Better For You Banana Bread | Recipe

Lately, I’ve really been struggling to find the balance between what is healthy for me and what is “Weight Watchers healthy”. For those unfamiliar with the program, Weight Watchers members are assigned a daily points value based on their height, weight, gender, age and a few other factors. Each food item also has a points value that is calculated based on the number of calories and grams of saturated fat, sugar and protein. In short, the goal is to track the number of points you eat a day while hitting your personal daily points target.

So what do I mean by “Weight Watchers healthy”? For example, on the program one tablespoon of Kerrygold butter is 5 points (that’s pretty high). On the other hand, you can have virtually as much I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter butter-like spray as you want for 0 points (that’s ideal!). But this “butter-like” spray is loaded with chemicals and additives that are foreign to our bodies, so it is extremely difficult for us to digest them. Kerrygold butter not only comes from grass-fed cows, but because it is closer to it’s natural state our bodies are more familiar with it.

When you remove the fat from foods that naturally contain fat, it actually becomes harder for your body to digest. A general rule-of-thumb when scouting out healthy items is the fewer ingredients on the label, the better. That being said, these foods aren’t exactly Weight Watchers-friendly. If I want to sauté some onion in one measly tablespoon of butter, I have to sacrifice some protein to make it feasible for the plan.

You could say, “Kels, you could cut out dairy altogether! Then you wouldn’t have to worry about the butter debacle!” But let’s be real- I’m not going to do that. And if I’m going to eat it, it’s going to be the real stuff that my body recognizes and can process. It’s all about balance, anyway, right?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis brings me to the reason you clicked this link- the banana bread. Banana bread summons up such feelings of warmth and comfort; many of us grew up eating it homemade by mom. These loaves are probably a little different from the one I’m sharing with you today, though, because there is no processed sugar here! This recipe from Cookie and Kate uses honey to naturally sweeten the bread while providing trace nutrients that granulated sugar does not.

On WW, one tablespoon of honey is four points, while one tablespoon of white granulated sugar is only three points. According to the plan, sugar is better for us than honey. But sugar doesn’t have the vitamins and antibacterial properties that honey naturally contains. While the plan does work if you follow it, I’m going to decide what’s “healthy”; I’m going to stick to what’s going to nourish my body, not what’s going to make me lose weight. (Can I have both? Coming to a future post.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlright, enough talking: this banana bread is delicious, nutritious, easy to make and your friends will never be able to tell it’s actually healthy (I sure couldn’t; my best friend made this for a post-night out treat and I immediately knew I needed the recipe. Additional note: may cure hangovers).


Banana BreadOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup refined coconut oil, melted (may sub olive oil or vegetable oil)
  • 1/2 cup honey (may sub maple syrup)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup ripe banana, mashed (about 2 large bananas)
  • 1/4 cup milk (may sub dairy-free milk or water)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour (may sub all-purpose or regular whole wheat flour)
  • Optional: chocolate chips, nuts or dried fruit of choice to fold-in

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 325 F and grease a 9″x5″ loaf pan.
  • In a large bowl, use a whisk to beat together coconut oil and honey. Beat in eggs. Add mashed banana and milk and whisk until combined. Add baking soda, vanilla, salt and cinnamon and combine.
  • Ditch the whisk and use a wooden spoon to fold in the flour until just combined. If you’re adding chocolate chips or nuts, now’s the time to fold them in, too.
  • Pour your batter into the greased loaf pan. Bake for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (I added chocolate chips and it took closer to 65 minutes to fully bake). Allow to cool in pan for 15 minutes before slicing- if you can bear it!

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Spinach & Mushroom Alfredo (Vegan) | Kelsey’s Cookbook

Now that Fall is here, the season for warm, indulgent foods is upon us.  I mean, I want those foods year-round, but doesn’t it feel more acceptable once the temp starts to drop?

I love a good cheesy alfredo, but I don’t love the heavy, bloated feeling I get after I eat such a dish.  So yesterday I threw this together as a lighter, healthier yet equally delicious alternative!

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As I’ve been experimenting more in the kitchen and, in turn, learning more, I’ve grown to love foods that a year or two ago I never would have touched!  This has given me so much more confidence in the kitchen and has allowed me to come up with my own recipes.  Amidst a lot of failures there’s bound to be a few successes, and this spinach & mushroom alfredo is one of them!

This healthy yet indulgent dish does not contain any dairy which often sits so heavy in the tummy.  The spinach and mushrooms give this dish its creamy texture, AND they’re packed with nutritional value!  While spinach is high in iron and beneficial vitamins, mushrooms are high in protein and selenium, an essential nutrient found most often in animal-proteins, so that makes mushrooms ideal for vegetarians or for those who are vegan.  Selenium strengthens bone, hair, nails and teeth and it’s antioxidant properties strengthen the immune system* (which is important around flu season)!

This alfredo also contains nutritional yeast, which, as you may be able to tell from it’s name, has a high nutritional value.  In addition to also containing selenium, nutritional yeast, or nooch, is full of essential B vitamins, folic acid, zinc and protein.**  This is all well and good, but I love this stuff because it gives everything a rich, cheesy, savory flavor and it just enhances whatever you put it in.  You can find it at your local health food store.

If the nutritional value of this dish doesn’t hook you, it’s flavor will!  You won’t even miss the heavy cream or cheese- I promise!  I can’t say enough good things about this dish; try it for yourself and taste exactly what I’m talking about!


Spinach & Mushroom Alfredo OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Serves: 1
Ingredients

  • 3 oz (dry) pasta of choice
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced (about 1 large clove)
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • dried parsley, for garnish (optional)
  • scallions, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  • Start by cooking your pasta (don’t forget to salt the water!).  Cook the pasta until it’s about 3/4 of the way done; for example, if the instructions say to cook for 11 minutes, only cook it for 8 minutes.  When it’s done, DO NOT drain the pasta because we will be using the pasta water!
  • While the pasta is cooking, start the sauce by adding the olive oil and garlic to a large pan on medium heat.  Sauté until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and spinach and sauté until the spinach is completely wilted, about 5 minutes.  Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper and give the mixture a final stir.
  • Pour the spinach mixture into a blender and add the nutritional yeast and about 1/4 cup of the pasta water.  Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy.  Pour your spinach alfredo sauce back into the pan and bring to a light simmer.  Add the partially cooked pasta to the sauce and add about 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water.  Let the sauce and pasta simmer and continue to add more reserved pasta water, if needed, until the pasta is cooked to your liking and the sauce has reached desired consistency.
  • When pasta is done, add basil and oregano and stir to combine.  If desired, before serving sprinkle with parsley and add scallions.

Thanks for reading!  If you make this recipe, tag me on Instagram or Twitter @kelseyathome.  Until next time!  Xx

Love & light,
Kelsey


*Source: Health Benefits of Mushrooms
**Source: What the Heck is Nutritional Yeast?

Chocolate Cake Recipe (Vegan) | Kelsey’s Cookbook

I’m back!  I know that it’s been a while, but I am committed to posting regularly again.  I missed writing and sharing things here on the blog so I am excited to get back into it- and what better way to kick things off than with a recipe for something near and dear to my heart: chocolate cake!

But this isn’t just any ol’ cake recipe: it’s vegan, meaning there’s no animal by-products, but that doesn’t mean it skimps on flavor!  Many people around the world are making the switch to veganism, or at least reducing their animal product intake.  According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Americans eat, on average, 270 pounds of meat per year- which is more than double the USDA recommended maximum protein consumption of 125 pounds per year (Thug Kitchen).

Because we are so focused on getting our protein in, we often neglect the other essentials our bodies need; such as fruit, veggies and whole grains.  A research study conducted at the University of Southern California found that “people with diets rich in animal proteins were four times more likely than those who ate less of it to die of cancer (Thug Kitchen).”

I, personally, am not vegan nor am I vegetarian.  However, I sometimes eat meals that happen to be vegan or, at least, vegetarian.  But I also love a good grilled NY Strip steak or a creamy Alfredo sauce loaded with cheese (and I look forward to sharing a wide variety of these recipes with you here).  Regardless of what dietary title you give yourself, I think we should all be striving for a balanced diet.  Similarly to experimenting with new recipes, finding the optimal balanced diet that works for you takes a lot of trial and error.  This is something that I’ll elaborate on in a future post- but today, we’re just gonna talk cake!

What this cake lacks in animal products it makes up for in flavor!  I was so impressed with the texture and moistness (is that a word?  I’m going with it!) of this cake.  It satisfies the sweet-tooth without compromising the waist-line (no butter!).

I topped this cake with a rich homemade dark chocolate ganache (NOT vegan) because, well, I watch a lot of Food Network and wanted to give it a go.  And so I chose to make a one layer cake so that it would be the perfect ratio of cake to ganache; but, of course, to make a traditional two layer cake, you’d just double the recipe!

I will provide the ganache recipe I used, but if you’d like to make a vegan frosting, check out this post on Healthy Holistic Living, which is also where I found the original recipe for this cake.

This is a long post already- I guess I’m just that excited to be back!  Enough chatter; let’s get into it!


Vegan Chocolate Cake RecipeOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups organic all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 ripe avocado, mashed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350° F.  Grease and flour one 9-inch cake pan.  In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
  • In another bowl, whisk together olive oil, avocado, water, white vinegar and vanilla until smooth.  Once combined, whisk in the sugar.
  • Pour wet olive oil mixture into the dry flour mixture and mix until well-combined and smooth.  Pour batter into cake pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  • Allow cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes.  Use a butter knife to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan and gently transfer cake to a plate or serving tray.  Wait an additional 15-20 minutes before adding ganache or frosting, or enjoy as-is!

 


Dark Chocolate Ganache Recipe (NOT vegan)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 Tbsp butter

Instructions

  • Heat the heavy cream in a small pot over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.  In a separate, heat-safe mixing bowl, add the chocolate chips and butter.  Bring the heavy cream to a slight boil and remove it from the heat.  Pour heavy cream over chocolate chips and stir until both chocolate and butter have melted and the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  • Pour ganache over desired cake and set it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes or until the ganache has cooled.

Thanks for stopping by!  If you make this recipe at home, tag me @kelseyathome on Instagram and Twitter.  Until next time!  Xx

Love & light,
Kelsey


Sources
Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook. N.p.: Rodale, 2014. Print.

All-Season Burlap Wreath | DIY

Yesterday I decided to embark on my first DIY project as a home owner- this beautiful burlap wreath!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s barely been two weeks since we moved to the new house and every now and then I feel a little ache for my childhood home.  Jeff and I have both been working hard to add our own personal touches to each room, but Rome wasn’t built overnight.

My mother always hung a wreath on our front door, so I thought having one of my own was fitting.  Besides being nostalgic, a wreath adds a nice finishing touch to any home.

While this wreath is pretty easy to make, it does take some time and patience- it’s the perfect project for a snow day or lazy Sunday!  Everything can be found at Michael’s, however I simply bought the burlap at Walmart to save some money.

What makes this wreath great year-round is that you can change out the accent pieces depending on the season or occasion.  While I’ve opted for blue flowers, you could do whatever you’d like.  You could even add red and pink hearts for Valentine’s Day or clovers for St. Patrick’s Day!

This project was inspired by an article I read on elvisduran.com– my favorite morning show!

I hope that you find this DIY helpful and that it adds a bit of coziness to the place you call home.  🙂


 

DIY All Season Burlap Wreath

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You will need:

  • 18″ straw wreath
  • scissors
  • ruler/ tape measurer
  • 18″ x 15′ roll of burlap (enough for a 5″ x 10′ strand and approximately 120 4″ squares)
  • 150 floral or greening pins
  • accents of choice- flowers, ribbon, etc.

Instructions:

  1. Start by cutting out a strand of burlap about 5″ in width and 10′ in length and wrap the strand around the wreath, covering it completely.  Secure ends of strand with floral pins.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  2. Cut out 120 4″ squares of burlap.  (This is tedious work, but it only took me an hour to get them all cut.  You may use more or less squares depending on how you lay them out.  Toward the end I was hastily cutting, so the squares were less-than-perfect, but I’m still happy with the results.)
  3. Take one burlap square and fold it corner-to-corner, so it forms a half- diamond shape.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith the fold facing downwards, fold in the left and right corners to form a little “rosebud.”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPin the rosebud to the front of the wreath with a floral pin.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARepeat until you’ve formed a circle of rosebuds around the front of the wreath.  This is the first row.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  4. Continue making rosebuds and form another row on the inside of the wreath:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd the outside of the wreath:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere will be three rows total when you’re done.
  5. Finally, use your accent pieces to finish the wreath.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou can pin flowers or other decorations to the wreath with the floral pins.  You could also add ribbon to the wreath to hang it- the possibilities are endless!