Double Chocolate Banana Bread

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L’s Double Chocolate Banana Bread

Now that the autumn New England temperatures are slowly falling, I have been craving some warming, rich, and flavorful foods to enjoy still hot from the oven. Before my most recent half marathon race, I had the fiercest craving for a warm banana bread, the type that my mom made when I was growing up, when I could down half a loaf because it’s just that dang delicious. But I also wanted something chocolate (um, what else is new?). πŸ˜‰ So….why not put those two things together and make something unreal delicious? Yes, please. I took a banana bread recipe that I had been playing around with and perfecting, and added raw cacao powder AND vegan chocolate chips to fulfill my chocolate banana bread cravings. The result was AMAZING. This bread is decadent, moist, super chocolatey, without obliterating the cozy and familiar banana flavor that still comes through to complement the richness of the chocolate. It is definitely more of a rich treat than a β€œbread” per se, and my co-workers could not believe that it was made completely dairy and egg free! There are plenty of variations you can do to tailor this recipe to your needs: you can replace the flour with your favorite gluten-free variety to make this recipe gluten free, you can substitute cacao nibs for the chocolate chips if you’d like a different texture, and you can even add your favorite chopped nuts (think walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pecans) for an additional flavor impact. If you’d like to be a mega bro, or are watching your macros, you can cut down on the sugar and add a scoop of chocolate protein powder. Without further ado:

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Most of the ingredients for the chocolate banana bread I made: all purpose flour, ripe bananas, cacao powder, coconut palm sugar, baking powder, baking soda, vegan chocolate chips.

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 medium override bananas, well mashed
  • 1/3 cup of vegetable oil (or a neutral flavored oil, such as peanut or light olive – you can also use coconut, but that will add a coconut flavor to the bread)
  • ΒΎ cup of coconut palm sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 Β½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ΒΌ cup cacao powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Β½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup of semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips (or cacao nibs)

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350Β°F. Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan (I used a glass Pyrex pan that I sprayed with Pam non-stick baking spray, and that worked out just fine).
  2. In a large bowl, mash your bananas. Add oil, sugar, vanilla and milk, and beat until smooth.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, add your dry ingredients. Mix the flour, cacao powder, baking powder and baking soda until it is homogeneous. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in a large bowl and combine until well mixed. Gently fold in your chocolate chips.
  4. Pour the batter into your pre-greased pan and stick it into the oven. Bake the bread for about 50 – 55 minutes, or until the bread has risen, is slightly cracked at the top and a toothpick comes out clean.

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    Here’s my banana bread before baking.

  5. Allow your banana bread to cool for 10 minutes, then gently remove from pan and transfer to baking rack to cool completely. Enjoy!! πŸ˜€
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A side view of the bread after cutting a slice or two off (hey, I couldn’t resist). As you can see, it is filled with chocolatey goodness.

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The finished product.

This recipe is unreal. It is one of the best banana bread recipes that I’ve ever made, and it definitely satisfies your chocolate craving. Not only that, but it’s really easy to throw together and it tastes really impressive – like you were slaving away in your kitchen, but really you just throw the ingredients together and allow that sucker to bake to perfection. You should have most, if not all, of the ingredients on hand, and it’s a great recipe to whip up for weekend brunch, or just for a sweet treat. As I mentioned above, my co-workers who sampled this recipe did not believe that it was vegan – it just tastes so rich and MOIST (the key feature that is usually missing in vegan baking). It is really friggin’ delicious. I hope that you enjoy this recipe as much as I did.

Hope you all have a great week! I’m having fun exploring the veg cuisine scene down here in Alabama! πŸ˜‰ Updates to come. Take care, all!

With warmth,

L

PS: I have a confession to make. I ate two slices topped with So Delicious CocoWhip (non-dairy whip cream) and it was……YUM. There are no words, so delicious! I highly recommend trying it that way, if you’d like to eat a slice for dessert.

PPS: Marty McFly comes today guys!!! Get pumped!!!

Friday Faves!

bye week

Bye, work week! πŸ˜‰

Woohoo! It’s finally Friday! This week has been one of those weeks where I feel like every day I wake up, get to work and it’s Monday. Although, I have to say, after Sarah’s kick ass Flashback Friday spin class it is definitely feeling like a Friday! My legs are legit sandbags/lead bricks, and I’ll be singing and bopping along with some old school rap in the lab today (all I know is that I was spinning to 2 Live Crew’s Hoochie Mama at 5:50 am this morning, which brought me back to days of driving to BHS with my bestie L, rapping along to the song, and probably driving through snowbanks). *Raising the roof*

Here’s what I’ve been feeling this week:

  1. Serena Williams on New York

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I just love her. She is looking regal, elegant and powerful in all the stunning photographs in the profile and on the cover. The profile focuses on her unparalleled dominance in tennis and desire to enter the fashion industry upon retirement.Β I enjoy reading about female athletes period, but Serena is such a boss of epic proportions it’s fantastic to put her career in perspective. Kerry Howley writes, “The last time a man as geriatric as Serena won a grand slam was 1972. She has won three in the past six months.” Please note: Serena is 33 years old. Holy balls. That is amazing! Bravo, Serena!

You can read the profile here.

2. Luna and Larry’s Coconut Bliss Vegan Ice Cream

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This is the best flavor of vegan ice cream, ever. I have had a serious addiction to dairy-free ice cream this summer. I joke that my neighbor and good friend C (who lives just around the corner) is an ice cream enabler (on top of my own #treatyoself enabling) because she’s always down to grab some mid-week ice cream for dessert. Which is pretty much the best. I think my pants are counting on my ice cream consumption to slow down a little once fall rolls around. But til then…YOLO!

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Before…

Also, since I ran out of time to make dessert for my Wednesday night dinner party (see my Champagne and White Peach Sangria post, which includes a mini re-cap) I decided to Supermarket Sweep-level buy out the non-dairy ice cream section of Stop N’Shop. I grabbed a few of my favorite pints (Fomu Maple Bourbon Walnut, So Delicious Chocolate, and So Delicious Gluten-Free Cookie Dough along with the Salted Carmel/Chocolate) and set up a “Non-Dairy Ice Cream Social,” complete with CocoWhip and sprinkles. My friends loved it! I highly recommend it for your next friend gathering – so fun, and when do you ever get to do create-your-own sundaes anymore? Not nearly often enough. πŸ™‚

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…and After! πŸ˜‰

3. Salomon Women’s XR Mission Trail Running Shoes

trail shoes

Sarah, my friend/trainer/fitness guru suggested these trail runners for our upcoming Tough Mudder. She’s always thinking ahead, because I would not want to ruin my favorite trail runners in all the mud and goop. And, since we are going to be running 10 – 12 miles to complete the obstacles, we will need solid shoes. My gym buddy D and I both got these on a Groupon deal for $55 (the retail price is $110), so we will be the ultimate outfit matchers. I love finding good deals on fitness gear/sneakers because they are always so expensive – it just proves to keep your eyes peeled for good deals, they exist! Keep your fingers crossed they fit. πŸ˜€

You can find this sweet Groupon deal here.

4. India Bridal Fashion Week

india bridal fashion week

Absolutely stunning and so fun to look at! The intricate details and beading is next level. Check out this sweet post with all the good pictures here.

5. Lulu crops

run the world tight

I’m so glad these crops are sold out in my size because I want them with an undying passion but my bank account does not. Although, I’m still obsessed with the Teeki leggings I posted about in last week’s Faves

Check them out here: Lululemon Run the World 7/8 tight

6. Star Walk

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This is literally the best app ever, and totally worth $2.99. You basically hold your phone up to the night sky and it shows you the exact positions of the stars and celestial objects directly above your head, in real time and based on your location. It’s like an interactive star gazing map! I am obsessed, and I used it to figure out where the Perseid Meteor Shower was going to be on Wednesday night (although I totally missed it because I was passssedddd out – did any of you see it?). It contains so much more information and awesome features than I could ever cover in a single bullet point in my Friday Faves, so you should totally check it out. Best app purchase EVER! I highly recommend it, I can’t say enough good things about it.

Read more about Star Walk here.

I’m looking forward to having a mellow weekend! I’ll be gyming it up for Sweaturday tomorrow, possibly going for a hike and definitely hitting the beach this weekend – it’s supposed to be hot and sunny this weekend in Boston, hooray! What are you guys up to this weekend? Tell me in the comments.

With warmth,

L

Weekend Recap!

Good morning all, and happy Monday! Here’s to the start of a great week. As you know from my Things I’m Loving Thursday post, I spent the weekend in Connecticut with my sister, bro-in-law and 17 month old nephew. We made a ton of good food, did some projects around the house and generally had a good time.

Things I learned this weekend:

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You can make bomb VEGAN waffles using Log Cabin All Natural Pancake Mix. All you need to do is follow the directions for the pancake mix (even for the waffles, according to my bro-in-law they turn out better), substitute soy milk for dairy milk and use the flax egg substitute (you can find my demo for flax eggs here). SO DELICIOUS.

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Pulling weeds is an excellent grip strength work out. I’ll be cranking out those pull-ups in no time!

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Sometimes, all you need is rest (and a bowl of dairy free ice cream with sprinkles). My quads and hip flexors were still super sore following my intense small group training with Sarah (we did long jumps and DUDE those bad boys took it out of me), so I passed on my long run this weekend. I’ve learned that not taking a rest day is a dumb idea over and over, but for once I actually listened to my body. I’m not really looking forward to having to do a long run before or after work this week, but I figured it was way better to rest my muscles then push it too hard and injure myself before all the races I have lined up this fall. Go Team Booyah!

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Grilling peaches is an AMAZING IDEA. We did a supermarket sweep-level shop at the local farmer’s market on Friday, and bought stellar peaches (among tons of delicious veggies we grilled and sweet corn that rivaled the corn you can get in Western New York). My bro-in-law grilled them up for dessert on Saturday night, and my sister and I ate them with cinnamon sprinkled on top and a few scoops of vanilla soy ice cream on the side. I have no words for how delicious it was. YUM!

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These Gardenburger Black Bean Chipotle Burgers are delicious! I topped mine with El Diablo spicy mustard, mango chutney, lettuce, tomato, sriracha and a pickle. So good. I ate two without regret. πŸ˜‰

I hope you guys had a great weekend! What did you get up to? Tell me in the comments. πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

With warmth,

L

Girls’ Niiiiiiiight! (woo woo)

PicFrame (2)Last night I hung up my comfy pants and oven mitts and got ready to give my cheers-ing arm a workout. In the words of my girl R, “The only thing better than boozing tonight was removing my nylons when I got home from work.” Amen, sister. πŸ˜‰ (The second best thing was my military-precision execution of breakfast/lunch/gym bag packing last night after gettin’ toasty, so I was organized and ready to rumble when my alarm went off at 5 am, and rolled out of bed like a boss even though it was rainy and cold outside and I was exceptionally warm under the covers: L – 1, Bed – 0: winning!).

Last night, we went to River Bar at Assembly Row in Somerville (a brand spankin’ new dining/retail hot spot along the Mystic River with a newly build T stop, a gigantic movie theater, apartments, etc etc. Three years ago, there were empty lots of gravel and weeds in its place, a really sad looking Kmart and the busiest Home Depot ever – I cannot get over how much is there now!). I had never been before but River Bar’s menu included “elevated street food” (questionable) and an extensive drinks menu. The big draw is their 2,600 square foot outdoor patio with fire pits, couches and heat lamps. Sad for us, it decided to randomly snow (!!) which then turned into pouring rain last night so we were relegated to the much smaller inside dining space.

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I’m a chemist not a photographer, and my iPhone camera is limited, but this image captures the pretty stellar patio area of River Bar that is heated (!), has fire pits (marshmallows anyone?) and couches/lounge-y seating areas! Due to the deluge we were experiencing, we didn’t get to partake in any of its merriment.

Obviously to get things started, we ordered some drinks off their cocktail menu to refresh our palates. Round one: cocktails for all! πŸ˜€

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River Bar’s cocktail menu

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Cocktails, round one (from top left): Rose Tyler (R), Prosecco w/Chamboard (A) & Jungle Cat (L)

The first round of cocktails were pretty delicious, but not perfection. I really liked the spiciness of the rum with the tartness of the lime in my “Jungle Cat” – a combo I will definitely be experimenting with in L’s Test Kitchen. πŸ˜‰ R said that her cocktail tasted like a cough drop at first but was good once you got past that (hence why we all ordered something else for round two, except A who was on the right track all along). As per usual, we were all starving so we ordered some food. There were slim pickings for vegetarian options, but I ordered the Grilled and Sauteed Vegetables (baby eggplant, greens, roasted shallot jelly and fried wontons).

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L’s meal: Grilled and Sauteed Vegetables (baby eggplant, greens, roasted shallot jelly and fried wontons)

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R & A ordered small plates to share: fried sweet potato (with pomegranate molasses and scallions), corned beef and cabbage dumplings (rye dipping sauce) and chicken and brie terrine (picked apples).

Frankly, the best thing we ate were the fried sweet potatoes – that pomegranate molasses was AMAZING, and I will definitely be making my own version in the near future (it was the perfect balance between tart, sweet and bold). Round two of cocktails we all decided to go with B&B’s namesake cocktail: Bubbles!! The gals ordered Prima Perla Prosecco, Veneto, and I ordered a glass of Louis de Grenelle Cremant de Loire β€˜Platine’, France. The bubbles were AMAZING and made me immediately regret ordering a cocktail off the drink menu. Bubbles all the way!! *ding*

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Bubbles: The. Best. Ever. *clink!*

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The fairly impressive bar of River Bar. I was such a tourist/creeper taking phots while people were enjoying their frosty bevs – I just wanted to share with you guys! πŸ˜€

All in all, a fabulous time with the girls. Next door to River Bar is amazing ice cream place (that has PHENOMENAL dairy-free ice cream choices!), J.P. Licks – they are a Boston-area staple. A little dessert was calling our name so we headed over there after our cocktails to assess the dessert situation (/we were all still at starvation station).

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The menu at JP Licks – look at all those vegan options!! Hoorayyyy!! πŸ˜€

I was really stoked on the dairy free scene at JP Licks, and I literally had a sample of every single one of the DF ice cream flavors (I’m pretty sure the guy behind the counter may have wanted to shank me). I ended up choosing half coconut almond and half maple walnut and was exceptionally pumped about life. They were AMAZING – no regrets there. Not gonna lie, I would have been totes happy with champagne and ice cream only for girls night – those were the highlights of my evening! πŸ˜€

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Vegan Ice Cream – YES PLEASE.

All in all, we had a pretty fantastic time out gabbing it up and getting some much needed girl time in. It’s really the company that matters more than anything, and spending time with my girls made up for the sad, miniature dinners we all ate and the “meh” cocktails. We were by far the loudest group in there – sometimes you just need laughter for your ab workout of the day πŸ˜‰

I hope all of your had exceptionally special and fantastic evenings last night, too! Happy Humpday! We made it halfway! Woo woo!!

xo,

L ❀

Pumpkin Protein Power Muffins

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Delicious and deceivingly decadent Pumpkin Protein Power Muffins.

I’ve got the POWER!! 90’s dance music anyone (Snap! C’mon…)?? These muffins combine a few of my favorite things: pumpkin, pecans, apple, dark chocolate and protein (I’m a not-so-secret Bro, you gotta build those muscles!). They are a great grab on-the-go snack if you want something delicious, a little decadent and full of nutrients. Hell, I even threw one of those suckers in my gym bag to bring for my gym buddy R after KILLING IT at boot camp this morning. She’s my #1 taste tester. She said, and I quote (from her text): “Muffin = So. Good. Moist, perfect amount of chocolate chips. Love the apple crunch with the pumpkin flavor. Could eat 10.” You heard it here first, people. I personally devoured one this morning standing outside in the balmy 34 degree sunshine at the gas station while being observed by the morning commuters. I guess I was due for a “woke up on the wrong side of the bed” morning (first, the low tire pressure light goes on, closely followed by my gas light in my car) and I got to take a nice 50 minute detour on my way to work to address those issues. Ugh. We all have these days, I guess (deep breathing, deeeeep breathinggg)…

But these MUFFINS. Dude, these are delicious – healthy, vegetarian AND dairy/soy/gluten-free (they can also be made vegan, which will be featured as another post after they are perfected in L’s Test Kitchen)!! And the best part is, as with many of the recipes I share, they are tailorable to your personal taste. Pecans not your thing? Use almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts – whatev. Not a huge fan of dark chocolate (um…who ARE you?) –Β  I suppose you can use semi-sweet chocolate chips, white chocolate – whatever your jam is. Use your favorite kind of apple, or pear – or persimmon! Get creative. It’s fun, I promise. Here’s what I made last night:

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Ingredients for the muffins: pecans, chocolate chips, apple sauce, maple syrup, eggs, coconut flour, pumpkin, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, apple, and oats. Add whatever vanilla protein powder you like (I bet chocolate would be pretty baller too, if that’s all you have).

Pumpkin Protein Power Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 can pumpkin (16 oz)
  • 1 cup diced apple (about 1 regular sized apple)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup diced pecans
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour (Or whatever kind of flour you like/have)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce (~the amount in a single-serve applesauce cup)
  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder (If you’re going for dairy-free, obv do not use whey or casein)
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup (Dude, don’t use the fake kind. If you don’t have the real deal, use honey.)
  • 1-1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

Directions:

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350Β°F. Throw all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
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I left the skin on my apple and chopped it into smaller-than-bite-sized pieces.

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Add all your ingredients at once into the mixing bowl – order does not matter – you can go complete freestyle! πŸ™‚

Step 2: Mix all of the ingredients until all of the dry ingredients are wetted and well incorporated into the batter.
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Give it a good stir to make sure all of those chocolate chips/pecan pieces/diced apple pieces are evenly distributed. I know everyone wants the one muffin that is 40% chocolate chips but you can’t always get what you want. Singing the Rolling Stones while mixing is highly encouraged πŸ˜‰

Step 3: Distribute evenly into a greased muffin tin (or use a liner). I was concerned about getting the muffins out easily so I spritzed my paper muffin liners with baking Pam (which was completely unnecessary and probably not the healthiest option, but hey. We do what we can over here).
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I used a spoon to help scoop the batter mixture into the muffin liners. You can also use an ice cream scoop! πŸ™‚

Step 4: Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
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These muffins pictured above are not done yet; I really, REALLY wanted them to be done but they just weren’t. Patience is a virtue (that I do not have) but make sure you wait until the toothpick comes out clean, otherwise they will be kinda mushy if they aren’t cooked through.

Step 5: Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Makes approximately a dozen muffins. Enjoy!! πŸ˜€
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DONE! Allow to cool for 10 minutes πŸ™‚ They should be a nice golden brown color, and firm on top. Also, totally ignore that one missing muffin from the muffin tin – I just couldn’t wait any longer after smelling them bake for half an hour!

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Yessssssssss. These are soooo goood!! Store in an airtight container to keep them fresh and delicious.

When I told R that I was featuring her taste-test “review” in my post today, she said, “Lolz love it. It feels like a very unhealthy treat post-workout, but it isn’t really.” True story, R! These muffins are delicious, feel like a special treat but are packed with protein and fiber. YUM! And they brought a lot of brightness to my morning, as I stood outside in the chilly Boston air mentally preparing (/defrosting my fingers to unscrew the cap) to fill my tires with air, not loving life. I might have been freezing my butt off, but I still took a moment to appreciate the “Mmm! These are so GOOD!”. I really hope you enjoy these as much as I did! Yum!!

I hope you guys are having a better morning/day than I started out with! Enjoy!! πŸ˜€

xoxo

L

PS: Taste tester #2 K said, “Your pumpkin protein muffins are the boooommmbbbb!!!!” Just thought you should know. πŸ˜‰

PPS: It’s almost Friday! And the Bills are playing! Yes, and yes!! πŸ˜€ Everyone have a good one.