Tropical Banana Muffins

Life lately has been all go-go-go.  It seems like I’m constantly running out the door and bouncing all over creation.  One of these days I’m sure things will slow down again, but until they do I’m really in need of portable healthy breakfasts and snacks.  Which is where these muffins come in.  I was lying awake in the middle of the night last weekend, thinking I really should make some banana muffins.  My original plan was to make classic banana-nut muffins (or classic-ish; I usually make mine with pecans because I don’t really care for walnuts, which I think are more traditional).  But then I remembered that I had a bag of frozen pineapple in my freezer and a can of lite coconut milk in my pantry, and a different idea started to take shape.  I fell asleep with the idea of “tropical” banana muffins with pineapple and coconut on my mind, and it was still there when I woke up and rushed down to the kitchen on Sunday morning.  Happily, these muffins definitely lived up to my imagination – they’re relatively healthy (I cut the sugar in half, replaced the butter with applesauce, and subbed in whole wheat flour for some added protein and fiber) and perfectly portable, great for breakfast on the go.  I’ll definitely be making these again, and perhaps freezing a few batches for busy mornings to come.

Tropical Banana Muffins

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup lite coconut milk
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 cups medium-diced pineapple chunks (fresh or frozen)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line or grease muffin tins: either 18 large muffins, or 12 large muffins and 12 mini-muffins.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • Add mashed banana, coconut milk, applesauce, eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined.  Don’t overmix!
  • Fold in shredded coconut and pineapple chunks.
  • Transfer batter to muffin tin wells.  Bake 25-30 (if using frozen pineapple, this recipe will likely take closer to 30; if using fresh, closer to 25) minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of muffins comes out clean.

Source: Loosely adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook (not an affiliate link)

Tropical Sunshine Smoothie

Here in the mid-Atlantic it seems like the temperatures just keep climbing.  I keep thinking, “This is the hottest it can possibly get,” until it’s hotter the next day, and the day after that… Fortunately, hubby and I currently have a working air conditioner (hurray!) and we’ve been hiding inside for the most part.  Last week I went to IKEA (more on that later) and the walk from the parking lot to the front door and back was about all I could handle.  And I actually enjoy hot weather.  So that really is saying something.

So to beat the heat I’ve become quite the smoothie guru lately.  These tropical smoothies are a perfect way to start another hot-hot-hot day with some cool, fruity nutrition.  Just make sure to drink them, okay?  I know it’s tempting to pour them over your head, but that’s not the intent here.

Tropical Sunshine Smoothies

1 1/4 cups almond milk (or organic milk)
1 cup frozen mango cubes
1 frozen banana
1/2 cup frozen or fresh pineapple chunks
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional)

  • Blend all ingredients together in a high speed blender.  Enjoy!

Source: Covered In Flour

Minted Fruit Salad

Fruit salad is one of my favorite foods.  Growing up, it always seemed like a special treat to have fresh fruit salad.  Now that I’m an adult (according to the government, anyway), I get to have fruit salad whenever I want… and I want a LOT of fruit salad.  Several mornings a week, I’ll throw together a quickie fruit salad from whatever fresh fruit I happen to have on hand and take it to work to eat for breakfast at my desk.  But this isn’t your run-of-the-mill weekday fruit salad, although it’s almost as easy.  The addition of mint and fresh orange juice really take this salad to the next level and make it perfect for a fresh dessert or celebratory brunch… or even for any spring weekend when you just feel like having something extra special.

Minted Fruit Salad

2 mangoes
2 oranges
1 cup quartered strawberries
2 bananas
1/2 cup mint, roughly chopped

  • Peel and cut mango as follows: slice the cheeks off, being careful not to cut into the pit.  Score into the mango cheeks in a grid.  Pop mango cheeks inside out and carefully cut the pieces out, creating cubes.  Add to mixing bowl.  Repeat with second mango.
  • Segment an orange: cut the tops and bottoms off, then slice the peel off between the pith and the flesh.  Cut between the membranes and pop out orange segments.  Cut each segment in half and add to mixing bowl.  Squeeze the juice from the membranes over the mango and orange segments.  Repeat with second orange.
  • Slice two bananas and add to mixing bowl, along with strawberries and mint.  Carefully toss all together.

Nota Baker: You don’t have to use the fruit I suggested above.  If you happen to have something else knocking around your produce drawer, or you see a particularly good-looking pineapple at the market, by all means, use that.  Just make sure you invite me over to enjoy it with you!

Source: Covered In Flour

Banana Crunch Bread

Over the weekend, I got the urge to bake.  That hasn’t happened in awhile, so I went with it.  I pulled some ripe bananas out of the freezer (I have a stash – impressed?) and looked for a fun new banana bread recipe.  I found a recipe for “Banana Crunch Muffins” in the original Barefoot Contessa Cookbook – holy granola, how’d I miss those? – and quickly adapted it to a quickbread and a little healthier (in certain ways) than the original.  I subbed in a cup of whole wheat flour for one of the three cups of all purpose (you can’t even taste it, I promise, and if you want to be even healthier you could bump it up to a cup and a half), and I replaced the butter with applesauce, which is a standard baking move of mine.  Then I cut the sugar almost in half and celebrated my healthiness by adding 3/4 cup of chocolate chips.  BOOYAH!  Just when you think you have me figured out, I go and completely change the game on you.  Don’t even try to keep up!

Just make the bread, okay?

Banana Crunch Bread

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup skim milk
1 cup applesauce
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 cup granola
1 ripe banana, diced

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Spray two loaf pans (or one loaf pan and one mini muffin pan) with baking spray (such as PAM for Baking or Baker’s Joy).  Set aside.
  • Sift together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl.  Whisk to combine and set aside.
  • In another mixing bowl, combine mashed banana, eggs, vanilla, milk and applesauce.
  • Add wet mixture to dry mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until all combined, being careful not to overmix.
  • Fold in chocolate chips, granola, and diced banana.
  • Divide mixture into loaf pans and bake for 60-65* minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  (If you are making one loaf and a batch of mini muffins, bake together for 25 minutes, then remove the mini muffins and continue baking the loaf for another 35-40 minutes.)

*Nota Baker: My oven runs cool, so it took me the full 65 minutes to get my one loaf of banana bread fully cooked, although the mini muffins were out after 25 minutes.  It’s key to know your oven!  Start at the low end of the time range I’ve given and test with a toothpick or cake tester every 5 minutes to see if your loaf is done yet.  Better to babysit the loaf for 10-15 minutes or so at the end of the cooking process than to burn it and waste all those wonderful chocolate chips!

Yield: Two loaves of banana bread or one loaf and one batch of mini muffins.

Source: Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, by Ina Garten (not an Amazon affiliate link)

Also, just for fun… here I am just after running 10 miles!  Do I look thirsty?