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Entries in banana (21)

Sunday
May192013

Nutella Swirled Banana Bread

Nutella Swirled Banana Bread

I've had quite the tumultuous relationship with Nutella. Since discovering I was highly allergic to tree nuts back in high school, I have been careful—and lucky—to avoid most incidents. While almonds are perfectly fine for me to eat (thank goodness), other tree nuts have been labeled with a big "Do Not Eat" sticker. My diagnosis has never bothered me too much and I rarely feel as if I am missing out. It wasn't until I moved to England when studying abroad that I experienced my first pang of tree nut jealousy.

When my friends all discovered Nutella for the first time, it quickly became a forbidden fruit in my eyes.

Nutella Swirled Banana Bread Nutella Swirled Banana Bread

In the cool English winter, many an evening was spent around the kitchen stove, laughing and joking, as a jar of Nutella was passed from spoon to spoon. I would often stand off to the side with a glass of water, alternating between great interest and wariness at the jar in their hands. Eventually, my curiosity took over and I could no longer stand in the sidelines. As the jar of Nutella was ritually passed around the circle, this time I made certain it would make a stop at me. When I found the jar in my hands for the first time (and several concerned faces pointed my direction), I cradled the container in my hands, lifted it towards my nose, and breathed in the wonderful scent.

My friends would later affectionately refer to this regular practice as "huffing Nutella." My rationale was that if I couldn't eat it, at the very least I should be able to smell it.

Nutella Swirled Banana Bread

It wasn't until I had an accidental encounter with Nutella (in which I unknowingly ate a slice of cake enclosed in a layer of it) and nothing bad happened that my curiosity for it was taken to another level. I knew I was seriously allergic to tree nuts, but if almonds could be an exception to the rule, was it possible for hazelnuts to do the same? It was several years later before I found myself and a jar of Nutella in the same room and I could give my theory a test. Though I do not recommend taking the risk I did to anyone for any reason, my experiment had a happy conclusion. Though I still rarely buy or steal a spoonful of Nutella from the jar just in case, a sale sign at the grocery started a chain of events that led to this swirled banana bread.

Though it has taken a long time to reach this point, I think you'll agree that it was worth the wait.

Nutella Swirled Banana Bread

Nutella Swirled Banana Bread is the culmination of five years of daydreaming about Nutella while baking. A basic banana bread recipe is elevated by dark swirls of Nutella. Instead of being folded in the batter, the Nutella is melted and drizzled directly through the batter which lends pockets of gooey Nutella in the final product. Despite the large Nutella swirls, the bread rises and holds together well; the secret inside is only revealed when the first slice is cut.

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Sunday
Mar242013

Banana Cinnamon Pancakes

Banana Cinnamon Pancakes

Every so often, I forget to take time for myself. It is never intentional, but between work, school, and responsibilities, somehow "me time" gets pushed to the wayside. It can be weeks before I have realized what I have done. In some ways, this does not surprise me. Our culture glorifies being busy. You need to be doing it all right now. Our culture dictates that being busy is the only way to show your family and your coworkers how significant you are, how productive you are, or how important you are to the running of a business or a household. If you have extra time, then you are not "reaching your potential" or, as we have often been led to believe, you are simply being lazy.

All of this, of course, is not true.

Banana Cinnamon Pancakes Banana Cinnamon Pancakes

While our culture may celebrate being busy, the reality is that we need time to ourselves, away from responsibilities, so that we can recharge and take a moment to enjoy life. When some level of perseverance is unavoidable, taking a moment to scribble "me time" onto the calendar can relieve the stress and exhaustion that comes from hard work.

I tend to go through periods of extreme busyness a few times a year (some avoidable, some not). If history is any indication for me, I am prone to overworking myself, taking on too much at once and realizing the consequences after it is too late. When I find myself frequently working on Friday and Saturday evenings just to keep up, the alarms in my head go off, giving me a signal that I need to make a change.

The alarms have been going off for a couple weeks already, warning me to slow down and take a break. This weekend I finally listened.

Banana Cinnamon Pancakes

On Friday evening, instead of sitting down in front of the computer to get some work done, I went out and treated myself to my favorite drink, Vanilla Almond Coconut Boba Tea. After a week of getting less than six hours of sleep a night, I crawled into bed and went to sleep early. On Saturday I bought myself a couple new books—Paper Towns by John Green and Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Instead of writing lesson plans, I played board games with new and old friends late into the evening.

This morning, after rising with the sun, I took the time to make a batch of these Banana Cinnamon Pancakes before settling into an afternoon of catching up to do. I feel recharged and ready to face the next busy week ahead of me. It is weekends like this that remind me not to underestimate the power of "me time." Schedule a little time for yourself in the next week—you will feel grateful to have done so.

Banana Cinnamon Pancakes

Banana Cinnamon Pancakes make for a hearty breakfast filled with familiar flavors. The pancakes are made with mashed bananas, whole wheat flour, and a good spoonful of cinnamon. The pancakes cook up fluffy and thick. A drizzle of maple syrup is all these pancakes need to turn them into an instant classic. I tried a few with miniature chocolate chips and would recommend it as well. Though simple, pancakes have a relaxing quality that wipes away the cold bowls of cereal from the previous week and replaces them with a warm, sweet memory.

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Thursday
Jan032013

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal

A new year has arrived, bringing hopeful expectations and cheerful intentions. I feel pressed to make a list of resolutions, as so many friends have done and shared. Two years ago I made a list and shockingly accomplished everything I wanted. Last year I hastily found myself joining the bandwagon late, divining a list of January 5th resolutions that were immediately tossed to the wayside—the single resolution that was accomplished was by shear accident and without intention.

Resolutions have always felt so pressure-filled to me. While others may find them encouraging, my list of resolutions tends to stare at me from my desk, a stark reminder that I am nowhere near crossing them off.

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal

This year I've decided not to make a list of resolutions. Truthfully, I don't really have anything new to add to it. I already try to exercise regularly. Eating healthy has become a lifestyle choice for me, one I have been trying to follow for years. It is a decision I face three times a day. Like anyone, I have good days and bad days, but I do not disgrace myself based on the outcome. I fear that if I put Eat Healthy on my list, I'd only end up in a negative pattern of self judgement. There is no beginning, end, or easy system for measuring healthy eating without dieting—it is just a factor of life.

Despite a lack of resolutions, I do have many goals for myself, both shared and unspoken. Most of them are purposely vague, such as become a stronger writer or become a compelling photographer; they are not easily measurable, a work in progress for a lifetime instead of just twelve short months. For these and many more reasons, it is liberating not to have a handwritten list judging me this time around.

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal

Even so, I have many friends that begin new diets in the New Year. Undoubtedly, I hear stories of one or two who have started skipping (or continue to skip) breakfast to save on calories. These decisions are often followed with excuses (I am never hungry in the morning or I don't have time). After a few years as a breakfast skipper myself, I am now a strong believer in a hearty breakfast. A proper, stick-to-your-bones meal can hold me over until the middle of the afternoon and I really do find I eat less during the rest of the day.

In a way, this oatmeal is for my breakfast-skipping friends—a reminder not to skip the most important meal of the day. It may even be a subtle nudge for you. I know for certain, however, that this oatmeal is for me, too. Healthy and gloriously delicious, I could eat this every single day.

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal is hearty and satisfying. Mashed banana gets cooked along with the oats, pervading the oatmeal in a wonderful manner. Peanut butter complements the flavor while a pinch of salt brings out the sweetness of the banana. Topped with a pinch of brown sugar and sliced banana, this is a filling breakfast that will certainly hold you until lunch.

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