Dark Chocolate Banana Bread

Dear Future Me,

If I could share one tiny piece of advice with you, it would be exactly this…

Live your life being the best you that you can be and don’t have regrets. If you want the stick, go get the stick!

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Do what your heart leads you to do and know that despite the outcomes in life, your intentions are always pure. The sky is yours beautiful.

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Lastly, when in doubt, make this Dark Chocolate Banana Bread. It will make your head, heart and tummy very happy!

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If you are looking for a moist banana bread with sweet dark chocolate throughout, this is your lucky day!

Dark Chocolate Banana Bread

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Ingredients
  • 3 medium ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup swerve sweetener (honey, agave, maple syrup or sugar)
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium sized bowl, combine almond flour, coconut flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and baking powder. Mix dry ingredients together and put aside.

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In a large mixing bowl, combine mashed bananas, vanilla, eggs, coconut oil, applesauce and sweetener. On a medium-low speed, mix these ingredients together until combined. You can also mix these by hand.

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Add dry ingredients to the large mixing bowl with wet ingredients. Mix until combined.

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Then fold in your dark chocolate chips.

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Grease a large bread pan with butter or coconut oil. For easy clean up, you can use parchment paper.

Pour batter into prepared bread pan and place into oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes until the edges and top of bread are golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

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When done baking, remove from the oven and allow to cool before removing from pan.

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You can store the bread covered on the counter or in the refrigerator. We enjoy our sweets cold for some reason!

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Happy Eating!!

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Flourless Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

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You know those days that just keep on giving, even when you’ve asked the man upstairs to please stop?

I have the solution to those days.

Chocolate. Dark, rich, gooey, delicious chocolate.

It’s right up there with ice cream, which would probably be my first choice to dive my face into, but I’m trying to be healthier in my indulgences.

Because any dessert that you make with fruits and vegetables is considered a summer salad, right?

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These babies are ready for baking!

Not quite. A girl could dream though, and dream about these, I will!

Flourless Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Yields 8 muffins

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Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup nut butter**
  • 1 ripe medium-sized banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup sweetener (swerve, honey, agave or sugar)**
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup zucchini, shredded and squeezed of excess liquid
  • 1/4 cup of dark chocolate chips

**I used this brand of peanut butter (amazing! but rather thick) and swerve sweetener (to make lower carb) but it didn’t allow recipe to have enough liquid so I added 1/8 cup of coconut oil, melted and 1/4 cup of water to recipe. If using honey or agave, you shouldn’t have that issue. It depends on the nut butter you use too, so if feeling that the batter is too thick- add 1/4 of water! (It won’t dull the taste, I promise)

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I used the chocolate coconut peanut butter and it’s yummy!
Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place nut butter, banana, egg, sweetener of choice, cocoa powder, ground flaxseed, vanilla extract and baking soda into a blender. Blend until smooth.

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Fold in shredded zucchini and chocolate chips.

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Spray a muffin pan with nonstick spray. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into each muffin cavity.

Place a few chocolate chips on top if desired.

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Bake for 20-22 minutes until tops of your muffins are set and a inserted toothpick comes out clean.

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Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Then enjoy!

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These muffins may be little, but they are fierce! Have fun trying to stop at just one!

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Happy eating!

A Chocolate Chip Blondie Snow Day

It’s the beginning of April, and spring is here! The birds will be chirping, sun shining and our plants sprouting! Well, that’s what we all thought.

Mother Nature had quite a spring surprise, covering us with her humor and quite a dusting of powdered sugar, also known as snow. Cold, wet, unwanted but pretty snow. Everywhere. All day long.

While I was fortunate enough to be home enjoying a day inside with my pups and a warm fire, I definitely would have preferred sunshine on my face and an iced coffee in hand. That was not the day that was meant to be had, but I hope to see some in the future!

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Despite that, I am grateful for the day that I was given. I cleaned, organized and rearranged furniture all day long. I lit the most wonderfully scented candles, drank hot coffee, and enjoyed being enclosed in my little nest. Cozy, warm, blessed and happy would be words I would use to describe today. The only thing that would have made today better is having my mister home with me.

Since he wasn’t, I decided to make him something delicious and sweet for when he got home. Sweets for my sweetie! Too corny? Moving on…

These Blondies are full of flavor, yet healthy for you! They will definitely satisfy your sweet tooth craving without making you feel guilty. In my book that equals perfection!

Paleo/Low Carb Chocolate Chip Blondies

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup any nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew, sunflower)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup sweetener of choice (honey, agave, maple syrup, coconut sugar or swerve)
  • 4 oz of your favorite chocolate (dark, milk, white, sugar-free, etc)

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Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper, spray with nonstick spray and put aside.

In a bowl, mix together nut butter, egg, coconut oil, vanilla and sweetener.

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Then add almond flour, baking soda and salt. When fully combined,  fold in your chocolate.

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Spread evenly into prepared baking dish. Place into oven, bake for 20 minutes or until top is lightly browned.

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Remove from oven and allow to cool. Then cut into 16 squares.

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Happy eating!!

Ohhhh Veggie….Lasagna

A few years ago I found out something that was hard for an Italian girl to stomach. The news was like a dagger to the heart. There was no sugar coating the truth.

My body hates carbs. ::shudder::

My love for bread, pasta, and sweets was going to have to take a lonely drive to nowheresville. Yes, I get to visit from time to time on holidays, but sometimes these visits are such a tease! The one day visits sometimes lead to weekends, then long weekends, so on and so forth. You get the picture. It is hard to give up what you truly love.

So instead of giving up my favorites, I have learned to make substitutions that allow me to eat what I love but still remain pretty faithful to my lower carb way of eating.

I know low carbohydrate diets are not for everyone and I think that is okay. We all must do what works best for us. For me, reducing sugar and carbohydrates allows me to feel awesome! Goodbye bloating, fatigue, heart palpitations and diabetes risk! Hello happiness, health and new delicious recipes!

So without further ado, I give to you….

Low Carb Italian Sausage & Vegetable Lasagna

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Ingredients

  • 4 medium sized green or yellow squash, cut lengthwise to make “lasagna noodles”
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • olive oil
  • 5 cups of homemade or store bought marinara sauce
  • 32 oz of ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 5-6 links of Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 6 oz of ground turkey or ground beef
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 1/2 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (or more if you like heat)
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium high heat in a large sauté pan. Add sliced onions and peppers to pan, sauté for 5-6 minutes until vegetables are becoming tender. Then add in mushrooms, cooking until mushrooms are fully cooked. Season with 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper and 1/2 tsp of granulated garlic (or to taste), then remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan over medium high heat, add the Italian sausage with casings removed, breaking up with a spatula. Add the ground turkey or beef, combining with sausage, season with 1/2 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp granulated garlic, 1 tsp dried basil and 1 tsp dried oregano (or to taste). Cook meat until browned and cooked through. Side aside when fully cooked.

You may cook the sliced squash on the grill, in a grill pan or sauté pan. Brush both sides of squash with olive oil,  seasoning with salt and pepper. If using a grill or sauté pan, heat over medium high heat. Place squash evenly in pan in small batches, lightly marking each side before removing from pan.

In a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp granulated garlic and 1 1/2 tbsp dried parsley. Mix together until well combined.

To assemble the lasagna, use a large casserole baking dish or your favorite lasagna pan.

Coat bottom of baking dish with 1/2 cup marinara sauce. Layer squash as you would lasagna noodles onto bottom of pan (you will need to divide squash into two layers). Spread 1/2 ricotta mixture over squash layer, topping ricotta with 1- 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese. Then add your sausage mixture. Next add 1-2 cups of marinara sauce.

On top of the sauce, add the vegetables (onions, peppers and mushrooms). Next, add the remaining ricotta cheese. You may reserve 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture to add on top of the lasagna at the end before placing in oven.20160402_173629

After the ricotta layer, place your 2nd later of squash. Top with marinara sauce and 1 1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese. At this time you can separate the reserved ricotta cheese and place dollops on top of the lasagna.

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Cook for 35-45 minutes, uncovered until bubbling and cheese has melted. Turn oven to broil, allowing cheese to become slightly browned in color. Remove from oven and allow to   sit for at least 10-15 minutes.

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Pour additional marinara sauce on top and enjoy!!!

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Happy eating!