Banana Bread: Gluten-Free & Protein-Packed!

In my early teaching days, one of my colleagues had a habit of stress-baking. At the time, I never understood how baking could alleviate stress — I just envisioned extra dishes and a big mess in my kitchen…which would lead to more stress. One morning, she brought a tray full of beautiful scones to school, and we all knew her stress-levels had to be through the roof. Unfortunately, we were right. Fortunately, BAKED GOODIES!!!

My sweet toddler had lots in store for me today. After I swept up a pile of glass (he wanted to load the dishwasher) and cleaned up a handful of less dangerous messes, I felt the urge to bake. Suddenly, I understood her plight. I scoured a handful of my favorite gluten-free blogs for a banana bread recipe — because the browning bananas on my counter were adding to my stress. I couldn’t find one exact recipe that fit the ingredients hanging around in my pantry, and I really wanted my stress-baking to involve hemp protein powder and chia seeds. You know, so I could enjoy guilt-free eating. I used Southern-In-Law’s banana bread recipe as my base, and tweaked and twerked (ok, not that last part) until I created something to fit my specific needs.

Ingredients:
3 browning bananas
2 eggs
3 tbsps. coconut oil
1 1/2 tsp of honey (or maple syrup, more if you want it sweeter)
1 tsp of vanilla
1 1/2 cups of gluten-free pastry flour
1/4 cup hemp protein powder
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
Pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped almonds (pecans, walnuts, whatever)

Pre-heat your oven to 350 and grease two mini-cupcake pans (I spray them with coconut oil). In a large mixing bowl, smash bananas and add wet ingredients. Stir in dry ingredients, except chocolate chips and almonds, then mix with a hand-held electric mixer. (Feel free to lick the beaters if you don’t so much care about raw eggs.) Add the chocolate chips and almonds last, and stir those in by hand. The batter itself isn’t incredibly sweet (which fit my desires perfectly since I’m breaking up with sugar), but the chocolate chips make up for that. Add more honey if you want a sweeter treat.

Spray a spoon with coconut oil, then spoon the batter into the mini-cupcake pans. (Yields approximately 36 mini banana bread bites.)

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, switching the pans from top to bottom racks halfway through. Let them cool just enough not to burn your fingers and mouth, then slather them in grass-fed butter. Enjoy!

EASY Gluten-Free Granola Bars

Snacking on quality granola bars can get expensive — especially when they’re the healthy kind. To borrow a line from Forrest Gump, “I could eat about a million and a half of these.” My two year old hijacked a piece of my delicious Kind Bar, then cried when I proceeded to finish my snack. There’s no way I can fund two of these addictions, so I grabbed the browning bananas out of the fruit bowl, a box of oatmeal, and the bag of chia seeds from the pantry.

I like Bakery on Main’s Maple Multigrain Muffin oatmeal because it’s gluten-free, non-GMO, and tasty! For those who can eat gluten without any problems, any brand of oatmeal will suffice. If you’re using PLAIN oatmeal, then you’ll want to add about half a cup of honey for sweetness. I used maple flavored, and it was plenty sweet. You can easily mix your favorite add-ins to this basic recipe (chocolate chips, coconut flakes, flax, hemp, a scoop of your favorite nut butter…), but we were coming off of a weekend chocolate chip cookie high, so I kept it basic.

To obtain a granola bar consistency, the trick is to spread the mixture fairly THIN in your baking pan (no more than half an inch thick), so stay away from small baking dishes for this recipe. One of my first attempts in a small baking dish led to a thicker outcome…but it tasted like oatmeal banana bread, so I didn’t consider it a failure! (In fact, I’ll purposely recreate that “mistake” in the fall so I can enjoy healthy banana bread.)

Blender Brownies: Guilt & Gluten Free!

So easy, so yummy…dare I say healthy(ish)?! I used all organic ingredients, so I can feel even less guilty about letting my toddler indulge.
 

The recipe is gluten-free and soy-free. Below are egg-free and dairy-free options.

Bye-bye eggs: Mix 1 teaspoon of chia seeds with 3 teaspoons of water, let it sit for 15 minutes before adding it to the blender.
Bye-bye dairy: Use dairy-free chocolate chips, or skip them altogether. (Then it would be a nut-butter brownie, still delicious!)

If you’re not a huge fan of bananas, no worries, the taste is very subtle. This brownie is super moist and absolutely yummy — good luck not eating the whole plate!

Gluten-Free Zucchini Brownies

Prepare to have your mind and taste-buds blown!
What you need:
1 cup of nut butter. (I used a combo of pecan butter, chocolate hazelnut spread, peanut butter, and white chocolate spread because I didn’t want an overwhelming nutty flavor.)
1 1/2 cup of grated or chopped zucchini. (I used yellow squash and zucchini, finely grated.)
1 cup steel-cut oats (Granola blends would probably be good, too!)
1 egg (I can’t eat eggs, so I substituted chia seeds — 1 tbsp chia seeds & 3 tbsps water.)
1 tsp of vanilla
1 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 cup of dark chocolate chips. 
*optional ingredient = 1/4 cup of raw honey if your nut butter isn’t very sweet. I did NOT use honey in mine & they’re perfect. 
What you do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix everything together.
Pour into a greased 9×9 baking pan.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.