Recipe: Eggless Banana Brownies Round 2

OK, so round 2.

Recipes should be played with, that’s how they get better. A couple of weeks ago, I made Eggless Banana Brownies because I wanted to change it up and not make banana bread.

The first round I wanted to work with a base recipe and build it up. I was focused on flavor and partially texture. The flavor was good, but as JP declared – “this is a fruit, so it’s healthy”. You could taste hints of banana, which I don’t think is a problem, but at the same time when you bite in hoping for a strong chocolate flavor and get some banana it’s a little awkward. They did, however, come out FUDGEY and moist, which was a little surprising, but without a leavening agent the texture wasn’t completely where I wanted it to be.

This round was to find the balance of leavening agent because it really is a fine balance. Too much or too little and you can ruin the texture and the taste. This recipe adds both baking powder and baking soda, which adds carbon dioxide and a little bit of acid to the batter to cause a rise.

Another adjustment that I made, but not completely intentionally – the protein powder used this time was a whey isolate instead of a whey casein blend, which can also contribute to texture changes because it’s not as thick.

Here is the updated recipe:

What You’ll Need

  • 3 small or 2 medium bananas  (~220g)
  • 1 scoop of chocolate whey protein isolate powder (I used Optimum Nutrition)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon of almond milk (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of Hershey’s cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup of chocolate chips
  • cooking spray

Directions

1.Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Peel and mash bananas in a medium sized mixing bowl. Three small bananas should do, if you have two medium bananas that’s also fine. If they’re a bit larger you may need to add slightly more cocoa powder later.

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3. Add protein powder to mashed banana mixture. I used Optimum Nutrition Extreme Milk Chocolate Whey Isolate because it’s what we had in the house, it’s also my chocolate protein of choice because it’s very chocolate-y.

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4. Add 1 tablespoon of milk or milk alternative. I used almond milk.

5.Once you’ve mixed the protein powder and banana, add cocoa. I use Hershey’s, but you can probably use any baking cocoa powder of choice.

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6. Mix in baking soda and baking powder thoroughly.

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7.(optional) Mix in chocolate chips. I used Ghiradelli 60% cacao. They’re a bit larger chips that I usually use in baking unless melting, but these were a good choice. Again, like the cocoa, you can use any chocolate chip you want to.

8. Spraying a standard brownie pan, I spread the batter as evenly as possible. If you use a smaller pan, the baking time will be slightly longer so it cooks thoroughly. Bake for 20 minutes. I set a timer for 15 minutes and after checking on them kept them in for another 5 minutes.

9.After cooling, cut into pieces. I cut the brownie sheet into 9 mostly equally pieces.

Tasting and texture notes: Adding baking powder and baking soda increase the volume of these brownies and changed the texture. They were still fudgey, but more cake-y. The former minimal banana flavor was gone. JP also declared “these don’t taste like fruit” so clearly, we’re winning with round 2.
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Recipe: Eggless Banana Brownies

Sometimes when I want to bake, I don’t want to have to plan a recipe. I don’t want to go out and compile all of the ingredients. Sometimes I want to be able to look around the kitchen and see if there’s anything that can be made from what I already have.

Mushy bananas are good for a few things: banana bread, banana muffins, oats and pancakes. But, they can also be a good base for other baked goods like brownies – you just need to remember what it is that you’re making.

What I love about brownies is how fudgey they are. I don’t like cakey brownies. I like fudgey, dense brownies. When I make brownies from scratch I add chocolate melted from a double boiler and cocoa powder. Thinking about an alternative brownie, I wanted to have some things similar like the fudgey texture and the obvious – chocolatey taste. I intentionally left out a rising agent because I really didn’t want to have to take time to figure out the right ratio so that it would rise instead of become hard or stay flat.

So if you’re wanting something kind of fudgey, but not fluffy, this may something for you to try. This was a solid first go, but I’m definitely interested to see what happens as this recipe evolves.

What You’ll Need

  • 3 small bananas (~220g)
  • 1.5 scoops of chocolate whey casein protein powder (~50g)
  • 1 tablespoon of almond milk (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of Hershey’s cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup of chocolate chips
  • cooking spray

Directions

1.Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Peel and mash bananas in a medium sized mixing bowl. Three small bananas should do, if you have two medium bananas that’s also fine. If they’re a bit larger you may need to add slightly more cocoa powder later.

3. Add protein powder to mashed banana mixture. I used PEScience Chocolate Cupcake because it’s what we had in the house, it’s also my chocolate protein of choice because it’s very chocolate-y.


4.If you find that the mixing the protein into the mashed bananas is difficult, add 1 tablespoon of milk or milk alternative. I used almond milk and it was plenty.

5.Once you’ve mixed the protein powder and banana, add cocoa. I use Hershey’s, but you can probably use any baking cocoa powder of choice.

6.(optional) Mix in chocolate chips. I used Ghiradelli 60% cacao. They’re a bit larger chips that I usually use in baking unless melting, but these were a good choice. Again, like the cocoa, you can use any chocolate chip you want to.


7. I won’t lie, this is where having a smaller baking pan would’ve done me some good. I have small loaf pans, but I didn’t want a thick loaf because of what that could do to baking time.

Spraying a standard brownie pan, I spread the batter as evenly as possible. If you use a smaller pan, the baking time will be slightly longer so it cooks thoroughly. Bake for 20 minutes. I set a timer for 15 minutes and after checking on them kept them in for another 5 minutes.

8.Using a spatula, remove the from baking pan and let cool on a rack.
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9.After cooling, cut into pieces. I cut the brownie sheet into 9 mostly equally pieces.

Tasting and texture notes: Definitely fudgey, even though they weren’t thick pieces. The overall texture is a little chewy, which I don’t mind. Minimal banana flavor since there’s A LOT of cocoa.

Nutrition: ~80 calories per square. 3F/10C/5P – ~2g of fiber

I think this is a good base for an alternative brownie recipe. I didn’t want to play with rising agents and maybe alternative flours. I have almond flour that I’ve been trying to figure out what else I want to do with it other than cookies – which is my favorite thing to do with it.

 

Recipe: No-Bake Protein Cheesecake Filling

Let’s talk sweet tooth.

I think most of us can agree that there are some things you hate passing up on, but at the same time you wish there was an alternative. I feel this way about doughnuts and cupcakes, but I won’t lie those are sacred and I will never try to find a replacement.

When I started flexible dieting the idea of protein cheesecake was one of the most glorious concepts ever. I’ve tried different recipes,  one or two maybe posted on this blog, but as I’ve evolved in my knowledge of flexible dieting and exhausted myself in the kitchen, I realized some things can’t be completely left out just to make something healthy taste like the real thing.

Right now I’m talking about fat.

Last week, I played with a new protein powder I bought on sale – mocha cappuccino from Optimum Nutrition. It’s a whey isolate, which is different than a blend. It’s thinner for one, but it also doesn’t add fluffy or thickness like a casein blend does when mixed with other things.

To make cheesecake no- bake I couldn’t use whole eggs, but I knew I needed to keep fat somewhere otherwise the texture would be spongey and while I can tolerate that, I don’t want to if I don’t have to. This is something I’ve dealt with when making other recipes, but I’m over that nonsense. Either it needs to have some fat to be smooth or I don’t want it.

My fat source was light cream cheese, enough fat to have flavor and texture, but less than normal so that my macros wouldn’t be blown out of the water.

What happened in the kitchen was magical and I felt kind of silly for not trying to find a no-bake recipe sooner. So here it is. Play with it and let me know your thoughts!

What You’ll Need

  • 8 ounces of cream cheese – I used the store brand’s light cream cheese
  • Vanilla extract to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Splenda – or any sweetener
  • 46g of egg whites/3 tablespoons of egg whites
  • 2 scoops of protein powder – I used whey isolate
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt – I used 0% to bring the overall fat content down
  • Keebler graham cracker crust pieces

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, add cream cheese. Put in the microwave to soften. Heat for 20-30 seconds at a time. I needed about a minute and 20 seconds.
  2. With a hand blender, mix the cream cheese until smooth. Add yogurt and blend. You don’t need to use 0%, but if you’re trying to keep the total fat content down then it’s highly suggested.
  3. When thoroughly mixed add vanilla extract. I used 2 teaspoons, but this is completely on preference. Blend until smooth.
  4. Add in egg whites and 1 tablespoon of Splenda. At this point it should taste like cheesecake, this is the basic form.
  5. Pick your protein and add it slowly while blending with the hand mixer and scraping the sides as needed. I used a whey isolate, using a casein blend may make it thicker – if that’s the case a little almond milk or water may help with consistency.
  6. Since I track my macros very closely I weighed the total batter and then divided by the amount of servings I wanted. For this I wanted 4. These macros are slightly rough, but it’s really the best way to be as accurate as possible.
  7. I divided the filling into 4 mason jars for easy storage and travel. I let them sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours before consuming.
  8. I topped the cheesecake filling with 1 tablespoon of crushed graham cracker from Keebler. You could also use the mini pie shells Keebler makes or Goldfish grahams.

Macros for just the filling: 9.6F/5.8C/15.5P – nutrition may vary depending on protein and cream cheese used.

Try it out and let me know how it goes! What protein do you think you would want to try using for your filling?

❤ Cristina

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Recipe: egg stuffed tomato

I love eggs. I eat them all the time, but I’ve been playing with how I make them so I can incorporate more veggies into my day as well as keeping my meals interesting. I’ve seen posts of people baking eggs in muffin pans to make mini quiches or egg cups with ham or bacon. I figure I could do something similar, so I tried baking an egg in a tomato. While I was disappointed that the yolk was completely cooked, it was still soft.

Since tomatoes are low in carbs,I  paired it with a flax and oat pita, which gave me something to put it on and not just look like a crazy lady shoving a tomato into her mouth.

This week I made them again, except one came out running and I was so pumped. I also got a great baby loaf of olive and herb bread from a local bakery to use with it. Cream + Egg + Tomato = freakin’ heaven.

So enough about me stuffing my face, here’s the recipe.

What you’ll need:

  • whole tomato a little smaller than a fist
  • 1 egg
  • cooking spray
  • small baking dish or muffin pan

Directions

Pre-heat your oven to 350.

In your baking pan or muffin pan spray a little cooking spray. Your egg will overflow out of the tomato and this will allow it to come right out and not stick.

Cut the top of your tomato off. Try to not cut off too much tomato.

With a spoon, cut and scoop out the seeds in the middle. I scooped out a little meat to make room for the egg, but I didn’t need to cut out a bunch.

Place tomato in baking pan so that it doesn’t move around.

Crack your egg into the tomato. It’ll overflow so don’t be worried, that’s what the cooking spray is for!

Place pan in the middle of the shelf, for me this meant about 4-6″ from the edge of the shelf. Bake your tomato for about 15-25 minutes. When I cooked 2 it was closer to 25 minutes. I kept checking on my tomato every 5 minutes or so to see if the white of the egg was cooked since that’s what I care about.

After your satisfied with the doneness of your egg/tomato, pull it out of the oven and use a fork to loosen any egg white that poured over into the pan. I also used the fork to lift the egg out of the pan so it doesn’t roll around. I didn’t do this with the first egg out of two this morning and the fully cooked yolk popped right out. I was sad for a minute and then put it back in place once it was safely on my plate.

Macros – depends on the size of the tomato mostly. I used 200g of tomato between two tomatoes + 2 whole eggs = 9.4f/9.8c/13.8p

Have fun cracking!

 

❤ Cristina

I feel super productive… for now

It’s only Saturday and I already feel like this weekend has been super productive. Not only did I clean the WHOLE apartment last night and clean 4 loads of laundry, today I cooked up a few things for the upcoming week.

I’m taking the necessary steps to prepare for a great week. Here’s the top 10 things I’ve done to keep myself sane.

1. Clean clothes are necessary and my papasan is cleaned out :]

2. I made paleo brownies (mix from Trader Joe’s) so I have a fun dessert this upcoming week to have with my lunches.

3. I booked my spot for the group training class at my gym for Wednesday. There were only 2 spots left last night, I’m so pumped that I got one of them!

4. I went for a run yesterday and it sucked, but it reminded me of why I constantly push myself. You’re not going to be successful every time, but the failures will make you try harder.

5. I love bacon, but I remembered why I don’t cook it often. The windows have been open ALL day. Still, it was amazing with my breakfast and my dinner tonight :]

6. Staying hydrated keeps me happy. I know this sounds funny, but I drink a lot more fluids when I’m home than when I’m away from my house. My energy levels are typically higher and my skin looks clearer. I’ve been best friends with my pitcher of unsweetened ice tea today.

7. I have a Netflix binge watching problem.

8. I went through my closet and posted a bunch of dress clothes on eBay and put a bunch in a box for donation. Size 8 here I come!

9. Making decisions that push you outside of your comfort zone isn’t a bad thing, it just means that you need to learn how to face those kinds of choices. Here’s to developing better relationships, with myself and others.

10. I’m going to late night happy hour with my friend Molly, bring on the sushi.

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paleo brownies!

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baking made easy

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Chicken, bacon and tomato wraps with low sodium bacon

Story of my life

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Vanilla coconut milk ice cream with sunflower butter and bananas. #almostpaleo

 

Where has this week gone?

Seriously? Is it just me, or does this week seem to be flying by a little faster than it should? I’m not complaining because I love the weekends like the next person, but I kind of want to be like, can I get off this ride, it’s nap time!

Last night I had a work event so I was out super late and didn’t get to bed until later (11 ish, I’m getting old!), so I thought my lack of sleep would make today drag, but it didn’t. By the time I looked at the clock it was lunch time and I drooled over Don Draper watched Mad Men and ate my lunch. The afternoon went by just as fast as the morning and I got a chunk of work done.

Since I didn’t have to work at my retail job, I knew I wanted to get to the gym, but I wasn’t sure what I was in the mood for tonight. I texted a friend of mine who teaches Zumba and does a class on campus a few times a week. I had taken her class when I was at my old gym and we stayed in touch. She said she was teaching tonight and I should come by. MUSIC TO MY EARS!

As soon as I got home, I got straight to business- changed into my workout clothes and made myself some dinner. Her class is from 730 to 830 and dinner after was out of the question.

 

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I made buffalo chicken salad with extra Frank’s Red Hot. I’m obsessed with hot sauce and I’ve been craving wings lately, so this was a good alternative. While there is some cheese on my salad, everything else I’ve eaten today was squeaky clean so a tiny bit wouldn’t hurt and I would rather get rid of it faster than have it sit around or throw it out (world hunger and all).

After all the eating I did today I feel pretty good. It’s day 3 and I’m way less bloated than I was on day 1. Changing my workouts up a bit is also feeling pretty good too. I’m pushing myself without feeling like I’m going to far or have the chance to injure myself.

After dinner I worked on a recipe post from the other night and then headed off to Zumba. I had never done any of the routines in this class, but I picked it up pretty fast. We did the Footloose line dance, and OMG your left leg gets such a workout! There needs to be a change up when you switch sides and use the right. I’m sure I’ll feel this in the morning.

I had some awesome energy after class so after I got home and showered I made two things to eat over the next few days: another pizza and paleo breakfast muffins. I put onions and mushrooms on this pizza because I had some left over veggies in the fridge. I definitely let it cook a little longer than the one from the other night, yay for crispy crust!

The breakfast muffins are actually on my 50 recipes in 2014 list and something I found on Pinterest, but the post is from another fellow WordPress blogger. Check out my post and check out Pop an Egg on It, the blog I got the recipe from.

Well with the momentum of the first three work days, tomorrow is packed so I’m heading to bed. Happy Hump Day!

 

❤ Cristina