Paleo Coconut Banana Muffins

I apologize.  I took a blog hiatus.  I cooked up a storm and played with recipes, but the one thing I have learned about blogging is…not to post something just to have content.  I share recipes because I am proud of them, think they taste good, and hope you enjoy them too!  I missed sharing stories and taking pretty food photos.  It feels so good to be back on the blog :)

Paleo Coconut Banana Muffins

We have been SO BUSY.  I do not know if anyone else feels this way, but every week I think to myself next month will be more relaxing.  Less packed with activities and somehow when I look at our calendar I notice that we have only 3 free weekends in the next 4 months!!!  How does that even happen???  (Answer: Everyone you know if getting married.)  I honestly should not even complain, because Andrew will tell me I need to stop planning.  He says all I do is plan and organize.  With a packed calendar, you have to plan!

Paleo Coconut Banana Muffins

One good thing about being a “forever planner”  = I am always trying to create recipes that my family and friends can enjoy.  Andrew’s brother is one of those super successful, athletic, motivated people…ugh I know…you want to hate them ;)  Well not only does he dabble in real estate, but he gets to jet-set since he’s a pilot.  He doesn’t let his busy, unpredictable schedule stop him from doing cross-fit work outs or sticking to a primal diet.  Now I am not a primal or paleo guru, but I am always curious about the diets/routines people take on and how to dream up delicious treats that they can enjoy.

Paleo Coconut Banana Muffins

The story of my paleo coconut banana muffins starts there.  Andrew’s brother told me about a friend of his who owns a paleo bakery in Florida.  I was instantly curious and decided that if someone can have an entire bakery dedicated to this lifestyle, I should be able to execute at least one baked good.  Oh yes, I am pretty determined (errr slightly competitive).

No processed sugar
No dairy
No grains
LOTS OF FLAVOR.

Paleo Coconut Banana Muffins

I brought these muffins to our softball game last night and I received the highest praise.  One of the girls told me that my banana muffins taste exactly like her grandmother’s banana bread.  (My inner amateur baker is doing somersaults)  She requested the recipe to re-create the treat for her family.  If that is not a good review, I don’t know what is?!?  After that stamp of approval, I am so excited to share these moist, dense, muffins with you all.

P.s. please share your favorite paleo/primal baked treat.  I would love to try it out.

As always,

Bon Appeteek

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Servings: 12 muffins

The Players: 

2 ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 C coconut cream
1/4 C coconut oil
1/4 C natural sweetener (I used honey)
1/2 C coconut flour
1/2 C unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 t salt
1/2 t baking soda

Optional toppings: banana chips, coconut flakes, peanut butter

The Rules: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  2. Place all the wet ingredients, including bananas, in a medium mixing bowl and use a hand mixer to combine.
  3. Add all dry ingredients to the bowl and mix until well-incorporated; do not over mix.
  4. Divide batter among muffin tins, filling ~3/4 full.  Optional, top each muffin with a dried banana chip or additional coconut flakes and press topping into the batter.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Allow muffin to cool in muffin tin.  Serve warm or store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

Coconut Almond Granola

Wake up. Hungry. Work out. Hungry. Work. Hungry. Go to bed. Hungry.  This is what I have come to realize marathon training is…I am always hungry.  I literally eat something and am thinking about the next thing I want to eat.  I heard from multiple friends that have completed marathons that I should prepare for the hunger.  I had no idea what I was in for.  I have emergency snacks in my purse, at work, and I don’t leave the car without snacks.

Coconut Almond Granola

We went out to a brewery tour yesterday and Andy laughed at me as I packed snacks for the 30-minute car trip.  Oh yes, the fear is real.  Stopping at a gas station, grocery store, or you know getting food to eat while we were out did not cross my mind.  I needed to make sure that I had snacks just in case.

Coconut Almond Granola

One of my go-to snacks is granola.  Have you ever stopped to read the ingredients on a bag of granola.  I don’t know about you, but I do NOT want my granola to contain ingredients that I do not understand or cannot find readily available at a grocery store.  I want whole grains, real proteins, and natural sugar.  So this was my first experiment to create a simple granola recipe with ingredients I had in my kitchen.

Coconut Almond Granola

The aroma of toasted almonds, cinnamon, and vanilla throughout the house is an added perk of this recipe.  Andrew walked through the door after work and immediately asked what I was baking because it smelled amazing.  Talk about delicious?!?!  The first batch of granola lasted about 3 days.  Oops.  Honestly this is the perfect breakfast paired with fresh fruit and milk, an added treat to top your smoothie or yogurt, or the ideal snack for a girl (umm or man) on the go.  Not too sweet with just the right amount of crunch ;)  I can’t wait to explore with more flavors and fruit/nut combos.

Coconut Almond Granola

What’s your favorite snack?

As always,

Bon Appeteek

 Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Prepares ~4 cups of granola

The Players: 

2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1 C raw almonds
1 C unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 C coconut oil
1/4 C honey*
1/4 C agave*
1 T ground cinnamon
1 T pure vanilla bourbon extract

*Note: I used a mix of honey and agave syrup; however, you can use any mix of maple syrup, honey, or agave*

The Rules: 

  1. Preheat oven to 325F and line baking sheet with silicone mat or wax paper.
  2. Place oatmeal and coconut in a medium mixing bowl.
  3. Roughly chop almonds and add to oatmeal-coconut mixture.
  4. In a microwave-safe dish combine coconut oil, honey, and agave (or sweetener of your choice.  Microwave for 30-45 seconds. Add cinnamon and vanilla extract to the honey mixture and whisk to combine ingredients.
  5. Pour wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and toss with spatula to coat.
  6. Transfer the granola to your baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.  Remove granola from the oven and allow to fully cool.  Store in an air-tight container.

3 Easy Smoothie Bowl Recipes

Smoothie bowls are one of those “must try” recipes.  It’s a food trend, kind of like juicing, overnight oats, kale chips, spaghetti squash subbed for pasta, and cauliflower errrything.  Don’t get me wrong, I have dabbled in pretty much all of the aforementioned food trends (minus juicing…I cannot survive a day without chewing something).

Chocolate Raspberry Acai Smoothie Bowl

I make smoothies as a protein boost after a workout, breakfast on-the-go during the week, or as a meal replacement when I’m feeling lazy.  Pretty much any hour or meal of the day can be substituted with a smoothie hehe.  I noticed that although I am always drinking or eating this sweet little treat, I am never blogging about smoothies.  I send texts to girlfriends all the time with smoothie recipe ideas, so why not start sharing the love with all of you too :)  I will add more smoothie recipes to the blog soon, since I am always mixing them up.  I even have a yummy chocolate, peanut butter, banana protein smoothie that will have you reaching for a smoothie instead of a cookie (errr maybe both…I really love cookies).

Blueberry Acai Smoothie Bowl

These are 3 different smoothie bowl recipe ideas.  Seriously take a risk and mix them up, you really can’t go wrong.  You can even add oats, granola, chia seeds, or coconut flakes into the blender to add to the thickness and consistency of your smoothie.  If you have bananas that are going bad, peel, slice, and freeze them for your smoothies too.  Other fun boosts are ginger, cinnamon, orange juice, maca powder, and spirulina.  You can load up on nutrients, fruits, veggies, and fiber without using any silverware or making extra dishes.

Green Goddess Smoothie Bowl

As always,

Bon Appeteek

Chocolate Raspberry Acai Smoothie Bowl

The Players:
1 sambazon acai smoothie pack, thawed
1/2 C frozen raspberries
1/2 small banana, sliced
1/2 C fresh spinach (optional)
2 t dark cocoa powder
1/2 C to 3/4 C liquid (coconut water or unsweetened soy or almond milk)

Toppings: 
1 t chia seeds
1 T coconut flakes
1 t cacao nibs
1/4 C fresh blueberries (alternatively raspberries or strawberries)

Blueberry Acai Smoothie Bowl 

The Players:
1 sambazon acai smoothie pack, thawed
1/2 C frozen blueberries
1/2 small banana, sliced
1/2 C fresh baby kale
1/2 C to 3/4 C liquid (coconut water or unsweetened soy or almond milk)

Toppings: 
1/2 kiwi, peeled and quartered
1 T coconut flakes
1/4 C fresh blueberries
1/4 C granola
1 t chia seeds
1 t cacao nibs

Green Goddess Smoothie Bowl

The Players:
1 kiwi, peeled and halved
1 C spinach (alternatively baby kale)
1/2 C frozen mango (alternatively frozen pineapple)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 to 3/4 C liquid (coconut water or unsweetened soy or almond milk)

Toppings: 
1/2 small banana, sliced
1 t chia seeds
1 t cacao nibs
1 T coconut flakes

**optional protein boost: 1/2 to 1 scoop vanilla protein powder added to the smoothie bowl ingredients**

The Rules:

  1. Place ingredients for the smoothie in a blender or food processor and pulse to desired consistency.  (Note: I use a Magic Bullet and it takes < 60 seconds)
  2. Pour into bowl and garnish with desired toppings.  Enjoy!

Easy Healthier Cinnamon Rolls

Let me just say that I love 3-day weekends!  Today is President’s Day and one of the many perks of working at a Federal Hospital is getting to take those Federal Holidays off.  Everyone deserves a little personal time.  Part of me feels guilty that Andrew had to work, but the other part is doing a celebratory dance because I was able to spend an entire day doing what I wanted.  I slept-in, cleaned, did laundry, made dinner, went on a 9 mile run, walked Teek, and blogged :)  I think the world would be a better place if there were more 3-day weekends…just saying!

Easy Healthier Cinnamon Rolls

Okay now for the fun stuff –recipe time.  Cinnabon® cinnamon rolls are a treat that I used to enjoy when I had long layovers at airports or during a particularly difficult work shift, when I worked at the mall in high school.  Let’s be honest…those cinnamon rolls are finger-licking good.  They are so rich, fluffy, and gooey.  But they definitely come with a high-calorie price tag.

Easy Healthier Cinnamon Rolls

Don’t get me wrong, you should be able to have your cake and eat it too.  I am one of those individuals that works out religiously so I can eat whatever I want.  I am a lover of all foods and definitely indulge; however, I try to eat fairly healthy throughout the work week so I can splurge on the weekends.

Easy Healthier Cinnamon Rolls

Due to this philosophy I am constantly trying to create a healthier version of a not-so-healthy recipe.  I work in the Digestive Disease Center and am constantly impressed by the patients that adapt their diet due to food intolerances.  So I decided to create a dairy-free cinnamon roll recipe.  I know…what was I thinking?

Easy Healthier Cinnamon Rolls

But they turned out pretty great!  I actually even brought some of the cinnamon rolls out to the bar with me (yep, I am that girl).  My girlfriend saw the picture and told me I was not allowed to leave the house without a roll or two for her.  Her husband was shocked when he realized he was eating a healthier version of a cinnamon roll.  I’d say with a response like that, this a successful twist on a recipe :)

Easy Healthier Cinnamon Rolls

I use whole wheat flour for my recipe and almond milk, but you can substitute white flour and any non-dairy milk (or regular milk if dairy is not an issue for you).  I stuck with the healthy coconut theme that was in the dough and filling and carried it through for the icing too.  I used coconut cream sweetened with honey.  It was a great substitute for the usual sugar-packed icing other cinnamon roll recipes provide.   Also don’t limit yourself by the filling ingredients below.  You can get creative and add minced dates, raisins, orange zest…the possibilities are endless.  I love nuts and pecans are so great in desserts so I went with pecans in half the rolls and plain for the remainder —next time I’m going all pecan.

Easy Healthier Cinnamon Rolls

If you need anymore convincing that these cinnamon rolls are thebomb.com I leave you with this: Andrew splurged and inhaled 4 cinnamon rolls after work one day.  I seriously do not understand where he packs it in?!?!

As always,

Bon Appeteek

Prep time: 1 hr 30 min
Cook time: 25-30 min
Servings: 10 cinnamon rolls

The Players: 

For the dough
2 3/4 C + extra whole wheat flour (alternatively use all purpose or cake flour)
1/4 C granulated sugar
1 packet instant yeast
1 T ground cinnamon
1/4 t salt
1 C unsweetened vanilla almond milk (alternatively use soy or regular milk)
1/3 C coconut oil

For the filling: 
2 T coconut oil, melted
1-2 T ground cinnamon
1/3 C granulated sugar
optional: 1/2 to 3/4 C pecans, roughly chopped

For the glaze: 
1/4 C coconut cream
1 t honey
1 t ground cinnamon

The Rules: 

  1. In a large mixing bowl combine 2 1/2 C flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, yeast.  In a microwave heat coconut oil and almond milk for 1-2 minute, whisk to combine.  (Note: temperature should be similar to bath water, not too hot or yeast may inactivate and not too cold or yeast won’t activate)
  2. Pour almond milk and coconut oil over dry ingredients and mix to form dough.  Add remaining extra 1/4 C flour if needed; the dough should form a ball and be sticky.  (Note: I used my KitchenAid Stand Mixer with the bread dough hook attachment)
  3. Sprinkle flour on a flat surface and transfer dough to surface.  Knead the dough for 4-5 minutes, adding additional flour as needed.  Form a ball with the dough.  Spray a large mixing bowl with non-stick cooking spray and place dough in the mixing bowl.
  4. Cover the bowl and place in a warm area for 1 hour.  Allow the dough to double in size.  (Note: I preheated the oven to 225 F and turned it off, then I placed the dough in the oven)
  5. Line a flat surface with wax paper, punch down on the dough and place on wax paper, using a rolling pin flatten dough and shape into a rectangle ~1/4 inch thick (~9 x 12 inch).
  6. Brush the surface of the dough with melted coconut oil.  Sprinkle cinnamon, sugar, and optional pecans evenly over surface.  Be as generous as you would like with the filling ;)
  7. Use the wax paper to help tightly roll the dough into a wheel.  (Note: Roll the longer side so you form a cylinder shape)
  8. Using a sharp knife cut the dough into 10 pieces.  Transfer the cinnamon rolls to a greased 9-inch cake pan.  (Note: I used coconut oil non-stick cooking spray)
  9. Preheat oven to 350 F and allow the cinnamon rolls to rise while the oven is preheating.
  10. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown on top.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool 15 minutes.
  11. While your cinnamon rolls are cooling, prepare the icing.  Place all the ingredients in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave for ~5-10 seconds and stir to combine, adjust seasonings to desired sweetness.  (Note: just microwave to soften coconut cream, you don’t want it to liquify)
  12. Drizzle the icing over the cinnamon rolls and enjoy warm.  Store in an air tight container and reheat cinnamon rolls in microwave for ~30 seconds to enjoy throughout the week.

Skinny French Toast Bread Pudding

I love meal prepping.  I wake up at 5 am Monday through Friday so I can get a work out in before work.  Meal prepping and smoothies have become my best friends.  Historically I have made breakfast muffins, bars, egg bakes, quiches, and overnight oatmeal to make sure that I do not miss the most important meal of the day and fuel my body after a sweaty gym sesh!

What I had never thought of making until this weekend was a breakfast bread pudding.  Seriously, this breakfast dish was such a little treat before work.  I felt like I was eating dessert before work every day ;)  How’s that for a happy Monday.

Skinny French Toast Bread Pudding

Now I happened to have a baguette that got a little too stale, but you could easily use any bread you have on hand: brioche, gluten free varieties, stale bagels, cinnamon raisin toast, etc.  The more dry and crusty the bread, the better the bread pudding!

Skinny French Toast Bread Pudding

I served the bread pudding with vanilla greek yogurt & honey on day 1, just with honey and a little extra cinnamon on day 2, and with fresh blueberries today.  Consensus: you can pretty much top this pudding with anything and it will taste delicious.   Next time I might toss some apple or dried fruit into the casserole dish before I bake it, but this is a great, healthier, basic bread pudding recipe!

Skinny French Toast Bread Pudding

As always,

Bon Appeteek

Note: I covered my casserole dish after it cooled and stored the bread pudding in the refrigerator throughout the week.  I would heat up a serving in the microwave for 1 minute and enjoy a warm treat on these chilly mornings. 

Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4-6

The Players: 

1 french baguette, preferably 1-3 days old
2 eggs
2 C unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 C unsweetened apple sauce
1/4 C brown sugar
1 T cinnamon
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 t sea salt

The Rules: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and grease a 9 x9 or 11 x 7 casserole dish.
  2. Cut baguette into bite-size (1-inch) cubes.  (Note: if your baguette is not stale, you can toast the pieces in the oven for 5-10 minute to dry out the bread)
  3. Transfer the bread to the casserole dish.
  4. In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients and whisk together.
  5. Pour the liquid mixture over the bread and press down firmly with clean hands so all of the bread is coated in the liquid.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes then remove from oven and allow to cool 10-15 minutes before serving.  Serve with a dollop of vanilla greek yogurt, a drizzle of honey, fresh berries, or your favorite topping.