Sunday, October 26, 2014

Banana Donuts


My boys love donuts.  They come by it honestly because I love donuts.  I have used donuts as both a special treat and a bribe in my house.  For my oldest boy's last birthday, I made him Funfetti birthday donuts that spelled out "Happy Birthday."  It was a huge hit!

But I knew that I needed to make a healthier donut for my kids to eat.  Healthier than the Funfetti ones, healthier than store bought, and certainly healthier than the donut shop.

Enter the no sugar added Banana Donuts.  These donuts are sweetened with a 1 oz. box of raisins and 5 bananas.

Very ripe bananas work best.  If you don't have any ripe bananas, there is no need to fear.  Spread the bananas on a foil lined baking sheet, and bake them in a 400F oven for at least 20 minutes. My bananas were good and black at that point, but I have also seen cooking times of 40-60 minutes.  Be sure to unwrap the bananas over your food processor so you don't lose any of the sweet banana juice that will come out.

To make donuts, transfer the dough in batches to a plastic bag, cut a good size hole in one corner, and pipe the dough onto baking sheet or pan.  You can use a greased donut pan, but I do not own one.  I use a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat.  I love my baking mats.  I got them for my birthday, and they make clean up such a breeze!  With this method, I can make whatever shape desired.  I tend to do letters and shapes because that is what my kids enjoy.  If you want thicker donuts, you can always double pipe them.  That is when you pipe more batter right on top of your original donut shapes.

Banana Donuts
Adapted from Housewife How-Tos
Nutritional Information:
Serving Size:  1 donut
Servings: 36  *  Calories: 69  *  Carbs: 10g  *  Fat: 3g  *   Protein: 2g  *  Fiber: 1g  *  Sugar: 3g

Ingredients:
1 oz. raisins
5 ripe bananas
2 cups flour (white or whole wheat or mix)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tbs. oil
4 tbs. water
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:
  1. Soak 1 oz. raisins in warm water overnight to rehydrate them.
  2. When ready to prepare donuts, preheat oven to 350F.
  3. Grease a donut pan or line a cookie sheet with a silicone mat.
  4. Blend drained raisins in a food processor.
  5. Add the 5 bananas to the raisins and process until pureed.
  6. In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, and 1/4 tsp. salt.  Set aside.
  7. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat 1 stick butter, 2 tsp. baking powder, 2 tbs. oil, and 4 tbs. water until fluffy.
  8. Add 1/2 tsp. vanilla to the stand mixer and combine.
  9. Add the banana/raisin mixture to the stand mixer.  This mixture will smell sickeningly sweet.  Mix until well-combined.
  10. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.  Stop mixing when all ingredients are incorporated.
  11. Scoop batter into a plastic bag.  Cut a large hole in the corner.  Pipe batter onto donut pan or cookie sheet.  You can double pipe the donuts if you would like them to be thicker.
  12. Bake in the preheated 350F oven for 15-20 minutes.  Double piped donuts will take 20-25 minutes.
  13. Allow donuts to cool 5-10 minutes on the cookie sheet before moving to a cooling rack.
  14. Optional:  "Frost" the donuts with peanut butter or a no sugar added frosting before enjoying.  This is how my boys request their donuts.  Frosting recipe coming soon!

Note:  This makes so many donuts that I freeze about half of them.  The other half I keep in the fridge.  My kids eat these every day.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Candy Trade

I have limited my sugar intake off and on for a few months now.  Then I woke up one day and realized that if I truly believed that sugar was not good for me, I should believe that it is not good for my kids, either.

So I went to the pantry and threw out the last of a bag of Twizzlers that I had been slowly giving out in lunch boxes.  And later that day I had a discussion with my husband about what to do about Halloween candy.

Normally we do Trunk-or-Treating at our church.  I wasn't big on it at first because I didn't want to seem like that family that doesn't really "do" Halloween.  But we helped out when the kids were too little to trick or treat, and now it is just more convenient to not go house to house.  And the kids don't now the difference.  But this year, there is no Trunk-or-Treating to attend.  So do we really go collecting candy door to door?  And then what do we do with it?  I don't really want the kids eating all that candy from Halloween until Christmas.

My husband pitched the idea of doing something different with the boys on Halloween night instead of trick or treating.  We tossed around some different ideas and finally landed on one that the boys are pretty excited about.  On Halloween, they will put on their Halloween costumes and go with us to a restaurant of their choosing.  No McD allowed!  I want the meal to take up a significant portion of the night and to feel like a special treat.  Right now, they want to go to a restaurant where they get these cool light up cups.  We may even get dessert.  Yes, it will have sugar; but sugar is okay as a special treat.

I pitched the idea of doing our own Candy Trade.  A candy trade is where kids trade in their candy for money.  I got the idea when I heard about dentists in some towns doing it.  Why not do that ourselves?  We agreed on a price of 10 cents per candy (because without trick or treating, they won't get that much candy).  So we sat the boys down and told them that, if they wanted, they could trade in their candy to Mommy and Daddy.

The reaction?  Great!  Our oldest is excited and has already traded in 2 pieces of candy that he got from school.  Our youngest (who is only 3) doesn't really get it yet.  He was given a Kit Kat one day, and I asked if he would like to trade it in for 10 cents.  He said, "No, I like candy."  That's fine.  To each his own.  I'm hoping he will at least trade in some candy if he ends up with more than 1 piece at a time.

So there you have it, our first family tradition that is all our own and not borrowed from our past.  We are super excited!

What are your plans for Halloween?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Caramel Frappe


Sometimes I want a caramel frappe from the famous coffee shop.  But I live nowhere near a coffee shop.  So I made my own, much healthier version.

But first, a story.  Last week, I needed this drink.  My husband was out of town, and I had just gotten the boys down to bed.  Sounds simple, but it wasn't.  My 5 year old was throwing the biggest fit I have ever seen out of him.  He was kicking and screaming and bouncing himself all over his bed.  If I remember correctly, he was upset because I wouldn't let him finish a show that I had already warned him he wouldn't have time to finish.  I apparently ruined his day.

There may have been more.  I'm not sure.  The details are a little fuzzy now because this drink did it's job to help me unwind.  It may have also helped that I doubled the entire recipe.

I give you a Caramel Frappe that is sweetened with bananas.  This is a seriously easy drink.

Made with just 5 ingredients.  It starts with one frozen banana.  I often buy too many bananas so that I can slice up the extras and put them in the freezer when they get over ripe.  This way I always have bananas on hand for anything that needs ripe bananas.  And I always slice my bananas into 10 slices.  Always.  This allows me to just reach into the bag and grab any 10 slices to know that I have approximately 1 whole banana.  Then you had 1/4 cup milk.  I use unsweetened almond milk original or vanilla flavor.  Then I flavor it up with instant coffee granules, vanilla extract, and caramel extract.  It is a great late night snack.

Does it taste just like the drink from the coffee shop?  No!  I'm not trying to claim a copycat recipe here.  But does it quench my desire for that drink?  Yes!

Caramel Frappe
Adapted from Make the Best of Everything
Nutritional Information:
Servings: 1  *  Calories: 125  *  Carbs: 28g  *  Fat: 1g  *   Protein: 2g  *  Fiber: 3g  *  Sugar: 15g

Ingredients:
1 frozen banana, cut into 1 inch slices before freezing
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp instant coffee (or 3/4 cup cold coffee)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp caramel extract

Directions:
Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor together.  Blend until smooth.  This shouldn't take very long because the milk helps the process a lot.  Pour into a glass and enjoy!

In the past, I have topped this with some caramel syrup because that is one of my favorite parts of the coffee house version.  But that obviously adds sugar.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Welcome

Hi, I'm Megan.  I am on a journey to discover how to combine my passion for baking with my new found distrust of sugar.  The beginning of my journey is hazy.  I had seen some things around (probably on Facebook) that indicated that sugar is addictive.  But I know that I was already wondering about the safety of sugar.  I knew my Diet Cokes were bad for me thanks to the artificial sweeteners (yet I was still drinking them).  What can I say, I'm human and I loved them.  But what about real sugar?  Does sugar harm the body?  Or is it just another food?

Then I innocently checked out a book from my local library, A Year of No Sugar by Eve Schaub.  It had a pretty cover, and the idea intrigued me.  Basically, it is about her year-long challenge to herself and her family to abstain from sugar.  It was a great read, and I highly recommend it.  That book convinced me that I needed to eliminate a lot of sugar from my life.  The first step for me was to avoid desserts except for special occasions (an idea I stole from the book and adapted to my life).  Then about a month in and after vacation, I stopped drinking my beloved Dr. Peppers and Diet Cokes.  I took it slowly because I didn't want my caffeine withdrawals to alienate my family.

Unfortunately, after vacation #2 for the summer, I seriously fell off the no sugar bandwagon.  I would do good for a couple of days, then I would give in to all sorts of sweet treats.  And the more treats I ate, the more I wanted a soda (evidence of sugar addiction right there).  After giving in to both sweets and a soda, I would sober up for my next attempt.

The cycle continued until October.  By then I had watched Fed Up.  A great documentary on the harmful effects of sugar and how it is being marketed to us and our children.  So now I am fully committed.  I threw out the last of my kids' candy.  I pledged to go the whole month without sugar (and grains, but the grains is a whole different story).  I'm not going crazy here.  There is still sugar in my Ranch dressing.  There is still sugar in barbeque sauces and ketchup.  But I am avoiding it where I can.

So here I am, starting a blog.  Why?  Because I've thought about it for a while.  I find myself writing posts in my head while baking.  I think up new dessert and food ideas constantly.  And if I come up with something yummy, I would love to be able to share it with everyone rather than keep it to myself.  So please, join me for this journey of transforming those yummy desserts scattered all over my Pinterest boards into something I am willing to feed my family.