Date & Dark Chocolate Banana Oat Muffins

Nothing like a snowy grey Sunday to make me want to bake some healthy muffins as a great grab & go snack for the week!

Note: If you're looking for a light airy fluffy muffin - this is not it. These will come out super rich but heavy with the bananas, dates, and peanut butter. However they'll also keep you fuelled up sans sugar crash compared to a normal coffee shop muffin.

Makes: 24 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups + 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 2/3 cup pitted dates, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes to soften (discard water once soft)
  • 3 bananas
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (or your favourite nut butter)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 cups milk - I used unsweetened almond but any milk variety will do
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chunks
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

The How-To:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and either line muffin pan with muffin papers or spray pan with coconut baking spray.
  2. In a food processor blend 3 cups of the oats, along with the flax seed, baking powder, and cinnamon until oats become flour consistency (a little chunky is okay!).
  3. Remove dates from water, and add dates, bananas, nut butter, coconut oil, milk, and vanilla extract. Blend until well mixed, and dates are thoroughly chopped.
  4. Pulse in or mix in by hand the additional 1 cup oats, chocolate chunks, and shredded coconut.
  5. Scoop by heaping ice cream scoops into muffin pan. Bake 15-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle.

 

Recipe credit: Inspired by runonveg.com "Peanut Butter Banana Bread"

Pumpkin Power Bowl

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my smoothies. But sometimes I feel like I drink them without realizing I've pretty much just had a whole meal in a few gulps. All these beautiful bowl posts lately got me trying out making smoothies with a little less liquid, and some crunchy toppings, to take my smoothies from just a drink to feeling more like a meal that I actually consciously enjoy bite by bite, rather than gulping down in the car. And hey - there are stil definitely times when sitting with a bowl and spoon just isn't possible, and a fast smoothie is still your best option to get some nutrients in. But if you have some time, try out a smoothie bowl.

I have no shame in admitting I jump all over pumpkin every fall. So, here's my first smoothie bowl post, pumpkin spice and all. I did include options though if you can't stand pumpkin, or have already over done it this season.

Pumpkin Power Bowl

Base Ingredients:

  • Pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • Vanilla protein powder
  • Splash of milk (almond, dairy, or your choice)
  • Cinnamon & pumpkin pie spice

Toppers:

  • Sliced banana
  • Shredded unsweetened coconut
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Almond butter

Notes:

No protein powder?

Replace the protein powder with plain Greek yogurt, and add a bit of honey or 1-2 dates to sweeten to taste, prior to blending.

Hate pumpkin?

Skip the pumpkin spice and just stick to cinnamon, and swap the pumpkin out with banana. Instead of topping with more banana, use a tart berry like raspberries to balance out the banana base sweetness.

Mix up your fats

Play around with different nut-butters, seeds, and nuts as your toppers. If I'm craving extra crunch time I'll sprinkle a few tablespoons of granola on top as well.

Enjoy!!

 

Cinnamon Sweet Potato Fries

Weeknights, no need to complicate things. Also, no need to take delicious things out of your life - like fries.

Super quick to prep, cook, and minimal ingredients needed. Oh - and these ones won't leave you feeling like you do after a McD's trip - no deep frying here, and only healthy ingredients on the list!

Cinnamon Sweet Potato Fries

Makes 2-3 servings

1 large sweet potato, sliced into fry-sized wedges
1 - 2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 - 1/2 tsp cumin
Coarse salt & pepper

Place sliced potato in a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle on seasoning, and mix to coat evenly. Spread out fries on a parchment lined cookie sheet, and bake for 20-25 minutes at 425 degrees- time may vary depending on the size of your fries. Flip wedges half way through bake time to allow for even crisping.

Enjoy:D

Protein Pancakes - Pumpkin Spice (or not)

I promised myself I wouldn't go crazy with the pumpkin posts this year, but this protein pancake recipe is such a staple in my week that I had to try making a pumpkin version - and yep, adding pumpkin and pumpkin spice was a good call.

I've included a few additional variations of the recipe that I use so that you have something to fall back on in a couple weeks when you are #sooverpumpkin.

Pumpkin Protein Pancakes

Makes 2 pancakes, 1 serving

1/3 cup egg whites
1/3 cup oats
1/3 cup pure pumpkin puree
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 Tbsp unsweetened apple sauce
1 Tbsp cottage cheese
1 Tbsp milk - almond/coconut/dairy
1 Tbsp coconut flour
1 Tbsp almond butter
1 tsp baking powder
1 - 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or make your own: 3/4 tsp cinnamon + pinch each of: cloves, nutmeg, all spice)

1 tsp coconut oil

Place all ingredients except for coconut oil in a blender and blend until fully mixed and smooth (Magic Bullet works great here!). Melt the 1 tsp of coconut oil in a frying pan over low heat, and pour the batter in to form two pancakes. Flip once golden brown, and cook until the center has set. Top with a little extra cinnamon, scoop of yogurt, or a handful of pumpkin seeds or some sliced apples!

Non-Pumpkin Variations

Peanut Butter (or any nut butter):
- Skip the pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice
- Replace almond butter with peanut butter, cashew butter, or any other nut butter of your choice
- Optional: add 1 tsp cinnamon and/or 1/2 Tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut

Lemon Coconut:
- Skip the pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice, and almond butter
- Add 1 Tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut, and 1-2 tsp lemon zest (zest about 1/2 lemon)

Chocolate Raspberry:
- Skip the pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice
- Replace vanilla protein powder with chocolate protein powder, and/or add 2 tsp cacao powder
- After blending all other ingredients, add 2-3 Tbsp raspberries *if using frozen be sure to thaw them first and remove excess liquid before adding to batter

Blueberry Granola & Pumpkin Spice Apple Smoothie

I'll admit I fully get on the pumpkin-spice everything train this time of year, and when The Main Dish introduced their pumpkin line-up I knew their smoothie would be something I'd be wanting on the regular, so I had to try making one myself - success!

Since not quite everyone is into pumpkin though, I've also included a granola recipe that I tried out this past weekend at The Light Cellar, and I'm pretty sure it's my new favourite for granola. It requires only 5 minutes of cook time, versus the hour I was roasting previous granola recipes in the oven for, which also means it stays a whole lot chewier. This one's packed with loads of good fats, so a little goes a long way!

Pumpkin Spice Apple Smoothie

Serves 1

1/2 apple, core removed
1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree
1 cup milk - dairy/unsweetened coconut/unsweetened almond
1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder
1/2 - 1 Tbsp almond butter
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice, or 3/4 tsp cinnamon + pinch nutmeg + pinch allspice + pinch cloves

Place all ingredients in a blender, blend on high until smooth, and enjoy!

Tip: I also made this recipe into more of a pudding, by using only 1/4 cup milk. Top with a little scoop of plain Greek yogurt, a spoonful of the granola below, and you've got a super filling breakfast/snack!

Blueberry Granola

Makes 4 1/2 cups

1 cup oats
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup hemp seeds
1/2 cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds
3 Tbsp chia seeds
1 Tbsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp vanilla powder (or 1 Tbsp vanilla extract)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup dried berries - one or a mix of: blueberries, goji, raisins, cherries
3 Tbsp coconut oil
2-3 Tbsp honey

Mix all ingredients aside from the last three ingredients in a bowl. Heat a cast iron pan [I used a regular frying pan, it works, too!] to medium-high heat on the stove top and lightly dry toast the granola stirring constantly for 4-6 minutes. Return the toasted granola to the bowl and mix in the coconut oil, honey, and dried berries.

For the dried fruit, I did a half and half mixture of freeze dried blueberries and dried sour cherries (both available at The Light Cellar) to get a punch of both sweet and sour.

Tip: Don't melt the coconut oil before mixing in - the dry mixture will be warm enough from the light toasting to melt it as you mix it in. Letting it melt as you mix gives a better even coating.

Avocado Lime Cheesecake

It happens everytime. Walk into Chapters for one $20 item, leave with $80 worth of books. The bigger and brighter the pictures the better, no matter the subject, but particularly when it comes to cookbooks.

This weekend I cracked open "The Art of Eating Well" by Hemsley Hemsley (not a typo, the authors are super talented sisters). You know how you're a little nervous making a "healthy" dessert 'cause you never want to be that health nut showing up with a "but it's good for you!" bland, dry, slightly old closet smelling dessert? Well, worry not with this recipe. It is so creamy & tasty you'll swear it's the usual cheesecake packed with sugar and cream.

Avocado Lime Cheesecake

Serves 12

For the base:

4 oz pecans - swap for sunflower seeds for nut allergies
1 1/2 oz shredded coconut, unsweetened
2 1/2 oz cacao nibs
6 1/2 oz pitted dates
3 TB coconut oil, melted

For the filling:

1 1/4 lb avocado flesh (about 5 medium avocados)
3/4 cup lime juice (roughly 8-10 limes)
1 tsp lime zest
6 3/4 oz raw honey
3/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1. Preheat oven to 300 F. Line base and sides of a 7" springform round cake tin with baking paper.

2. Toast the pecans and shredded coconut on a lined baking tray in the oven for 7-8 minutes or until golden. Transfer pecans and coconut to a food processor (or blender) and add the rest of the base ingredients. Blend until the mixture is crumbly and holds together when pinched (don't let it go completely smooth). Tip the base mixture into the prepared tin, pressing down firmly. Place in the fridge while you prepare the filling.

3. Place all the ingredients for the filling in a food processor and blend until completely smooth and silky. Check for taste and add more lime juice, zest, or sweeten with a little more honey or add stevia according to preference. Remove cake tin from fridge and pour the filling over the base. Cover the tin, using a plate, and return to the fridge for a couple hours or overnight if possible, to set.

4. To serve, run a knife around the inner edge of the tin and carefully push the base up from the bottom. Transfer to a plate and serve immediately.

Note: I divided the recipe by 3 since I didn't want a full cake, so instead of using a pie plate I lined 4 jumbo muffin tins with muffin papers, flattening the base out slightly to fit, then dividing the filling evenly amoung the muffin cups.

Quick tip: "Healthy" alternatives don't mean "free calories" - avocado and coconut oil are great healthy fats, and dates and honey are amazing replacements for sugar - but this is still a calorie dense recipe, which means moderation is still a best practice here;)

Chocolate Cherry Protein Cookies

I was convinced there had to be a way to make a healthier cookie that wasn't bone dry and could satisfy both an after-dinner sweet tooth plus chocolate craving all in one. Mission accomplished! With this list of clean ingredients and the protein content, you could even use these as a pre or post workout snack.

chocolate protein cookies.JPG

Chocolate Cherry Protein Cookies

Makes 10 cookies: 5 servings

Per serving (2 cookies): Protein 14 g || Carbs 30 g || Fat 6 g || Calories 216

2 bananas, mashed
2 scoops chocolate protein powder
1 cup oats
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tbsp cocoa
1/4 cup dried unsweetened cherries, or other chopped unsweetened dried fruit
2 TB chopped pecans
1 TB chunky almond butter

Preheat oven to 325, and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl, all wet ingredients in another then combine until mixed. Drop by large spoonfuls onto lined cookie sheet, and bake for 15-20 minutes - time will vary based on your oven and how large/small you made your cookies. Note: because of the banana they will be a little sticky even once thoroughly cooked, so be sure to not overcook them! I kept parchment paper between the layers for storing as well to avoid cookies sticking together.

Happy hump day!