Joyous Vegan Mango Banana Bread

I have a confession to make: Joy the Baker has been a major inspiration for me as a blogger and baker. If you’re into baking and food and whatnot and haven’t yet visited Joy’s blog, you seriously need to. In addition to great recipes, she adds little life stories that make them fun to read and styles them up with some awesome photography.

One fateful day, I saw this Mango Banana Bread recipe on her site and I decided I must make it as soon as possible. I went out and bought some mangos and made the bread the very next morning, if I recall correctly.

So….it was amazing. And I’m gonna share the love.

I tweaked the recipe just a teensy bit by using white whole wheat flour and walnuts. Because I love whole wheat and bread with nuts.

First, you’ll want to find yourself a ripe mango and cut it into cubes–which was trickier than I thought it’d be, so if you’ve never cubed a mango before, you can learn right here. Set aside.

After that, get yourself a large mixing bowl and some ripe bananas. 3 medium or 2 large ones will do.
Then…mash those suckers up.

 Add:
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Whisk these “briskly.”

Sift in:
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
rounded 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
rounded 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix together with a wooden spoon until the wet and dry ingredients are just combined. (I meant to add the walnuts in later, oops.)

Fold in:
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 ripe cubed mango

Pour into a prepared 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. I recommend lining it with parchment paper.

Sprinkle with granulated sugar or maybe some shredded coconut if you desire so.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes.

Resist the temptation to eat it fresh out of the oven–let the bread cool for 20 minutes before taking it out of the pan. Let it cool a little more on a wire rack, and then enjoy it. Enjoy, enjoy.

Oh, and by the way…this recipe’s vegan. Yeppers.

Joy’s recipe: here.

Date everything cookies

Let’s enter in the daydreams of Jenn for a moment here–the by-myself-staring-at-a-random-object sort of daydreaming–kay?

So, I’m a college girl, and what does a college girl think about all the time? Her future husband…of course. I’ll be all like staring at a tree and then wondering Geez, I wonder what he’ll be like? And then I go through the possible options; Maybe he’ll be a surfer-longboard type of dude,or one of those artsy-photographer types, or a rocker band guy…man, I really like rocker band guys…And then, of course, I analyze enough to wonder what it would be like to have to choose between a surfer-longboard dude, arsty-photographer man, or a rocker band guy if each one of them came up and stuck a ring in my face. And then I have to get myself to stop thinking…

But, apparently I’m the same way with cookies. There are SO many things I could put in a cookie; walnuts…peanut butter chips…M&Ms…Dark chocolate…white chocolate…apples…Geez, so many choices! Why can’t I have it all?

So this is what happened–do you remember that Oatmeal Date Cookie recipe I posted a while ago? Well…I took that recipe and decided to shovel my whole pantry in it. Well…maybe not all of it. Because there are definitely not pita chips in these. But just about everything else is in there.

Dates. Shredded coconut. Bananas. Unsweetened chocolate bits. Walnuts. And OH MY GOODNESS, oatmeal!

Oh, and guess, guess, guess how much sugar is in these? 3/4 a cup of brown sugar. That’s it. Half of what a normal recipe would have. And guess how much butter? Only 1/4 a cup. Which is a quarter of what normal oatmeal cookies have. No, I’m not lying! Geez. Why would I lie to you?

Best part? These cookies are just…amazing. Haha, yeah, I know! Who needs sugar when you have dates? Talk about candy that grows on trees…

Okay! Full recipe, right here, right now–

Cream:
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar

Beat in 2 eggs

Blend in:
1/2 cup ripe mashed banana
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup lowfat plain yogurt
3-1/4 tsp. vanilla

Add in:
1-1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
heaping 1/2 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. cinnamon

Mix in 2 cups of white whole wheat flour (aka whole wheat pastry flour)

Stir in 3 cups of oatmeal

Now for the fun goodness stuff! Stir in:
heaping 1/2 cup of shredded coconut
1 cup chopped dates
rounded 1/2 cup of chopped unsweetened baking chocolate
1 banana, split into thirds and then cut into pieces
1 cup walnuts

Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes.

Dang, there’s a party going on in those cookies.

So, eat these warm, eat them out of the freezer, or do what I’m going to do and take them with me on a backpacking trip (who needs Clif bars?) and try not to worry about the fact that I can’t do the same thing with men that I can do with cookies.

Frozen cookie dough balls

I’m about to tell you how to do something that you really shouldn’t do. Especially since it’s still summer and everyone’s trying to fit into their swimsuits. And since human beings are not known for their steely self-control.

So…I’m sorry. Ahead of time. I’ve told myself I’m sorry, too.

I’m going to show you how to make your own frozen cookie dough balls so you can put them in your ice cream, eat them dipped in chocolate, or sneak them out of the freezer after breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

I told you, I’m sorry! But at least they’re made with whole wheat…

Yeah, the funny thing is, as addicting as these sweet little deals are, they aren’t quite as bad for you as regular cookie dough. Only because I used white whole wheat flour, substituted half the butter with yogurt, and took out a portion of the sugar. So you don’t feel as guilty when you can’t stop eating them.

Recipe!

Cream:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar

I beat in 2 eggs…but that’s because I’m not very raw-egg-aphobic. If you are, which is totally cool, I’m fairly certain you can leave out the eggs and still get the same result, since you’re not gonna bake this dough.

 Add in:
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt

Mix in:
1 tsp baking soda (trust me, it adds flavor)
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 white whole wheat flour (aka whole wheat pastry flour)

Stir in 1 3/4 cup chocolate of your choice. I split it half-n-half with semi-sweet chips and a chopped 72% bar.
I also added in 3/4 cup chopped walnuts. I highly recommend. Unless walnuts give you sores in your mouth. Then I don’t recommend.

Form bite-sized balls and place on wax paper-lined tray-thing. An hour or two in the freezer should do the trick.

Well there you have it! Make these and eat them. You can come back later and tell me how you can’t stop walking back to the freezer…but don’t tell me that I didn’t try to warn you…

Home Sweet Home Pancakes

This recipe blog post is kind of awkward for me.

1. I’ve been sorta-kinda working on it for like four weeks.

2. The first recipe I didn’t make myself.

3. I kinda failed on the recipe I did make.

Just letting you know ahead of time.

With that all cleared up, I want to talk to you about pancakes.

First, nothing says “Home sweet home” like pancakes made from scratch for breakfast. They were actually yelling that at me before I ate them. It was kind of weird.

Okay, I’m sorry, my pancakes don’t talk. That was a sick joke. I promise not to do that again.

Anyways, my daddy happens to make the best pancakes. And not with bisquick…we actually try not to say the b-word in my house. Just because the pancakes on the box look fantastic does not mean they taste anywhere near as delicious as from scratch. Trust me, it’s totally worth the effort.

So these pancakes my dad makes–they’re not only made-from-scratch yumminess, they’re actually rather nutritious for you…of course, that’s pre-butter and maple syrup drenching.

Here’s how he does it:

Set aside 1 mashed ripe banana

Mix in a bowl:
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 TBSP sugar (for sweeter pancakes, add another TBSP)
1 TSP baking powder
1 TSP salt
½ tsp baking soda

In another bowl:
Whip 2 eggs
Then add:
1 1/3 Cups (approx.) low-fat buttermilk or low-fat plain yogurt, until the desired consistency is reached
(For richer pancakes, add 1/4 cup of melted butter)

Stir wet ingredients into the dry, until just combined.

Once the skillet (greased beforehand) is heated up, reduce heat to medium, then spoon batter onto skillet. The pancake is OK to flip when the batter starts getting a bunch of holes in it, but cook time will vary depending on how dark you want your ‘cakes.

Don’t you want some of these sweeties?

Now, I saw this recipe by Joy the Baker called The Single Lady Pancake, so I performed my own rendition of it the next day with some of the leftover batter from the aforementioned recipe. This is how it went down:

I got a 1-cup measuring cup, which I filled with 2 Tbsp of oatmeal…

A heaping Tbsp of dark chocolate chunks…

And about half of a large sliced banana.

Then I poured pancake batter into the cup to fill up the remaining room, and mixed it all together.

Now I ran into a little problem…I was so excited about this pancake, that I poured it on the skillet immediately…

…but  I forgot about spraying the skillet.

Yeah.

Kind of a fail.

But, hey, just because it doesn’t look pretty doesn’t mean it can’t taste good.

So after I scraped that sucker off the skillet, drizzle a little honey on it, piled on the rest of the sliced banana and some granola, I stuffed it. In my mouth, that is.

Best pancake ever? Totally.

Keep the Party Alive in a Hippie Salad

Sometimes I feel like such a hippie. In the I’m-obsessed-with-vegetables sort of way. Almost every mealtime is overflowing with veggies from a salad or soup or stuffed in my sandwich or even dominating the toppings on my pizza.

Really, I don’t know what happened–I was that kid who liked to have her steak, and leaves and other green stuff were always eaten with some mayonnaise-based product. Somewhere along the way, though, red meat completely lost my interest, and ranch dressing pretty much grosses me out now.

Not to say that I would never eat one of those fresh-from-the-grill pulled-pork sandwiches dripping with tangy barbeque sauce…

But here we’ve got the mother of hippie salads, a bowl full of green goodness that will make you feel wonderful as much as it tastes wonderful.

First, you’ll need lots of spinach–the greener the leaf is, the more nutrient-packed it is. A small amount of iceberg lettuce is good for adding some crunchy texture.

The key to making an amazing salad is thinking of the lettuce as being bored and wanting to have a party. But not just any guests can be invited; the party has to have a theme, otherwise weird ingredients that no one wants to party with–like sardines–start showing up, or foods that have issues with each other–like apples and tomatoes–start a nasty fight.

Tonight’s salad party is hosted with a theme that includes the delicious flavors of sweet, rich, tangy, nutty, and earthy.

The guest list includes: half of a diced green bell pepper, half a shredded beet, a good handful of crumbled feta, about a whole avocado cut up into pieces, two or three sliced mushrooms, two medium shredded carrots, a small handful of chopped walnuts…

…and about half a cup of diced cherry tomatoes. Shall we dance?

And just like Family Force 5‘s “Keep the Party Alive” gets the people groovin’, a couple dashes of Trader Joe’s Fat Free Balsamic Vinaigrette kicks this hippie salad into a full on veggie party!