Banana Oat Bread

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In the last few weeks of pregnancy with Baby N, one of my goals was to fill the deep freeze with meals for after baby arrived. I hoped having a stash of easy-to-prepare meals would make the recovery and transition to motherhood smoother.

After haphazardly throwing together an ingredient list (and making a memorable trip to the grocery store with a very full shopping cart), I spent most of a Saturday in the kitchen prepping meals. Ingredients were tossed into freezer bags to create over a dozen crockpot meals. A soup pot filled with oatmeal boiled away on the stove. The oven ran at a steady 350 degrees for hours. My husband dutifully chopped ten large onions by hand, doing his best to fend off the tears.

It was a production.

With a newly filled freezer, I collapsed on the couch, exhausted but pleased to cross another item off the pre-baby to-do list.

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Ironically, a full three and a half months into parenthood, the deep freeze is still full of freezer meals. Although the breakfast sandwiches and oatmeal disappeared quickly, the rest of the thoughtfully prepared meals continue to wait their turn.

Although we hadn’t anticipated it, the act of cooking dinner each evening helped to keep us grounded. In our new role as parents—where everything felt new and unknown—we enjoyed the familiar routine of turning on the stove and cooking simple meals.

It was a way to connect our new lives with the old, as we evolved from a family of two into a family of three.

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Lately, however, there is increasingly less space for the frozen meals as the freezer space is steadily being replaced with bags of breastmilk. It’s time to start enjoying the fruits of our labor.

While reorganizing the freezer last weekend, I was delighted to find a hidden loaf of this Banana Oat Bread buried beneath a bag of Italian chicken and a marinated pork shoulder. Needless to say, it disappeared quickly (nursing hunger is real). Unfortunately for me, there are no more loaves hiding away (I double checked), so I’ll have to bake up another one to take its place.

With my free time for baking being limited since going back to work, it would be nice to have a reason to spend an afternoon in the kitchen again. My husband already said he’d take the baby for an afternoon so long as he gets a slice warm from the oven.

I think that’s a fair trade, don’t you?

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This Banana Oat Bread is simple in construction and customizable to your taste, The bread itself is subtly sweetened with maple syrup, which allows the banana flavor to shine. The addition of oats adds a comforting flavor to the loaf. My preference is to add chocolate chips and chopped walnuts to my loaves, but you can choose your own mix-ins (or forego them completely). While I like to toast each slice and slather it with butter, the bread is equally delicious served at room temperature straight from the pan.

Banana Oat Bread

Yields 5 x 9-inch loaf

4 large ripe bananas, mashed (about 2 cups or 450 grams)
1/2 cup (156 grams) pure maple syrup
1/2 cup (100 grams) vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups (160 grams) all-purpose flour
1 cup (80 grams) old fashioned oats
1 cup (113 grams) chopped walnuts (optional)
2/3 cup (113 grams) chocolate chips (optional)
1 tablespoon raw or demerara sugar, for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a 5 x 9-inch loaf pan. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together mashed bananas, maple syrup, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract until uniform. Whisk in the cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gradually stir in the flour and oats. Fold in the chopped walnuts and chocolate chips. Set aside.

Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth until level. Sprinkle raw sugar evenly over the top. Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing and placing on a cooling rack to cool completely. 

Pineapple Coconut Smoothie Bowl

Every four years, I excitedly await the winter Olympics, talking about it ad infinitum in the weeks prior. As a former figure skater during my high school years, it is my chance to watch figure skating's best compete on the world's stage. The beautiful performances, the nervous energy, and the drama bring me an enduring joy.

In fact, when my boyfriend Chris and I started dating before the winter Olympics eight years ago, I warned him that this was my sport, and if he'd want to see me during the next two weeks he would need to brush up on his figure skating knowledge. To my astonishment, he dutifully researched the competitors, learned the scoring, and watched former performances so he could cheer alongside me in appreciation.

When he started one-upping me with knoweldge on men's singles, I knew that he was a keeper.

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As a snub to February's variety of winter monotony, I dusted off my skates and took them down to the nearby ice rink. With the empty rink laid out in front of me, I imagined myself as talented as Michelle Kwan or Tara Lipinski, as I had many times years before. On shaky ankles, I then attempted a few spins and jumps that would have embarrassed my former coach.

I may have lost most of my training over the years, but the fresh air and the feel of the ice beneath my feet felt invigorating after spending so many weeks indoors.

Though Minnesota may still be covered in snow, my food preferences are evolving away from heavy comfort foods towards brighter, fresher flavors. Blending up fruit smoothies is a quick way to reenergize standard breakfasts and mid-day snacks. To bring these bright flavors to you, I have partnered with Dole Sunshine to #SharetheSunshine by sharing this pineapple coconut smoothie bowl.

Topped with toasted coconut, banana slices, and frozen pineapple, the simple smoothie can be elevated into something special.

Frozen fruit is the key to a quick smoothie with bright, vibrant flavor. I keep a steady supply of frozen berries, pineapple, and bananas in my freezer for this purpose. This recipe uses a combination of frozen pineapple and frozen bananas to thicken the smoothie (but ice can also be used in a pinch). The addition of full-fat coconut milk lends a creamy texture and rich flavor.

While the smoothie could be poured into a glass, I prefer to enjoy this one in a bowl. The smoothie is dense enough to support a range of toppings, which takes it from a grab-and-go drink into a complete breakfast.

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This Pineapple Coconut Smoothie Bowl celebrates the flavors of a piña colada in a fresh form. Frozen pineapple, banana, and coconut milk are blended together to form a thick smoothie base. Toppings like banana slices, frozen pineapple, toasted coconut, and chia seeds are layered over the top to bring additional flavor and texture. Serve for breakfast or enjoy as an afternoon snack. 

One Year Ago: Sprouted Wheat Vanilla Chai Bars
Two Years Ago: Coffee Eclairs 
Three Years Ago: Rosemary Soda Bread 
Four Years Ago: Grapefruit Rum Cocktails
Five Years Ago:  Coconut Raisin Granola, Hot Cocoa Popsicles, Chocolate Pudding, & Black Tea Cake with Honey Buttercream
Six Years Ago: Cappuccino Pancakes, Hot Cocoa Cookies, Rosemary Focaccia, Swedish Visiting Cake, & Cinnamon Sugar Muffin
Seven Years Ago: Chocolate Blueberry Ice Cream, Cinnamon Rolls, Brown Butter Crispy Rice Bars, & Meyer Lemon Curd

Pineapple Coconut Smoothie Bowl

Yields 2 servings

Smoothie
2 ripe frozen bananas
2 cups (280 grams) Dole Frozen Tropical Gold® Pineapple Chunks
3/4 cup (180 mL) full-fat coconut milk
3/4 cup (180 mL) milk
Ice, optional

Toppings (optional)
Banana slices
Dole Frozen Tropical Gold® Pineapple Chunks
Toasted coconut flakes
Chia seeds
Granola

Place all smoothie ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Divide servings equally between two glasses or two bowls. For smoothie bowls, top with desired toppings, and serve immediately.


This post is sponsored through a partnership with Dole Sunshine. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. I am incredibly excited to be working with Dole Sunshine because of the excellent quality of their frozen & preserved fruits. Thank you for supporting Pastry Affair & my wonderful sponsors!

Maple Banana Bread

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A new year, a clean slate. As I welcomed in the new year, I spent time reflecting on the last year, on where I've been and where I'd like to go. In these moments, I have a tendency to focus on my weaknesses, to identify ways I feel I've come up short to my good intentions. Despite my efforts, my lifestyle leans towards the sedentary, the house is in a constant state of needing to be picked up, and my ever-present sweet tooth continues its habit of getting me into trouble. 

This year, instead of fixating on the negative, I intend to look towards the positive, to recognize all the ways I have grown (and can continue to grow). I have no list of resolutions for the new year. Instead, I am working on cultivating a series of intentions—to find the good in stressful situations, to maintain positivity when working with other people, and to push myself to become more skilled at things that I love (like teaching, baking, and woodworking). 

Luckily, practice makes perfect. I anticipate my oven will get plenty of work as I develop and play around with new recipes.

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In the past, I have been guilty of loading my banana breads with so many extras that the banana flavor can be lost or overpowered. Certainly these versions have their moments—this loaf with a chocolate hazelnut swirl makes for a lovely dessert and this chocolate cacao nib loaf is best for a morning snack—but sometimes it is worth it to tend towards the traditional. 

This recipe for Maple Banana Bread is a lighter version of the classic loaf, allowing the flavor and natural sweetness of the banana to shine. With the addition of maple syrup, the sweetness hits a subtle, but pure note. Whole wheat flour is added to bring in whole grains and the loaf is spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg to round out the flavor. As with all of my quick breads, I like to sprinkle a little raw sugar over the top for extra sweetness, giving the loaf something unique.

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Maple Banana Bread is a lighter take on the traditional loaf of banana bread. Sweetened with maple syrup and gently spiced, this recipe allows the flavor of the banana to shine. A topping of cinnamon and raw sugar give the loaf additional sweetness and texture. Serve alongside a mug of coffee or tea with breakfast or an afternoon snack. 

One Year Ago: Roasted Banana Muffins
Two Years Ago: Coconut Matcha Pudding,  
Three Years Ago: Coconut Almond Quinoa 
Four Years Ago: Almond Date Banana Smoothie 
Five Years Ago:  Chocolate (Dairy-Free) Ice CreamPeanut Butter Banana Oatmeal, & Raspberry White Chocolate Scones
Six Years Ago: Peppermint Hot ChocolateGreen Tea Coconut Ice Cream, & Chocolate Lavender Cupcakes
Seven Years Ago: Banana Cinnamon MuffinsVanilla Pear MilkCranberry Chocolate Muffins, & Salted Caramels

Maple Banana Bread

Yields 5 x 9-inch loaf

Banana Bread
4 large ripe bananas, mashed (about 2 cups or 450 grams)
1/2 cup (156 grams) pure maple syrup
1/2 cup (100 grams) vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour
1 cup (120 grams) whole wheat flour

Topping
1 tablespoon raw or demerara sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Thinly sliced banana, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a 5 x 9-inch loaf pan. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together mashed banana, maple syrup, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract until uniform. Whisk in the cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gradually stir in the flours. Set aside.

For the topping, stir together the raw sugar and ground cinnamon. Set aside.

Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth until level. Sprinkle topping evenly over the top. If desired, place two pieces of thinly sliced banana on top for garnish. Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing and placing on a cooling rack to cool completely.