Blueberry coconut banana bread {vegan}

blueberry coconut banana bread

I’m a latecomer to the coconut oil obsession that has been going around. But, obsession it has become. I put it in everything now – my oatmeal, my stir fry, my popcorn. I even tried it in my coffee once, but that ended up being pretty weird…

There’s a lot written about the health benefits of coconut oil, like this and this, and also this. But mostly I like how it tastes, and I keep looking for any excuse to sneak it into recipes. So when I discovered this blueberry coconut banana bread recipe, I had to make it immediately. (The blog where I found it, Faring Well, is a beautiful website filled with recipes and food stories, so be sure to check that out as well.) It’s vegan, and could theoretically be made gluten-free if you used oat flour. It ended up being so delicious that I made it again a week later. And I’ll probably make it again this weekend.

Without further ado, here is the recipe for blueberry coconut banana bread. You’ll never go back to regular banana bread again.

Recipe: Blueberry Coconut Banana Bread
Prep time: 10 minutes prep, 40 minutes bake
Inspired by: Faring Well

  • 1 large overripe banana, mashed
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup plain almond milk
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat oven to 400F. In a mixing bowl, combine all the wet ingredients, plus the salt and cinnamon. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Add in blueberries and coconut. Pour into bread pan and bake for 40 minutes. Try to wait until it cools completely to eat, or sneak a piece while it is still warm. So good!

Photo credit

Go-to recipe: Ginger Peanut Dressing

ImageFor me one of the most challenging things about cooking foods from scratch is making the time to follow long, complicated recipes. At first I thought this was the only way to do it. Every night had to be a different recipe, with complex instructions and ingredients. As I’ve experimented more and more with healthy foods, though, I’ve realized that a few basic “go-to” recipes will save you a lot of time.

One of my current “go-to” obsessions is Ginger Peanut Dressing. I’ve written before about how much I love peanut butter. This very simple dressing is delicious and very peanut-y. It’s perfect to use as a “I can’t think of what to make tonight and I’m too tired after a long day of teaching to do anything creative.” So what I usually do is pull out whatever vegetables are left in my fridge, saute them in olive oil, and add some beans and rice (or quinoa or couscous or whatever grains you want). Pour over the ginger peanut dressing, add some sliced green onions or chopped cashews, and enjoy.

Recipe: Ginger Peanut Dressing

Prep time: 5 minutes

Inspired by: Ambitious Kitchen

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 t grated ginger
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 2 t olive oil

If you keep your peanut butter in the fridge, either warm it up in the microwave or let it sit out for a while ahead of time to warm it up. Then add all ingredients in a mason jar, shake vigorously, and pour on top of whatever dish you are making!

Photo credit: Lori L. Stalteri, Flickr Creative Commons

Guacamole mango quinoa

ImageIt’s always at this point in winter where I start wanting fruit. I love love love winter vegetables, but after 100 straight days of cold and snow, I start to really crave a juicy strawberry or a bowlful of grapes. Don’t get me wrong, I try my hardest to eat foods that are in season and locally grown (and where I live, grapes don’t grow in this wicked cold). But sometimes all that noble effort doesn’t seem worth it . My grocery store is just three blocks away, and they have an impressive stock of fruits that I finally couldn’t resist. So here is my foray into fruit this winter. A delicious and easy guacamole mango dish, with black beans and quinoa. Inspired by Foxes Loves Lemons‘s guacamole rice. A main dish that involves guacamole? I’m sold.

(And yes I know my recipes always have quinoa in them. You can easily substitute the quinoa for any other grain, like Israeli couscous, barley, orzo, or pasta. Quinoa is just so dang delicious.)

Recipe: Guacamole mango quinoa

Prep time: 30 minutes

Inspired by: Foxes Loves Lemons

  • 2 ripe avocados, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 mango, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked and rinsed
  • 4 oz. feta or goat cheese
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 T lime juice
  • 2 t salt
  • 2 t cumin
  • 1/2 cup almonds or other nuts for some added crunch
  • optional additions: cilantro, corn, tomatoes, roasted sweet potato

Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a small pot. Add quinoa and bring to a boil, then let simmer for approximately 15 minutes. Keep checking it until it’s fully cooked.

Meanwhile, chop all avocado, mango and onion and add to a large bowl. Stir in black beans, cooked quinoa and feta. In a separate little bowl, mix together the dressing ingredients. Whisk together and drizzle over salad. Taste and add more salt or lime juice as needed. You want it to be tangy and delicious.

Sweet pickled carrots (refrigerated)

So I think I am slowly jumping on the fermenting bandwagon that is all the rage right now. I used to have a hatred of pickles (as in, whenever one would come next to my sandwich, I would yell and push it away so it didn’t contaminate my sandwich bread). But as with most foods that I used to be super picky about, I am slowly developing a love for pickled things. I picked up the book everyone keeps talking about, The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz, and I’m starting to be swayed by his love for fermentation. I don’t quite understand the science behind it yet (or yet understand the difference between “pickling” and “fermenting”), but as I delve further into the book I know he’ll explain it.

All I know right now is that I got a huge CSA share full of winter vegetables and I have been trying to think of creative things to do with all those carrots, parsnips, and cabbage. Behold fermenting! Apparently winter root vegetables are perfect for pickling, and when I figured out that pickled vegetables will last months in the fridge without going through the canning process, I was hooked.

Here is a really easy recipe for sweet pickled carrots that are delicious, and can stay good for at least a month in the fridge.

Recipe: Sweet Pickled Carrots {refrigerated}
Inspired by: The Kitchen Magpie
Prep time: 15 minutes

  • 4-5 cups carrots, peeled and sliced into thin pieces
  • 2 3/4 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 t coarse sea salt
  • 1.5 T pickling spice {you can buy this in bulk at grocery stores}
Combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt and spices into large pot. Bring to a boil, then add the carrots and boil them for five minutes. Take out the carrots {I used tongs to get them out}, put them in a colander, and rinse them under cold water to stop them from cooking. Use the tongs to put the carrots into glass jars, standing upright. Then pour the vinegar mixture over the carrots until the jar is filled. Leave 1/2 inch of headspace (which just means space without any liquid). Put on the lids, let them cool, and then refrigerate until you’re ready to eat them! They seem to taste better after two or more days.

Pumpkin chocolate chip muffins {vegan, gluten-free}

So, my brother is vegan and gluten-free, a combination which to mean sounds tortuous. He does it for health reasons and I fully support that. But I always assumed that combination meant there was nothing out there for him to eat! No cheese?? No flour?? No eggs? No COOKIES?? But it turns out there are a lot of things he can eat, and many recipes can be adapted to be vegan and gluten-free. Some of them are really delicious, and it’s an added bonus to know that the recipes are usually healthier. Here is a delicious one that my family discovered at Christmas this year. I couldn’t stop eating them.

Recipe: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins {vegan, gluten-free}
Prep time: 15 minutes
Inspired by: Fork & Beans

2 c. gluten-free flour mix
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
2 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t ground cloves
1/2 t salt
1 c. canned pumpkin
1/2 c olive oil
1/2 c. boiling water
Equivalent of 2 eggs {here is an easy way to do it with flaxseed}
1 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins or use canola oil on a paper towel to grease them. Mix all dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, mix all wet ingredients together (pumpkin, oil, water, eggs). Pour wet ingredients into bowl with dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into muffin tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until knife comes out clean.
Note: The muffins in the picture have a streusel topping, but when I make these again I’m going to skip the topping. They were sweet and delicious enough without the added sugar topping! If you want a streusel topping, Fork & Beans has a good one on her blog.