Oat-tastic Low Fat Banana Bread

If I’m being perfectly honest, I must admit that my day to day eating habits are pretty healthy. Because I’m a vegetarian, I eat according to the vegetarian food guide and am constantly consuming tons of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, soy, nuts and seeds. I have a soft spot for chocolate, and sweets in general, but I don’t binge on these foods when I’m by myself. When I’m baking for myself I tend to bake healthy foods – such as Light and Lemony Poppyseed Bread, Energy-Packed Granola Bars, and this oatmeal banana bread.

This bread is packed full of fiber filled oats, and yummy ripe bananas. As you may have noticed, I love making muffins and breads with bananas. They are so tasty, and easy to bake.

So I hope you’re ready to get bakin’. This bread freezes so well. You just slice it, and then wrap it up individually. Perfect.

Begin by stirring together dry ingredients, including the oats and cinnamon. Look at those yummy oats!

In a smaller bowl, mash bananas with a potato masher or fork. Add oil and whole egg and mix thoroughly. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. Batter will be fairly thick.

In a medium sized bowl, with an electric hand mixer, beat the egg whites until medium stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the batter in three additions. Pour batter into pan and bake until top of loaf is firm to touch, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes.

Flip out and cool on a wire rack for another 10 minutes. Slice loaf into 8 equally sized slices

I got this awesome recipe from Joy the Baker. It makes 1 loaf. Cut it into 8 slices for 4 weight watchers points per slice.

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp  salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp canola oil
1 large egg, beaten
2 medium egg whites, beaten
3 large bananas, ripe
1/2 cup uncooked old fashioned oats

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a loaf pan and set aside. In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients including the oats and cinnamon.
2. In a smaller bowl, mash bananas with a potato masher or fork. Add oil and whole egg and mix thoroughly.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. Batter will be fairly thick.
4. In a medium sized bowl, with an electric hand mixer, beat the egg whites until medium stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the batter in three additions.
5. Pour batter into pan and bake until top of loaf is firm to touch, 45 to 50 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes. Flip out and cool on a wire rack for another 10 minutes. Slice loaf into 8 equally sized slices

Tangy Stewed Rhubarb

She’s here! And thank goodness she is. Welcome back rhu-BARB! Doesn’t she look great?!

Rhubarb season is one of my absolute favorites. Rhubarb brings out a sassy, tangy, flavour in baking that makes my mouth water. Luckily, rhubarb is super healthy, and low calorie as well (even though I like to dip it raw in sugar). I love the way my mouth puckers up after a big bite of a raw stalk. It’s saying “GOOD MORNING”!

Let’s get started, shall we? Begin by washing your rhubarb. Chop up the rhubarb into one-inch pieces and place into a large saucepan.

Add sugar, water, vanilla and lemon juice.

Cook over medium heat until the rhubarb is completely cooked, and blends together. You don’t want any hard chunks!

You can serve this on toast. It’s so yummy!

This recipe makes 8 servings, and is 2 weight watchers points per serving (1 serving = 1/4 cup).

Ingredients:
6 cups chopped rhubarb
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp lemon juice

Directions:
1. Rinse, and chop rhubarb into one-inch chunks and place into a large saucepan.
2. Add all other ingredients and cook on medium heat until rhubarb has completely cooked and turned into a “stew”. You don’t want any hard chunks. This should take about 20 minutes.
3. Allow to cool completely and serve with toast (if having it for breakfast), over ice cream (if having it for dessert), or eat it plain!
4. This stores in the fridge for up to one week.

Perfect Lemon Meringue Pie

I’ve been thinking about making this pie for way too long, and I’m so glad I finally had a reason to make it. In my family, pie is our number one go-to dessert. Of course we love cakes, candies, cookies, and bars, but I can say with certainty that the lot of us will choose a slice of pie with ice cream over anything else.

My Poppa’s birthday was this past weekend, and he requested a homemade lemon meringue pie. My secret to a perfect pie? Make it with love. Measure the ingredients like you are creating a masterpiece. Follow the instructions step by step, and bake slowly. Love what you bake, and love who you bake it for. It makes the eating process a sacred event.

While whipping together the filling for this pie, the smell of fresh lemons whisked through our kitchen for hours. The lemon particles lingered in the air and mixed with the cool breeze coming through the screen door. Even the light, lemony scent on my fingertips lasted until bed time.

Of course, eating the pie was the best part of the whole process. The filling was perfect, baked in a delicious homemade pie crust. I used Pioneer Woman’s recipe because it is the absolute best recipe out there! Seriously.

The filling for this recipe was taken from the Joy of Cooking Cookbook, and makes enough filling for one 9-inch pie.

Ingredients:
Perfect Pie Crust
1. Get the recipe and directions here.

Filling
Lemon filling ingredients:
1 ¼ cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
1 ½ cups water
½ cup strained fresh lemon juice (from 2 to 3 lemons)
2 to 3 tbsp grated lemon zest
4 large egg yolks
2 to 3 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Directions:
1. Prepare your crust in a 9-inch pie pan.
2. Get all of your ingredients ready to go – squeeze your lemons and grate the zest so that your filling can come together nicely.

3. Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt thoroughly in a medium saucepan. Then whisk in water, fresh lemon juice, and lemon zest until blended well.
4. Whisk in egg yolks until no yellow streaks remain. Add unsalted butter.

5. Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, then cook for one minute. The filling should be very thick.

6. Pour the filling into the pie crust.

7. Immediately prepare meringue topping (recipe and preparation follows), and place it onto the warm filling.

Meringue:
Ingredients:
4 large egg whites (1/2 cup), at room temperature
¼ tsp cream of tartar
½ cup superfine sugar
½ tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp vinegar

Directions:
1. In a clean, grease free glass or metal bowl, beat egg whites on medium speed until foamy.
2. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft but definite peaks form.
3. Very gradually beat in sugar. Beat on high speed until the peaks are stiff and glossy, but not dry.
4. Add vanilla and vinegar.
5. Immediately spread the meringue over a hot pie filling, anchoring it to the edge of the crust at all points. Place meringue VERY close to the crust, working inward.
6. Bake for 20 minutes (or until meringue has a nice brown top). The pie can be stored for up to three days in the refridgerator.

7. Serve at room temperature or cold.

Note: when applying a meringue to a pie, it is important to spread a band of topping around the edge of the crust or dish before you fill the centre. If you cover the centre first, you are likely to displace some of the filling and cause it to spill over.

Marathon Cookies

I’m currently training for the Ottawa half marathon on May 30th. What is a half marathon? It is a 21.1 km (13.2 mile) run that requires intense training. Luckily, I love running and also LOVE the training that goes along with it. Maybe it’s because of the “runners high” I get during, and after every long run. The runners high is the effect of endorphins that are released during long, continuous workouts. Gotta love natural drugs!

Because I run so often, and for so long, I constantly need to be re-fueling my body with essential nutrients and sugars. Not chocolate bar sugars, but natural sugars such as fruit. Check out these dates!

My boyfriend’s aunt had us over for dinner recently and afterwards came out with a giant plate of amazing tasting baked goods. One of the many cookie-types to choose from on the platter was a cookie she called energy cookies. I totally understand why. These cookies were chalked full (and I mean FULL) of dried fruits and nuts. So clearly I asked her for the recipe.

The base of the cookie is so scrumptious, and the nuts and fruit are perfect to fill your body with energy after a long run, walk, or hike. I also brought these cookies camping recently, and they were perfect.

Why did I change the name to “Marathon Cookies”? Because I’ve been eating them after my long training days, and will certainly be eating them after my big day. The cookies freeze perfectly. Wish me luck!

Ingredients:
1 lb dates, chopped
1/2 lb dried apricots, chopped
1/2 lb dried cranberries, chopped
1/2 lb raisons
1/2 lb dried pineapple
1/2 lb almonds, chopped
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
2 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp each of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl mix together dates, apricots, cranberries, raisons, pineapple, and almonds.
2. In a separate large bowl cream butter and sugar together. Add the eggs one at a time.
3. In another separate medium bowl combine flour, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda.
4. Mix together creamed mixture with flour mixture until well combined. Add in dried fruit and almonds. The mixture will be very “chunky” and this is A-OK. You want it this way.


5. Spoon by tablespoonfuls onto a greased cookie tray.


6. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Sometimes (maybe way too often) I like to reflect on my childhood – so simple. No honours thesis to hand in. No half marathon to train for. No job to go to. In grade school my biggest concern was being home on time for dinner.

Remember the days when you could bring peanut butter to school? It really wasn’t that long ago. I have ALWAYS loved peanut butter. My favorite candy bar in grade school was always Reese’s peanut butter cups. I liked that there were three cups so that I could trade my friends for other candies at lunch.

And now that I’m older I still love peanut butter cups. The ratio of chocolate to peanut butter in the Reese’s candy bar is perfect.

Look at that goodness! So, when I was browsing the Taste of Home website I was tickled to see they had a post for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Cookies! Awesome.

Let’s bake ’em!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped peanut butter cups (about four packages)

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl, cream the butter, peanut butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
3. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.
4. Stir in chocolate chips and peanut butter cups.

5. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets.


6. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks.