From the makers of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter…

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Well, ok, not really. Unilever is neither related nor in any way affiliated with this post. Or with this recipe. This recipe is brought to you by me. Sorry to disappoint. I know you were really excited about something processed that’s meant to mimic something real. But instead, I’m just gonna give you one of my favorite desserts of something real that’s meant to mimic something processed: banana “ice cream!”

Why the quotations you ask? Well, if you are an ice cream purist (are there such things?), you will no doubt have taken offense if I had billed this as just ice cream. Because there’s no actual cream, or dairy, involved. There’s also no refined sugar or artificial flavorings.  Just pure, creamy banana. Thus, the quotations.

After you give up sugar for a good while, you start to really appreciate what my friend E refers to as “nature’s candy”–fruit. Whenever I get cravings for something sweet, which isn’t that often these days, I always try to have a piece of fruit first to see if that will quench it. If it doesn’t, then I know my body wants something a little more indulgent.  Some days, particularly on the weekends, that something indulgent will be an actual treat–Girl Scout cookies, for example, or a French macaron from Whole Foods (!). Other days, I still want that indulgence to be “good,” so I’ll make this ice cream. While banana is still a fruit, it definitely has enough sugar to qualify as a treat, so I try to eat it in moderation.

All you need for this recipe is three things: a food processor or blender, frozen bananas, and nut butter (or any other mix-in. I’ve been known to put Nutella in here. Don’t judge me.).  You want your bananas to be pretty ripe when you throw them in the freezer. I usually wait til they look something like this:

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I halve them and throw them in a ziplock bag in the freezer, so they are easy to portion out when I need them later (they work great in smoothies too!).

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Then, when I’m feeling a hankering for something sweet, I throw two halves in the food processor.

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If they’ve been sitting out for a bit and have softened, you can usually blend right away without any problem.  Sometimes, though, I will add about a tablespoon of water to loosen it up.  Once they start to get creamier, I add in the nut butter/protein powder/Nutella so that it doesn’t just get stuck to the blades.  You’ll also want to stop processing and scrape down the sides every once in a while so you don’t get any chunks (unless you’re into that sort of thing).  Eventually though, it will look like this:

IMG_6881And it’s done!  When I’m feeling fancy, I’ll actually pour it into a bowl and eat it like a civilized person.  Most times though I just take a spoon and eat it right out of the food processor (usually when Mr. LF isn’t around).  For purposes of the blog, I put it in a bowl and topped it with dark chocolate chips!

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If you feel like it’s a bit too soft when it’s done processing, you can always put it back into the freezer for a little bit and let it firm up!

Have you ever tried banana ice cream?  What’s your favorite mix-in?

Banana "Ice Cream"
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 banana, frozen
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp nut butter/protein powder/Nutella
Directions
  1. Break up banana into smaller chunks and put in food processor (you can also use a blender but you'll probably want to use a bit more water).
  2. Pulse until banana is chunky. Add in water and chosen mix-in.
  3. Pulse until creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides so it's evenly mixed.

 

 

Pear and Hazelnut (Pearzelnut?) Muffins

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***NEW:  I have added a feature to posts where you can print the recipe without any pictures or any blog post!  Just scroll to the bottom and hit “Print” on the recipe card!***

On Sunday morning, I decided that I would make muffins for breakfast this week. My kitchen, however, did not like my plans and conspired against me. Thus, during the course of making these muffins, I dropped the cupcake liners in my bowl of sifting almond milk, knocked cream tartar out of the cupboard and everywhere onto the floor, took the sugar out of the pantry only to discover it had a massive hole on the bottom, and inexplicably carved a chunk of skin out of my index finger (the same finger which had recently suffered two paper cuts!).

My guess is that the Football Gods were smiting me for not caring even a little bit that it was Superbowl Sunday. I decided that the kitchen’s punishment for putting me through such an ordeal was to get deep, deep cleaned, so that’s how I spent my Sunday afternoon instead of watching football.  It was time well-spent, although it might be debatable who came out the loser in the Kitchen v. Gwen match.

What didn’t come out a loser, however, were these muffins.  Once I was finally able to get my act together, I soothed my bruised ego by sneaking some licks of the batter spoon (yes, raw egg and all–I’m building immunities!) and filling my house with the aroma of toasted hazelnut and sweet, sweet muffins. These are, of course, not Paleo, but after some underwhelming attempts at grain-free baking, I’ve decided that if I want to do baked goods, I will embrace flour (and not the Paleo-flour substitutes.  Normal flour.  I feel like it kind of defeats the purpose to go out of your way to buy expensive, Paleo-friendly ingredients to make treats out of.  Embrace the treats or don’t have them at all is kind of my philosophy.  Perhaps better known as “go big or go home.”).  Thus, my solution has been to do the weekly breakfast rotations , balancing an intermittent grain fix with other whole food breakfasts.  This works for me, but your mileage may vary, so, again, pay attention to your body.

To that end, I made several substitutions to put these muffins more squarely into “breakfast,” rather than “dessert,” but really, they work either way.  I’ve probably mentioned before that most recipes for me can always do with less sugar.  Now, I don’t hate myself, so I don’t ever completely take it out, but, as a rule, I go to the next smallest cup size I have (ie if the recipe calls for 1/2 cup, I’ll round down to 1/3).  I also halved the amount of butter, substituting coconut oil for the remaining amount.  Instead of buttermilk, I increased the protein content of the muffin by using equal parts Greek yogurt and almond milk.  I switched the respective amounts of flour so that it was majority whole wheat.  I only used 1/3 cup of rolled oats because that’s all I had in the pantry.  And, lastly, I used fewer chocolate chips so that I could feel better about eating them for breakfast.

Pear and Hazelnut Muffins
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Whole-Grain Mornings
Serves 13 (I don’t know how I got that number, but they were quite large!)

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Ingredients:

2 medium pears
3 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup almond milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)

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Directions:

1.  Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, put the butter and the coconut oil into a shallow dish, and microwave for 20-30 seconds until melted.  Remove from microwave and put on counter to cool.
2.  Line a muffin tin with muffin papers or butter the cups.
3.  Peel and core your pears.  I use this inexpensive apple corer.  Place your boxed grater in a large bowl, and use the large holes to grate the pear (be careful with your fingers!).  This will yield somewhere between 1-1.5 cups of shredded pear.
4.  Take the box grater out, and add the butter and oil mixture, sugar, Greek yogurt, almond milk, eggs, and vanilla until combined.
5.  In a separate bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients:  the oats, flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, all but 1/2 cup of the chopped hazelnuts, and the chocolate chips.

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6.  Pour the dry ingredients into the bigger bowl with the wet ingredients, and gently fold it together using a spatula to scrape down the sides.  You want to mix only until just combined (which for me meant until I didn’t see any dry flour anymore), and try not to over-mix.

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7.  Fill the muffin cups nearly to the top with the mixture and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of hazelnuts.

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8.  Place the muffins in the oven, and immediately reduce the heat of the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are golden brown, the hazelnuts are fragrant, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let the muffins cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, and then remove them to a cooling rack.  Serve warm with a dab of butter or by themselves!

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Pear and Hazelnut (Pearzelnut?) Muffins
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Serves: 13
Ingredients
  • 2 medium pears
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped (you can use your food processor for this!)
  • ⅓ cup dark chocolate chips (optional)
Directions
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. After, put the butter and the coconut oil into a shallow dish, and microwave for 20-30 seconds until melted. Remove from microwave and put on counter to cool.
  2. Line a muffin tin with muffin papers or butter the cups.
  3. Peel and core your pears. I use this inexpensive apple corer. Place your boxed grater in a large bowl, and use the large holes to grate the pear (be careful with your fingers!). This will yield somewhere between 1-1.5 cups of shredded pair. Use all or less depending on your preference.
  4. Take the box grater out, and add the butter and oil mixture, sugar, Greek yogurt, almond milk, eggs, and vanilla until combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients: the oats, flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, all but ½ cup of the chopped hazelnuts, and the chocolate chips.
  6. Pour the dry ingredients into the bigger bowl with the wet ingredients, and gently fold it together using a spatula to scrape down the sides. You want to mix only until just combined (which for me meant until I didn't see any dry flour anymore), and try not to over-mix.
  7. Fill the muffin cups nearly to the top with the mixture and sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup of hazelnuts.
  8. Place the muffins in the oven, and then immediately reduce the heat of the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are golden brown, the hazelnuts are fragrant, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the muffins cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, and then remove them to a cooling rack. Serve warm with a dab of butter or by themselves!
Notes
If you can't find pre-toasted hazelnuts, I just put raw hazelnuts in my toaster oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. This has the added benefit of making the skins fairly easy to remove by rubbing the cooled nuts between your hands.