4 Bananas Low-fat Banana Bread or Muffins

strawberry banana bread

Strawberry banana bread

banana nut bread  banana muffins in basket

I used four soft, speckled bananas to add natural sweetness and rich banana flavor to this delicious bread with minimal oil and sugar. The bananas and just one tablespoon of olive oil make this bread moist.  Add strawberries for a taste of strawberry jam or blueberries. Add chocolate chips for a nice gooey sweetness.

muffMakes one loaf or 12 muffins.

speckled bananas

Ingredients

1/3 cup 1% or skim milk

1 tsp lemon juice

1 cup unbleached white flour

¼ teaspoon baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup finely ground whole wheat flour

¼ cup ground flax seed

A dash each of nutmeg and cinnamon.

2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar plus 1 Tb for sprinkling on top. I used turbindo sugar for sprinkling.

4 bananas (1 ½ cups mashed)

1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

1 Tb olive oil

¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

3/4 cup roughly chopped strawberries (optional)

1/2 cup blueberries (optional) If you are using frozen blueberries, defrost them and drain them before adding

½ cup walnut and/or pecan pieces

Directions

Preheat oven to 350º F.

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Add lemon juice to milk. Let it sit while you are mixing the other ingredients. The milk should curdle, resembling buttermilk. (You can skip this step and use buttermilk instead if you prefer).

Sift both flours, baking soda, salt, and baking powder into a medium bowl. Add nutmeg, cinnamon, and flax seed.  Stir well to combine ingredients.

whipped egg and sugarWhip eggs in mixer until well combined. Add sugar and whip on high speed for 2-3 minutes until creamy.

Mash bananas with a fork or potato masher. You can also whirl them in a food processor. Add them to the egg mixture, along with olive oil and vanilla. Whip for another minute.

With mixer on low, add half the milk and half the flour mixture, and then repeat. Mix only until ingredients are almost combined. Fold in nuts and chocolate chips and/or blueberries (if using) until they are just combined.

Spray a loaf pan or muffin tins with non-stick spray. (because of the low fat content of the ingredients, you should spray paper muffin cups with non-stick spray if you choose to use them.) For extra buttery flavor, wipe a smear of butter at the bottom. Pour in batter. Sprinkle the top with sugar.  Place on the middle shelf of preheated oven. Bake loaf 50 – 55 minutes, muffins for 35-40 minutes,  just until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry. Remove bread from pan and let cool on a rack a few minutes before slicing.

banana bread with cream cheeseDelicious spread with cream cheese!

Strawberry Sauce – naturally sweet with fruit juice

This strawberry sauce is made with only fruit. I used only strawberries and strawberry jam sweetened with white grape juice. It was sweet enough that I didn’t need to add sugar or other sweetener.

Necessity being the mother of invention,  when I was ready to serve blueberry walnut pancakes to our guests yesterday, I suddenly realized we were out of maple syrup. Having no time to run to the store, I grabbed a bag of frozen strawberries and microwaved them. I put them in the blender with fresh strawberries and several tablespoons of strawberry fruit spread  and hoped for the best. The guests and my family were delighted with the results! I guess you could say that the jam got me out of a jam…..

I froze the leftover sauce and will warm it up next time I make pancakes, French Toast or waffles.

Ingredients: (Makes about 1 1/2 cups)

2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries (or a combination of both)

3 Tb strawberry fruit spread sweetened with white grape juice (I used the Whole Foods 365 brand). You can substitute 2 tsp maple syrup.

Microwaved frozen strawberries until warm. Pour into blender jar with strawberry jam and blend until pureed.

Valentine’s Heart’s Passion Dessert

Passion fruit is aptly named for the day of love

The fruit is unremarkable on the outside,

but cut it open, and inside is a gorgeous  red and white fruit filled with green juicy seeds

surround it with strawberries dipped in melted chocolate

or present it with passion fruit sorbet topped with a heart-shaped chocolate truffle and chocolate dipped strawberries

French Toast with Fresh Fruit

This family favorite is a weekend morning treat after a week of eating muesli. Although French toast made with half-and-half is rich and sublime, this lower fat version, made with 1% milk is really good. Spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg and piled high with fresh peaches and strawberries with a hint of maple syrup, it makes a satisfying breakfast.

Serves 3:

3 large eggs
¼ cup 1% milk
1 tsp cinnamon
Several shakes of nutmeg
8 slices of raisin bread
About 1 tsp butter
1 large peach
6 large strawberries
3 Tb maple syrup

 

Whip eggs with milk, cinnamon and nutmeg. Heat a nonstick frying pan and move butter stick across it until it is coated with butter (about 1 tsp). Dip slices of raisin bread into the egg mixture so it begins to saturate the bread but not make it soggy. Place bread in the pan and fry over medium heat a few minutes until it turns light brown, then flip and fry again.

Serve with fresh cut peaches, strawberries or what’s in season. You can heat frozen fruit and serve as well. I like to spread the fruit on a plate and pour about 3 Tb of maple syrup over the fruit, then microwave for a minute. No need to add extra syrup to the French toast.

Vatrushka

These cheese-filled, sour cream dough pastries were one of my favorite treats as a child. I can eat these for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or as an appetizer. My mom, Sarah, baked hundreds of these as hors d’œuvre for our wedding. Now my kids and husband gobble them up as fast as I can make them.

We use the same filling as for Blintzes.  I changed mom’s recipe by substituting whole wheat pastry flour for the all-purpose flour she used, and mixing nonfat ricotta cheese with the farmer’s cheese to cut down on the fat. But I still top them with a bit of sour cream. The fresh strawberries I placed on top add just the right amount of sweet juiciness to balance the filling.

I got a  kick out of the comments or rather criticisms I got on this blog entry. Russians have got to be the most opinionated people on the planet! (I should know, being half-Russian myself).

makes several dozen, depending on the size

Dough for Vatrushka
1 cube butter, softened to room temperature
5 Tb sour cream
1 large egg
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
½ tsp salt

Beat butter until light and fluffy. Add sour cream and egg and beat well. Add flour and salt and mix until dough is formed. Knead on a floured board about 12 times, until it is no longer sticky. Roll into a ball and cover in plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator for ½ an hour. Prepare the filling while the dough is chilling.

Cheese filling
1 1/2  cups farmer’s cheese
1 cup nonfat ricotta cheese
2 eggs
¼ tsp salt
1/2  tsp sugar

Mix ingredients together in an electric mixer until smooth.

Preheat oven to 350◦

Roll out the dough on a floured board until thin, and cut with a round biscuit cutter. For larger pastries, I made little balls and roll them out into circle shapes. The circles don’t have to be perfect as long as they can fold into a half-moon shape. Place a spoonful of filling in the center of each circle, and fold it over into a half-moon shape.

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. If you don’t have any parchment paper, spray the pan with canola oil. Bake for 20 minutes at 350◦

Serve topped with sour cream and fresh strawberries.


Blintzes and crepes

When I was growing up, our family always ate unsweetened blintzes with sour cream, no sugar or strawberries. To this day, I only like them this way. My mom used to make these for my birthday since they were my favorite food. Since today is my birthday, I made these for lunch. I altered the ingredients to make the blintzes lower in fat. I combined nonfat ricotta cheese with the better-tasting, rich farmer’s cheese, which has 12% fat. I’ve also made this with full-fat ricotta cheese only.

But the low-fat sour cream didn’t taste right; a small spoonful of the real deal is much better. Or you can try nonfat plain Greek yogurt.

Serves 3 (makes 8 blintzes)

Crepe batter:

1 cup 1% milk

¼ cup water

2/3 cup finely ground whole wheat flour (also sold as white whole wheat flour)

3/4 cup white unbleached flour

3 Tb melted butter

3 eggs

¼ tsp salt

2 tsp sugar for sweet crepes

Blintze Filling:

1 cup farmer’s cheese

3/4 cup ricotta cheese

1 egg

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp sugar

Combine crêpe ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth, scrape sides and blend again. Let sit ½ hour to let the gluten develop.

filling

Whip filling ingredients together with electric mixer.

Rub a butter cube over a nonstick skillet. Pour crêpe batter into pan until it covers it, moving the pan around so that it is evenly covered.. Let sit a few seconds until the bottom begins to cook, then pour off excess into the blender container. This way the crêpe will be thin. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a dinner plate. After a minute or too, the bottom of the crêpe will become golden brown. Loosen the crêpe, using a spatula, then slide it on the parchment paper. Cover with another sheet of parchment paper, and repeat.

When all the crepes are cooked, you are ready to fill them. (You can fill as you go if you have a partner to make the crepes.)

???????????????????????????????Place the crêpe so the cooked side is up. Place a few tablespoons of filling in the middle of the crêpe. Fold one side (such as the side furthest from you), then fold two left and  right sides. Then fold the side nearest to you, opposite the first side.

Rub the butter over the pan again. Gently place the  blintzes on the skillet, fold side down, and cook both sides over medium low heat so the filling will cook and the crêpe will be a nice brown.  Eat with a teaspoonful of sour cream spread over them.

If you have leftover crepes, you can do as my daughter does, and flip them over to cook on both sides. When they cool, spread Nutella on them, slice some strawberries and a banana over that, then roll them up and have them for dessert.