. Peel, then cut bananas into bite sized pieces.  Place in freezer for 2-3 hours.
  2. Remove from freezer and place in food processor.  Process bananas until they blend into a creamy ice cream like consistency.
  3. Mix in any extras you’d like.
  4. Enjoy!

*Store any extras in air tight container in freezer.

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

March is going swimmingly well so far, which is good since its one of the best months of the year.  Lots of good stuff to look forward to this month.  And good things have already happened… the sun was out on Friday AND Sunday last weekend.  Say what?  If thats not a sign of a good month ahead then I don’t know what is.

Later this month my friend Becky and her lover boy, Pete, are getting married.  So exciting!   And guess what?  My mom and I are making all the food.  It should be an adventure!

A crazy, stress filled one, I’m sure.  But it should be fun… I think.  I’m projecting that I’ll cry at least once because I’ll be all frazzled.  No biggie.  I used to cry at the drop of a hat.  I finally got ahold of myself though.

Really, the wedding will be a piece of cake compared to facing the fact that I’m graduating from college in 2 weeks.  Really? Graduating? Like totally done?

Oh, geez.  I have to find a job.  Just the thought makes me cry.  I’m just kidding.  I’ve only cried about 10 times over having no idea what I’m doing after graduation.  Its a big milestone so more cry sessions are allowed.  Right?

There are two things that I won’t be crying about at all this March.

First, march madness.  I love college basketball and this is the best championship tournament of any sport.  Imo.  Oh man I can’t wait til it starts!

I have to say that if Duke loses at the buzzer at any point in the tourney I might shed a couple tears.  I love that team.  And coach K.

So now I’m down to one event that I won’t cry at.  Fingers crossed.  The day of my birth!  Yes, birthday month is upon me and I’m just a few days away.  I’m quite looking forward to a nice dinner out… and maybe a few presents.  My love language is gifts after all.

But, if no presents await me on Friday I will hold in the tears and count my many blessings. Seriously.  I don’t need presents.  I have too much already.

I just really like them.  A lot.  I can’t help it!  Thats how God made me.

Okay, enough about me.  Lets talk about these cookies!  Something that is good for any of life’s events, for sure.

These particular cookies are filled with whole wheat flour, oats, banana, and chocolate.  Good stuff in there!  I was curious how olive oil would substitute for butter and it worked out great.  Though you can’t particularly taste the olive oil at least there are a few healthy fats in this treat.

That makes me feel better about eating one after a workout.  Oops!

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

slightly adapted from Cookie and Kate

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp or 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 heaping cup banana, mashed
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups oats
  • 3/4 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or spray pan with cooking spray.  In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, brown sugar, and olive oil until sugar looks similar to wet sand.  Add egg and mix until combined.  Mix in banana and vanilla extract.  Add dry ingredients and oats to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.  Mix in the chocolate chips.

Drop a rounded tablespoon full of dough onto cookie sheets.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 3-4 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.  Pour a glass of milk, eat, and enjoy!

Chocolate Banana and Spinach Smoothie


“As long as I am alive in this body, there is good work for me to do…” -Philippians 1:22-

I kind of freak myself out a lot.  I get overwhelmed by details.  I stress myself out by thinking I have to have life all figured out.  I get down on myself for feeling like I don’t have anything figured out.  Then I get all dramatic and think I’ll never really find what I’m supposed to do in life and I’ll end up working some job I can’t stand and hating every minute of it.

Oh man, I need to take a chill pill… like, for serious.

All this stuff going on in my brain has been stressing me out!  But then, faithful as he is, God shows me the verse above — reminding me that good work is everywhere, waiting to be had.  It may not be glamorous.  It may mean waking up at 4:30 (am) sometimes.  It may not make any sense, but I do have a purpose in this place in time.

Ahhh, what breath of fresh air… words I need to hear and hold close.

When I’m stressed out I like to try to take advantage of things that make me feel good.  Eating well gives me a boost of energy inside and out, and helps me feel like I’m doing something good for myself… loving myself well.

The new year is full of resolutions to eat better and this smoothie is a great thing to add to your list of “healthy stuff.”  Smoothies in general can be a great way to add extra nutrients to your diet in a tasty and satisfying way.

This one is pretty simple:  spinach, a banana, a scoop of chocolate protein powder, flax seed meal, ice, and water.  I usually drink this or something similar after a workout, but its great to start your day with or as a refreshing snack in the afternoon!

You can switch it up however you’d like.  Add things in or take things away.  Smoothies are totally versatile… like a dress you can wear to work and out on the town or that pair of shoes you could wear with any outfit.

Pretty much if you make a smoothie you’re gonna be winning.  Just accept it.  Give someone a high five.  And know that you did good work.

Chocolate Banana and Spinach Smoothie

Makes one large or two small smoothies

Ingredients

  • About 2 cups spinach
  • 1 Banana
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 1 cup water
  • About 1 cup ice
  • 2 Tbsp flax seed meal

Directions

  1. Blend together spinach, ice, and water until spinach is blended into small bits.
  2. Add banana and chocolate protein powder and blend until fully incorporated.
  3. Pour into a glass and top with flax seed meal.
  4. Enjoy!

*Don’t have protein powder or hate the taste of it?  Try adding in some greek yogurt and chocolate syrup instead.  You’ll still get the chocolate flavor and a some protein too!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Banana Bread

I’m procrastinating. I’m a procrastinator.  I don’t want to be!  I promise.

It’s just so much easier to convince myself that looking at blogs, reading Women’s Health Magazine, and watch Nigella Lawson on the cooking channel are much better ideas than reading about the people who moved west in the late 19th century.

Yeah, the Oregon trail is neat.  Their lives were strenuous.  Their story is fascinating.  But I still don’t want to read about it.  Not right now anyway.

Plus I’m feeling kind of sick and that means I shouldn’t have to do homework, right?

Instead, lets talk about Nigella for a minute.  My boyfriend informed me today that he thinks she’s hot.

My response?  “Uh, yeah she is.”

That woman is so beautiful!  And she makes everything sound so appealing with her soothing, English-accented voice.  I’m jealous.  I really can’t blame him for crushin on her.

Maybe now he’ll understand why I have a crush on Robert Pattinson.

Hmm, maybe not.  I don’t think that one can be explained.

  You know what can be explained?  This awesome pumpkin, banana bread!

Thats right.  Pumpkin and banana together in one flavorful, slightly sweet, completely tasty bread.  Its a combination that works beautifully.

The flavors meld together nicely, yet stand on their own enough for both flavors to be distinguished.  

And yes, I added chocolate chips.  You’re welcome.

Seriously though, I love chocolate chips in quick breads.  They soften just enough to easily bite through, yet maintain their shape.  It’s a delicious flavor and texture sprinkled throughout this bread.  I throughly enjoy it.  I’m certain you will too.

Guess what!  You can make a loaf of bread, or cute individual muffins.  I did both.  You can too!

Or just do one or the other.  Whatevs.

And then, while you stuff your face with this delicious fall bread, you too can procrastinate.  Turn on Nigella, or pop in a RPattz movie.  I won’t judge.  Just do your thang.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Banana Bread

Adapted slightly from Rebecca Thinks…

Makes one large loaf or about 16 muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Heaping 1/2 cup of chocolate chips (add more or less if you like)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease loaf pan or muffin tin, or line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl.
  3. Whisk together bananas, pumpkin, oil, and eggs in a large bowl.
  4. Add flour mixture to pumpkin banana mixture.  Stir until just combined.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips.
  6. Fill loaf pan or divide batter into muffin tin.
  7. Bake until tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  About 40-45 minutes for the loaf pan and 30 minutes for muffins.
  8. Let cool on a wire rack or eat while still warm!
Yummy!  Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Banana Zucchini Muffins

When I was younger we would go to Puerto Penasco, Mexico for spring break every year.  A bunch of family friends would travel with us so it turned out to be a big group of friends heading down there for the week.  In preparation for the trip my mom would always go to Sam’s Club (its like Costco) to get food for the week.  My mom would usually buy those giant muffins they sell there to eat for breakfast and snacks.

They were huge.  My favorite was chocolate with chocolate chips.  I could down one those things like no ones business.  I was sort of a chubby kid, but I don’t wanna talk about that.

Geez, I haven’t had a chocolate muffin in a long time.  I might have to remedy that soon.

But first, we need to talk about these delicious, totally good-for-you banana zucchini muffins.

Thats just a bunch of green goodness right there.  These muffins are laced with zucchini but you’d never know unless I told you.  Which I just did, so now you can simply enjoy the fact that you’re eating vegetables that taste like sugar.

Beside zucchini, these muffins are packed with banana, flax seed, whole wheat flour, and millet seeds, which add a delightful texture.  There’s actually a low amount of sugar, and guess what?  No butter or oil!  I know, I could hardly believe it either, especially after biting into one of them.

These muffins won’t disappoint, I promise.  Eat one for breakfast, a snack, or even dessert.  They’re versatile.  A multi-purpose sort of muffin.

Whole Wheat Banana Zucchini Muffins

  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup millet seeds
  • 3/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup mashed banana
  • 3/4 cup almond milk*
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Lightly coat a muffin pan with non-stick spray.
3. In a large bowl mix together flour, flaxseeds, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
4. Stir in zucchini and banana.
5. In a small bowl mix together almond milk, egg, and vanilla.
6. Add milk mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined.
7. Stir in millet seeds. (Don’t over mix!)
8. Divide batter into muffin cups.
9. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  About 20-25 minutes.
* The recipe from shutterbean used whole milk.  I had almond milk on hand so I just used that.  You could substitute skim, 1%, or 2% milk and the muffins should turn out fine.
Enjoy!