Peach Bran Banana Bread

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The cereal aisle used to be a magical place for me.

All that sugar.  My diet practically consisted of it.

But then I realized I was not an elf and I couldn’t stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.

So I said farewell to my over-sugarized cereal.

And said hello to healthy-ish green-er living.

Don’t worry I got over it.

So I bought a box of All-Bran cereal because it looked really good and I am officially an old lady and I love poopin’.

Unfortunately I wasn’t jiving it as much as I thought I would (not pooping, the cereal) so now I’ve been throwing it into random baking creations.  Mind you, the cereal tastes fine I just thought the pieces were going to be bigger and it threw off the texture I had envisioned in my brain.

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Feel free to use Raisin Bran or whatever Bran cereal you have on hand for this.  Or if you’re super cool and you have plain wheat bran, use that.  Just increase the sugar amount by a little bit because the cereals contain sugars.

Recipe: (baking time: 1 hour)

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup bran cereal*
1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp white sugar
1 egg
2 bananas (mashed)
1 cup peaches (2, chopped- reserve 1/2 of 1 for topping)
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon

*you can use plain wheat bran if you happen to have that, you may want to increase the sugar amount though

Preheat oven: 350°

Add your cereal or bran to a mixing bowl.

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Sift your flours, baking powder/soda, salt into the bowl.

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Mix.

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Chop your peaches.  Save half of one for your topping.

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Mash your bananas.  I use a whisk, I find the bread turns out better if you turn your bananas into a sludge rather than leaving chunks.

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Add your peaches and cinnamon and mash those together slightly.

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Whisk together your applesauce, vanilla, and brown sugar (save your white sugar for later).  Then add your egg.

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Whisk until just mixed.

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Add your flour mixture and then your banana mixture in chunks, ending with your banana.

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Don’t mix completely between each addition, there’s no need.

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End result.  This batter is a touch thicker than my other banana breads because of the bran.  If yours is too thick add a tbsp or two of milk or juice.

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Pour into greased bread pan and even out.

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Decorate with slices and sprinkle with remaining 1 tbsp of white sugar.  Sprinkling with the sugar on the top gives you that nice crust without having to add as much sugar throughout the whole batter.

If you’ve been following my blog from the beginning you’ll have noticed I started with adding 3/4 cup of sugar to my banana breads and now I’m down to 1/4 cup and they still taste sugary to me.  If you lower your consumption of it, your body stops craving it and it tastes stronger in smaller quantities.

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Bake in a 350° for 1 hour or until tester comes out clean.  Allow to cool 10 minutes before pulling out of pan.

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Enjoy!

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Lemon Lavender Banana Bread

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For those of you who’ve checked out this blog before, you know I love making banana bread.  So far I’ve got, Tropical Mango Banana BreadOrange Pomegranate Banana BreadLemon Poppy Seed Banana BreadChocolate Espresso Banana Bread, and Carrot and Oats Banana Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze with more to come.  Banana bread was the first thing I really started experimenting with and is what got me excited about baking.  I encourage you to develop your own banana bread foundation and begin experimenting with flavor combinations.

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before but I have a new found obsession with bitters.  I had never had it before a couple months ago and now I can’t get enough of the stuff.  I’m putting it in everything.  The initial cost seems expensive at first, but it’s like vanilla extract, a little goes a long way.  Oh, and put a couple dashes in  some seltzer water, shut up.

I decided to experiment with my standard banana bread base and omit the unsweetened applesauce.  I replaced it completely with Greek yogurt because I wanted to use honey for some of my sugar and I find honey and yogurt together to be heavenly.  Usually when you use honey instead of sugar you have to adjust your dry ingredients slightly to compensate for the excess moisture in the honey.  But I figured Greek yogurt was less liquidy then applesauce and kept my flour amounts the same.  It worked out.

Recipe:

1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 egg
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp lavender bitters OR 1 tbsp dried lavender
2 bananas (mashed)
1 lemon (zest, juiced)

Baking time: 1 hour

Preheat oven: 350°

Get your honey ready, I’m using a lighter flavor blueberry blossoms honey.  You don’t want the honey flavor to be too strong for this.

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Get your flours, baking soda/powder, and salt together.

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Mash your banana.  I add my lemon zest and juice to my bananas.  I don’t add it to my wet mixture because I don’t want to risk the acid in the lemon breaking down the egg and I don’t like adding it at the end because I think that encourages over mixing your batter.  I also add my bitters here.

If you don’t have bitters but you have lavender then you can steep it in your lemon juice (heat your lemon juice slightly).  You can put the lavender in your batter or you can strain it out, I’ve left it in the past and it’s so tender you don’t even notice you’re biting into it.

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Add your Greek yogurt to your mashed bananas as well.

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Whisk your egg, sugar, and honey together until just mixed.

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Start sifting your flour mixture into your sugar/egg mixture in small portions.

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Mix gently and do not mix completely.

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Follow this with a scoop of your banana/yogurt mixture.

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Then some more flour.

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Followed by some more banana.

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And so on until you finish both mixtures, making sure you end with your wet mixture (gives you a moister bread).  Near the end of your final mixing, give it a taste.  If it needs more lavender or lemon or it’s looking to soupy or dry or whatever, now is the time to add something and because you’ve been careful about your mixing you’re less likely to over mix when you do your additions.

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Pour into greased bread pan.  Your batter should be quite viscous and not pour into the pan like a cake batter would.

Bake in your preheated 350° for 1 hour or until cake tester comes out clean.

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Enjoy!

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Chocolate Espresso Banana Bread

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You would think that because this is a chocolate bread it would be crazy sugary and over power the banana flavor.  Don’t worry I happen to be somewhat competent in the kitchen and thought about that before hand.  By using cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate I find you’re better able to control the sweetness levels.  You’re also able to get a much richer chocolate flavor without having to add so much thus saving on product and calories/sugar levels.  Adding instant espresso (or coffee) sends the chocolaty-ness into overdrive.

Recipe:

1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp instant espresso granules (or instant coffee)
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/2 cup applesauce (no sugar added)
2 bananas (mashed)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

Baking time: 1 hour

Preheat oven 350°

Sift your flours, salt, baking powder/soda.  Not necessary but I think it’s a good habit to get into.  I sift my dry ingredients directly into my mixing bowl as you’ll see later but some people like to sift it into a separate bowl.

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Mash your bananas.  I never measure my banana amount, I always go with two and let the variations happen as they will.  Granted I do try and buy bananas at roughly the same size each time I buy them.

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Add your instant espresso or instant coffee granules.

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And cocoa powder.

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And mix.  This is the type of instant espresso I bought.  It was the cheapest available.  I don’t think it has to be high quality, in fact I don’t think there is such a thing as high quality instant coffee/espresso.  If you like a stronger bitter flavor go for the espresso, it will help your cocoa powder taste more like dark chocolate.

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Add your sugars in a large mixing bowl with your applesauce.  The applesauce is taking the place of any oil/butter and allows you to cut back on the sugar.

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Whisk your egg in until just blended.  You can do two egg whites here instead if you’d like.

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Now add your flour mixture and banana mixture in chunks starting with your dry and ending with your wet.  Don’t thoroughly mix in between each addition or you risk over mixing your batter.   The amount of additions is up to you.  I usually do about 3 for each mixture.

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Ending with your wet mixture helps ensure a moister bread.

Pour into a lightly greased bread pan.  Bake for 1 hour or until insert comes out clean at 350°.  Allow to cool before removing from pan.

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This turned out to be one of our favorite banana breads and only lasted 2 days.  You can check out the others in the Breakfast section or Snacks section because I’m bad and don’t eat breakfast.

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Carrot and Oats Banana Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze

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It was Justin’s birthday a couple days ago and this was his birthday “cake.”  I know we’re lame.  But I was super busy and I can bust out a banana bread in about 10 minutes, that is if I’m not taking pictures of it.

Our birthday celebration for him consisted of Justin studying for one of his tests and me cleaning the bathrooms of a comedy theater.  We take care of each other that way.  Don’t worry, I ordered him an extra large pizza to help with his studying and to let him know I cared.  It then took us near a week to finish said pizza after realizing that when one forgoes eating grease laden food for an extended period of time, one loses the ability to properly digest it.  I’m sure you were really interested in hearing about our digestion!  Now that I’ve properly primed your palette…

Recipe:

1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cups oats (old fashion)
1/2 cup applesauce (no sugar added)
2 bananas (mashed)
1 egg
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 cup carrot (1 medium size, grated)
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

Cream Cheese Glaze:

3 tbsp cream cheese (I use neufchâtel, easier to mix if it’s room temperature)
3 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tbsp milk

(these needn’t be exact measurements, I usually just throw the ingredients together until I get the consistency I desire)

Baking time: 1 hour

Preheat oven 350°

Mash your bananas.  Make them as paste-like as possible.  I’ve tried not mashing them as much leaving chunks, it didn’t end well.

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Grate your carrot.  You don’t have to do it into your banana mashings.  I just did because I lack counter space.

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Mix your applesauce and sugars together.  I use applesauce as a complete substitution for butter/oil.

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Whisk your egg in until just blended.

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Add your cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla.

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Have your flours, baking soda/powder, salt ready to go.

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Sift a portion of your flour in followed by your banana/carrot mixture.  I usually add them in 1/4 portions, ending with the banana mixture.  Don’t mix completely after each addition.

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Now banana/carrot.

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And so on.  Add your oats in during your last flour addition.

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End with your banana/carrot mixture, this helps to ensure a moister bread.  If your batter looks too dry or too soupy here’s where you fix it and since you didn’t over mix throughout the whole recipe the banana bread won’t get angry at you.

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Pour into a lightly greased bread pan.

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Top with some oats if you’re in to that sort of thing.

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Bake for 1 hour at 350° or until an insert comes out clean.  Allow to cool and make your glaze.

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Since we did such a good job making a decently healthy banana bread, why not negate that by slathering it with a cream cheese glaze?

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Orange Pomegranate Banana Bread

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Like I’ve said before, I make a loaf of banana bread every week for Justin to eat for breakfast (Tropical Mango Banana Bread, Lemon Poppy Seed Banana Bread) .  So he’s well studied on banana bread consumption.  This is his favorite banana bread recipe.

Edit: As he’s reading this he says, “This isn’t my favorite,” and I reply, “Oh so you lied?”  “No, this was my favorite and then you made the lemon poppy seed one, so that became my new favorite.”  So I will correct myself, this is Justin’s old favorite banana bread recipe.

Unlike my other banana bread recipes, I added yogurt to this because yogurt and pomegranate go well together.  If you don’t have yogurt or have an aversion to it or something (freak) just omit it and cut the baking soda by 1/4 tsp and the all purpose flour by 1/4 cup.

Recipe:

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
1 orange (medium, zest and juice)
2 bananas (medium, mashed)
1 egg
1/4 greek yogurt (0%)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pomegranate arils

Baking time: 1 hour

Preheat oven 350°

Cut your pomegranate (try and buy a nicer one than Justin and I managed to).

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There’s a lot of nonsense on the internet about how to cut a pomegranate and what a messy endeavor it is.  I have never stained an article of clothing or broken any of the arils opening a pomegranate this way so I recommend it.   Cut the tip of your pomegranate off, kind of like you would a pumpkin except you barely need to push your knife through.  I’m sure you’ll do a nicer job than I did.

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Score the pomegranate  just going through the red part of the skin.

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Holding the pomegranate in both hands and with your thumps on the top part start to pull the pomegranate apart gently–it should come apart pretty easily.

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Break the sections off completely and gently remove the arils as you remove more sections of the outer skin.

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This whole process took less than 5 minutes with all the picture taking and I only dropped like 2 arils, so that seems a lot less messy than those whacking methods.  But that’s just me.

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Sift your flour, baking powder/soda, and salt together.

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Whisk your sugars and applesauce together.  Yes, I add applesauce to everything, get past it.

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Followed by your egg.

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Mash your bananas and zest/juice your orange.  I like to mash by bananas with my whisk because it gets rid of the large chunks better than a fork.

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Add your orange zest/juice along with the yogurt and cinnamon to your bananas.

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Add half of your flour to your sugar/applesauce mixture.  Don’t mix completely until the last addition to prevent over mixing.

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Followed by half of your banana mixture.

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Followed by the other halves.

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Now you can mix all the way.

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Add your 1/2 cup pomegranate arils saving a couple tbsp worth.

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Add your batter to a lightly greased pan, sprinkle your remaining arils on top.  If you felt so inclined you could turn some of your pomegranate arils into a syrup and swirl it on top before baking, but even typing that sentence out was more effort than I wanted to put into this banana bread.  The choice is yours, I went the lazier and less sugary route.

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Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until tester comes out clean.

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Tropical Mango Banana Bread

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I always like making variations of my banana bread–this one was inspired by the fact I didn’t feel like making a peanut butter one and I ran out of lavender.  I used this recipe as inspiration , like most recipes I wind up getting inspiration from, my recipe is nothing like it but I figured I would share because it’s what got my tropical gears going.  I originally planned on using pineapple in the recipe but when I got to the store I asked Justin what he wanted, he said mango and he normally hates mangoes.  I guess he felt like being fancy.  While I do prefer my Lemon Poppy Seed Banana Bread to this one, it’s good to change things up every once in a while especially when you get your hands on some good, cheap mangoes.  Do those two concepts even go together?

Recipe:

1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp honey
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
2 bananas (medium)
1 mango
1/4 cup coconut (unsweetened)
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp allspice (about 4-5 berries)
2 tbsp coconut milk (or regular milk)

Bake time: 1 hour

Preheat oven 350°

While your oven is preheating cut your mango and mash your bananas.  There’s all sorts of fancy ways to cut a mango, including buying some ridiculous device from Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  Cut the skin off, avoid the thing in the middle, and chop.  I cut mine into small chunks, I’ve tried using large chunks of fruit before and the after effect isn’t the most pleasant.  I treated the mango as if it were chocolate chips.

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I use my whisk to mash my bananas, it’s faster than a fork.

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Add your ginger and allspice to your banana/mango mixture.  You can really add your spices whenever/wherever you want, I like to add it here because it gives the spices time to mingle.  And you know spices, they like to mingle.  I use allspice berries, I buy them here.  Once you try whole allspice you’ll wonder what the hell that dusty powder stuff that you’ve been putting in your pumpkin pie all these years is.  And no, you don’t need a fancy spice grinder.  I break the berries apart in my mortar and pestle (you don’t need that either, pretty much any heavy-ish object will do) and then grind them in a salt grinder (or pepper) I never use (except for when I’m grinding allspice berries, which is actually kind of regularly).

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When your oven is ready put in your coconut on a non-greased sheet, tossing a couple times until finished (should take 5-7 minutes in a 350° oven).

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Side note: Justin and I always thought we hated coconut until we bought the unsweetened kind.  Take it out and let it cool, I break it up into smaller chunks with my hands before adding it later.

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Sift your dry ingredients together (salt, baking soda/powder, flour).

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Add your sugars to your applesauce in a large mixing bowl.  I decided to cut my usual sugar amount down for this recipe because of the addition of coconut and mango.  Why do I add three types of sugar?  Because I’m weird, no…yes.  Brown sugar is moister than white, thus making a moister bread (and I prefer the flavor).  Honey is sweeter than sugar so you can get away with using less of it and the whole moist thing.  And finally white sugar because it helps give you that harder crust on top that you eat all of before Justin can even have a slice.

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Mix until blended.

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Add your egg and whisk until just blended.  You can definitely use egg whites instead.  I used to use 2 egg whites but then decided since Justin eats this for breakfast most mornings a whole egg made more sense.

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Add half of your dry mixture followed by half of your wet mixture.

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Followed by the other halves ending with the wet.

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This is where I end up adding my liquid because I would rather have to add liquid at the end than flour.  I added 2 tbsp of coconut milk, pineapple/orange juice or regular regular would also be worth additions.  I lean towards the milk though because I thought adding another flavor would muddy the rest.

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Add your coconut saving 1 tbsp for the top.

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Add your batter to a greased pan (mine is 8.5 X 4.5) and bake at 350° for 1 hour.

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Use a tester to check for doneness (should come out clean) and let rest for about 20 minutes.  Especially if there’s fruit involved in your bread, trust me on this.  I have made that mistake one too many times because I am impatient.

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Lemon Poppy Seed Banana Bread

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Banana bread is another one of those breakfast items that people like to turn into dessert.  I do not like my  dessert disguised as banana bread and I do not like dessert for breakfast, except for the times when I do and for those times I eat cake, because that is dessert.

I started baking in grade school and stopped when I was in college because I was in college and it was hard to make room and time for all that nonsense.  I jest, baking is never nonsense.  Banana bread however, was the one thing I continued to make because it’s pretty much fool proof.  This recipe isn’t fool tested, it’s just a saying.  Making this banana bread while studying for a degree I don’t use was also when I learned you don’t have to follow a recipe for your creations to work.

Side note: whenever Justin needs a pick me up I tell him to remember I paid $30,000 to be with him (we met in college if you didn’t get that).

There are other variations to this banana bread, I’ve posted some already.  Check them out in the BREAKFAST section.

Recipe:

1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup no sugar added applesauce
1 egg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 bananas (mashed)
1 lemon (zest, juice)
2 tbsp poppy seeds

Baking time: 1 hour

Preheat oven 350°

Sift your “dry” ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder/soda).  Wait, is that a Justin hand?  Is that a man helping me in the kitchen!?  I kid.

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Mix your “wet” ingredients (sugar, vanilla, and applesauce).  I bought this blue bowl in college specifically for making banana bread, it’s been with me ever since.  I realize it’s cheap plastic and is probably leaching dangerous, cancer causing chemicals into my banana bread, but at least they’re the nummy kind.

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Mash your bananas, I like them to be as soft as possible.  A whisk helps to turn those bananas into sludge quicker than a fork.  I tried using fresher bananas and kept them in bigger chunks once, things got weird.

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Zest your lemon.

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Juice your lemon.  Press and roll it first to make the juicing process easier.

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Whisk your egg in until just blended.

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Now add 1/2 of your flour mixture, followed by 1/2 of your lemon/banana mixture, followed by the rest of your flour…

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..and ending with your lemon/banana mixture.  Don’t worry about mixing completely between each addition.  I switch to a wooden spoon at this point so as not to over mix.

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Add your poppy seeds.

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This is the consistency I aim for with all my banana breads regardless of the additions and it never fails me.  Put it in the oven at 350° for 1 hour.  My pan is 8.5 x 4.5.  

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Use a knife or cake tester to check if the bread is done, it should come out clean.  I have been known to burn my fingers from pulling the bread out of the pan too early so I can eat it.   The time is usually midnight, that’s when my desire to make banana bread often strikes.

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