Gluten-Free Banana Bread with Avocado

Don’t turn away in disgust.  You can, and totally should, bake with avocado.  They are good for you and replace a lot of the less than healthy fats you normally find in baked goods. Gluten-Free Banana Bread with Avocado | Life Healthfully Lived

A few weeks back Liz from I Heart Vegetables posted this recipe for chocolate muffins made with avocado and that got my wheel turning.  I started thinking of other things I could make with avocado and then I saw a recipe for banana bread and the baking heavens opened. Gluten-Free Banana Bread with Avocado | Life Healthfully Lived

Banana bread is awesome, but regular banana bread is usually a little too sweet for me so I toned it down in this recipe.  Feel free to add maple syrup if you want, but try it without first.  The avocado keeps this bread moist and full of healthy fats and DOESN’T taste like banana guacamole.  That wouldn’t be so good. Interesting…. but not tasty.

So if you have some super ripe bananas, an avocado, and a hankering for something delicious try this quick gluten-free bread!

Avocado Banana BreadGluten-Free Banana Bread with Avocado | Life Healthfully Lived

  • 1 medium avocado, about 1 cup diced up
  • 2 medium ripe bananas
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 large egg or 1 flax egg (3 tbsp ground flaxseed and 6 tbsp water combined)
  • 1 and 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3-5 tbsp maple syrup, optional
  • 1/4 cup pecans, optional
  • 1/2 cup dried bananas, optional (but really delicious even if it sounds odd)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and oil a bread pan with a little coconut oil and line with parchment paper.
  2. Put the avocado, bananas, and coconut oil into a blender and blend until it’s smooth.  Add the egg or flax egg, maple syrup if you’re using, and blend again.
  3.  Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and then pour in the wet.  Use a spatula and stir to combine.  If you’re adding nuts or dried bananas stir those in now.
  4. Pour the batter into the bread pan and bake for 45 minutes.  Pull out the bread and check to see if the middle is still wobbly.  If it is, cook for another 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. When the bread is done, pull it out and let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes then take it out and let it cool on a rack completely.   Gluten-Free Banana Bread with Avocado | Life Healthfully Lived

Chocolate PB Bars and Superbowl Snacks

Chocolate PB Bars and Superbowl Snacks | Life Healthfully LivedWhile I don’t take a HUGE interest in football, kind of hard when your team is the Bears…. but I do enjoy watching games and I really like watching the big game.  Ok, ok, I’m mostly watching for the commercials and the halftime performance, BUT I still like to watch.

I’m also in it for the food.  Come on, does that one shock you?  Chips and dip, pizza, wings, snacks of all shapes and size, the Superbowl isn’t just super because of the football players.  The Superbowl comes right at a time when you have been working hard to make eating healthy a habit.  It feels like it’s there to test your willpower and you’re a horrible human being if you slip up and eat a chicken wing…. or fifty.Chocolate PB Bars and Superbowl Snacks | Life Healthfully Lived

You should never feel guilty for eating food, even if it isn’t the healthiest.  You made a choice and that’s fine.  Eat the food and move on.  To help yourself feel a little better of eating a super bowl during the Superbowl (see what I did there?), try making real food snacks and appetizers for your party.  Instead of buying your chips and dip, make your own.  Create a build your own pizza bar and provide plenty of fresh vegetables for toppings.  Or do a taco bar!  Mmmmmm tacos….. There are plenty of ways that you can make your party food taste indulgent and healthy.

Which is why I made this treat for you guys!  I love my salted caramel chocolate swirl bars from Christmas and I wanted to see if I could make something with my favorite combo: chocolate and peanut butter.  I mean really, is there anything better than chocolate and peanut butter?  No.  The answer is no.  Chocolate PB Bars and Superbowl Snacks | Life Healthfully Lived

These are gluten, dairy, and egg free so they can cover a variety of diets, allergies, and intolerances.  If you can’t or don’t do peanut butter just sub in your favorite nut or seed butter, crunchy almond butter works really well!  You can also make these a few days in advance and that is one less thing you have to prepare.

So make these and be the hit of the party and enjoy the comm… I mean the game!

Chocolate PB BarsChocolate PB Bars and Superbowl Snacks | Life Healthfully Lived

Chocolate Cookie Crust

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 1/2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 6 tbsp solid coconut oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  If your coconut oil isn’t solid, measure it out and then stick it in the freezer for a few minutes.  Meanwhile, combine the rest of the ingredients in a blender and pulse until fully combined.
  2. Add in the coconut oil and pulse until the mixture is all crumbly.  Lightly oil an 8 x 8 pan with some coconut oil and line with parchment paper with a little hanging over the sides.  Press the cookie crust into the bottom of the pan and bake for 10 minutes.  It will look like it isn’t set, but don’t freak out. It will all be ok!
  3. Once it’s done let it cool for a few minutes and then place it in the freezer to harden while you get the filling together.

Peanut Butter Filling

  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax seed and 3 tbsp water mixed together)
  • 1 tsp baking soda combined with 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp chunky peanut butter or almond butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut shreds
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips/chunks
  1. In a medium bowl, mix flax egg, baking soda mixture, peanut butter, vanilla, and coconut sugar together.  Make sure it is really well combined.
  2. Stir in the coconut shreds and spread the filling on the cookie crust.  Bake for about 8 minutes.
  3. Pull it out and sprinkle the chocolate chips on top and then bake for another 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and let it cool completely before you cut them into bars.  The bars may seem a little gooey, but they will firm up as they cool.  Keep them stored in the fridge or the freezer until you’re ready to eat them.  Chocolate PB Bars and Superbowl Snacks | Life Healthfully Lived

Holiday Baking

I’ve said time and time again, I am not a baker.  I’m more of a create things on the fly, see if this flavor works with that one, throw a little more of this in there, wibbly-wobbly home cook.

You can’t be a wibbly-wobbly baker.Holiday Baking | Life Healthfully Lived

Baking is a science and if you put too much of one thing or not enough of the other, you end up with a pile of inedible mush.  Trust me.  I know from experience.

But something about Christmas time makes me put on my big girl baking pants and bust out baked good after baked good.  I usually pick one day and spend the whole day making cookies, candies, bars, cakes, and even a few pies.  My kitchen is a disaster afterwards, but I end up with quite the mountain of sweet treats.  Which leads me to my question for the day:

What do you do with all of those baked goods?Holiday Baking | Life Healthfully Lived

The fat kid in me wants to shove them all in my mouth at once and wash it down with a big ol’ glass of eggnog.  Dairy-free of course.  Come on, I’m not an unhealthy beast.  I can almost justify this gluttony with the fact that I make “healthy” treats.  I don’t use refined sugar, I try to use real food ingredients where I can, and most of my baking is done without dairy.

But they are still treats.  Desserts.  Sweet things.Holiday Baking | Life Healthfully Lived

And you can overdo it even with “healthy” treats.  Eating one cookie can lead to eating five cookies, can lead to eating all the desserts.  Again, trust me.  I know from experience.  I’ve also gone to the other extreme and completely refrained from eating any treats at all.  That is almost as damaging because you feel like you’re missing out and overeat on everything else.

Plus, what fun are the holidays without some Christmas cookies?

So, in my household, I try to strike a good balance.  I still go on my big Christmas bake-a-thon, and I still eat a few of my favorites, but then I share the wealth.  I send some with Adam to take to work.  I give some to friends and family.  The building supervisor and neighbors get a tin of treats and I bring some along to family gatherings.  That way I’m not tempted to turn into the Christmas cookie monster and I still get to enjoy the fun of holiday baking.Holiday Baking | Life Healthfully Lived

I also make sure that the rest of my diet is in balance during this time of year.  I try to get as much water as I can, eat plenty of vegetables, and keep up with my normal fitness routine.

Because Christmas doesn’t have to be an all or nothing time of year.  You don’t have to feel guilty about eating a cookie and you don’t have to feel the shame of eating all the cookies.  Find a balance that works for you and just enjoy the season!Holiday Baking | Life Healthfully Lived

How do you handle your sweet treats this time of year?

Simple Gifts For The Healthy Cook

Simple Gifts For The Healthy Cook | Life Healthfully LivedIt’s the most wonderful time of the year!!  I am approaching Buddy the Elf levels of holiday cheer over here in Chicago and it’s awesome.  I spent all yesterday putting up our Christmas decorations while of course watching Christmas movies and listening to Christmas music.  Can I fit one more Christmas in this paragraph?  Yup!

I was thinking about writing a post on how to stay healthy during the holiday season, but I feel like that gets written over and over every year.  Yes, it’s hard to stay on track during this time of year when there are a thousand opportunities to eat cookies and stuff yourself with a large dinner, but it isn’t entirely impossible.  And you know what?  It’s ok if you go a little overboard every now and then.  I like Kathy’s approach to healthy eating over at Kath Eats Real Food.  Healthy is a squiggly line.  Sometimes it will be up and sometimes it will be down, but overall it’s about a healthy balance.

So in lieu of the tips and tricks to eat well during your Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, I am going to tell you to buy presents.  Not for me (although if you’re feeling it, I am in desperate need of this Vitamix.  Yes, desperate need), but for the cook/cooks in your life.  You don’t need a ton of fancy utensils to eat well, but there are a few basics that I use over and over again that can really make a difference in the kitchen.  So here is a gift list for some simple tools that can make healthy eating easy and even a little fun!

Silicone SpatulasSimple Gifts For The Healthy Cook | Life Healthfully Lived

I use a spatula pretty much every day.  From scraping things out of the food processor or a bowl to making scrambled eggs, a spatula is a must in my kitchen.  Plus you can find some cute ones over at Target for less than $5.  These would make a great stocking stuffer!

SilpatSimple Gifts For The Healthy Cook | Life Healthfully Lived

I’ve raved about these over and over again, but that’s because they are awesome.  A Silpat is pretty much reusable parchment paper.  Nothing sticks to these things so you can roast vegetables, bake cookies, roll out bread dough, and even make chocolate bark without working about half the food sticking to the pan.  I have two that get used regularly and they have lasted me a long time.

Spice grindersSimple Gifts For The Healthy Cook | Life Healthfully Lived

Not a flashy or exciting gift perhaps, but a very useful one.  You can use these for more than grinding fresh pepper, which you should be doing.  No one needs to use pre-ground pepper when it’s so easy to do fresh.  Just ask Alton.  You can use it to grind coarse sea salt into a finer powder, seeds like cumin, fennel, or grains of paradise, and you can use it to make your own spice blends.  This is a super versatile gift and one that is sure to be used over and over.

Pyrex Glass DishesSimple Gifts For The Healthy Cook | Life Healthfully Lived

If you are a leftover junkie like me (and you should be after I gave you all of these wonderful ideas!) then these will be a must.  No more plastic containers that always lose their lid, get stained or smell, and that will inevitably melt at some point.  These dishes are great for leftovers, can go in the freezer, and are perfect portions to stick into your lunchbox for a healthy lunch at work or school.

Food ProcessorSimple Gifts For The Healthy Cook | Life Healthfully Lived

Ok, so this might be the one splurge item on this list, but it is worth it.  Actually, you don’t have to spend a ton on a food processor because I made do with a secondhand Black & Decker for many years before Adam decided to upgrade mine for our anniversary.  Food processors are great for nut butters, chopping a ton of vegetables, making dough, and pretty much anything else you can think of.  Even though this is pricier than the other things on the list, you will use it enough to justify the cost.

Hopefully you can find a few gifts on this list that will work for you or your favorite cook.  Only 17 more days until Christmas!! Simple Gifts For The Healthy Cook | Life Healthfully Lived

What are some of your favorite cooking tools?