Baking is my secret to exercising in copious amounts, and still not being skinny.
All sarcasm aside, exercise and baking are my two favorite things to do. My ying and yang, my balance, my two extremes. And honestly, they do create a good healthy “real” approach to life.
As I have added more whole foods into my family’s diet and removed processed foods I have found that there is also a balance in healthy baking. Skinny cookies made with banana, oats and no sugar for example caused a big upheaval around here and have been proclaimed in my house as “too healthy”. They just aren’t even a cookie anymore.
These are a few things you can do to make your baking healthier...without overdoing it:
Whole grain swap
Truthfully, few baked goods retain their fluffy, chewy, delicious flavor and texture when all-purpose flour is replaced 100% with whole wheat. Mixing in a white whole wheat flour, 50% with all purpose in chocolate chip cookies however is hardly noticeable. I’m partial to Trader Joes White Whole Wheat flour as it has a smooth flavor. Mixing in small amounts of oats, wheat germ and flax to a muffin or quick bread recipe works well too. Replace flour in equal amounts.
Keep moving tip: Start small and build. Mix in ¼ whole grains with a favorite recipe for while, then bump it up to ½ over time. Our taste buds change and get used to new flavors over time.
Substituting applesauce or mashed banana for oil or butter, even for 50%, reduces the fat content and adds a fruit to many baking recipes. Perfect for cakes, muffins and quick breads. Try pumpkin for oil in chocolate recipes, as it almost makes the chocolate more chocolat-y and adds a veggie.
Applesauce and pumpkin puree are actually both simple to make, albeit time consuming. When buying pre-made look at the ingredients list, and make sure you getting just apples or just pumpkin without additional ingredients.
Real butter is a whole food, but should be used sparingly. If you’re using butter, use butter. Not a margarine or other product with hydrogenated oils. Your body does not process these naturally. Read more on Butter vs. Margarine here.
Keep moving tip: when making a recipe that might be too close to the too healthy line, add a handful of mini chocolate chips or m&m’s. (mini’s spread out and seem like more even if the total quantity is less). Seeing chocolate chips somehow changes the expectation my kids have for the baked good….maybe mine too. These Healthy Honey Oatmeal Cookies were a hit yesterday with a handful of chopped up peanut m&m's.
When baking, look over the recipe and see if you can make half the recipe. With many things, half a recipe is plenty for your family…4 of you probably don’t need to eat 36 chocolate chip cookies or 24 cupcakes in three days.
There really is no replacing fresh from the oven cookie taste, so make a batch of dough, bake a pan full then wrap the remaining dough in Sarah Wrap to freeze. When you are ready to use it, leave it in the refrigerator a few hours to thaw then bake as usual.
Quick breads and muffins freeze well after baked, use freezer grade bags when possible. Once you thaw them toast a few minutes in the oven to bring back the fresh baked warm factor.
Each family, or each person will have a “too healthy” line of their own. But I have found that the more we eat whole foods, the less we need the processed options and the further toward healthy our “too healthy” line goes.
Share what your family finds as “too healthy” or any swaps or secrets you use in baking.
Ice cream is my all-time favorite sweet treat, but probably not something I should indulge in everyday. Banana ice cream is a decent healthy alternative. If you haven’t tried it yet, freeze up some bananas right away. This is tasty stuff.
When my client, Laura, gave me her recipe for mint chip banana ice cream that gets rave reviews from her kids it got me thinking about variety. They do say variety is the spice of life why not try it with this?
Searching my pantry for some fun flavors, resulted in list of 5 fantastic flavors. Convenience and speed is key with dessert…you never know when you’ll “need” something sweet. Each has as few ingredients as possible so you can whip them up faster than going to the ice cream shop.
First step takes the longest unless of course you keep frozen bananas ready to go at all times. Juice Plus Complete smoothies are a regular menu item here so our freezer is stocked.
I’m more of a get it done girl than a perfectionist when food is involved. So after peeling a ripe banana, I just break it in pieces and toss it onto a foil covered baking sheet. Freeze for an hour or two. Then store in gallon size freezer zip lock bags.
Keep moving mama: The foil makes is simple to pick up the edges and dump them into a large freezer bag. And if your grocery store sells bags of over ripe bananas at a lower cost per pound, buy a few and freeze a big bunch. Get it bunch…of bananas. My own biggest fan I know.
Once frozen, dump some bananas into your food processor along with optional other ingredients, then turn it on super high. Let it go till you see the mixture come together, similar to the texture of cookie dough. If you let your bananas thaw 5-10 minutes first it will go faster, and your texture will be more like soft serve.
We’re talking anywhere between 1 and 3 minutes, wait for it. Scrape the sides down, then process one more time to incorporate everything.
Now you have two choices
The fantastic five banana ice cream flavors are…drum roll…..:
Front row, left to right: Blueberry Banana, Peanut Butter Chocolate
Back row, left to right: Mint Chip, Chocolate, Vanilla Latte
After making a “rich brew” cup of coffee and letting it cool, I added ¼ c to the bananas. Next time I would freeze the coffee in ice cube trays…but you already know I’m not much for patience with food. Adding the vanilla took away the coffee bite and sweetened it up. Make your own vanilla extract with the recipe at the bottom of myhomemade lemon extract blog post.
Peanut butter chocolate
Adding some cocoa and pb2 made this flavor a fix for my chocolate/peanut butter craving. If you haven’t met pb2 you mustfollow this link and buy some now. It’s great in smoothies….and banana ice cream. Less calories and a good amount of protein make it a nice sub for peanut butter with even more peanutty flavor. A scoop of natural peanut butter would work too.
This one is my nod to Laura's recipe. Isn’t mint and chocolate a perfect combo?
A handful of spinach makes it green, mint and vanilla extract give it a smooth taste. Then put the chocolate chips in when you scrape down the bowl so they are big enough for some crunch in your ice cream.
Keep moving mama: Process this a bit longer to make the green bits smaller if you worry about a kid freak out at the sight of green bits. I might experiment with processing the spinach before adding the bananas next time. Any ideas here?
Adding a scoop of Juice plus chocolate complete to the bananas made it even fluffier and hit the chocolate need, I mean craving dead on. It’s also less tart tasting than cocoa powder. Learn more about Juice Plus here.
Fresh or frozen either way. I actually used the blue berry mash left from making a blue berry simple syrup last week. Throwing food away drives me crazy. This combo is a classic, and a beautiful color. Look how beautiful it was when I stopped to peak and scrape down the sides.
And now the official recipe:
5 Fantastic Flavors of
Banana Ice Cream
Add ins, list below
Give these a try or come up with something new. My "official" taste testers aka kids, loved the chocolate and mint chip the best...but cleaned all the bowls anyway. I would love to hear how these come out for you or which one you’ll try first.
Combining a love of real food, commitment to exercise, a home based business and a family without going over the edge is the balance I seek daily. There is a confidence that comes from combining these things into life.
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