The other day, I saw some of the most beautiful veggies at the co-op: bright yellow cauliflower and vivid green romanesco. I grabbed one of each, along with some red bell peppers and a red onion, with the intention of roasting them all together. Continue reading “roasted romanesco”
Not really. It’s Joy Bauer’s Cherry-Chia Jam!
For our 30-day ‘No-Added-Sugar’ Challenge, jams and jellies are all OUT because they’re loaded with sugar. Bummer. Neither Andrew nor I are big PB&J eaters (not because they aren’t delicious, they’re just not the healthiest choices and we tend to gravitate to leftovers for lunches), but I do like jam on bread or atop oatmeal, etc.
However, when I saw this recipe come across Facebook, I knew I had to try it. I actually have a friend who joined in the challenge who was really going to miss his daily PB&J sandwich, so I was hoping this would be a winner.
The result was a fresh, fruity gel that was perfect on a slice of toasted Ezekiel bread this morning, and I think it would be even better with some nut butter! My chia seeds didn’t change their texture very much (I expected them to swell and become translucent, like chia puddings), but they achieved the gel-like consistency the jam needed.
For this batch, I used mostly frozen cherries with a few frozen strawberry and blueberry stragglers and fresh pineapple. I was able to mash it all pretty well, so I didn’t remove any chunks of pineapple like Joy instructs in the recipe. I can imagine this jam with other fruits, like strawberries or apricots. It was so easy to make, I may start adding this into the rotation as we finish off the jams and jellies we already have at home.
Also, while searching for Joy’s link, I came across this site with a VERY similar recipe. Jessica and Stacie are Registered Dietitians and expound on the health benefits of chia seeds in their post. Be sure to check out their site!
*Note: This is one of those items that flirts with the line between no sugar and ‘added sugar’ since it’s high in NATURAL sugar–basically the very sweet pineapple is contributing natural sugar to the flavor. My no-added-sugar banana bread is also guilty of this, although it’s not very sweet. On the one hand, sugar is sugar is sugar; on the other, it’s natural sugar and doesn’t tend to be as sweet, so it helps to decrease a person’s dependence on sugar.
This post was originally going to be about a no-added-sugar banana bread recipe I found almost two years ago and have been making ever since. However, I recently found another recipe for no-sugar-added banana bread that looked intriguing, so I gave that one a try. Turns out the first one had great flavor and the second had a better texture, so I melded them together to create my own!
I mentioned the first no-added-sugar banana bread recipe here back in January and planned to post about it soon after. Well, February has come and gone and we’re halfway through March and I’m just now getting to it. Sheesh.
(This is also NOT to be confused with the ‘made-over’ Martha Stewart banana bread recipe posted here. Absolutely fabulous, but it does include sugar.)
Clearly, I’m into banana bread. Or I just buy too many and have to find something to do with all my too-ripe bananas…
First, my recipe:
1 cup AP flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
6 bananas, very ripe and preferably thawed from frozen (approximately 2 – 2 1/2 cups)
6 tablespoons melted coconut oil or light olive oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1/2 cup shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin. Mash bananas and mix with beaten eggs, oil and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients and add to wet, mixing until just combined. Fold in walnuts and coconut, if using.
Using an ice cream scoop, portion into muffin tin and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean.
Check out the height on this one! And that nicely browned, domed top! Sugar helps things brown, which is why sugar-free baked products don’t always look the same as those with sugar.
I was pleasantly surprised to find the inside had a very nice crumb as well, not too dense or rubbery like many ‘healthy’ baked goods. Again, sugar helps baked products achieve the right texture, so omitting it can lead to all sorts of baking fails.
I like my banana bread with ‘stuff’ in it, so I tend to add walnuts for sure and dried fruit or chocolate chips if I’m feeling fancy. You certainly don’t have to add anything if you don’t want to. I’ve also experimented with how much or little I mash the bananas and found I prefer mine with small chunks of banana. I’ve been adding shredded coconut ever since I tried Martha Stewart’s recipe (linked above) and haven’t looked back. It adds excellent flavor and texture.
This was the first time I experimented with the two recipes and am very pleased. I think I might still experiment with some of the spices, as I like a really cinnamon-y bread. I’m considering using more cinnamon, or substituting pumpkin or apple pie spice to achieve that flavor.
I split the flours to achieve a better texture and kept the increased bananas for added sweetness and liquid. I’m not against a little fat in my bread, so I kept the oil from recipe two as well for good texture and flavor. I also like flaxseed meal for it’s health benefits (a great fat source!) and texture, so I kept that from recipe one.
And, for completeness, here are the two recipes that inspired my recipe with my recent photos.
Like I said, I’ve been making it with pretty good results for a while now, but always felt the muffins turned out a bit dense. This recipe includes whole wheat flour, a flax egg instead of a real egg and four bananas. Photo below:
Verdict: Compared to the other two recipes, this one looks, feels and tastes like a ‘healthy’ muffin. But, I didn’t know any better and kept baking them because they were easy, tasted good and turned out relatively well. However, the muffins never really baked up high with domed tops and were susceptible to bad batches that turned out heavy.
After seeing her photos, I was very excited to try it. Check out the browned tops and height below! Elle’s recipe includes regular all-purpose flour, two eggs and more bananas than the other recipe.
Verdict: A great product, but left me a little wanting on the flavor side. I wanted more heft and heartiness without the density of the first recipe.
Honestly, both of the above recipes are winners. I was shocked at how well the first recipe turned out, so I’m even more thrilled that others are experimenting with healthier baking that highlights the natural flavors of foods without sacrificing healthy fat and a pleasing texture.
And speaking of no-added-sugar…I bet you can guess what Andrew and I will be giving up in April! More on that soon!