Banana Cacao Nib Scones

Hello my lovely readers, I hope the beginning of the new year is going smoothly for everyone. (If you want to get straight to the recipe, feel free to skip to the non-italicized text.) With regards to resolutions, this year I’ve decided to do something a little different. Alongside my usual set of running/baking/professional goals, I’ve decided to set a theme: mindfulness. Each month I am going to focus on being more mindful about something in my life. After reading the cookbook Run Fast, Eat Slow I have been inspired to make January’s theme into Mindful Eating.

This doesn’t mean counting calories or following a list of restricted items, but it’s more about improving my relationship with food. It’s easy to feel guilty about eating (or not eating) certain things, to rush through meals in order to move onto something else, to just make things because they’re easy and fast and not because I’m particularly excited to eat them. This month I’m going to focus on food in a way that makes me happy, both mentally and physically: taking the time to make things from scratch as well as actually slowing down and enjoying what I’m eating; having fewer meals in front of a screen; enjoying decadent items as treats not cheats; focusing on what makes me feel happy and energetic and ready for the days to come. 

This is intended to be a long-term change in the way I really think about food. Although I’m not one to be exacting about my diet, I do often feel restricted by what society is touting as healthy these days. Healthy doesn’t necessarily mean low-fat or low-calorie, carbs are not the devil and sugar isn’t the end of the world. Certainly I am going to be mindful of eating unnecessary added sugar, but I already know a low-carb diet doesn’t work that great for me, fats are important for flavor and staying power, and I want every calorie I eat to come from something I enjoy. I will no longer be describing anything as “guilt-free” because food should not be inherently shameful. I would love to hear your thoughts on this endeavor, should you be willing to share them. (Also I highly recommend the book, and you can expect to see some of those recipes on here in the coming months.)

In light of that, today we have another recipe that I made mostly out of curiosity. Consistent readers (and anyone that knows me in real life) will know that I don’t bake anything dairy-free, gluten-free, flourless, or vegan with any amount of regularity because these are not food traits I personally find important. I am, however, often intrigued by such recipes and will make them on occasion just for funsies.

Banana Cacao Nib Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

The original recipe called for things I don’t buy, like self-raising flour, coconut sugar, and almond meal, but I followed her modification suggestions and made a few of my own to tailor the recipe for myself. I replaced some of the flour with ground oatmeal for a heartier flavor, nixed the almond meal in favor of chia seeds, and used regular ole’ brown sugar instead of coconut sugar. I cut the sugar way back since I was figuring the banana adds a fair amount of sweetness (and because I already have my favorite sweeter scones) and added some whole oatmeal for texture.

Banana Cacao Nib Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

A few weeks ago I found some cacao nibs on massive clearance, and bought two of the bags. They were a great addition to these scones, no extra sugar but a little bit of chocolate flavor to enhance the banana. However they are definitely not cheap so feel free to leave them out or use mini chocolate chips as a more decadent replacement.

These scones are fairly dense but soft and moist and delicious. They are also pretty healthy, with low amounts of added sugar and a little bit of protein and good carbs from the oatmeal. Probably you shouldn’t eat three of them, but one is a perfect light-ish breakfast, especially when paired with a cup of coffee.

Banana Cacao Nib Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

I made these a few times and below is my favorite of those iterations. It can be baked into regular size or mini scones, depending on your preferences and whether you plan to serve them solo or as part of a fuller breakfast. They’re also easily portable and a great brunch option, although I think they’re best slightly warmed.

The banana and oatmeal combination is delicious by itself or topped with any number of toppings. Jam or butter and cinnamon sugar were my favorites, but mostly I ate them plain. I especially like the less sweet version if it’s going to be spread with a sweet topping anyway, but you can definitely increase the sugar here if you prefer.

Banana Cacao Nib Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

Give these a try and let me know what you think, and if any of your friends could guess they were vegan.

PS – These can be made gluten-free by using gluten-free flour and uncontaminated oats, and they are vegan/dairy-free unless you use normal chocolate chips, although I’m sure there are vegan/dairy-free versions of those out there you could substitute with.

Banana Scones

Adapted from OmNomAlly
Makes 12-16 mini or 6-8 large scones

Ingredients

2 overripe bananas
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 – 1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar1
2 Tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp vanilla

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (use almond flour for gluten-free options)
1 1/2 cups oatmeal, finely ground2
1/2 cup oatmeal, whole
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup cacao nibs, optional3

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with a silicon mat or parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mash banana completely. Add coconut oil (microwave briefly if it’s not already mostly liquid), brown sugar, chia, and vanilla. Whisk until well combined, then let rest at least 3 minutes, or until chia seeds have softened.
  3. Add flour, both ground and whole oatmeal, baking powder, salt, and cacao nibs (or chocolate chips), and stir until completely combined. Mixture will be a little loose and quite sticky, but should be solid enough to hold its shape.
  4. Pour onto prepared baking sheet and shape into rounds about 1″ tall. Use two rounds for mini scones, or one for large scones. Use a pizza cutter or a sharp knife to cut rounds into 6 or 8 wedges.
  5. Bake until golden on top and slightly browned on the bottom, about 20 minutes. Be careful not to over bake; they are better slightly too moist than slightly too dry.
  6. Serve warm. Great plain, with butter and cinnamon sugar, or your favorite jam. Store leftovers in an airtight container on the counter up to 3 days, but they are best on day one.

Notes

For sweeter scones, especially if you’re going to enjoy them plain, use the larger amount, or up to 1/2 cup. For less sweet scones, especially if you’re going to doctor them with jam, use the smaller amount. I personally like 1/4 cup best even plain, but the masses may prefer a sweeter option.

Use a blender to grind 1 1/2 cups of the oatmeal into a powder. Leave 1/2 cup as normal for texture. =)

Cacao nibs are a great way to add a little chocolate flavor without the sugar and calories of chocolate chips. They are quite mild but delicious in baked goods. However for a more decadent treat, or if you don’t have cacao nibs on hand, you can substitute mini chocolate chips for delicious results, or leave them out entirely.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

With summer coming to a close tomorrow, perhaps your garden is overflowing with things to use or store. Although we only have a small garden, I did get an excitingly abundant harvest given its size. The raspberries were proliferous for several weeks (some are in the freezer to bake with this winter), green beans galore, a few delicious broccoli heads, a decent amount of potatoes, giant zucchini (hopefully still some more in the coming weeks), and for the first time ever, carrots!

This is the third year in a row I’ve tried growing fingerling carrots, and the first year they grew bigger than my baby thumbnails. Planting them on the very edge so they weren’t overgrown by the beans seemed to be the key, and I’m excited to eat them. I planted two rows so likely will chop some up for the freezer. Roasted vegetables are my favorite and I’m sure we’ll be eating many panfuls in the coming weeks.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread {{Baking Bytes}}

My zucchini plant was not as abundant as some, likely due to the lack of sunlight my garden gets, but it still produced quite a few and there should be some more to pick if the weather doesn’t turn super cold right away. If, like many people, you have more zucchini than you know what to do with, then this is definitely the recipe for you.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread {{Baking Bytes}}

I see recipes for zucchini bread, muffins, scones, pancakes, waffles, etc, all over the place, but many of them are heavy on the sugar and chocolate. Although this is delicious, it somewhat ruins the health factor of the zucchini if you’re basically eating dessert bread.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread {{Baking Bytes}}

I recently came across this recipe on Pinterest (as usual) and loved that the chocolate was only in chip form, and the sugar content relatively low. I made some modifications like I always do, and it resulted in a very tasty but much less sweet variation.The zucchini flavor is mild but the bread is warm and inviting with cinnamon and nutmeg throughout. It’s sweetened with honey and a few chocolate chips, but maintains a much less decadent flavoring than your typical sugary quickbreads. You can obviously increase the chocolate chips if you want, but I felt this amount was plenty. Even with 30% less sugar than the original recipe, it still functions just as well as a dessert as it does for breakfast or an afternoon snack.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread {{Baking Bytes}}

Krista’s recipe called for walnuts, but I never put nuts in baked goods as I don’t care for the textural juxtaposition of soft bread and crunchy nuts if I’m not emotionally prepared for it. However, this time I chopped a few walnuts and sprinkled them on top, and it was a wonderful, crunchy addition to the bread. It’s a method I may use in the future for banana or pumpkin bread to give it a little something extra. If you don’t like walnuts, pecans or sliced almonds would work great too, or you can leave them off entirely, of course.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

Adapted from Joyful Healthy Eats
Makes 1 loaf (12 slices)

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/3 cup raw honey
1/3 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup applesauce
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla

1 1/4 cup grated zucchini
1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp chocolate chips, divided

1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease (butter, coconut oil, PAM, whatever) and flour a loaf pan, shaking out excess flour. Set aside.
  2. If you haven’t already, use a cloth or paper towels to squeeze as much excess water from your zucchini as possible. Get your upper body workout here, if your zucchini is drier your bread is less likely to have wet spots in the middle. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.
  4. In a separate microwave-safe bowl, combine honey and coconut oil. If they are not already liquid, heat 20-30 seconds and whisk until smooth. It’s okay if there are some small bits of coconut oil still solid.
  5. Add applesauce, egg, and vanilla, and whisk until completely combined.
  6. Slowly pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients, stirring (I used a rubbed scraper) until completely combined.
  7. Fold in zucchini and 1/3 cup chocolate chips, then pour into prepared loaf pan.
  8. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips and walnuts, if using.
  9. Bake 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Let cool most of the way in baking pan, then run a knife along the edge and turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely, or slice and serve pronto because it smells way too delicious to wait.
  11. Store completely cooled leftovers in an airtight container on the counter.

Sunrise Sweet Potato

Today I bring you a recipe I’ve been planning for months. Why so long you ask? That’s a good question. Is it hard? Nope. Did it take a lot of iterations to figure out? Nope. Does Lindsey greatly struggle with frying eggs pretty enough to photograph? Turns out, yes.

Sunrise Sweet Potato {{Baking Bytes}}

Typically I scramble eggs because it’s way easier and I like to throw in a bunch of extra stuff anyway, but for the purposes of this recipe a fried egg is really my favorite combination. Ideally lightly browned on the bottom with the yolk still a bit runny, it’s a delicious savory meal for any time of the day. Mashed sweet potato, sautéed bell peppers, and a fried eggs are drizzled with a maple syrup and chipotle combo that compliments and juxtaposes the other flavors all in one delicious bite.

Sunrise Sweet Potato {{Baking Bytes}}

I really meant to share this earlier in the summer but my aforementioned struggle with frying pretty eggs deterred me from doing so. As you can see by my over-medium (hard) version here, I eventually gave up. My own personal shortcomings should not prevent anyone from making this delicious recipe, so please forgive the lack of runny yolk.

You may be skeptical of the sweet potato and egg combination but I assure you it is fantastic. Or perhaps, like M, you’re a little held up on the maple chipotle situation that meshes with the whole thing. Even he admitted maple and chipotle are a delicious breakfast addition for a sweet and savory item. (And yes, this recipe is also somewhat inspired by Biga Pizza, just like last month’s ice cream flavor.)

Sunrise Sweet Potato {{Baking Bytes}}

If, like me, you struggle with frying eggs, you can definitely go scrambled or poached or hard-boiled or any method you prefer. I find it easiest to use two separate small frying pans for the eggs and peppers anyway, but if you have better kitchen skills than I do feel free to do it all in one. For ease and quickness, I cook my sweet potato in the microwave, but you can also do a bunch at once in the oven if you’re feeding more than a couple of people. For myself I typically use just one egg, but after a 10-mile run I decided two was necessary.

Sunrise Sweet Potato {{Baking Bytes}}

This is a fantastic post-run meal, a hearty brunch, a delicious lunch, or a fun dinner. I encourage you to make it for whatever you think is the best option, but really, they are all delightful.

And if you have leftover chipotle syrup, it’s great on plain yogurt, on ice cream, on a diced peach warmed in the microwave, for dipping your bacon or sausage, or to top your usual griddle items like pancakes and waffles. Make a larger batch and store it in the fridge, or mix it up on the fly; totally up to you.

Sunrise Sweet Potato
Makes 2 servings

Ingredients

1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2-1 tsp ground chipotle

1 medium-large yam or sweet potato
2-4 eggs
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 bell pepper, diced

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together maple syrup and chipotle. Set aside.
  2. Vigorously scrub your potato, then use a fork to prick several holes all over it.
  3. Microwave 5-10 minutes, until easily pierced with a fork.
  4. Meanwhile, sauté bell pepper in oil over medium heat to desired doneness, about 5 minutes.
  5. At the same time, prepare eggs using preferred method. I like to use fried eggs, but poached or scrambled would be great also.
  6. Just before the eggs are done (don’t forget about them), carefully slice your sweet potato in half. Use a fork to mash the insides and then drizzle with 1-2 tsp of the chipotle syrup.
  7. Top each potato will bell peppers and eggs, then drizzle with additional syrup.
  8. Serve immediately.

Banana Protein Pancakes

Back in June when I had given up bread for the month, I pinned this recipe as something to try if I was absolutely craving pancakes. I didn’t end up trying it that month, and perhaps it will feel somewhat out of season, but after a ridiculous amount of ice cream over the last two months I was looking for something rather less decadent to share with you. Originally a vegetable dish was on the docket, but after a surprise visit from M two weekends ago, and driving to Michigan with my best friend this week, I ran out of time to give it the effort it really deserved. This seemed like a great time to try such a simple recipe and with all the hot weather we’ve been having, a few minutes in front of a griddle is way more appealing that turning on the oven for half an hour.

Banana Protein Pancakes {{Baking Bytes}}

The first time I made this recipe 100% as directed and although it was delicious, it wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. Substantially more moist and less fluffy than a normal pancake, I attempted to lighten it up a bit. I increased the dry:wet ratio with more oatmeal and nixing the applesauce, and decided to add a bit of baking powder like a regular recipe would. This definitely improved the experience for me, but it’s certainly not necessary.

Banana Protein Pancakes {{Baking Bytes}}

Very filling, no added sugar, high protein, and with a wonderful banana flavor, these pancakes are super quick and guilt-free meal – great for nights when you just need to eat something, pronto. I enjoyed mine with peanut butter, banana slices, and cinnamon because that’s how I always eat pancakes (and also so I wouldn’t have half a banana left over), but they are also delightful with real maple or berry syrup if you’re looking for a sweeter treat.

A few disclaimers: are these light and fluffy like normal pancakes? No. Do they stay rather more wet than your favorite recipe? Yes. Are they super delicious anyway? Absolutely. While they’re not a substitute for a true pancake experience, they are excellent in their own right. They are also gluten-free if you use uncontaminated oats, which is probably useful for some people.

Banana Protein Pancakes {{Baking Bytes}}

I added chia seeds and peanut butter powder to mine, but these items are both optional. I think chia is a great way to get a little extra protein without compromising flavor and texture, but you can absolutely reduce the amount or leave it out entirely. Same with the peanut butter powder; I bought some at Costco on a whim and have found it great to use in smoothies and quick breads, but it is also completely optional, especially if you’re going to top your pancakes with peanut butter anyway. I will say that if you are ditching the peanut butter powder, you probably want to use the higher amount of oatmeal if you don’t like pretty moist pancakes.

Banana Protein Pancakes {{Baking Bytes}}

Below find the recipe for one serving. I don’t expect the batter would keep super well, so make just enough for that time. It is so fast to make there’s no need to make it ahead, I promise. The three small pancakes (with peanut butter) was perfect for me, but it’s easily scaled to feed more people. Goes great with sides of bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, etc. For the athletes out there, I think these would be great pre-run if you have enough time, or as a fantastic post-run recovery meal, particularly with a cup of coffee to go with it.

Give them a try and let me know what you think!

Peanut Butter Banana Protein Pancakes

Adapted from Liz Heather
Serves 1 (three ~4″ pancakes)

Ingredients

1/2 ripe banana, well mashed
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 – 1 Tbsp chia seeds (optional, I used 1 Tbsp)

1/3 cup oatmeal, finely ground
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1-3 Tbsp peanut butter powder (optional,  I sometimes use 2 Tbsp)

Blueberries, raspberries, sliced banana (optional)

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, mix together banana, egg, vanilla, and chia seeds. Allow to rest until chia seeds have softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat electric griddle to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (or medium heat on a stove).
  3. Retrieve banana mixture and add oatmeal (use a blender to grind it first if you haven’t already), baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and peanut butter powder (if using), and mix until well combined. Mixture will be fairly thick.
  4. Add about 1/4 cup of batter on the griddle, manually spreading to about 4″ in diameter.  If desired, gently press fresh fruit into the top of the batter. Cook 3-5 minutes each side, until nicely browned. They will be a bit darker than normal pancakes; that is expected. Repeat with remaining batter (I was able to barely fit all three pancakes on my small griddle at one time.)
  5. Serve immediately with remaining sliced banana, peanut butter, maple syrup, blueberry sauce, cinnamon and sugar, or your favorite toppings.

Vanilla Cinnamon Granola

Ah, spring. Sunny skies and reading books in the yard are definitely in my near future. Although, given Montana’s weather snow could possibly (probably) be in my near future as well, but I like to focus on the positive.

Vanilla Cinnamon Granola {{Baking Bytes}}

In the warmer months I often start my days with yogurt and granola instead of hot oatmeal. High protein and filling, with fresh fruit for color and flavor, it’s always makes for a pleasant morning. However, given the high sugar content of most yogurt and granola, it can easily turn into more of a dessert than a healthy breakfast. I’ve solved the yogurt problem by buying the plain kind and adding a small dollop of homemade jam, which takes those sugar grams down to a much more reasonable level without sacrificing flavor, since I don’t particularly care for the taste of unflavored yogurt.

Vanilla Cinnamon Granola {{Baking Bytes}}

However, after trying and failing (and trying and failing, and trying and failing) to find a granola with more grams of protein than sugar in each serving, I decided I should probably just make my own. Unfortunately, even most of the online recipes add a bunch of sugar!

Vanilla Cinnamon Granola {{Baking Bytes}}

(By the way, does it annoy anyone else when a recipe is touted as being sugar-free and then adds honey? This drives me insane. Honey is still sugar, people.)

I eventually found a recipe that legitimately doesn’t add any sugar, modified it slightly to fit my preferences (not a fan of cashews), and made a batch to try. It turned out pretty close to what I was looking for on the first attempt, which is always extra fantastic when trying new recipes. I later used inspiration from a very delicious but much more sugary recipe and took the best of both worlds to meet my needs.

Vanilla Cinnamon Granola {{Baking Bytes}}

Crunchy, nutty, and full of great cinnamon flavor, this recipe is easy to tailor to suit your tastes and needs, or just to mix it up a little with every batch. I used almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and quinoa but you can certainly use any nuts or seeds of your choice, just try to keep it between 1.5 and 2 cups total. I think macadamia nuts would be fantastic, as well as pumpkin seeds. If you like dried fruits or chocolate in your granola, definitely add some (after it’s completely cooled!), just bear in mind this can quickly increase the sugar content. Additionally, if you’re not sold on the no-sugar-added idea, throw some honey or brown sugar in there too.

Vanilla Cinnamon Granola {{Baking Bytes}}

Vanilla Cinnamon Granola

Inspired by Super Healthy Kids and Pastry Affair
Makes 4+ cups

Ingredients

4 egg whites
1 Tablespoon vanilla
up to 1/2 cup packed brown sugar or honey (optional)1

2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup chopped raw almonds
1/2 cup chopped raw walnuts
1/4 cup hulled sunflower seeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 Tablespoon cinnamon2

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an edged baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Add egg whites to a large bowl and whip with an electric mixer until fluffy and opaque.
  3. Stir in vanilla and sugar (if using).
  4. Add oatmeal, nuts, seeds, quinoa, and cinnamon and stir until mixture is completely combined and moistened.
  5. Spread evenly on prepared baking sheet, ideally not more than 1/4″ thick.
  6. Bake for about 25 minutes, until granola is golden and crisp. If you like a loose granola, stir it every 10 minutes or so.
  7. Let cool completely on the counter, then break into pieces and store in an airtight container.

Notes

I used no sugar since that’s what I was looking for. As a topping on yogurt or fruit, I don’t miss it a bit, but it does results in a somewhat less chunky granola in the end. If you like it to stay in larger pieces, add 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar; if you eat it more as a cereal and/or are looking for a traditional flavor, I would add about 1/4 cup packed. If you are adding 1/4 cup or more of sugar, you can probably omit half the egg white, or all of it to maintain a looser granola.

If this seems like an absurd amount of cinnamon, feel free to cut it in half. It’s way easier to add more than it is to take it away.