Weekday Banana Pancakes

IMG_0885Happy New year, y’all! Excuse the Southern twang, I’ve been escaping the New York chill with a Nashville marathon. Have you seen it? I recently spent some time in Music City, before I’d seen the show. Even if you don’t love country music, there’s all kinds of great music (on the show and, I can vouch, in the real-life city).

Now that the holidays are over, it’s nice to revive some healthy habits. Breakfast is an important meal to me, mostly because it’s an acceptable meal to enjoy with coffee. Sometimes, it’s my only meal of the day sitting down, quiet.  Lunch at work is erratic – kale and quinoa one day and bits of leftover croissant the next. If I’m not working during dinnertime, I’m headed to the gym, rushing back home to make something quick. Chefs…they’re just like us!

These banana pancakes are a riff on a ‘protein pancake’ recipe floating around the Internet. They fill you up with good energy for the morning. The addition of flax, chia and protein powder is a bit utilitarian, but your toppings loosen things up. I love spreading on some almond butter, sliced banana and a sprinkle of cacao nibs. Now, bring on the coffee.

Weekday Banana Pancakes

Makes 1 large pancake (serves one)

  • 1/2 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 whole egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 T. milk (any type)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 T. ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp. chia seeds
  • 3 T. vanilla protein powder (I use a raw brown rice protein from Sun Warrior)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Pinch fresh ground nutmeg
  • Pinch Kosher salt
  • Coconut oil or butter, for cooking
  • Optional toppings: Sliced banana, blueberries, toasted walnuts, real maple syrup, plain Greek yogurt, cacao nibs, chia seeds, ground flax, almond butter (my fave)

Directions

In a bowl, whisk mashed banana, egg, milk, vanilla, flax and chia.  In another bowl, combine protein powder, spices and salt. Add banana mixture to dry ingredients and stir well to come.

Heat a medium – to – large nonstick skillet on medium-low heat. Add a few teaspoons of coconut oil or butter to coat the bottom of the pan. Add all the pancake batter, making one large pancake. Cook for about 3 minutes or until lots of bubbles start to form and the edges look dry. Flip (careful!) and  cook for another 3 minutes. Eat with any toppings you like!

Marbled Banana Bread

I think of banana bread as a “free” recipe. Overripe fruit, otherwise trash, is transformed into a quick little bread using items you probably have in your pantry. I have a few variations of banana bread in rotation – Melissa Clark’s version is particularly good.

Last Sunday afternoon, in a vain attempt for something sweet that a) involved chocolate b) did not use the 2 eggs destined for breakfast, I concocted this (full disclosure) vegan version. “Vegan?!” you say. Hear me out. People have been making cakes without butter or eggs for years. One of my family’s favorites, nanny’s hot water chocolate cake, relies on a few WWII-era tricks to keep it moist, using, you guessed it, boiling water.

If you like cake that masquerades as breakfast food, you’ll love this. After polishing off a good portion of it, I realized you could take this into full dessert territory with frosting. I have big plans for a peanut butter glaze next time. Nanny hated PB, but I’m sure she would approve.

Marbled Banana Bread

Ingredients

1 cup mashed very ripe banana (about 4 small bananas)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup almond milk (or any other milk) + 1 tsp. vinegar (this mimicks buttermilk)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour or spelt flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons boiling water, divided

Directions

Heat oven to 350 F. Prepare boiling water (no need to measure). Lightly grease an 8×4 loaf pan.

Mash the banana in a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the sugars, olive oil, milk and vanilla.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda and salt. Add to the banana mixture, folding gently until combined (it’s OK if its lumpy – don’t overmix).

Scoop one cup of the batter up and transfer it to a separate mixing bowl. Now, in a small tea cup mix the cocoa powder with 3 tablespoons boiling water and stir vigorously with a fork until the chocolate is dissolved. Add this chocolate mixture to the one cup of banana and mix until the chocolate is thoroughly smooth and incorporated.

Add 3 tablespoons of boiling water to the regular banana mixture and mix the batter just until relatively smooth.

Scoop alternate 1/2 cupfuls of chocolate/banana batter into the loaf pan. Once all of the batter is in, swirl it with a knife or long skewer.

Bake for 55 minutes. Allow to cool before slicing. I store mind wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and then tin foil.

-Recipe adapted from Post Punk Kitchen

Zucchini-Banana Muffins with Cinnamon Streusel

Late summer means cool mornings, warm afternoons and perfect sleeping weather. While fall is still weeks away, I can’t help but start to sneak in pinches of cinnamon here and there. These muffins combine two of my favorite quick breads – banana and zucchini – into a moist, better-for-you breakfast or snack. Try them with a schmear of cream cheese, raspberry preserves or almond butter.

Zucchini-Banana Muffins with Cinnamon Streusel

Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients

For Streusel

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 T. ground flax seed (or wheat germ)
  • 2 T. brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 2 T. butter, softened

For Muffins

  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T. honey
  • 1.5 cups grated zucchini (about 1 large zucchini)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil OR 4 T. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a muffin pan with 12 cups, set aside. Assemble the streusel. Mix together the oats, flax or wheat germ, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. With your fingers or a fork, blend in butter, forming small crumbs. Set aside.
  2. Grate the zucchini with a box grater or in the food processor. Place in a fine mesh strainer and press out some of the liquid. Measure out 1 1/2 cups and mix with the mashes bananas.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat egg and honey. Add the grated zucchini/banana mixture and oil or butter.
  4. In a large bowl, sift together the baking soda, baking powder, salt, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Make a well in the center and add the zucchini mixture, stirring gently just to combine (do not overmix).
  5. Divide batter between 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle a little streusel on top of each muffin. Bake for 25-30 minutes (rotating the pan once) until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool.
-Recipe adapted from Bran Appetit

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes

Truth: breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I don’t believe I have ever posted a breakfast recipe, mostly because my usual morning meal consists of an oatmeal-toast-fruit rotation. From crunchy fruit parfaits to omelettes and waffles, I haven’t met a breakfast I didn’t like. Afterall, it’s the most important meal of the day!

These pancakes are the real deal. I upped the nutrition with ‘white’ whole wheat flour  (less dense than straight whole wheat) and tangy buttermilk. Unlike it’s moneker, buttermilk is naturally low in fat and adds a rich texture. I have to admit that these require a bit more effort than, say, dumping Bisquick in a bowl. I had to increase the amount of liquid because my batter was really thick – I just added a few tablespoons of water and buttermilk to thin it out. Butter and syrup are required!

I used this BHG recipe.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip and Banana Cookies

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In a grand return to the kitchen, I decided to make some cookies. And not just any cookie – a cookie cookie. With all the elements of my favorite sweet bread, banana chocolate chip, these babies are chunky and satisfying, perfect with a cold glass of milk or cup of coffee. This recipe is from an unlikely and admitedly shameless source – The Real Housewives of New York “chef” Bethenny Frankel. While I don’t condone her diet-y ways (although the SkinnyGirl Margaritas are pretty tasty), this recipe relies on ingredients you probably have on hand. For all you vegans out there (I’m looking at you Sarah!) this recipe can be adapted with soy milk and non-dairy chocolate. These cookies definitely qualify as a breakfast food, in fact, I bet they are a whole lot healthier than your traditional morning baked goods.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups oat flour *see below

3/4 cup rolled oats

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 chocolate chips

1/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1 teaspoon canola oil

1/3 cup milk

1/2 cup banana puree (1 medium-size banana)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl.

Combine all the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together, until well combined.

Use a medium-size ice cream scoop or a large spoon to scoop batter onto a cookie sheet covered with wax paper.

Bake for 12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking, or bake until the edges of the cookies are light brown.

*To make oat flour, process old-fashion oats in a blender or food processor until they are a fine flour consistency. 2 cups oats makes approximately 1 1/2 cups oat flour.