Go Bananas!

Are you as bananas for bananas as we are?

We buy quite a few of these each week and invariably one or two will get a bit too brown for me. I do not eat mushy bananas! In my quest to use everything and waste nothing, rather than throw them away, I peel the banana, stick it in a freezer bag with their overripe brothers and sisters and put it back in the freezer for safe keeping.

In the summer months, we make smoothies for breakfast and often as an afternoon snack, but in the winter months, not so much. It should have come as no surprise when I placed an overripe banana in the bag the other day, we had amassed quite a collection over the last few months and needed to come up with an idea on how to use them.

When I need something sweet on the fly, I like to toss a frozen banana in the blender with some milk and make what ends up being like banana ice cream. It's a way to trick your tastebuds and your brain into thinking it's eating something decadent. Though I have way too many bananas for that idea. Next...

There's always banana bread. But I really wanted something a bit healthier and gluten-free.

This recipe came to my attention the other day when a fellow Tweetbabe tweeted a request for healthy muffin recipes. A mutual friend subsequently tweeted that I (@cowgirlgranola) would likely have some ideas for her and I did. This was one I suggested. It sounded so good, healthy and gluten-free that I printed the recipe, too, and thought it would be an ideal way to rid the freezer of a bag of frozen, overripe bananas.

I manipulated the recipe a little bit and ended up with a moist, sugar-free muffin that is full of fruit and vegetables, and hence, vitamins and nutrients. It turned out so good, I swear if I hadn't made these myself, I would think they were bad for me.

Buen provecho!
Start your morning off right with a cup of coffee
and a banana-carrot-date-walnut muffin
Banana-Carrot-Date-Walnut Muffins
The Cowgirl Gourmet (http://www.thecowgirlgourmet.blogspot.com/) combined a bit of Heidi Swanson's recipe from 101 Cookbooks and a bit of Elana's recipe from Elana's Pantry to come up with this one

Print recipe

This recipe calls for no sugar, no honey, no molasses, no nada. The dates, bananas and carrots are what sweetens these muffins and also add body and texture. (Yes, I made both muffins and a loaf and prefer the muffins.) There's no butter, but coconut oil that offers healthy medium chain fatty acids. The walnuts and almond meal give a kick of protein making these a great breakfast, snack or even dessert. All this, plus tons of flavor and gluten-free!

Makes 18 muffins

2 cups almond meal
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup dates, pitted, about 8-10 dates
4 ripe bananas, peeled and frozen in a bag and allowed to come to room temperature, and the juice
2 farm fresh eggs, whisked
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 1/2 cups carrots, peeled and shredded, about 3 medium carrots
3/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped

Remove the bag of bananas from the freezer and allow to thaw. As they thaw, you'll see brown juice in the bag from the bananas.
Frozen bananas that have thawed and the banana juice
In a small bowl, combine the almond flour, baking soda and powder, salt and cinnamon and gently stir to combine.

In a food processor, combine dates, thawed bananas and the juice in the bag, eggs and oil. Puree until well combined.
Pitted dates

Dates, eggs, oil, vinegar, bananas and their juice in the food processor
Pureed wet ingredients
Pour the wet ingredients from the food processor into a big bowl and add the dry ingredients. Stir until thoroughly combined. Fold in shredded carrots and walnuts.
Spoon mixture into paper-lined muffin tins and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 35 minutes or until a nice golden crust has formed on the top. (You can use the toothpick trick to see if the insides are cooked through, but allowing a crust to form on the top of the muffin is a sure sign they are done.)

Allow to cool in the pan.Allow to cool in the pan.

Note: I made a few muffins and bread in a loaf pan. When I make this again, I am only going to make muffins. The loaf pan needed to cook much longer than expected and I preferred the texture of the muffins. Moist and unbelievably flavorful.
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