Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Hello and happy Monday!

After sharing some recommendations for plant-based eating in my last two posts, I’m finally back with another recipe. I’ve been making this fully plant-based banana bread pretty much weekly lately, as it’s so quick to throw together and perfect for snacking on at work or enjoying on the couch with a cup of tea. I love how fudgy it is when I don’t bake it quite through and how melty the dark chocolate chunks are, before the loaf cools!

The fact that it’s made from simple and nutritious ingredients and is only sweetend with fruit and maple syrup makes it even more irresistible (#begoodtoyourself 😉 ) and the perfect staple bake for week nights or lazy weekend mornings.

The recipe is actually an adaption from my Pumpkin PB Chocolate Chip Mini Loaves, which are perfect for fall. Definitely check them out too if you enjoy this recipe.

Makes ca. 6-8 slices.

Ingredients:

  • 250g mashed banana (i.e. ca. 2 large-ish bananas, peeled)
  • 2 tbsp ground flax- and/or chia seeds
  • 100g soft dates*
  • 5 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup natural, unsalted peanut butter (almond/cashew/hazelnut should work too)
  • 1/4 cup (65 ml) plant-based milk
  • 130g wheat or spelt flour (wholemeal or regular; buckwheat flour should work too for a gluten-free version, but I haven’t tested this yet)
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground vanilla bean
  • 1 pinch salt (unless using salted nut butter)
  • Ca. 50g chocolate of choice (I use 75-85%), chopped
  • optional extras:
    • spices (e.g. cinnamon, cardamom)
    • chopped nuts: peanuts, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts etc.
    • dried berries: cranberries, raisins, goji berries etc.

* E.g. medjool or sukkari (I order ‘sukkari cooking’ dates from Palmyra Delights: Swiss website / EU website and am obsessed with them!). If your dates are on the dry side, try soaking them in hot water and draining before blending.

Method:

  1. Combine the mashed banana with the ground flax/chia seeds and set aside.
  2. Blend together the dates, maple syrup, plant milk and peanut butter and combine with the banana mixture (don’t forget to lick the spoon – it’s divine 🙂 ).
  3. Stir together the flour, baking powder, vanilla and salt (and spices) and combine with the rest of the batter. Finally, add in the chocolate chunks and chopped nuts and/or dried berries if using.
  4. Pour the mixture into a small loaf tin that you’ve greased (e.g. with coconut oil) or lined with baking parchment and bake in an oven preheated to 180°C for ca. 35-40 minutes. Oven times vary, so keep an eye on your bake. The top should be firm to the touch but the middle should still be slightly moist. Leave to cool in the tin for at least 10 minutes.
  5. Serve as is or with some extra nut butter, jam and/or (n)ice cream.

Note: Once cooled, you can slice and freeze this cake to save for later.

I hope you enjoy!

Celine

P.S. Tag me (@blueberrysmiles22) if you share your bake on Instagram! I’d love to know your feedback. 

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Chocolate Covered Pitaya

Pitaya, also known as dragon fruit, is without doubt one of my favorite fruits ever. (Big statement). It feels like such a treat anytime I have it, which is, unfortunately, quite rarely. I remember the first time I tried it, on a trip to China a few years ago, and being utterly fascinated by its appearance and taste. Since then, it’s always had a special place in the (large) part of my heart dedicated to food. Then, last summer I discovered dried pitaya, at an unforgettable food market in Aix-en-Provence, where my boyfriend and I stocked up on lots of wondrous things for our journey home, including passionfruit cubes and dried aloe vera [no idea that even existed].

Recently I had the pleasure of feeding my dried pitaya passion due to a little collaboration with Koro Drogerie, a German healthy food start-up that also ships to the UK. When I saw they stocked this delicacy, the path ahead was clear.

Now, when I opened the packet and got the first floral whiff of pitaya, I could have happily just sat down and devoured the half-kg packet then and there. It’s just so good! But, I decided to savor it slowly instead, and do something special with it. And, in the process, I discovered I that it actually tastes really good with chocolate! (What doesn’t, after all?). So, one evening, when I didn’t feel like working on my dissertation anymore, I decided to make myself some chocolate covered pitaya – currently my favorite not-at-all-guilty pleasure.

It’s super simple and barely even a recipe, but I wanted to share it all the same, as it’s so satisfying and also a pretty cool thing to offer when you have people around. (If you’re willing to share that is) 😉

Ingredients:

  • Dried pitaya – as much as you want
  • Dark chocolate (or any chocolate you like; I used my go-to 85% from Lindt) – I used about 4 squares for the amount pictured
  • Sesame seeds (use black ones if you want to use white chocolate)

Method:

Melt the chocolate (I did it in the microwave, even though you’re not really supposed to?), use a spoon to cover half a piece of dried pitaya in chocolate, sprinkle sesame seeds on both sides of the chocolate-covered end, place on a sheet of baking paper and repeat until you’ve choc-ified all your pitaya. Leave the chocolate to set. [It was super warm in my room so I ended up putting them in the fridge, which apparently gives the chocolate a bit of a dull appearance. But that doesn’t bother me as, let’s be real, I’m just going to eat it all myself anyway 😀 ].

BONUS: If you happen to check out the Koro website and see something you like, use BLUEBERRY5 to get 5% off 😉

Hope you enjoy!

xoxo

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PB & J inspired Energy Balls

I’m so excited about these! The idea came about when I was in New York three months ago and fueled my extensive walking with Lärabars. I’d heard about them and always wanted to try them, so I jumped at the chance and, as you can probably tell from this picture, I really liked them!

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My favorite flavor kept changing, but overall I’m pretty sure it was the Peanut Butter and Jelly one, which is why I set out to recreate it. Looking at the ingredients and seeing just dates, dried cherries and peanuts, I knew it would be easy to make these at home and I was so right. I decided to make them as energy balls, as, let’s face it, that’s way more fun to make. (I absolutely love rolling the mix into balls and it makes me feel like I’m in a Deliciously Ella video – hers being the first energy ball recipe I came in contact with).

Anyway, back to these yummy energizers. They’re super simple and they consist only of four ingredients, which are pretty easy to get your hands on. While I’m a sucker for hemp and chia and all the other “superfood”-y ingredients you often find in energy balls, let’s not forget that an energy ball can be something very simple as well. And, let’s face it, that 1% of maca or whatever is not gonna change your life. Dates and peanuts are perfectly common and widely available ingredients, but come with their own impressive array of benefits. So do the dried cherries, which really give these bites a wonderfully sweet, jammy flavor that goes so well with the peanuts. The flaxseeds I just added because I add them to anything – they’re a great source of omega 3 fatty acids and their regular consumption is linked to positive health benefits, such as lowered risk of breast and prostate cancer.

When I first made these I was so delighted to discover they taste just as good if not better than my beloved Lärabar. To be honest I was getting a bit frustrated while making them, as I was silly enough to buy unshelled peanuts and spent ages shelling them, getting bits of peanut skins everywhere, and then the grinder attachment for my handheld blender wasn’t doing a good job on the dates (worked so much better after I popped them in the microwave for a few seconds),  but once I actually tasted one I was in sheer heaven. In that moment I regretted living alone as I had no one to give one to and go “omg how good are these???” The only friend within walking distance is deathly allergic to peanuts, so I was out of options. Although maybe I shouldn’t complain, as I had more to myself 😉

Makes: 10 balls

Ingredients:

  • 200g Medjool dates or ca. 15  (apparently you can use other kinds, but may have to soak them in hot water first to get the desired squidgy consistency)
  • 65 g or 1/2 cup peanuts; unsalted
  • 65g or roughly 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1 heaped tbsp flaxseeds

Grind up the peanuts in the food processor with the flaxseeds till only a few sporadic chunks are left. Pit the dates and process all the ingredients together until you’re left with a nice sticky mix. Now, the best part (besides eating them obviously): take some of the mix and gleefully roll it into a nice little ball. Put aside and repeat. Store these in the fridge or freeze (or just eat them straight away – you can always make more) ;).

Feel Good Fact #1: The natural sugars in dates not only make them taste divine, but also are a great source of energy. The high fiber content of the dates prevents blood sugar levels from skyrocketing – especially in combination with the low glycemic peanuts –  providing a steady source of energy.

 

Feel Good Fact #2: Cherries contain powerful antioxidants which combat free radical damage and they have been shown to reduce inflammation.

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