recipe

Almond Flour Banana Bread Muffins

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Muffins! Banana bread muffins that are gluten-free, made with almond flour, so perfectly moist and melt in your mouth! They are like little love muffins. I added a little candied pecan on top for some extra yum. I was originally working on a banana bread recipe (which you could totally do with this), but I love muffins and so here you have it.

Muffins are just so easy. You take one, break it in half, spread all the butter or peanut butter in the middle and you are set. Maybe grab one for breakfast on your way out the door or pack one in your lunch for a little sweet treat. Or, you eat them in one bite if you are like my husband.

I have been baking and cooking with almond flour for over a year now and I love all of the different things I can do with it. I have been looking for almond flour recipes and using it to create my own recipes because a lot of my clients can have almond flour. It is only 1 ingredient compared to a gluten-free 1:1 flour, which contains at least 5 ingredients. I have used it for cookies, muffins, breads, pizza crust and pot pie.

Almond flour is made of finely ground blanched almonds. It is lower in carbohydrates than wheat flour, coconut flour or other gluten-free flours and is a good option if you are grain-free. It is a good source of vitamin E, manganese, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium.

These almond flour banana bread muffins are lightly sweet with, of course, the bananas as well as a little applesauce and maple syrup. I love the cinnamon flavor in them and I think you will too.

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Recipe

Almond Flour Banana Bread Muffins

Gluten-free, grain-free and lightly sweetened.

Makes: 12 muffins

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 ripe mashed bananas
  • 1/8 cup natural applesauce
  • 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup (1T for candied pecans and 1T for muffins)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 2 ½ tsp cinnamon (1t for candied pecans and 1 1/2t for muffins)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line muffin tin with muffin liners.
  3. For candied pecans(optional): toast pecans in pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring to prevent burning. Add 1 Tbsp maple syrup and 1 tsp cinnamon and stir to mix. Remove from heat. When cool, chop into smaller pieces.
  4. Whisk eggs in medium bowl. Add mashed bananas, applesauce, the other Tbsp maple syrup and vanilla. Mix well.
  5. Mix dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Add wet ingredients and mix until incorporated.
  6. Fill muffin cups until almost full. Top with chopped candied pecans.
  7. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Allow to cool before removing from muffin liners.
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There are a few possible substitutions that would work in this recipe. If you don’t have coconut flour, you can leave it out. I’ve made it without but it will be a little more “mushy”. You could use honey in place of maple syrup. You could leave the applesauce out if apples bother you. Don’t like cinnamon? Leave it out. Maybe add walnuts or chocolate chips before baking? I always like to give you some options.

However you decide to make them, I hope you enjoy these muffins! As always, let me know what you think when you make them. What is your favorite gluten-free flour to use when baking?


Thai Peanut Spaghetti Squash Bowl

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Finally, I have another meal for you guys and this is a good one! It is easy to put together and is full of nutrients and big on flavor. The hardest part of this recipe is cutting the spaghetti squash. It’s like its own little arm workout in your kitchen. Then, you can get everything else ready while the spaghetti squash is cooking and you’ll be ready to roll when it’s done. Easy peasy, lime squeazy.

Please tell me you love Thai peanut flavor as much as I do. I’ve been using it with salads, on pizza and now with this Thai peanut spaghetti squash bowl. I love a good Thai peanut sauce and finally wrote it all down into a recipe for you. It may not be totally authentic, but it’s really good and doesn’t involve ingredients you will never use again. Like fish sauce. Have you ever smelled that stuff? Don’t do it. You’re welcome.

I tried spaghetti squash for the first time just a few years ago. To be honest, I’ve never been much of a squash eater…of any kind. It wasn’t something I had as a kid and definitely wasn’t something I was familiar with cooking. It’s a little intimidating, right? A big heavy, hard core squash with no cooking instructions. Nope, I’ll pass. But I’ve embraced the intimidation and now, gimme all the spaghetti squash recipes!

Spaghetti squash has become much more popular due to the increase in fad diets out there as well as people needing more gluten-free and grain-free meal options. It is versatile and contains a good amount of nutrients. It is a low-calorie veggie with fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C as well as folate, niacin and pyridoxine (vit. B6). It is also lower in carbohydrates than pasta at 10 grams per cup compared to 42 grams.

We really enjoy using spaghetti squash as a gluten-free substitute for pasta. It’s so good with meatballs and marinara sauce or a cashew cream sauce. I especially love spaghetti squash with veggies, chicken and Thai peanut sauce! This dish is so flavorful and makes great leftovers. It is also easy to change up for diet or food preferences by switching up the veggies, using almond butter in place of peanut butter or changing out the chicken for a different protein. Options, so many options!

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Thai Peanut Spaghetti Squash Bowl

Easy and flavorful gluten-free, grain-free meal.

Makes: 3-4 servings

Ingredients:
  • 1 small-medium spaghetti squash, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 lb chicken breasts or thighs chopped into small chunks
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • 1-2 cups carrots, shredded or sliced into matchsticks
  • handful chopped green onions
  • handful roughly chopped cilantro
  • chopped peanuts or cashews to garnish
  • Thai Peanut Sauce
  • 1/4 cup natural creamy peanut butter
  • 3 Tbsp Coconut Aminos
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • squeeze of lime juice or from ½ lime
  • 3 tbsp canned coconut milk
  • 1 ½ tsp sriracha, or more to taste
  • Instructions:
    1. Carefully slice spaghetti squash lengthwise. Place squash, cut side down, on foil lined baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 30-40 minutes depending on size of squash.
    2. Prepare sauce by whisking ingredients together in small bowl. If sauce is too thick, gradually add more coconut milk or water to thin. Set aside.
    3. Heat sesame oil in saute pan over medium heat. Add diced chicken and saute until cooked through. Set chicken aside in bowl.
    4. Add carrots and peppers to pan and cook to desired tenderness. Add chicken to pan with veggies to keep warm
    5. Spaghetti squash is done when fork tender. Allow to cool. Use fork to pull into spaghetti like strands.
    6. Assemble your bowl with spaghetti squash, chicken and veggies and desired toppings like cilantro, green onion and chopped peanuts. Drizzle with peanut sauce.
    7. Enjoy!

I hope you enjoy this healthy, flavorful Thai peanut spaghetti squash bowl and can use it as a guide to get creative with different vegetables, proteins and toppings. Or, make it like it is and you can’t go wrong.

Lin

Fresh Strawberry Oat Crumble

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Berry picking season is finally here! Yay! Berry picking is an activity we discovered we could do in Kansas City just a few years ago and I look forward to it every spring and summer now. The strawberries come first and usually have a pretty short picking season. Then, we pick the blueberries. Sometimes multiple times. Blackberries are also an option but we have yet to pick those. I'm putting it on my list this summer because they are one of our favorite berries. 

I took my son last week to Benny's Berries, which is a little strawberry patch not far from where we live. When we got there we received a large box for picking and were given specific instructions on how to pick the strawberries to make them last longer and to get the best ones. The redder the better! Whenever I pick berries I always tell myself just a few more and we'll be done...and maybe just a few more on the way out. Anyone else? We ended up with  7 1/2 pounds of strawberries in a pretty short amount of time. 

Eating the berries fresh is our favorite but this crumble I made twice last week might be our new favorite. The first time I made it I ate about half the pan because I couldn't stop. It's so good and I think I have a thing for crumble topping! Good news if you do too because it is on the bottom and the top! It's a very easy dessert with just a small amount of added sugar and can be totally gluten-free. We added a little ice cream on it this last time and it was perfection. 

Fresh Strawberry Oat Crumble

Ingredients:

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  • 2 cups oats (gluten-free certified if needed)

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose or gluten-free flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

  • 2 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced

Directions:

1. Mix all dry ingredients in medium bowl.

2. Add coconut oil and mix until incorporated with dry ingredients.

3. Spray 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish with coconut oil spray or grease with small amount of coconut oil.

4. Add half of the crumble mixture to pan and press down with spoon or fingers. 

5. Spread sliced strawberries out on top of crust. 

6. Top strawberries with remaining crumble mixture. 

7. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. 

8. Enjoy!

If you picked strawberries this season and you are looking for a great recipe, give this one a try. It is light, slightly sweet and the perfect end to a great summer day.

Lin 

Crockpot Sweet Potato BBQ Chili

gluten-free, dairy-free (no sour cream)

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Is anyone else loving chili right now? We are still having a lot of cold days in KC so a good, hearty bowl of chili hits the spot. I know it's late in the football season but the Super Bowl is this weekend and this would be perfect for your game day meal! Make sure you double up the recipe for yummy leftovers too.

I found the inspiration at primaverakitchen.com and changed it up a bit to suit our tastes. If you've read any of my other posts you probably know I love sweet potatoes! I especially love them in this chili for a little sweet to balance out the spices and the acidity. I also love the texture of the sweet potatoes in this chili.

The first time I made this I told my husband there was no way our 9 y/o was going to eat it because he despises anything with bell pepper. Well, he loved it, red peppers and all. He will occasionally ask me to make this chili for him. OMG, a total Mom win!

I also wanted to share with you a kitchen gadget that I always use when making this chili to chop up all of the veggies. This isn't the exact one because my husband probably got it on the "as seen on TV" end cap at the store but it's close enough (click here). It is quick, easy and the veggies are pretty uniform in size. This chili includes chopped onion, bell pepper, carrot, celery and sweet potato, which can all be done using this tool in a fraction of the time. I love it! #notanad

Ingredients: (serves 4-6)

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  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 3/4 to 1 cup diced onion

  • 2 cloves or 1 tsp minced garlic

  • 1 pound ground turkey (or grass-fed beef)

  • 1 cup diced red bell pepper (or any color combo you like)

  • 1 cup diced carrot (about 4-5 medium carrots)

  • 1/2 cup diced celery (2 stalks)

  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups diced sweet potato

  • 2/3 cup chicken stock

  • 1 1/4 cup tomato sauce

  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

  • 2 tsp ground cumin

  • 2 tsp paprika

  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander

  • 2 Tbsp good quality gluten-free BBQ

  • 1 can kidney beans (or black beans or a combo of both)

Instructions:

  1. Heat EVOO in pan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for about 3 minutes. Then add garlic and cook 30 more seconds. Add in ground turkey and cook until done.

  2. Add cooked turkey with onions to crock pot.

  3. Add remaining ingredients, except beans, to slow cooker and stir. Cook on low for 4-6 hours (depends on how much is in there and size of sweet potatoes).

  4. Add beans and stir. Allow to heat up in slow cooker an additional 10 minutes.

  5. Enjoy! My favorite toppings are a dab of sour cream, avocado and a few crushed tortilla chips.

It is technically still winter so we are still in soup season and this chili is a great one to have on the list. It is full of veggies and protein and has a slight smoky flavor that is so good. Pair it with some cornbread or just throw a few toppings on and enjoy! Who are you rooting for in the Super Bowl? Or are you there for the food and commercials because why else stay up on a Sunday night?

Cheers,

Lin

The Best Healthy Banana Bread

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Oh banana bread, I love you so much! It is the quintessential recipe to use up ripe, mushy bananas. The gooey, sorta sweet, comforting bread that can be served for breakfast, snacks, or dessert. Who doesn't love that? I mean it is fruit, right?

I have been making this recipe since I was an intern back in 2000 and something up in Minnesota. That long, cold winter definitely deserved something warm and comforting. I was into cooking and baking and discovering new recipes. Especially if the recipe included some good healthy ingredients in place of some ingredients that were less desirable. And bonus points for being a cheap recipe because interns don't get paid. Zero, zilch, nada! But lucky for me it was at one of the greatest hospitals and it was worth it!

I wrote this recipe on a half notecard, which is now stained as it has been through some baking with me.

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I forget how good it smells in the house when banana bread is baking. OMG! This bread came out so moist in the middle thanks to the pineapple and added coconut oil. It is so good too with a little crunch on the outside. If you are questioning the pineapple, just trust me. You will get a few small pineapple chunks throughout but it doesn't have a pineapple flavor. It was a hit with all 3 of the guys at my house. They've eaten it all week for breakfast and snacks. I tried it again today with a gluten-free all-purpose flour and it was great as well.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup sugar (I used half coconut sugar and half brown sugar)

  • 1 1/2 cup flour

  • 3/4 t baking soda

  • 3/4 t salt

  • 1 egg

  • 1/4 cup crushed pineapple, drained, save juice

  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed

  • 2 T coconut oil, melted (optional)

Directions:

  1. Mix dry ingredients in mixing bowl.

  2. Mix wet ingredients in separate mixing bowl.

  3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Add some of the pineapple juice if mixture is too dry.

  4. Pour mixture into large parchment lined or greased loaf pan.

  5. Bake at 350° for 35-45 minutes. Test for doneness with toothpick.

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Feel free to dress this up with some chopped nuts or chocolate chips. We like it plain with a little butter or nut butter on top! I hope you enjoy this bread as much as we do on a cold winter morning. Enjoy!

Lin