I just may be the only non-vegan writing about vegan-friendly and healthy baked goods during the holiday season. But it’s exactly the right time of year, for me anyway, to be looking for healthy alternatives in the face of so much holiday excess.
I’m not a vegan or even a vegetarian, but I do love alternative recipes, interesting textures and different, healthful ways of looking at food. I tend to go for vegetarian options more often than not, simply because I love the fresh ingredients and flavors that they’re typically made with. Anything gluten-free, vegan or raw will always catch my attention – though not at the expense of giving up a good burger or charcuterie plate.
See? You really can have it all! At least when it comes to food.
I have a little thing for all of the vegan and gluten-free goodies from Sweets from the Earth. Their lavender-chocolate cupcakes and organic medjool date squares are decadent pieces of heaven. One bite of any of their treats will make you forget you’re eating a healthier alternative to traditional baked goods, and I very much appreciate that.
Well, I’m no professional baker but I did find a simple recipe for vegan banana muffins that I could make easily at home, and they’ve become a staple. After reading through a bunch of recipes online, this one really stood out to me because of the minimal ingredients and the fact that there’s absolutely no refined sugar in the batter. These muffins are sweetened with dates and applesauce, and have soymilk in them for a bit of added protein and richness.
I’ve taken the recipe further by adding in a few little treats. With the last batch I made, I decided to make half of the muffins with the regular batter, and half with cocoa powder added for some chocolatey goodness. I then sprinkled some semi-sweet chocolate chips into some, and walnuts into others.
This one simple batter made four different kinds of muffins in one batch:
– Banana Walnut
– Banana Chocolate Chip
– Chocolate Banana Walnut
– Double Chocolate Banana
They were all delicious, though my favorite is the simple banana walnut. I’m not going to lie and tell you that these are the most delicious muffins I’ve ever had. That would be a big fat lie, actually.
But these are the easiest and healthiest muffins I’ve ever made at home, and I feel really good about eating them for breakfast or as a snack. They’re really nicely balanced nutrition-wise and they definitely satisfy a craving for baked goods when you’re trying to eat healthy at home (and you’re all out of Sweets From The Earth’s more sophisticated goodies).
Vegan Banana Muffins (adapted from chooseveg.com – a great recipe resource!)
Basic Recipe (makes 12 small muffins):
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 large, very ripe bananas
1 1/4 cups applesauce (I use unsweetened applesauce to keep the sugar content down)
1/2 cup dates
1/2 cup soymilk (I use plain unsweetened soymilk but you can use vanilla for added flavor)
Mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl.
If you’re going to make the chocolate version in the same batch as the plain ones, divide your flour mixture evenly into two separate bowls. Add about 2-3 tablespoons of cocoa powder to one of the bowls and mix well.
Using a blender, puree the bananas and dates. Add the applesauce and soymilk and mix well.
Pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Don’t over mix or you’ll end up with a very dense final product.
If you’ve divided your dry ingredients into chocolate and ‘plain’, try to pour the wet mixture into the two bowls as evenly divided as you can.
Fill non-stick muffin cups with the batter.
To quickly and easily make different versions of the muffins, I spoon one spoonful of batter into a muffin cup, then add either walnuts or chocolate chips, mix with my finger and top with more batter. Then, I use a whole walnut or a small handful of chocolate chips as a garnish (and a visual reminder of what each muffin has inside!).
Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes or until lightly brown and firm.
Enjoy without guilt.