Month: October 2015

Pumpkin Blender Muffins

pumpkin blender muffin 3Tiny bite sized muffins are a staple in my house! Sometimes I have to use my large muffin pan to make cupcakes just so they don’t feel neglected at the back on the cupboard. But what can I say? I now own three different mini-muffin pans and use them weekly. The smaller portion is easier to manage when thinking of snacks and breakfast. They cook faster, are easier to freeze and just more fun to pop in your mouth! Not to mention that you can eat two and that portion usually adds up to less than half of the larger-sized muffins.

Right along with how practical it is to make little muffins, I look for recipes that are fast and easy, so I can make large batches at once. Blender muffins have changed the way I look at baked goods. I learned how to put together recipes for blender muffins a while back when baking with over ripe bananas. It’s so nice to just have one thing to clean when you are done mixing up your batter. It’s so convenient that you can pour the batter from the blender cups straight into the muffin pan and take it all to the oven. As you can tell, I love fast prep and recipes that provide easy clean-up.
I should I say that I was never a fan of those prepackaged mini-muffins you can buy in the store due to the amount of high fructose syrup, artificial flavoring and lack of nutrition they offer. But my kids were exposed to them at school when other kids brought them in lunchboxes, and they came home begging me to buy some. I gave in one day at the grocery store and let them choose one; then we came home and did our own little blind folded taste test between homemade mini-muffins and the store bought ones. I’m happy to report the homemade version won every single time! You can just tell that when something is prepared with higher quality ingredients, it tastes better.
This recipe happens to be gluten- free, and grain-free. But I have also tried it with ½ cup of quick oats, and it turned out great.. Since it’s pumpkin season, I went with the urge and made these pumpkin blender muffins with some Once Again Peanut Butter and Once Again Wildflower Honey, and when adding up the eggs, you end up with a very high protein and nutritious anytime treat.

pumpkin blender muffins1Pumpkin Blender Mini-Muffins
Makes 24 mini-muffins

1 cup Once Again Peanut Butter
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
3 tablespoons Once Again Wildflower Honey
3 tablespoons maple syrup (optional)
½ teaspoon baking soda

Add all ingredients to a blender and mix at once! Then pour into mini-muffin pan and bake at 350 degree for about 15-18 minutes. Check for readiness by inserting a toothpick into the muffins. When they toothpick comes out clean, the muffins are ready!.
Topping: Mix equal parts of pumpkin puree and peanut butter and use as a topping!

pumpkin blender muffin 2

Peanut Butter Banana Chilled Fudge

Chances are you have some bananas in your kitchen right now! Bananas continue to be one of the most popular commercially sold foods in the world, and with  good reason. Bananas are nature’s pre-packaged, ready to-go, nutrient-filled, sweet snack for all ages. Bananas are often baby’s first fruit, athlete’s secret weapon to avoid cramps and a quick boost of energy for working adults’ at mid-day when these fruits function as a sweet treat. On average Americans consume up to 6,500 bananas in their lifetime, and that’s a whole bunch (pun intended)!

If we are all such big fans of bananas, why do an estimated 1.4 million bananas go to waste daily around the world? Well, if you tossed that brown, spotted banana in the trash this morning, it’s easy to connect the dots. The good news is that we are collectively working on decreasing this astonishingly high number of wasted bananas by coming up with new ways to use the not-so-fresh ones for meals and snacks.

Peanut butter and banana chilled fudge2It’s inevitable, after a few days, if you weren’t able to consume all the bananas you purchased at the store, they will start to show some browning on the peel, and the inside of the fruit will soften gradually. That’s no reason to toss them away, however! They are now perfect for many different uses. The easiest way to put them to good use is to peel, dice and freeze them. Frozen bananas added to smoothies with other fruits and vegetables will add the thick and creamy quality we all look for in a perfectly blended beverage. Banana ice cream was a social media favorite in 2014:  A  search on Yummly and Pinterest will yield over 10,000 recipes for ways to create ice cream with frozen bananas.

Perhaps the oldest way to use up the not so perfectly yellow bananas is to make banana bread. And those recipes never get old. There is nothing quite like the smell of banana bread in the oven. In fact, bananas and baked goods are a match made in heaven.  Bananas can sweeten your baked goods while adding moisture; they substitute for refined sugar and fat at the same time. Our PB&Banana mini-muffins recipe that you can make in the blender offer another way to make the best out of browning bananas (See recipe here).

But we were able to find yet another way to use up your bananas! And this one is a contender to make your top list since it combines bananas and Once Again Peanut Butter in a whole new way. Do you wish fudge could be more than just an every once in a while treat? Great! This recipe is for you.  It’s a  peanut butter banana fudge you can enjoy for breakfast, snack or a desert. There is no cooking involved, and you can prep it all  in fewer  than 10 minutes, then just pop the fudge  in the freezer and forget about it. It  will be ready in 12 hours or so, and you can keep them in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

Just as with the popular banana ice cream versions, this fudge recipe has room for you to personalize it. Add cacao powder for a chocolate fudge version, or chop up some dark chocolate chips and walnuts for a Rocky Road-type fudge.

… have fun and reduce your waste with this delicious fudge!

Carolina

Peanut Butter and Banana chilled fudgePeanut Butter Banana Chilled Fudge

Makes 15 pieces

½ cup Once Again Peanut Butter
2 bananas
½ cup coconut flakes
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons Killer Bee Honey
Pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients and place in silicone mold or freezer safe dish lined with parchment paper. Freeze for at least 4 hours for best results. Keep in freezer for up to two weeks. They are vegan and gluten free.

DIY Yogurt: It’s Easy!

DIY Yogurt1If you told me a few years ago I would be this excited over yogurt, I would have been shocked and maybe a little worried, too. But now, my family and I enjoy yogurt almost on a daily basis, and so when I learned that you can make yogurt at home without any fancy equipment or specialty skills, I was intrigued. My mother learned this technique from a friend and passed it on to me with a few of her tips.  I then perfected this process and made it foolproof!

The words yogurt and probiotics usually are found  right next to each other when discussing gut health. Probiotic, which literally means “for life”, refers to the living organisms present in fermented foods like yogurt which are responsible to many health benefits, including improving immune system health and preventing gastrointestinal issues such as constipation, inflammation and diarrhea. Consuming yogurt even just a couple of times weekly can help you maintain regular bowel movements while meeting some nutrient needs including your getting enough calcium, vitamin B2, vitamin B12, potassium and magnesium (these are specific to cow’s milk yogurt as opposed to coconut or almond milk yogurts).

Are you ready to learn how to make your probiotic-rich snack at home?

Making your own yogurt is really quite simple; choosing the right starting ingredients will determine the quality of your end product. Choose whole- fat milk, organic if possible, and you may use a yogurt starter kit, but you don’t really need it.  You can just use a plain (organic as well, if possible) full- fat yogurt as starter. Choose a plain yogurt free of any additives or artificial colors: the only ingredients should be live cultures and milk. You will also need the following:  a large pot, a large glass bowl, towels and stirring spoons. If you have a food thermometer to double, check your temperatures the first time you make it, it helps; however,  it is optional.

What you’ll need:

DIY Yogurt

  • 34 ounces of milk
  • 6 ounces of plain yogurt

Directions:

  1. diy yogurt 5Boil 34 ounces (1 liter) of milk over medium heat. The boiling point will be reached at 185 degrees Fahrenheit, but otherwise, you can tell when it reaches the boiling point when it starts to froth. Stir constantly, that so it will boil evenly and avoid burning. Once it boils,  take milk off the heat. Now let it reach about 100 degrees; if you have a thermometer, you can just watch the temperature as it drops. Or, wash your hands and insert your pinky finger in the milk: when you can hold it in the milk for 10 seconds, it is ready for the next step! Wait a few minutes before testing it the first time — you don’t want to burn your finger, of course!
  2. In a large glass bowl, place the 6 ounces of plain yogurt, and add just ½ cup of the hot milk to the yogurt and mix well. Now add the rest of the milk to the glass bowl.
  3. Cover the bowl with an airtight lid. From this point on, the active cultures are very delicate and are “working” on turning the milk into yogurt. Wrap it with a towel to converse the heat. You can also place the bowl inside a thermos bag instead of wrapping with cloth.
  4. Take the wrapped dish to your “holding” space. This space needs to be somewhere DIY yogurt4without ventilation, a place that will maintain the warm temperature. You may use a microwave, a corner in your pantry, a crockpot, or my personal favorite, the oven. Of course all those devices, including the oven will be off! It is just a safe place where your yogurt won’t be disturbed and have time to rest while staying sufficiently warm ..  A minimum of 8 hours is recommended to complete this process, but you can l let it incubate  up to 12 hours. The longer you wait, the thicker your yogurt will be.
  5. Now you are ready to enjoy your yogurt and flavor it anyway you want it. Don’t forget to save some so that you can make your next batch. You can use 6oz of your own yogurt for that purpose.

Flavoring the yogurt is  without a doubt the best part of the yogurt-making experience! Use ½ cup of your yogurt and add 2 tablespoons of your favorite Once Again Nut Butter. Top it off with coconut flakes and chocolate chips for a desert-like  treat that is healthy and homemade. A family favorite is our “peanut butter cookie yogurt.” We add peanut butter to plain yogurt and stir in a little honey and mini dark chocolate chips.

For a dairy-free version you can use coconut milk, or even almond milk. Although I have not tried this process yet, there are recipes for it, and it involves the same basic steps as described above with some minor modification and additions. If you have made your own dairy free yogurt before, please share your tips with us!

… have a deliciously healthy day,

Carolina