Banana Chocolate Chip Bread (Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free)

One day I really missed having banana bread, so I looked into my kitchen to see if I had ingredients to quickly bake a fresh loaf of banana bread for my afternoon tea. Luckily I had one egg and one extremely ripe banana left, so I decided to experiment and see if it was possible to make a gluten-free and dairy-free banana bread with only one egg and one banana. I added chocolate chips because I’ve always loved the combination of banana and chocolate. To my delight, the result was one delicious, naturally sweet and dense loaf, perfect for my afternoon snack!

Since then, I have tried this recipe a few times more, and even had family members and friends taste it. After tasting this gluten-free and dairy-free version, some friends asked me for the recipe, so I have decided to put it here for all to enjoy. 🙂

Happy Baking my dear friends and readers!

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread: The perfect morning or afternoon sweet snack with a cup of tea or coffee! :)

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread: The perfect morning or afternoon sweet snack with a cup of tea or coffee! 🙂

Makes: 1 loaf

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Bake Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: about 35 minutes

 

Ingredients:

Wet Ingredients

1 ripe and mashed banana

1 egg

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

4 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk/non-dairy milk

2 tablespoon coconut oil (melted)

 

Dry Ingredients

1 ½ cups gluten-free all purpose baking flour

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 heaped tablespoon cacao powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons chia seeds

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 cup bittersweet/non-dairy chocolate chips

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Line small-medium loaf tin with baking/parchment paper.
  3. Mix wet ingredients into a blender/food processor.
  4. Combine dry ingredients (without chocolate chips) in a large bowl.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.
  6. Add chocolate chips slowly into the mixture.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes or until firm.
  8. Enjoy! 🙂

 

Special Note: I would love to try “egg free” for this recipe sometime soon. If you are trying this recipe with an egg substitute, please let me know how it turns out! Thank you. 🙂

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Healthy Holiday Baking Recipe #2: Mint Chocolate Chip Christmas Cookies (Gluten-Free)

When I went shopping for baking ingredients, I got inspired by the mint chocolate chips and Christmas-coloured chocolate chips (red, green and white) at the store.  Therefore, I couldn’t resist buying both to create these yummylicious and fun Christmas cookies!

As promised, here’s the second recipe to my healthy holiday baking.  These gluten-free and light cookies are perfect for anyone who is health conscious but loves chocolate, or the combination of mint and chocolate!  My sister-in-law, who is one of the fittest person I’ve ever known, came over last night and ate about ten of these.  Trust me, you eat about 6 of these, and you won’t feel bloated or guilty overindulging! 😉

XmasMintCookies

Makes: 24 cookies

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Bake Time: 13 minutes

Total Time: about 25 minutes

 

Ingredients:

Dry Ingredients

2 cups gluten-free all purpose baking flour (I used Robin Hood’s Nutri Flour Blend Gluten Free: http://www.robinhood.ca/Products/Nutri-Flour-Blend-Gluten-Free)

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

 

Wet Ingredients

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3/4 cup organic coconut palm sugar

2 organic eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

 

Extra

1/2 cup mint chocolate chips

1/2 cup Christmas chocolate chips

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. In another bowl, mix olive oil and sugar until well combined.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Add vanilla.
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.
  7. Slowly add chocolate chips into batter, making sure both mint and Christmas chocolate chips are evenly distributed.
  8. With damp hands, roll 1 tablespoon of the batter into a ball, place it on the baking sheet and flatten it slightly.  Continue until batter is gone, spacing the flattened balls 2 inches apart.
  9. Bake the cookies for 13 minutes.
  10. Enjoy! :)

 

Special Notes:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil:  used in replacement of butter/margarine because it’s not only healthier (cuts back on cholesterol and saturated fat content) and dairy-free, it also makes the baked goods lighter and moister!

Here’s a good site for more information and it even has a butter/margarine to olive oil conversion chart for baking: http://thepassionateolive.com/wp/baking-with-olive-oil-instead-of-butter/

Organic Coconut Palm Sugar: I’m really loving this new natural sweetener I discovered recently for baking.  As mentioned in my previous post, this natural sugar has a low glycemic index; it also has a high nutrient profile (to name a few: iron, zinc, calcium, and potassium).  To learn more about it, read this very informative article about it: http://authoritynutrition.com/coconut-sugar/

-To reduce the sugar, you can decrease amount of sugar and chocolate chips to your liking.  Also, you can replace chocolate chips with same amount of dried cranberries, raisins and/or nuts.  Be creative! 🙂

-If you don’t have mint chocolate chips, you can replace it with crushed candy canes to give it a minty taste.

 

Wishing you all love, peace, joy, hope and light this wondrous holiday season with your family and friends! 😀

xoxo, Violet 

Chocolate Crunchy Squares/Bars

Here are my rice krispie square and granola bar inspired "Chocolate Crunchy Squares or Bars".  They are sweet,  chewy, gooey and of course crunchy! :)

Here are my rice krispie square and granola bar inspired “Chocolate Crunchy Squares or Bars”. They are sweet, chewy, gooey and of course crunchy!

Two nights ago I was suddenly craving for rice krispie square, a fond memory of a yummy treat from my childhood, and at the same time, I wanted granola bar as a snack for my day trip the next day.  It is quite strange yet I guess it’s a natural response, as I slowly move towards healthy eating, I no longer feel the compulsion to buy a snack outside (e.g. from vending machine, fast food etc.) to satiate my hunger.  I rather bring my own healthy snack to munch on or wait till I go home to make something nutritious.  As a result, I decided to combine my desires for both a rice krispie square and a granola bar into creating the following healthy snack recipe.

I hope you enjoy making and sharing my Chocolate Crunchy Squares or Bars with your family and friends, as much as I did! 🙂

 

Makes: 24 squares or 12 bars

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

 

Special Notes:

-You can substitute any cereal into the recipe and it doesn’t have to be gluten-free.  I made it gluten-free to suit my dietary needs.

-If you have a sweet tooth, this recipe is most definitely for you!  The squares/bars are extremely sweet.  If you don’t want them that sweet, you can decrease the amount of honey into 2/3 cup, and the chocolate chips into 1/4 cup.

-Please store no more than 2 days at room temperature in airtight container, covered with parchment paper.

 

Ingredients:

1 cup manuka honey

2 cups gluten-free cereal (I like Nature’s Path Sunrise Crunchy Vanilla Cereal; it has corn, rice, flax, quinoa, buckwheat & amaranth)

1 cup rolled oats (wheat-free & dairy-free)

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

 

Instructions:

  1. Warm up honey on medium heat until it simmers in a saucepan.
  2. Remove from heat.
  3. Immediately add cereal and rolled oats in the saucepan, and stir evenly.
  4. Quickly add sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds and mix well.
  5. Reheat mixture in saucepan on medium heat, and quickly stir in the chocolate chips until well coated.  The chocolate chips should melt within seconds.
  6. Remove from heat and press mixture evenly into a baking tray (lined with parchment paper).
  7. Cool mixture completely before cutting into either squares or bars.
  8.  Enjoy! 🙂

A Gluten-free, Dairy-free & Sugar-free Surprise!

Gluten-free + Dairy-free + Sugar-free = Banana Chocolate Chip Oat Muffins

Gluten-free + Dairy-free + Sugar-free = Banana Chocolate Chip Oat Muffins

About 6 months ago, I was chatting with my good friend Naomi, who also started on a gluten-free and dairy-free diet around the same time as me.  However, she went further by totally cutting out refined sugar.  I have to admit, sometimes I still “cheat” with the sugar-free part, such as eating a Kit Kat bar the other day during break at work.  I tell myself a little refined sugar indulgence is ok once in a while, and compensate it with exercise.  It’s all about balancing! 🙂  Anyways, Naomi went on this eating lifestyle change at the recommendation of her naturopathic doctor for health reasons.  I truly admire her self-control on eating gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free daily!

When I saw her for her birthday a few days ago, she looked absolutely stunning, glowing with health.  To begin with, she has always been beautiful; she looks like a classy, younger version of Ashley Judd with short dark hair.  Nonetheless, the demands of her hectic career affected her physical appearance and energy level in the past few years.  As a result, she gained some weight and had unhealthy pallor of skin.  Now that she has been on her gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free diet for about 6 months, I can really see the difference it has made on her physical appearance.  Her skin is more radiant, her eyes are brighter, and she has slimmed down.  She confides in me that her energy level is much better and she believes it’s all due to changing her eating habits.  As well, her increased energy level allows her to focus on balancing between work and family.  I’m absolutely thrilled for Naomi and through her, see how healthy eating and balanced living work hand in hand towards happiness!

Naomi inspired me to create the following gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free muffins.  A few years ago, Naomi decided to stop buying gifts for family and friends. Instead, she would hand make gifts for them.  I followed suit and surprised her with these yummy treats for her birthday. 🙂

I will now share with you the recipe that I made especially for my dearest friend Naomi.

VIOLET’S VERY HEALTHY BANANA CHOCOLATE CHIP OAT MUFFINS

Makes: 18 muffins

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: about 35 minutes

Special Notes: 

In my further exploration of gluten-free flour, I discovered quinoa flour.  It is high in protein, calcium and iron; it also gives a nutty and sweet taste to the baked goods.  It adds lightness to the baked goods, so I decided to combine it with the almond flour (which makes baked goods dense).  The result of the combination was perfect!

-The sugar from the ripe bananas and the lesser amount of sugar in the semisweet/bittersweet chocolate chips compared to other chocolate types, make the muffins sweet in a natural way!

Ingredients:

2 cups almond flour/meal

2 cups quinoa flour

1 1/2 cups rolled oats (wheat-free & dairy-free)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 ripe and mashed bananas

3 eggs

1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line muffin pans with large baking cups.
  2. Combine almond flour, quinoa flour, rolled oats, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a bowl.
  3. Combine bananas, eggs, almond milk and chocolate chips in another bowl.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well.
  5. Fill each baking cup evenly with the batter.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes.
  7. Let the muffins cool completely.
  8.  Bon appétit!

*I asked Naomi to write a mini review on the muffins after she consumed all of them, and here it is:

“I’ve tried many Gluten-free Sugar-free muffins/recipes before and they all seem to end up with a very dense, heavy texture.  But not these muffins!  They are light and fluffy, with great taste.  They have a natural sweetness from the bananas.  Delicious for a healthy breakfast, snack or even dessert!”

Exploring Gluten-Free Baking…

On my last visit to my naturopathic doctor, as we continued to discuss and explore a variety of ways for me to maintain my healthy eating, she kindly shared with me her Berry Almond Flour Muffins recipe.  At her recommendation, I am on my way in cutting out gluten in my daily diet, since we discovered gluten was another reason I often felt bloated.  I used to have toast with milk (I’ve also decreased my dairy intake now) almost every morning for my breakfast, but now I am learning to find appetizing substitutes for my first meal in the morning.  Of course, balance is the key in life, as well as in eating, so I admit that on special occasions such as at my friend’s wedding a few weeks ago, I had some gluten and dairy food.  I figure that eating gluten once in a while is ok, at least for me. 🙂

I am now experimenting with gluten-free alternatives in my baking and eating.  It’s an area that I’m unfamiliar with, but excited to learn more!

As a chocoholic, I had to add a bit of chocolate into my naturopathic doctor’s recipe, so below you will find my version, with some minor changes.  Have fun baking it!

VIOLET’S RASPBERRY & CHOCOLATE CHIP ALMOND FLOUR MUFFINS

Raspberry & Chocolate Chip Almond Flour Muffins Photo

Makes: 18 muffins

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: about 45 minutes

Special Notes: I decided to replace the blueberries/cranberries with raspberries, because I find the tartness of the raspberries goes very well with chocolate.  Plus, there are many health benefits in eating raspberries. (see: http://www.livestrong.com/article/419257-benefits-of-raspberries/)  I find the Almond flour makes the muffins very moist, heavy and filling.  Therefore, having one of these muffins for breakfast is a good way to start off the day on a healthy and sweet note! 🙂

Ingredients:

3 cups almond flour/meal

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 1/2 cups raspberries

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup manuka honey

3 eggs

1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line muffin pans with large baking cups.
  2. Combine almond flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a bowl.
  3. Combine raspberries, vanilla, manuka honey and eggs in another bowl.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well.
  5. Fill each baking cup evenly with the batter.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes.
  7. Let the muffins cool completely.
  8.  Bon appétit!

Do you know of another gluten-free flour that is great for baking?  Please let me know and if possible, share a recipe with it. 🙂

Thanks & Love, Violet

Craving for Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Even though I’m a chocoholic at heart and have a sweet tooth, I have cut down on my sugar intake greatly (through eating chocolates and baked goods) in the past 6 months.  After I began seeing my naturopathic doctor, I am now more aware of the importance of eating right, and how it is connected to my overall health and wellness.  Healthy eating is truly a reflection on how you feel.  In the past 6 months, at the advice of my naturopathic doctor, I have reduced sugar and dairy from my diet, and increased my fruit and vegetable consumption.  I also tried my best to cut down on eating processed food.  The wondrous discovery from eating healthier is that I find my energy level has increased and I no longer feel bloated or sluggish anymore!

However, about 2 months ago, I had this craving for my favourite chocolate chip cookies.  I knew clearly that I shouldn’t buy them from a package as I used to, since it’s processed food, and the thought of eating homemade chocolate chip cookies made from butter and white/brown sugar seemed unappetizing.  Suddenly, I was inspired to google and see if there was such a thing as a healthy homemade chocolate chip cookie out there!  To my joy, I found this website (see below), and realized that I can eat my chocolate chip cookie without feeling yucky.  After experimenting with and baking a successful batch of cookies, using healthier ingredient substitutions, I learned that “balance” is the key to sweetness in life, even when it pertains to baking and eating!

Below you will find my version of healthy chocolate chip cookies, inspired by http://www.eatingwell.com/healthy_cooking/healthy_cooking_101_basics_techniques/kitchen_tips_techniques/how_to_make_chocolate_chip_cookies_healthier.  It is a very big hit with my health-conscious family!

VIOLET’S HEALTHY OATMEAL PEANUT BUTTER WALNUT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

My Version of Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Makes: 24 cookies

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: about 1 hour

Special Note: This version tastes less sweet than the classic chocolate chip cookie, but still tastes delicious with a nutty flavour, and is a healthy source of fiber, protein, omega-3, and calcium!

Ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats (I like using Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Rolled Oats)

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup tahini

2 tablespoons organic creamy peanut butter (replaces butter)

2/3 cup manuka honey (replaces sugar)

1 large egg

1 large egg white

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

½  cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

½ cup chopped walnuts

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
  2. Mix oats, whole-wheat flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Blend tahini and peanut butter in a large bowl with a wooden spoon.
  4. Add manuka honey, and continue mixing until well combined.
  5. Beat in egg, then egg white, and then vanilla.
  6. Stir in the oat mixture until just moistened.
  7. Finally, stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.
  8. With damp hands, roll 1 tablespoon of the batter into a ball, place it on the baking sheet and flatten it to about 1/2 inch thick; don’t let the sides crack.  Continue until batter is gone, spacing the flattened balls 2 inches apart.
  9. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  10. Let the cookies cool completely or if you can’t resist the freshly baked cookies while it’s still warm, wait about 10-15 minutes to eat it.  Bon appétit!!

What is your version of the healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie?  I would love to hear from you and try out your recipe!

Thanks & Love, Violet