If you ask me it should never be less than 65 degrees and sunny. Really I don’t know how people live in places that are cold, rainy or dark more than half the year. It was 82 and sunny just three days ago, but it’s been under 60, gray and wet since then. I am already feeling the negative effects of the dreary weather. A day curled up with a warm cup of tea, a cozy sweatshirt and your favorite magazine is nice once in a while but when you need to leave the house it is not so fun.
Thankfully this week I have had my awesome new blog and followers to keep me smiling. All of your positive responses mean so much to me! Thank you for following fairly blindly with so little content up at the moment. As promised, that will be changing soon!
Today’s weather is screaming for some baking. Am I the only one that might turn the oven on to preheat a little early so I can stand with the door open to warm up first?! There is something so cozy and comforting about getting out your mixing bowls and all your ingredients and creating something so warm and sweet that you might just stick a toothpick in it a little early to accidentally have some come out on the stick to taste… especially if there is chocolate involved 🙂
Today’s inspiration comes from some late night Pinterest searching for healthy ways to use bananas on their last leg. Unless I cut my bananas up and freeze them for smoothies right away, I end up with an entire bunch of over ripened bananas that are too mushy to eat for a snack but not mushy enough to rationalize throwing away.
As everyone knows, this is the perfect stage of a banana’s life to throw it in a loaf of banana bread and call it a day. While I love banana bread (especially with added goodies like chocolate chips or walnuts) I wanted to try something new and a little healthier than the typical banana bread conceptions loaded with white sugar, flour and butter.
I found hundreds of healthy banana bread options and even more banana oat cookie/energy bites (which I love and have made more times than I can count… I will definitely add a recipe for some sometime soon) but I really wanted to try something different. I was inspired by Michelle at Healthy Recipe Ecstasy and her dark chocolate banana bread brownies!
I’ve been experimenting lately with chia and flax eggs as replacements for actual eggs in baking with pretty great success. The flavor ends up a little nuttier with flax seeds but the texture is great in my opinion. This method also cuts out all cholesterol. Win!
Unfortunately, something crazy happens when you cut out butter… you tend to cut out the life and lovely fluffy texture of your favorite baked goods. There are many great vegan substitutes to butter including low fat options: unsweetened apple sauce and bananas. The apple sauce shouldn’t effect the flavor at all and the banana will only slightly sweeten the mixture (you can cut back very slightly on the sweetener if you want when using this method).
Ironically the two natural substitutes for butter are already ingredients in this recipe. Instead of trying to keep these light and fluffy I decided to go the opposite route and aim for chewy and soft instead. While I actually like the semi-gooey texture that low fat baking tends to have, I know this is not typical.
This is a great article that explains why butter is used in baking and how to substitute it properly in different recipes. Enjoying baked goods without butter or less fat can take some getting used to for sure so feel free to play around with your favorite substitutes. Have a favorite butter or egg substitute? Let me know! I always love trying new ideas!
Now on to the muffins!! These muffins are full of healthy, vegan sources of fiber, protein and iron… three things every vegetarian can’t get enough of! Check out the notes at the end of the recipe. Enjoy!
- 3 extra ripe bananas
- 1 C natural unsweetened apple sauce
- 1.5 T Bob's Red Mill Black Chia Seeds
- 4.5 T water
- 1/4 C Bob's Red Mill Ground Flaxseed Meal
- 1/2 C Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour
- 1/4 C Bob's Red Mill Brown Rice Flour
- 1/2 C Let's Do Organic Coconut Flour
- 1 t baking soda
- 1/2 t coarse sea salt
- 1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1.5 t vanilla extract
- 2 T Nestle Toll House Real Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chunks (plus a few more for picking at or sticking on top of each muffin!)
- 12 muffin tin or 24 mini muffin tin
- 12 paper baking cups
- electric mixer... or a strong mixing arm!
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Use a blender, coffee grinder, magic bullet or some other similar product to grind your Chia Seeds.
- In a small dish combine ground chia seeds and water to make a chia egg. Gently stir together and let sit for at least five minutes. The mixture will form the texture of an egg.
- In a medium mixing bowl combine Flaxseed Meal, All-Purpose Flour, Brown Rice Flour, Coconut Flour, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt. Make sure all ingredients are completely mixed together.
- In a separate mixing bowl mash up your ripe bananas. Place in the microwave for 45 seconds to slightly caramelize them and bring out their natural sweetness even more.
- Place applesauce, chia egg and vanilla into bowl with warm bananas. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (or a medium whisk and a strong arm!).
- Add your dry ingredients into large mixing bowl with your wet ingredient mixture. Beat at a low speed until combined and moist through out batter.
- Use whatever handy tool you ground your chia seeds up with the gently chop your Chocolate Chunks into smaller pieces. (feel free to use any chocolate you like or even Enjoy Life chocolate chips to make this vegan!)
- Mix chocolate chunks into your batter with a spatula.
- Spoon batter into your muffin tin. I made 12 large muffins but you could easily make two smaller batches or use a mini muffin tin.
- Bake at 350° for 30 minutes... checking at about 20 minutes with a wooden toothpick. If you use any other sort of muffin tins you might need to adjust the time accordingly.
- Now your goal... let cool before burning your tongue on sweet banana gooeyness and melted chocolate deliciousness!
These little guys definitely pack a healthy punch with naturally sweet flavor and absolutely no guilt. No added sugar (other than the chocolate chips which you could easily replace with chopped nuts of dried fruit of your choice), gluten free and vegan with the simple change ideas above for cutting out sugar! They are perfect for an afternoon snack pick me up, a breakfast on the run or even dessert with a side of fresh strawberries.
Warning: when they cool they do become a little dense. I suggest warming them back up in the oven or in a pan before eating. But hey if you like the dense chewiness please eat up!
Hope you enjoyed these as much as I did!
- What are your favorite healthy muffins?
- Do you enjoy baking gluten free?
- What are your favorite vegan substitutes?