All of Us!

All of Us!
Finally! All together with enough time to spare (??) to capture a picture of all six of us in the same spot, same time. Now this is a precious photo! I tried to get one last year for our Christmas card and didn't succeed. So when I had the chance I threw out the lasso and rounded everyone up (at my niece's graduation party) to grab a couple snapshots. My oldest son, Casey, and his girlfriend Nika are on the left; and my youngest son, Brady, and his girlfriend Jenne on the right; that leaves Bob and I in the center. (Bob is the one who doesn't look very happy about having his picture taken!!)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Banana and Chocolate Chip Muffins: A Whole Lot of Goodness

Times have been tough as of late.  The world around us seems to have fallen into a deep, deep hole of despair.  With the recent nearby fire claiming lives, the aftermath of truth spilling out of the depths of hell from that, the bombings overseas, all the unnecessary killings, sometimes we need to seek the comfort of something more familiar.  I am not saying that we need to replace it with food, but sometimes a little sweetness never hurts.  So I say, let’s try to kill off the iniquities of this world with one bite of savory sweetness at a time.  I’m going to start with these banana and chocolate chip muffins. 

When my son, Brady, had his recent ACL surgery, I stopped in to sit with him while his girlfriend Jenne was at work.  On the second day after surgery, she had made some banana and chocolate chip muffins for him to eat since he had to take all these pain meds and needed something in his stomach.  Brady offered one to me and I have to say that I was totally pleased at how moist and delicious they were.  I asked Jenne for the recipe which she gave me with a little sidenote -- that she changed up the recipe a little by adding in some whole wheat flour and flaxseed. 

When I pulled out the recipe the other day, I decided to change it up even more using all whole wheat flour and flaxseed. All in all, I think it would be great either way.  

The ingredients

Hmmm, you're saying, did she just say flaxseed?  Yes, flaxseed.  It has been titled one of the most effective plant foods on Earth as there is some evidence it may help decrease the risk of cancer, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and strokes and may reduce the inflammation that accompanies certain illnesses (such as Parkinson's disease and asthma) by helping to block the release of certain pro-inflammatory agents. Studies have indicated that flaxseed may have a protective effect against breast, prostate and colon cancers. But, it should be used in the form of ground or milled flaxseed as your body is better able to digest it versus whole flaxseed which passes through your intestines undigested and hence provides no health benefits. 

Flaxseed is high in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and lignans (which act as antioxidants).  The Institute of Medicine has established that an adequate adult daily intake for omega-3 fatty acids would be between 1.1 to 1.6 grams a day. One tablespoon of ground flaxseed provides 1.6 grams of omega-3 fatty acids.  You can use flaxseed in baking, such as cookies, muffins and other baked goods by substituting it for the eggs and/or oils/butter; or you can add a teaspoon to hot/cold breakfast cereal, a teaspoon to mayo or mustard for sandwiches or a teaspoon to an 8-oz. yogurt.  However, it should be noted that it’s use is not recommended for pregnant and/or breast-feeding women.

Mixing the Batter
As I mentioned above, I ended up using all whole wheat flour instead of white.  Now, don’t be confused here, as I am saying I used whole wheat flour not wheat flour.  The difference - wheat flour (or white flour, enriched flour, etc.) is the when the whole wheat is harvested, all the nutrients are removed, and then a few are added back in.  Fundamentally, wheat flour is white flour.  Whole wheat flour, on the other hand, is just as it states –  whole wheat with all the nutrients left in.  

In this recipe you can use some of each if you like, or all white or all whole wheat. In some recipes the 1:1 ratio doesn't quite hold up as you may have to add some more liquid for whole wheat substitutions.  Items baked with whole wheat flour tend to be denser and healthier.  The good news is that ¼ cup of whole wheat flour counts as 1 ounce in the Grains Group.  For a 2,000-calorie diet, the daily recommendation is about 6 ounces; ¼ cup of whole wheat flour has 15% of the daily recommended amount of fiber.

When you consider whole wheat flour vs. white flour, the major difference is the nutritional value. Most of the essential fibers and nutrients are absent in white flour while whole wheat flour has more fiber and more nutrients. The bottom line is that whole wheat flour is healthier than white flour and should be integrated into your regular diet. 

But if you want to "come over to the dark side" a little at a time, a good rule of thumb would be to use 1 part whole wheat flour for every 3 parts white flour.  For example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of flour, use ¼ cup whole wheat flour and ¾ cup white flour.  Then once you have adjusted to using whole wheat, you can increase the ratio as time goes on.

I used my tablespoon scoop for just the right amount of batter in each muffin hole.

Whichever way you decide to go -- with the flaxseed or without -- whole wheat flour or white flour -- this recipe is delicious either way.

I do need to give some kudos, though, to Jenne's Aunt Marsha.  The original recipe appeared in the latest Primrose Church Cookbook as Banana Bread.  The banana bread, as is, I have to believe would be just as fantastic.  So, there you have it -- you can have your bananas with your chocolate and still be eating healthy!

The delicious end product!
Below you will find the original recipe.  If you substitute ground or milled flaxseed, make sure you read the label on the package.  It will direct you on how to do the substitution.  For the directions below, I yielded a dozen muffins that were decent size (not overly huge, and not small, but just right).  Enjoy!

The original recipe:

Banana Bread

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1-1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup mashed bananas
3/4 tsp. baking soda
Optional: Nuts or chocolate chips (mini’s are good too)

Mix all ingredients together well.  Add nuts or chocolate chips at the end.  Pour into a sprayed loaf pan or muffin tins.  Bake at 350 degrees F.

**If you double the batch and put in muffin tins, you will yield about 30.

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