This Saturday is the 3rd annual Food Blogger Bake Sale and I am so excited to be participating for my first time! Each year, Share Our Strength hosts the Great American Bake Sale, among other events, to raise money in an effort to end childhood hunger in America. Their premise is simple: No Child In America Should Go Hungry. The goal is to end childhood hunger by 2015. Take the pledge to end childhood hunger, volunteer at a fundraising event, or go buy stuff from one! Where ever you are in the United States you probably have a bake sale happening in your area this Saturday, April 28th. I will be baking for, and volunteering at, the one in Los Angeles at BLD Restaurant. Click on the Bake Sale icon above, or any link in this post for more information on where you can go obtain some yummy homemade goodies this weekend as well as more ways you can get involved in this great cause.
Now on to the goodies! I have not yet decided what I will be making for the bake sale so I am spending some time this week experimenting. One such experiment are these Loaded Banana Muffins. A friend of mine has been making banana bread on a fairly regular basis recently. I don’t know if that is intentional or if he just isn’t very good at remembering to eat his bananas. Each time he makes banana bread he uses a new recipe in an attempt to perfect his own. The most recent time he gave me a sample of his homemade goodness it got me thinking about bananas and how delicious and healthy they are. Also, what a shame that they are mixed with and masked by all that flour and sugar. What if I could make a banana muffin where the natural sweetness and goodness of the banana could really star, and give added nutrition through the rest of the ingredients? I tried, and failed, to make a loaded banana muffin. It was okay, it baked well, it tasted fine, but it was missing something. I tried again, and again, and I finally came up with a loaded banana muffin that I felt comfortable sharing with my family of taste testers. They all said they were yummy and wondered what some of the flavors in the muffins were. It took me an entire night of fishing for their true reactions to believe that they did in fact like my creation. I kept saying things like, “Be honest, tell me they’re gross if that’s what you think” or “Really? Do you really like them? Can you taste the banana?”
These muffins are moist from the absurd amount of mashed banana I used, and they contain no egg or dairy! I first made them with honey in an attempt to get away from processed sugar, but then I read something on an Ayurvedic website about heated honey being poison. I have not researched enough to form a clear opinion on that, but decided a small amount of white sugar in my muffins wouldn’t be the end of the world. Also, you can easily substitute your favorite alternative sweetener for the sugar. Bonus to using a sweetener that isn’t honey: these muffins are vegan! (Make sure to use chocolate that is also vegan in order to make these muffins vegan). I added some wheat germ and chia seeds to up the nutritional content, and I used coconut oil instead of butter for added deliciousness to pair with the banana. And, of course, chocolate. Is there anything that chocolate doesn’t improve?
I ended up with a muffin that doesn’t necessarily let the banana shine (because of everything else I put in there), but they are quite good and quite nutritious. Packed with Calcium, Fiber, Manganese, Potassium, Thiamin, Zinc, and Vitamins B6, C, E & K these muffins are not your run-of-the-mill junk-filled muffins.
Loaded Banana Muffins
Yield: 24 regular-sized muffins
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/3 cup white sugar (you can also use turbinado sugar or any dry sugar substitute)
1/4 cup wheat germ
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3-5 bananas, mashed (about 2 1/4 cups)
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil, melted*
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped chocolate, or chocolate morsels
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, wheat germ, chai seeds, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together the mashed bananas, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and almond extract.
4. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until almost combined.
5. Fold in the sliced almonds, shredded coconut, and chopped chocolate. Mix until just combined.
6. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups about 2/3 of the way up with the muffin mixture.
7. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
*a great way to melt the coconut oil is to place it in an oven-safe bowl in the oven while it is preheating