With the holidays just around the corner, I started planning out my Christmas gift list. My parents are easy – Scotch or beer for my dad and a facial or pedicure for my mother. They’re in the process of moving so I really didn’t want to add to their junk! But my boyfriend has a big family with quite a few elderly who are staying away from sugar so my homemade jam was off the list. I had to think of something else to make them, a treat that would be yummy but not too sweet.
Healthy Maple Coconut Banana Bread
This recipe was inspired by Martha Stewart’s Banana-Nut Bread from her Baking Handbook cookbook. To make the loaf a bit healthier, I altered and replaced many of the ingredients adding oats and flax seed for fiber and sweetening with brown sugar, maple syrup and applesauce. I also brought out the coconut flavour by using coconut oil and coconut milk. The resulting banana bread tastes wholesome with just enough sweetness to make it a treat. Firm, moist with hints of maple and coconut this banana bread is a nutritious gift to give to those who can’t completely indulge in the holiday season.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, rolled oats, flax seeds, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, maple syrup, apple sauce and coconut oil on medium-low speed until combined. Beat in the flour mixture. Add the coconut and maple syrup extracts, banana and almond milk. Beat until just combined.
Pour batter into loaf pan and evenly smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake for 60 minutes , rotating pan halfway through until a toothpick can be inserted into the center and comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Remove loaf from pan and cool completely. Banana bread can be kept at room temperature, wrapped well in plastic for up to a week.
I love making homemade granola! Simple and fun, it’s a great way to use up leftover ingredients and makes a healthy, filling breakfast or snack. My granola recipes tend to end up in my Midnight Baker blog series because I always end up turning the oven on around midnight, and this time was no exception! I was inspired to create this granola after I pureed some fresh pumpkin. I decided to use the pumpkin seeds to add some crunch, and they are also high in zinc and magnesium which support your immune system and heart. Plus, any reason to use pumpkin spice is a good one! Sweet, chewy and full of good nutrients this pumpkin granola is a hearty fall breakfast and will make your home smell like pumpkin pie!
In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, seed, pumpkin spice and sea salt. In a separate bowl, combine honey, maple syrup and coconut oil. Combine both mixtures and pour onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Bake for 1 hour tossing every 15 minutes until granola is no longer wet and is golden brown.
Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.
Cool and serve over Greek Yogurt with a swirl of raw honey or with almond milk.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a month.
One of my favourite wraps in Toronto can be found at a small downtown coffee shop called Le Gourmand. Their chicken apple curry wrap is a standout: sweet crispy chunks of apple, spicy hints of curry, and tender roasted chicken all wrapped up in a creamy bite. I no longer work in that area, but have been tweaking my own version ever since.
My two-bite chicken kale wraps are a quick, light lunch or a healthy afternoon power snack. Being on a detox, I had to find a substitution for the wrap. I’ve had endive and Boston lettuce wrapped food before, but I’m a big fan of kale and of all the leafy greens, kale has the highest nutritional value. Kale is packed full of vitamins A,C & K and has 1000% more vitamin C than a cup of cooked spinach! This leafy green is also high in fiber which helps support our digestive track and is loaded with antioxidants, a key benefit during a detox. By massaging the kale in apple cider vinegar and olive oil, the leaves become more pliable without losing the crunch. I’ve added raisins to this recipe because I love the tiny bursts of sweetness alongside the crunchy apple, but I know many people dislike raisins for exactly this reason (but let me try to convince you…give raisins another try!). If you prefer, you can substitute the raisins with maple syrup. This recipe serves four, but I could easily eat half the portion myself, the chicken-apple-curry combination is so addictive! I secured the wraps with a toothpick, but feel free to dive right in and scoop up the chicken with the kale, Ethiopian-style.
2 x large Gala apples peeled and cored. 1 coarsely grated, 1 finely diced
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup of golden raisins or 1 tablespoon real maple syrup
1 tablespoon curry
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon garlic powder
juice from half a lemon
sea salt and pepper to taste
Heat griddle to 350C.
Place the chicken breasts in between two pieces of parchment paper and pound to an even thickness with a meat tenderizer.
Grill chicken until lightly browned and no longer pink inside approximately 10 minutes. Let cool.
Remove the stems from the kale leaves and place in a large bowl. Add apple cider vinegar, olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper. Using your hands, carefully massage the kale for 1 minute and let sit.
In a medium bowl mix together celery, apple, raisins (or maple syrup), curry, cumin, and garlic powder. Shred the chicken breasts into the bowl. Add Greek yogurt and cream the chicken and ingredients together.
Drizzle with the juice from half a lemon and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Carefully spread out the kale leaves. Place a spoonful of chicken filling at the edge of the widest part of the leaf and roll inwards, tucking in the edges while rolling and wrapping the bottom of the leaf around the wrap, securing with a toothpick.