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!


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 wasย  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.


Kale & Quinoa Salad

You guys remember my yummy broccoli salad? Well, this is just a glorified version with a little twist.

Quinoa has always been an interesting grain to me. When I first tried it, I could not get over the grainy taste and wasn’t quite sure if I liked it hot, cold, or not at all. After trying many different recipes, I finally figured out ways to incorporate this high fiber, protein filled grain into my diet.

This recipe is very, very similar to my broccoli salad. You will see it pictured below with broccoli, but I originally made it with sweet potatoes (which I actually preferred!). Sweet potatoes add an interesting and yummy twist to a fun salad that is already packed with flavor. The recipe I provide will include both options.

IMG_2151Walnuts add a slight crunch, while dried cranberries add a touch of sweetness with each bite. Could a salad pack more flavor and nutrient dense foods into one bowl?

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Aside from all of the delicious flavors, this is a super simple recipe to make ahead and pack for lunches throughout the week. Kale is a firm and crisp vegetable that holds its shape and crunch for much longer than spinach, arugula, or other commonly used salad greens.

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I hope you give this easy, quick, and flavorful recipe a try! While I typically don’t measure ingredients when making salads, I tried to provide the most accurate measurements I could for the recipe. As always, let me know what you think!

Kale & Quinoa Salad

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (dry) tricolor quinoa
  • 1 1/2 large sweet potatoes OR 1 1/2 cups raw, chopped broccoli
  • 3-4 cups fresh kale
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3-1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese
  • dressing of choice
  • olive oil spray
  • seasonings: pink salt, black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Dice sweet potatoes into small, bite sized pieces. Spread evenly on a cookie tray and spray with olive olive spray (or spray of choice). Season with black pepper and pink himalayan salt. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until sweet potatoes are golden brown.

While the potatoes are roasting, bring 1 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 cup of quinoa to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer. Let quinoa cook for about 15-20 minutes or until all water is evaporated. You may need to add another 1/4-1/2 cup of water as quinoa cooks. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.

Wash and finely chop kale (if using broccoli instead of sweet potato, do the same at this time). Put into a large bowl and top with warm quinoa to help wilt the kale. Top with walnuts, dried cranberries, and feta cheese once quinoa has cooled to prevent the cheese from melting.

Keep in the refrigerator and portion out before serving. Top with dressing of choice. My favorite dressings for this salad include Champagne Pear Vinaigrette with Gorgonzola from Trader Joe’s and Organic Pear Vinaigrette from Sprouts.


Trail Mix Cookies

HAPPY SUNDAY! This is such a good Sunday, want to know why? I am so, so, SO happy to be done writing my Master’s final defense paper! Yay!!! Everyone just cross your fingers that it goes well in a few week! Once this is complete, I will have one class left and then I’m officially done! How stinking exciting is that?! Two years truly flew by, and I’m so proud of myself for checking (almost….) this box!

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So with all this excitement, I thought I’d bake cookies! You know, any time I’m feeling an emotion — happiness, sadness, stress — the kitchen is always one of my safe havens. These cookies came out way better than expected, so I’m extremely excited to share them!

Disclaimer:

OK… this is kind of a funny (but not really) disclaimer, so all of you dog lovers please read! If your dog is like mine and absolutely loves peanut butter, do not let these cool near the edge of the counter! These cookies contain raisins, almond milk, and walnuts, which are all things that dogs should not have…. especially raisins! Our household spent quite a bit of time on the phone with emergency vets and pet poison control yesterday afternoon after Eddie decided to jump up on the counter and have a little taste test for himself. Thankfully, he is perfectly fine (and I probably over-reacted a tad), but I just thought I’d pre-warn you…. they really do smell THAT good!

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Now that we got that out of the way, lets get to the recipe! These are super easy and perfect for a quick breakfast or pre-workout bite. I call these trail mix cookies because they have a lot of components of trail mix that I love such as dried fruit and nuts. I made this cookies fairly large, but you could always make them a little smaller to increase the final quantity. Because I made larger cookies, I got about 12-13 out of my cookie dough!

I hope you give these a try! I recommend you play around with different tastes and textures if you are feeling creative. Maybe try adding coconut shreds or using different nut butters! Let me know what you think, and as always you can message or comment with questions or general thoughts! Have a great Sunday everyone!

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Trail Mix Cookies

  • Servings: 12-13 large
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 brown bananas, mashed
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
  • 1/2 cup seedless raisins
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup unsalted PB
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • pinch cinnamon
  • pinch of pink salt

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

In a medium size bowl, smash bananas until fairly smooth. Add dry ingredients (coconut flour, oats, cinnamon, brown sugar, pink salt) as well as the walnuts, cranberries, and raisins. Lightly mix to incorporate the banana and cover the dry ingredients.

Add all wet ingredients (egg, coconut oil, peanut butter, and almond milk) and mix until well combined. This will be a chunky batter!

Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Scoop large spoonfuls of batter onto the sheet and use your hands to help form the shape of your cookie. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the edges start to become a light golden brown. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving!


Creamy Cranberry Chicken Salad

Looking for a fun and simple summertime lunch idea? This chicken salad is perfect for an afternoon by the pool or to prep ahead for lunch throughout the week. I made this recipe for lunch this week and packed sliced cucumbers to use in replacement of crackers or bread. It only got better as the days progressed!

Typically, the base for most chicken salads or other simple salads such as egg salad is mayonnaise. For this chicken salad, I used a plain, fat free Greek yogurt to not only add a little tanginess, but also bump up the protein content a bit! I was so pleasantly surprised how well this salad kept for 5 days!

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I used about 3/4 lb of chicken for this salad, but the recipe can easily be doubled for a larger crowd or to last a bit longer. I also used a pre-shredded chicken, but you can easily shred a small while chicken or cook 1-2 large chicken breasts, let them cool, and shred yourself.

I hope you give these easy and delicious summer recipe a try!! The weekend is right around the corner ๐Ÿ™‚

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  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3/4 lb shredded chicken
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/3 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • pinch black pepper
  • pinch of pink salt
  • 1/2 cup plain 0% Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp dijon mustard

Directions

Chop onion and bell pepper into small, bite-sized pieces.

In a medium sized bowl, make sure chicken is shredded to the texture you like. Add all ingredients and stir until chicken is fully coated. Taste to see if further seasoning is needed. Keep in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 5-6 days.