Posts tagged ‘banana’

Slow Mornings

One of the benefits of this little extended vacation before residency starts is the slow mornings. While our days seem to be filled with endless piles of paperwork (marriage license hiccups, name changes, residency paperwork, apartment applications… it never ends!), we have been starting each day slowly with really good coffee. I got Dan a Beehouse pour-over coffee dripper and burr coffee grinder for Christmas, and we have been enjoying getting good use out of it these past few months. We first got hooked on this coffee-brewing method at The Thinking Cup near the Boston Commons. Dan was intrigued by the science behind it – they used kitchen scales, electric kettles with thermometers and long spouts, and timers to brew the perfect cup of coffee. While we don’t get quite that fancy at home, we have found that pour-over coffee is worth the extra few minutes, when you have them.

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From some reading I have been doing for this blog post, I have learned that this coffee brewing method is originally from Japan and has taken off in the US because of the low cost of the associated equipment. While espresso is a much more well known international coffee style, there is a high cost of equipment for DIYers. Pour-over kits can be assembled gradually, and the parts are relatively inexpensive. A good coffee dripper will run around $15-30, and you can be as fancy or as simple with the grinders and kettles as you want.

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The magic of pour-over coffee comes from the small brew method and slow pour. As a coffee-enthusiast, you can control every step – from the bean (we prefer a light roast with more earthy flavors), the coarseness of the grind (we find that a medium grind works well), the temperature and amount of water, all the way up to the length of brew time. Each cup that you brew is unique, and somewhat maker-dependent, which can be both a good and bad thing depending on who you ask. The most important thing we have learned making this style of coffee is the slow pour, as this is what sets it apart from regular drip coffee. American coffee machines, while noteworthy for their convenience, work by pouring a single batch of boiling water over the coffee grounds and then dripping through the filter. This initial boiling water bath can create bitterness that many dislike about American drip coffee. It also does not fully utilize the flavors from the coffee beans as it creates a thick cake that prevents all of the grounds from soaking. Making pour-over coffee allows you to hand pour the hot (not quite boiling) water over the beans in a pulsatile method. (source) The resulting cup of coffee is free of the bitterness that many people dislike about American-style coffee, and is rich and flavorful with a smooth finish. Even my Dad, a dedicated milk-and-sugar kind-of guy, will happily drink pour-over coffee black.

There are plenty of great informative articles out there, from the history of pour-over coffees to comparisons of different drippers to the basic how-to instructions for how to make the perfect cup of coffee. If you enjoy a good cup of coffee or are looking for alternative ways to brew yourself a single cup of coffee, I would highly recommend making the small equipment investment! We have started with a basic dripper and coffee grinder, and currently use an electric kettle to boil the water and a spouted Pyrex measuring glass for the pour. Eventually, we may expand our gadgets but are more than happy to enjoy our simplified, homemade version for now!

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If you are not a coffee fan but are still looking for a slow morning treat, then try out these muffins! I adapted the recipe from my mom’s Better Homes and Gardens magazine to use some dying bananas, and have been greatly enjoying the subtle chocolate flavor and how it compliments my coffee! Do not be intimidated by the name – these muffins are not overly sweet or heavy, and the cocoa comes across more in color than taste. If you are looking for a more decadent treat, try adding chocolate chips or walnuts for a more dessert-like breakfast muffin!

Question: What is the best cup of coffee you have ever had?

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Dark Chocolate Banana Muffins

adapted from Better Homes and Gardens (April 2014)

makes 12 large muffins

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

2/3 cup milk

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

2 eggs

3 tbsp melted butter

2 overripe bananas, mashed

handful walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease a 12-muffin tray; set aside. In a stand mixer, combine all dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine milk, yogurt, eggs and melted butter. Add to dry ingredients in the stand mixer; stir until just moistened. Add the mashed bananas and mix until combined. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling 3/4 full. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes, then use butter knife to loosen. Store in air-tight container.

April 23, 2014 at 7:48 am Leave a comment

Smarter than Your Average Monkey

It has been humid this past week in Boston, and so I have been craving cold salads and anything frozen. Last summer, I made a heavenly frozen treat that I nick named “Monkey Bites.” When I got around to making them again this summer, I found a way to simplify and clean up the process.

Smart, you say, right? I’d like to say that I am always that on top of my game, but we all know that is not true. More often than not, I am prone to some pretty hilarious blonde moments. Take the time I walked into my grandparent’s glass door in Florida trying to look at the alligator in their lake. They were nice enough to tape a napkin to the door for the rest of the week so I knew my boundaries. In my defense, my grandma is a very clean lady…

When I am not walking into doors or saying silly things, I am at least coming up with creative kitchen ideas! The recipe is about the same: bananas, chocolate, and peanut butter. But the method is simplified and cleaned up with some handy grill skewers. First, cut the bananas into bite sized chunks. Then, thread a few onto a skewer and pop them into the freezer for an hour or two. When they are almost frozen, melt down some chocolate and peanut butter. This is much easier than creating a peanut butter layer on each individual banana piece but still gets you some chocolate and peanut butter-y goodness in every bite!

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Then, take the skewers, and rotate the banana pieces in the chocolate, using a spoon to make sure they get fully covered.

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Pop ‘em back in the freezer for 20 minutes, then slide ‘em off the sticks and keep in a Tupperware in the freezer! They make a good snack or small dessert bite, perfect for steamy summer days. Enjoy!

Question: Are you prone to blonde moments? Leave a comment telling your funniest silly story!

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Smarter than a Monkey Bite

3 medium bananas, very ripe, cut into chunks

3 standard chocolate bars of your choice

2 tbsp peanut butter

6 wooden skewers

Cut the banana into pieces. Slide, with space, onto skewers and freeze. Meanwhile, melt chocolate and peanut butter over a double boiler. Cover each banana piece with chocolate mixture. Freeze for 20 minutes on the skewers, and then remove to a storage container. See text of post for more detailed instructions.

July 29, 2012 at 4:41 pm 4 comments

Recovery Milkshake

My family has an odd tradition. Okay, so maybe we have a lot of odd traditions… but what family doesn’t? To share one: in my family, the best way to recover from surgery is a chocolate milkshake. Any will do, but the tradition is rooted in the McDonald’s classic. Let’s rewind a bit to see where this came from…

I mentioned in a recent post that I was born with a cleft palate and several craniofacial clefts. I am very open about sharing what I have been through, and in fact have even enjoyed researching and learning more about embryological development in med school. While a cleft palate is common, the other facial clefts are not, and so I was immediately transferred to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. I was blessed to meet some of the most talented plastic surgeons, opthamologists, orthodontists, and other specialists, who were brave enough to push the envelope with new techniques and procedures, allowing me a very normal life. I have had seventeen reconstructive surgeries so far, beginning at the age of three months and spanning through March of this past year, and seem to be done for at least the near future!

At CHOP, the only food option besides the hospital cafeteria is McDonald’s, and so the chocolate milkshake tradition began. I would always request a chocolate milkshake as a reward for being good on a doctor’s visit or for making it through another surgery (and post-surgery hospital Jell-o… yuck!), and my parents would usually oblige! This treat carried me through all of my procedures, and stuck with my mom and sister as they have recently faced the OR as well.

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My friend recently went under the knife for the first time, and the least I could do to aid in her recovery was share the chocolate milkshake tradition. Now that I am older, wiser, and a lot less fond of McDonald’s, I decided to experiment with my own version of CCK’s chocolate shake for a healthier recovery milkshake! Whether you are in recovery or just want an excuse for a healthier shake, give this a try!

Question: What is a strange tradition in your family?

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Healthier Chocolate Milkshake

1 frozen banana

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tbsp Nutella

6 milk ice cubes

3/4-1 cup milk

2 tbsp cocoa powder

The night or a few hours before, pour milk into an ice cube tray to form frozen milk ice cubes. When ready, combine all ingredients in a blender. Start with 3/4 cup of milk, and then use the last 1/4 cup to adjust consistency. Stir and enjoy!

October 11, 2011 at 7:00 am 6 comments

WIAW Fall Edition

So happy that it’s Wednesday! The last of our lectures for the cardiovascular section is today, leaving me with just 1 1/2 more days of intense studying and then 3 whole days off… As exciting as a distant long weekend may be, Wednesday is even more exciting because of Jenn’s What I Ate Wednesday Party! Hope you have had some great meals so far this week!

Breakfast: 8:30amIMG_4544

I woke up early and didn’t want to wake my roommate up while banging around the kitchen, so I snacked on a clementine until a more decent hour. When the sun was finally up (even though my roommate still wasn’t!), I decided to try a new oatmeal bake: peanut butter and banana. I mixed 1/2 cup oats with 1/4 cup milk, 1 tsp ground flax, 1 tbsp peanut butter, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1/4 mashed banana. I baked it at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, broiled it for another 2 minutes, and then coated it with another swipe of peanut butter and sliced banana. Paired with a huge cup of coffee, it made for the perfect morning!

Lunch: 12:15pmIMG_4545

I am not usually a salad for lunch kind of girl because I get hungry too quickly after. But my Boston Organics box this week was packed with veggies begging for salad use! I packed myself a big salad with red leaf lettuce, baby spinach, sprouts, carrots, dried cranberries, and balsamic hummus dressing. I always keep the dressing separate when I bring a salad to go so I don’t have leak problems in my backpack en route, and so the lettuce isn’t soggy by the time I get there! No lunch is complete without fruit – a plum and another clementine!

Mid-afternoon snack: 4pm

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As predicted, I was hungrier than normal mid-afternoon, after walking to and from school (my bike lock broke, so I am foot mobile until my new one comes!) and spending a lot of brain energy in an exam review. I inhaled this bowl of grapes while settling back down into study-mode.

Dinner: 7pm

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I am so thankful roommate dinners are back! It is great to cook and share conversation together, and have an excuse to slow down for an hour or two. Plus, we usually make some pretty fantastic food! As we enjoyed a bowl of butternut squash soup with some toast, we decided that fall flavors were our favorite. Pumpkin, squash, apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger – so much warmth in fall food!

Dessert: 8pm

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If we weren’t convinced of our love for fall enough, this bowl of sugar-free apple crisp sure set us over the edge!

Be sure to come back tomorrow for the Butternut Squash and Apple Soup and the Sugar-Free Apple Crisp recipes!

Question: Are you a seasonal food lover? What is your favorite fall flavor?

October 5, 2011 at 7:00 am 12 comments

Vegan Mocha Chocolate Cupcakes

A little rain won’t stop me! Azra started her first year of medical school after returning from Bosnia, and although I am sad she is no longer in Boston, I am so excited for her! We had planned weeks ago a time that I could come see her new house and have her cook for me, and the hurricane almost threw a wrench in our plans. While there was definitely some heavy rain at certain points in my drive, the hurricane was still in the Southern East Cost on Saturday night and was not going to get in the way of my Saturday night plans! (We also were both, thankfully, spared from too much storm damage on Sunday, though many people in MA and where I am from in NJ were hit much harder.) I am so glad I got to visit Azra’s new home! Her apartment is gorgeous, especially with our fun housewarming gifts! Melissa, my college roommate and I, got her some houseplants to decorate her room with, similar to ones she had in college. A cactus, and bamboo to balance the feng shui!

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Azra made a fantastic Bosnian dinner, breaking out the big guns with a spinach and cheese pie. Her mom had very little faith and even offered to make it for Azra and have me pick it up to bring out, but Azra persisted. She did an excellent job! As good as her mom’s, which is a huge complement!

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Even after such a filling dinner, there is always room for dessert! Especially Chocolate Mocha cupcakes, my dessert contribution! I chose these specifically for Azra, knowing her shared love of good coffee. These cupcakes were so good that Azra and I split a second. Good thing they are pretty low in fat and sugar! I searched for a good chocolate cupcake that didn’t need egg since I had none on hand, and could be substituted to use an overripe banana. The good thing about using bananas in place of some of the oil is that it takes out some of the fat and allows you to cut down on added sugar without losing moisture or flavor. This recipe from Erica’s Sweet Tooth was perfect! The cupcake is a little denser, but rich and moist and flavorful. The espresso powder in the cupcake really helps to enhance the cocoa powder, giving it a dark chocolate flavor. And the icing makes the cupcake! Just the perfect amount of sweetness and coffee flavor. I hope you get a chance to make these and enjoy them as much as we did!

Question: What is your favorite flavor combination with chocolate?

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Vegan Mocha Chocolate Cupcakes

adapted from Erica’s Sweet Tooth, makes 10 cupcakes

for cupcakes:

1 cup almond milk

1 tbsp canola oil

1 mashed banana

1 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 tbsp ground flax seed

1/3 cup cocoa powder

¾ tsp baking soda

½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp instant espresso

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together almond milk, canola oil, mashed banana, vanilla and sugar. In a separate bowl, mix together the rest of the dry ingredients. Slowly stir the wet into the dry ingredients. Line a cupcake tin with paper cup liners, and fill 2/3 of the way with cupcake batter. Bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

For icing:

1/4 cup Earth balance buttery stick

1/8 cup coffee

1/2 tsp espresso powder

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Brew a cup of coffee. Dissolve espresso powder into 1/8 cup it while still hot (and enjoy the rest!). Place coffee/espresso mix in the fridge to cool. Once cooled, in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the margarine, vanilla and coffee until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium-low, add the sugar in 3 additions, beating well after each. Spoon icing onto cupcakes smooth with a knife.

August 29, 2011 at 8:00 am 6 comments

No-Bake Cookies

I have a love/hate relationship with bananas. I never ate them growing up, despising their texture and judging their affinity towards getting brown and spotty way too quickly. I didn’t eat bananas until I spent one summer working as a nanny. My friend’s daughter loved them, and I would dutifully slice one up each afternoon we spent together. On the afternoons when she didn’t want the rest, I took to nabbing a slice or two. I found out that I really liked the taste, and the slices helped me to get over the texture! Next thing I knew, I was buying bananas for myself and finding out new ways to enjoy this good-for-you fruit. I still doubt I will ever be one to snack on them, and am still weary of the spotty ones. No need to let them go to waste though… (or have endless loaves of banana bread!) There are plenty of other ways to use ‘em up: smoothies, oatmeal, pancakes, monkey bites, and introducing no-bake cookies!

This recipe was inspired by another one of Chocolate Covered Katie’s creations. I have had great success with her Samoas Babies, and with her Chickpea Blondies. I love her dessert recipes because they are healthy and fun, and usually simple to make. She has turned me onto using bananas as a natural source of sweetness, allowing delicious baked goods to be a lot lower in added sugar without being short on taste! These bites are perfect for hot summer evenings, afternoon snacks, or even a morning pick-me up. Super simple to make, healthy (protein packed, filled with fiber, no sugar added, vegan) and fun to eat… what’s not to love!

Question: What is a food you have recently learned to like?

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No-Bake Peanut Butter Banana Bites

adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie, makes 14 small cookies

1/3 cup oats

1/3 cup oat bran

2 tbsp natural peanut butter

1 banana, mashed

Mix together all ingredients. Roll into bite-sized cookies and place on a sheet in the freezer. After two hours, transfer to a sealed container for storage.

NOTE: If your teeth don’t love frozen foods, microwave these treats for 15-20 seconds to turn them into cookie balls!

August 24, 2011 at 7:30 am 7 comments

Overnight Oats

If I had it my way, I would make an all out breakfast everyday. I love pancakes, waffles, french toast, frittatas – I am a serious breakfast fiend. Unfortunately, early weekday classes leave no time for elaborate morning preparations. I wish there was a solution to my desire for a healthy, exciting breakfast every morning… oh wait, there is! I have been a huge fan of Kath’s overnight oats all summer, loving the endless variation of toppings and preparations you can include to keep things interesting. They take only a minute or two to put together the night before, take absolutely no time in the morning (especially if you eat it straight out of the jar!) and are a lot lower in sugar and higher in fiber (not to mention cheaper) than most prepared cereals. Cold oatmeal sound weird to you? It freaked me out at first too, but give it a try. It is really a refreshing change from hot oats on a summer morning.

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Check out Kath Eats Real Food to see her endless variety of oatmeal toppings and her basic outline for overnight oats. My recent creations have been pretty tasty too, and help keep me full through long mornings of class and studying. I love peanut butter and banana together, and the peach was great with the creamy, cold oats. Chia seeds, which keep appearing in my in overnight oats, take on the texture of mini tapioca balls (like you would find in bubble tea) when they are soaked, which I totally love! They are definitely optional, or could be substituted with ground flax seed for the same omega-3/fiber benefits. My ultimate goal is to make mocha overnight oats, but can’t seem to get the chocolate and coffee ratios right… the experiment will continue. Leave it to a medical student to try to infuse their breakfast with coffee! For any of my fellow stressed out med students, check out this NY Times article that a friend sent my way. He and I both found it inspiration to keep studying for another day :)

Question: What are your favorite oatmeal toppings?

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Peanut Butter Banana Overnight Oats

1 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/3 cup oats
1 cup water (or 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup milk)
1/2 banana

Combine all ingredients, except banana, in a jar. Let soak in the fridge overnight. In the morning, add half a slice banana.

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Perfect Peach Overnight Oats

1 tbsp vanilla
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/3 cup oats
2/3 cup water (or 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup milk)
3 tbsp vanilla yogurt
1 peach
sprinkle of cinnamon
2 tbsp granola

Combine the vanilla, chia seeds, oats, and water in a jar overnight. In the morning, mix in the yogurt. Top with the sliced peach, cinnamon and granola clusters.

August 22, 2011 at 7:00 am 5 comments

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