Best Ever Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Already it’s been a rough week: rough on office managers, rough on 13-year-old girls, and rough on day-old bananas. You know what you do when life hands you rough bananas? You make banana bread! And you add some serious chocolate chips. Here’s how it all started…

Today, I was chatting with my buddy Sarah about the office move, commiserating how hard it is to make everyone happy while succeeding in mooching two very sad-looking bananas from her. So sad, in fact, that as I was leaving the office, one banana peeled itself off from the stalk and landed on the floor as I was talking to another coworker. Mmm, I love floor banana.

And yet I caught that banana before it escaped and then stopped by the school to pick up my kids. As my daughter approached the car, I could see she was crying. There is nothing harder than being 13 and female. Well, okay, there are probably quite a few things harder than that, but being 13 is the beginning of learning how hard life can actually be.

So the minute my conference calls ended tonight at 5pm, I whipped up a batch of banana bread with massive amounts of chocolate chips. I altered a recipe I found online and since it turned out so amazing I am writing it down here because I’ll need to find it again. Like tomorrow maybe.

 

Recipe:

2-3 bananas, ready for their escape (in other words, mushy)

1/2 cup olive oil

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups sugar (yes, I know it’s excessive)

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup plain greek yogurt

1/2 cup chocolate chips

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 4×9 inch loaf baking pan with cooking spray.

Put everything into a big bowl and stir the crap out of it.

Pour all of the mix into the baking pan. Spread the mix evenly in the pan. Sprinkle more chocolate chips on top in the center of the loaf.

Bake for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

This was easily the best banana bread I’ve ever made. Super-duper moist inside, full of chocolate, crisp on the edges outside. It’s crazy-town good. My son sliced and ate four pieces before I could even take the picture.

You should try it tonight. Life is short and bananas and chocolate do make things better.

Whole30 Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup

I started Whole 30 eating on January 6th. Maybe to lose a little weight but mostly because I was starting to experience daily bouts of food-baby belly, migraine headaches, acid reflux and indigestion, and generally feeling like poop. I knew that holiday eating was mostly to blame. I thought that the migraines were unrelated, honestly, and due to a medication that I’m taking.

Anyway, I embarked on this Whole 30 path with a friend of mine who is half my age and figured I had nothing to lose because without all of the holiday foods, I generally eat fairly well. I don’t drink, don’t eat junk food at all. It’s going to be easy right?

Oh no, my friends. I discovered that artificial sweeteners made up about 30% of my daily intake. Sugar free mints accounting for about half of that. It’s funny what you end up addicted to. Damn you Splenda! That was easily the biggest pain point for me. Eating food that just tastes like food without that extra sweet boost? Boooorrrrriiinnnngggg.

I’m on day 11 now, and I looked back my calendar and wondering if the following can be attributed to the Whole30 thing:

  • No migraines. What?!
  • Less head/sinus congestion.
  • And well, other things that are gross or TMI.

It’s been going fairly well with all of the cooking (so much cooking!). I scored big time on a recipe I made up last night that I want to share with you and have on hand for the future.

First, I must confess: I made the soup last night and it was disgusting. I kept it though because I knew that I was missing some ingredients and that I could fix it today. And fix it I did!

soup

Fire Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

INGREDIENTS
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1 small onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cans (14.5 oz each) Muir Glen® organic fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
2 jars (12 oz each) organic roasted red bell peppers
1 can (14 oz) chicken broth
2teaspoons basil leaf flakes
1 teaspoon parsley leaf flakes
1 teaspoon salt
6 organic dates, chopped finely
1/2 can (13 oz) coconut cream

PREP TIME: 20 MINUTES  |  TOTAL TIME: 50 MINUTES
Fire roasted tomatoes and peppers with a touch of cream add a richness to this tomato soup while the dates add a hint of sweetness.

PREPARATION & DIRECTIONS
In 3-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until onion is crisp-tender. Add dates and a splash of the chicken broth and return to a simmer.

Stir in tomatoes, peppers, broth, basil, parsley, salt. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat; pour into a large bowl to cool slightly, about 15 minutes.

In blender, place half of the mixture. Add 1/4 can of coconut cream. Cover; blend until pureed. Return to saucepan. Repeat with remaining mixture. Heat over medium heat until hot. Remove from heat.

Honestly, the dates in this mixture are what makes this recipe delish! I like my soups savory and this one hits the mark! Serve it with home made meatballs (as I show in the picture) or add shredded chicken for more protein.

 

 

Getting into “The Zone”

So work is a little light today. Email for me is like the tide. It flows in, it flows out; at a fairly regular pace. Today, I’ve received a total of five work emails ALL DAY. I usually have 100-200 emails to sort through. I liken this to the way the waves get sucked out to sea before a tsunami. It’s the calm before the tidal wave hits tomorrow. You see, me and my coworkers think there is some BIG COMPANY announcement tomorrow and it’s been so very ominously quiet today as a result. SOoooo quiet. And not in a good way.

So I’m getting my mind off of what might happen tomorrow by writing this blog! What? Two blogs in one day? That is crazy-time! I know, I know, but I can’t seem to help myself.

As I mentioned in my last blog, Aging Well (blah blah blah), I’m really kicking my Paleo eating habits into high gear by putting them into the structure of the Zone Diet by Barry Sears. Because while it’s okay to eat Grain Free Chocolate Chip Cookies on a Paleo diet that doesn’t mean I actually need them. Damn, because they look REALLY good.

Thanks Detoxinista for the lovely visual!

Anyway, I’m using the Lose It app on my iPhone to track what I’m eating. It tells me calories and nutrition content all by scanning the bar codes on the foods. And seriously, almost EVERY food has a freakin’ bar code. I can also look at the progress I’m making through out the day.

Mr. Sears says we should keep our Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrate levels at 30/30/40 respectively. With the Lose It app, you can look at the section called “My Day” and see how those levels are going at each meal. Then add or subtract items or quantities as needed to keep the balance the same.

Here’s what is surprising me: I am not getting enough FAT people! Say what? I know, it’s crazy. I’ve actually resorted to ADDING tiny portions of olive oil to my Greek yogurt and shit. I have to admit though, already I FEEL better. My stomach actually feels happy, Dare I say, satisfied? Maybe that’s what my daily addiction to ice cream has actually been about? I needed some fat in my diet.  At least now I am getting the good kind, not the dairy kind or the vegetable oil kind. Although pass me an avocado any day of the week. Srsly.

So, I was just reading some dumb web site that actually said that you can have any and all processed sugars on the zone diet? Are you kidding me? Did they even read the book? I think sometimes information gets so diluted that the truth becomes kind of fuzzy. I don’t know, maybe you can have sugar on the Zone, but you couldn’t have much of it and stick to the other “rules” Barry puts in place. Carbs should be something like  40% of your plate, tell me how sugar is going to do that for you but only remain 40% of your nutrition. Suck it misinformationists.

Man, I smell a little bit like olive oil right now from the yogurt with oil thing I ate earlier. And I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.

 

How to shove lots of super-foods into your pie-hole for breakfast

I kind of suck at blogging. I have like three whole seconds to devote to crafting witty posts and make sure they hit all the marks of a good blog. Whatevs. I am just too busy to care. And for the faint of heart, this post is full of F-bombs because I am cranky right now and know that nobody else is going to make dinner and I am so sick and tired of doing it. So there. You’ve been warned.

Let’s talk about breakfast in the morning. What a joke. Our family has one bathroom and four people and it’s a big fat hassle to do my hair and makeup. So I’m pretty fucking cranky by the time I have to make food. Coffee, yes, I can see the return on that. Caffeine = good. Breakfast? Not so much. Also, I am totally not ready to eat at 7 am. So breakfast has to be both fast and portable and hopefully include chocolate. I used to grab a meal bar on my way out the door but have you read the ingredients in those things? Um, SUGAR, with some extra fructose. Plus, a bunch of ingredients I can’t identify. Total crap.

nuggets

Nuggets in their cups

So I decided to come up with my own recipe for breakfast nuggets. But I am not a very good cook to be honest. I need recipes to be as fool-proof as possible. I read an interesting recipe for gluten-free pancakes online which consisted of just a smashed banana and an beaten egg. I figured if that worked (and I know they do ‘cuz I love them) then it would work as my base for breakfast bars. So here it goes:

Super-food breakfast nuggets

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe banana (mashed)
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 2 T. peanut butter (lick that spoon, bitches)
  • 1/4 c. almond flour
  • 1 1/2 – 2 c. old fashioned oatmeal
    Plus assorted super-foods including but not limited to:
  • Roasted coconut chips (sample them, so yummy)
  • Dark chocolate (chopped and taste-tested)
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax meal
  • Apples (chopped)
  • Cinnamon
You can buy all this shit at Trader Joe's.

You can buy all this shit at Trader Joe’s.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With a fork (I’m not fancy), mix the first 4 ingredients together in a bowl. Add the oats until the batter/dough is the consistency of cookie dough. If you don’t know what that consistency looks like, think chunky. Include small amounts of the last six ingredients as desired (1 T or so, except for the chocolate – just load them up because you deserve it).

Spoon even amounts of dough into a greased muffin tin. (I used a mini-muffin tin and got 12 “nuggets”.) Bake for about 6-10 minutes, but watch these fuckers cuz’ they burn easy. And it’s just egg, people, you don’t need to cook the crap out of them.

When they are cool, stick 2-3 nuggets in those little snack baggies that you accidentally bought last week that you thought were sandwich bags. Now you are ready to grab a bag on the way out the door and eat it in the car. If you are lucky, they will not crumble and you will not have a chocolate chip lodge itself on your shirt somewhere only to be discovered later, melted, by some coworker who wants to know if you ate a candy bar for breakfast. It’s not like I’ve had that happen or anything. Geesh.

Lemon Lavender Shortbread

My big plan for tomorrow is to make the lemon lavender shortbread cookies pictured in the upper right corner (recipe below). I absolutely adore the vintage factory apron from Anthropologie and the butterfly dishtowel. I buy a lot of my dishtowels from Etsy or eBay I would make an exception for this yellow-trimmed beauty. And while I don’t have counter space for a Kitchen Aid mixer, if I did I would get one in grey since it’s a perfect neutral color but rather unexpected in the kitchen.

Lemon Lavender Shortbread

Heirloom Shop Apron
$38 – anthropologie.com

Early April Dishtowel
$16 – anthropologie.com

KitchenAid Artisan Design Tilt-Head Stand Mixer
$299 – saksfifthavenue.com

Owl Measuring Cups | west elm
$19 – westelm.com

Conversion Dishtowel
$4.95 – crateandbarrel.com

Lemon Lavender Shortbread Cookies (from AllRecipes.com)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh lavender
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
 

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, white sugar and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the lavender, mint and lemon zest. Combine the flour, cornstarch and salt; mix into the batter until well blended. Divide dough into two balls, wrap in plastic wrap and flatten to about 1inch thick. Refrigerate until firm, about 1hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Cookie stamps will work well on these too. Place on cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, just until cookies begin to brown at the edges. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.