Double Chocolate Zucchini Banana Bread

OK guys.. this recipe is seriously A-M-A-Z-ING. I was holding my breath as I cut into the first piece thinking, “this is going to either be really good or really terrible.” I have a bad history poor results when baking with cocoa powder, especially when I am coming up with a recipe from scratch.

I was so pleasantly surprised at how rich, moist, and chocolatey this bread came out! It is super light and airy with an a little bit of banana undertone in each bite. Having trouble getting your kids (or in my case…. my husband) to eat vegetables? This is definitely a recipe to try! A little hidden zucchini never hurt anyone!

I had a few taste testers before I decided if this was post-worthy or not, and I got nothing but positive feedback! Most of the ingredients you should have around in your cabinet. I haven’t tried making it with any substitutions (for example brown sugar instead of coconut sugar), so I’m not going to promise that the taste or texture will be equivalent if you choose to switch things up. If you like chocolatey… be ready for a pleasantly easy surprise! Let me know what you think!

Double Chocolate Zucchini Banana Bread

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

  • 2 medium sized brown bananas (the gooier the better!)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup pressed, shredded zucchini
  • pinch cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips + some extra for the top

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Shred your zucchini (I used a regular grater, but you can use a food processor or whatever tool you have at home). Press in-between a few paper towels to get rid of some of the extra water. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mash 2 bananas until fairly smooth. Add 1 egg, coconut sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and oil. Mix until sugar is well incorporated and cocoa powder is dissolved. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and zucchini. Mix together until zucchini is evenly distributed in the batter. Lastly add chocolate chips.

Grease a loaf pan with oil or spray of choice. Evenly distribute the batter and put a few extra chocolate chips on top. Bake for about 30 minutes. Put a toothpick in the center at about 25 minutes to see if it is done (you don’t want to over cook!). Likely, the full 30 minutes will be needed!

Let the bread sit and cool for at least 10-15 minutes before cutting to serve. Cover with tip foil or plastic wrap to keep for up to 5 days. Enjoy!


Cocoa Banana Protein Balls

Happy Monday everyone!!! What a weekend we just had. We had a BUNCH (and I mean a bunch!) of family members come in to town for a surprise party for my father-in-law! Our weekend was filled with so much fun, food, sun, and of course a ton of new memories that I’m so thrilled we got to make! I was so excited to see cousins, aunts, uncles, and of course have a few of them stay in our new home.

To help with preparation and getting the house ready the week before, I made these yummy little balls for on-the-go snacking and to help keep my energy high each afternoon. I love small, easy snacks that I can pop in my mouth after work to help give me a little energy boost before exercising or working on things around the house. These were so easy and delicious, I definitely can’t wait to make them again!

A fun thing about this recipe is it is vegan and gluten free, so if you follow a special diet or have any type of dietary restriction, this may be a good recipe for you to try! You can also add different ingredients to tailor the flavor to your liking. Different additions, such as coconut flakes, can change up an otherwise simple and easy ingredient list.

I hope your week goes by fast and these little tasty bites give you a little extra energy to tackle your to-do list!! Have a great week y’all!

Cocoa Banana Protein Balls

  • Servings: 12-15 balls
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 banana
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup raw, unsalted cashews
  • 2/3 cup raw, unsalted almonds
  • 1 large Tbsp unsalted PB
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp vegan vanilla protein powder
  • pinch salt
  • pinch cinnamon

Directions

In a food processor, grind cashews, almonds, cocoa powder, peanut butter, banana, cinnamon, salt, and protein powder. Stop to scape the sides once or twice. The ingredients may start to form a paste-like consistency. If a large “doughy” ball starts to form, that is ok. Continue to pulse or grind until you get a consistency you like (I tend to go for a fairy smooth texture with a few chunks here or there).

Use your hands and a small spoon to form small, gum-ball size balls. Put on a plate and cover with foil or in an air-tight container. Let refrigerate and harden for at least 15-20 minutes before trying! Store in refrigerator for up to 1 week (can freeze for longer use). Enjoy!


Chickpea Cashew “Chicken” Salad

Happy Wednesday everyone! This past weekend was filled with fabulous weather, a little baseball, and some much needed spring cleaning. I was wanting to make something a little different for this weeks lunch prep. Last week I was really craving chicken salad, but cooking chicken in between cleaning on a Sunday morning just didn’t seem appealing. I decided to make a mock “chicken salad” using chickpeas with a few other simple, fresh ingredients.

I was so happy with how this quick and easy recipe turned out! I have made similar recipes in the past, and I’m always so please with how similar they really take to normal chicken salad! If you follow a vegetarian diet, this is a great alternative choice for you!

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After cooling overnight in the refrigerator, the texture was perfect. The crunchiness of the celery went perfect with the creamy greek yogurt, and cashews add a little extra fat to help you feel full and satisfied after eating this “salad”. Cranberries provide a little something sweet with each bite!

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Eat this yummy light little salad with crackers, rolled in crisp romaine leaves, or in a light and airy pita. Give this a try and as always, let me know what you think!

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1, 15oz can chickpeas, unsalted, rinsed
  • 1 container plain Siggi’s yogurt (or any plain, high protein yogurt)
  • 1/3 cup chopped cashews
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 3 celery stalks (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup red onion
  • pinch of paprika
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • pinch black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp dried cranberries

Directions

In a large bowl, partially mash chickpeas. Texture more resembles chicken salad if some pieces remain whole/chunky. If your cashews are not already chopped, roughly chop them and add to the chickpeas.

Add celery and onion. Lightly toss ingredients together with paprika, black pepper, and salt. Stir in yogurt, dijon mustard, and cranberries until all ingredients are evenly distributed.

Allow mixture to sit covered in the refrigerator for at least 6-8 hours before serving and serving. Serve with crackers, inside a light and airy pita, or wrapped in crisp romaine leaves!


Breakfast Banana Bread

I love a good banana bread! Actually… I don’t think I’ve ever tried a banana bread that I didn’t enjoy. I definitely know what makes banana bread delicious (in my opinion), and that is lots of banana flavor and a little bit of crunch. I also prefer my bread to not be too sweet and to have a dense, moist texture.

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Aside from my love for banana bread (and really all things banana for that matter), I think I have said many, many times how much I enjoy breakfast food. Whether it’s a hearty smoothie bowl or a big bowl of oats, breakfast is definitely my favorite meal of the day. For these reasons, I decided to try to combine the two and make a banana bread that wasΒ  not only delicious, but could serve as a quick breakfast when I don’t have a lot of time.

A few other fun facts about my food preferences that explain a few of the ingredients in this recipe….

  1. I LOVE raw nuts like walnuts, cashews, pistachios, and almonds. I eat raw nuts every day as a snack or find ways to add them to my meals. I love a good crunch and they health benefits of eating a variety of nuts aren’t too shabby either!
  2. I love a good salty/sweet combo. I always have a difficult time picking savory or sweet when it comes to breakfast. Pancakes and waffles are always so comforting on a Saturday morning, but there is also nothing like a good hearty egg sandwich oozing with smashed avocado.

With that said, this recipe turned out better than I expected. I’m so excited to share it with you and hope you give it a try! I love it with a little nut butter spread on top after warming it for a few seconds in the microwave. Store this bread for 5-7 days in the refrigerator.

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Breakfast Banana Bread

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

  • 2 medium sized bananas, mashed
  • 1 whole large egg
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • granola (for garnish/on top)

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

In a medium size bowl, smash banana until fairly smooth. Whisk in 1 whole egg, coconut sugar, olive oil, and almond milk.

Fold in flour, oats, baking soda, and spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt) until all flour is moistened. Lightly chop walnuts into smaller pieces. Stir in walnuts and cranberries.

Lightly grease a loaf pan and evenly distribute the batter. Top with granola of choice and an extra sprinkle of cinnamon. Bake for 28-30 minutes or until the center is firm and the top is golden brown. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.


Super Green Walnut Pesto

Happy Thursday everyone! For me, it’s my Friday, and I am so darn excited to paint a little in our house tomorrow. We decided on… do I dare say it… a shade of gray… that will hopefully warm up some of our rooms and highlight some of our furniture and accents. I swear I do like other colors besides white and gray! (sometimes)

Two nights ago I was driving home from work and couldn’t for the life of my think of what I wanted for dinner. My mom and I were talking about pizza, and somehow pizza turned into pasta, and pasta turned into thinking of a new sauce that I could make from scratch. I decided to make pesto, but a not so traditional pesto, that I could secretly hide some extra green in it. Have a mentioned before how hard it is to get Jeff to eat vegetables?

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This pesto was BOMB. Literally, I was eating it with a spoon. Jeff liked it also, and I know it was truly enjoyable for him because he ate the leftovers the next day. Can I tell you just how much it makes my heart swoon when I come home and find leftover containers EMPTY in the kitchen sink. That is how I truly know when one of my recipes is a success!

I called this a “super green” pesto because it truly is really, really green. I don’t mean clean, green… although that is pretty appropriate as well…. but it is literally really green and bright in color. This pesto is so unbelievably easy and delicious, you can bet I will make it again ASAP.

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I hope you give this yummy little recipe a try. Don’t be afraid to play around with it or substitute different greens. Let me know if you find a substitution that you love! I’m sure others would like to know as well πŸ™‚

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Super Green Walnut Pesto

  • Servings: approx. 1 3/4 cup total volume
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • ~3 cups raw greens (I used ~1 cup kale, 2 cups spinach)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup walnuts
  • pinch of kosher seal salt
  • pinch of back pepper
  • 3 med size garlic cloves OR 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup water

Directions

It a food processor, pulse greens with olive oil. Once there is a little more room in the food processor, add walnuts, salt, pepper, and garlic cloves. Pulse or grind on low until garlic is fully chopped and incorporated.

Scrape down the sides of the container and add ~1/3 cup of water. Continue to pulse or blend until the pesto is the consistency you prefer. If you like it to me a little chunky, you can just stir in the water to help thin it our instead of pulsing.

Serve over grilled meats, warm pasta, or with warm bread. Enjoy!