Saturday, June 14, 2008

Yes, We Have Some Bannanas

We have too many bananas. Last time I was at Costco, I bought a big hunk of them. Sweetie has been preparing fresh fruit compote every morning for breakfast, always with some banana, so it seemed like a good idea to have a big bunch on hand, The problem is that I left them in their plastic packaging and we had hot weather this week, so now I have a big bunch of ripe bananas.

There is a great event going on right now called Tried, Tested and True, hosted by Giz and Psychgrad of Equal Opportunity Kitchen. As part of this event, we are invited to blog a healthy version of a tried and true recipe. My mom had a fairly healthy recipe for banana bread that I've made many times, always successfully. For this event I decided to make a bit healthier with some of those ripe bananas and to do it as muffins instead of banana bread. I think you'll like it.

The first change was to add some spelt flour in place of the unbleached white flour. It is more of the stone milled spelt flour from the Bale Grist Mill. It add a nice nutty flavor, plus some extra nutrients. I also replaced all but two tablespoons of the oil with unsweetened applesauce. For the oil I used Walnut Oil to add some more walnut flavor. I cut the amount of walnuts in half and chopped them to about dried pea size so that they permeated the batter, but still had some crunch.

I substituted egg substitute for the 2 whole eggs. I used buttermilk instead of milk because it has less fat. As an extra treat I added a half tablespoon of honey-sweetened ricotta cheese, part-skim, in the middle of each muffin...a surprise that adds a nice dairy note. That part can easily be left out for a healthier muffing...and it will still taste wonderful!

If you use the ricotta surprise, make sure to work quickly. In the prepared muffin cups, place about 2 tablespoons of the batter on the bottom of each cup.

Then put the 1/2 tablespoon of cheese in the middle, then fill the cups about 3/4 full with the remaining batter, dividing it as evenly as possible. Handle the batter as little as possible, too. For unfilled muffins, just plop enough batter in each prepared cup to fill it about 3/4 full. I use a half cup measure to scoop up batter for the cups.

Be sure the oven is preheated. These bake up to a nice golden brown and rise above the pan. They are tender, full of banana and walnut flavor and still pretty healthy for a muffin.

Had to include a photo of my "Baker Dog". He just loves to lick out any batter bowl that I will give him...and he'd eat the whole pan of muffins if I let him. Whenever I bake, he perks up and stays just outside the kitchen, ready to "help" clean up any spilled ingredients or to do a taste test if I need another opinion. Since he will eat almost anything, he isn't the most discerning taste tester, but he sure is loyal.

Surprise Banana Muffins with Walnuts and Spelt

2 tablespoons walnut oil (or canola oil if walnut oil not available)
4 oz. unsweetened apple sauce
½ cup egg substitute
3 ripe bananas (or 2 large), mashed
¼ cup buttermilk
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup spelt flour (substitute whole wheat flour if spelt not available)
1 ½ cups unbleached flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup walnut, chopped to dried pea size

Surprise (optional)
½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
2 teaspoons honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F., Grease a 12 cup regular size muffin tin cups. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese and honey until well blended, if you are doing the surprise option.

In a large bowl, mix together the walnut oil, apple sauce, egg substitute, mashed bananas, buttermilk, and pure vanilla extract. (I used a fork to mix it all together until well combined.)

In another bowl or on a sheet of waxed paper, combine the spelt flour, unbleached white flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Again, I used a fork to ‘whisk’ it together until well combined.

Quickly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing only until just combined. Stir in the walnuts.

Working quickly (if you are doing the surprise) place about 2 tablespoons of batter in the bottom of all the muffin cups. Put a half tablespoon of the ricotta mixture in the middle of each cup. Top with the rest of the batter, filling the cups about ¾ of the way full, dividing the batter equally among the cups.

If you are not doing the surprise, quickly divide the batter evenly among the cups, handling the batter as little as possible.

Bake in the preheated oven for 12 – 15 minutes. The finished muffins will be golden brown and with a good crust.

Serve warm or cool. Wrap well to store any leftovers. Store in the refrigerator if you make the muffins with the cheese center.

Makes 12 muffins


  1. I've made Mom's banana bread healthier and banana-ier by using more smashed up bananas in place of most of the oil. YUM!

  2. Wow Elle - thank you for such a wonderful and well thought out submission. You've really put energy into taking something that potentially is calorie laden and made it not only interesting but low fat. Incredible.

  3. The ricotta would be a surprise. I always grew up with graham flour banana bread so I bet the use of the spelt was great.

  4. Beth, Good idea...I still have way too many bananas.

    Giz, Worthy event is worth more time and thought. Thanks!

    Peabody, the spelt adds a similar flavor and nuttiness as whole wheat. The surprise is the best part :)

  5. What a great recipe for this event!! These sound so wonderful"!