Tag Archives: healthy sweets

Tastes like Home


Shortly after I graduated college my mom compiled a binder filled with recipes that were the sort of things you would always love to eat at a mom’s house and should always know how to make; apple pie, quiche, perfect salad dressing, cakes for holidays, and banana bread.

Banana bread feels like home.  It is warm, it’s comforting, it’s not so bad for you that you can’t eat it all day long – which I ultimately did.   After a whirlwind week of doctors appointments and hospital stays, more on that at another time, I just wanted to be back in our home.  All I could think to do was clean, do laundry and bake.  I’ll spare you the pictures of me sweeping and folding towels.

I took my  mom’s already really terrific banana bread recipe and upped the ante in the “good for you” category, without losing points in the “good tasting” category.


Healthy and Fluffy Banana Bread
Ingredients:
1 2/3 cup of whole wheat flour
1 tsp of baking soda
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 stick of butter
1/2 cup of turbinado sugar, or regular white sugar
1 apple sauce snack cup (4 oz.)
2 eggs
1 tsp of vanilla
4 mashed very ripe bananas
1/2 cup of fat free Greek Yogurt
Bake at 350 for 1 hour

As a tip the banana shown above are not the ones I used. For a really good banana bread you want the bananas that look really bad: covered in spots, mushy and overly ripe.  If you want to fastforward the ripening process you can keep the bananas in the freezer, and then take them out about an hour before baking time to defrost, like so.

First melt the butter and let it cool and then add the sugar, eggs, vanilla and apple sauce. When you mix it up it will look like nothing very exciting.  Don’t lose hope.

Then add in those super ripe, but full of flavor bananas and the yogurt.  I know, now it just looks like banana baby food.  Believe in the banana bread!  I promise!


Time to add the dry ingredients.  A bunch of scoopfuls.


Here’s a secret, whenever I make a bread or cake I pour a little extra batter in some muffin tins also.  Maybe this is to taste test to make sure the recipe worked, but maybe it’s also to have a great treat in less time then in takes to bake a whole cake, you be the judge.


After an hour in the oven, always test with a toothpick, your banana bread should be done.  Let it cool, if you can, before removing it from the pan.  If the temptation is too great, that’s what those little muffins were for!   I loved this banana bread, it would be great with nuts or chocolate chips added in or smeared with some peanut butter or cream cheese.  But in this case, it tasted like home and that is all I was craving.

Sweetness for the New Year


Growing up there were certain food pairings that always went together: peanut butter and jelly, Oreo cookies and milk, apples and honey.  As the Jewish High Holiday season approaches, my mind and my appetite starts to shift away from blueberries and peaches and to autumn’s bounty of apples.  

On Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, it is traditional to dip apples into honey for it signifies the wish for sweetness in the coming year – but really any reason is a good reason to mix apples with sweetness.  The holiday season is always filled with multiple meals, treats and often overindulging, this healthier take on a traditional apple cake will set the year off on a healthier and sweet note, and that’s what I always wish for good health and sweetness.  
Whole Wheat Apple Muffins, adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Ingredients: 
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup of apple sauce
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsps dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 cup non-fat greek yogurt
2 large apples, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
I have to start off by saying that I played with the ingredients for this recipe to create something lighter, and more sponge cake like than a traditional dense muffin – although I do love a good muffin.  

Let’s get started, all of the dry ingredients are in one bowl.  Because I subbed out half of the butter, I halved the amount of all-purpose flour and added half a cup of cake flour to help keep the fluffiness.  I also used less sugar than the original recipe called for because of the natural and added sugars in apple sauce.  As a side note, we just got fresh cinnamon, and the aroma is amazing.

In a separate bowl mix the butter, apple sauce, and sugars.  When the butter is broken up enough – it won’t look like normal creamed butter and sugar because the liquid content of the apple sauce, don’t worry.  Now blend in the egg.  It still is not going to be pretty, don’t worry.  Now add in the yogurt.  I use non-fat, sugar free Greek yogurt, because I don’t want to add extra sugars that are hidden in most yogurts.


After you blend the yogurt it will resemble what you probably expected the mixture to look like all along – phew!  Slowly add the dry ingredients to to the wet mixture.


Time to get to the apples.  I am partial to granny smith apples.  I use them for my apple pies or just for snack.  I love their tart flavor and crisp bite.  I am sure you could use your favorite variety.  Make sure to eat some apples a long the way, that’s what I did.


With a large spoon mix in the apples.  I have to warn you at this point the batter is sticky, and not at all like a traditional cake dough.  It more closely resembles a cookie dough.  Don’t worry about it.  Seriously, apples and sugar and yogurt and flour is not something to worry about.


Plop large spoonfuls of the batter into muffin cups or if you run out of papers as I did eventually just make small balls on a cookie tray.  For extra sweetness you can sprinkle a bit of brown sugar on top of the muffins.


Pop these into a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes, and then lower the oven temperature to 400 degree for another 5 minutes.  That is it.  It is a fast, fast baking recipe.  Kind of perfect for the holiday season when you are cooking/basting/baking all day and don’t have time to slave over dessert – and probably even better to save for yourself for a treat the next day.

Wishing you good baked goods, health and happiness.