Dark Chocolate Banana Muffins

Gluten and dairy free dark chocolate banana muffins

Is there any better start to a morning than enjoying a banana baked good with a warm cup of coffee? I honestly cannot think of one. Whether it is banana bread, muffins, cakes, donuts, or pies, anything baked that contains banana is a guaranteed way to my heart. But, let’s be honest for a second here, some banana breads and muffins sold in today’s world as a “breakfast food” are really just cake in a different form. When I was finally old and wise enough to come to this realization, it slightly broke my heart. I love banana bread. I mean lovvvveeeee. The aroma of a fresh cooked loaf makes my heart swell and immediately feel all things comfort. So, instead of giving up on this love affair, with my new-found baking ability and determination to create new recipes, plus a kitchen filled with browned bananas after clicking too many times on last week’s instacart order, I decided to make my own healthified version. These dark chocolate banana muffins are sweet enough to fill that dessert void while also including approved ingredients making it an acceptable breakfast (yes, dark chocolate if purchased in the right form is acceptable in the mornings in my book). Plus, I used Kite Hill’s new unsweetened drinkable yogurt to make these muffins extra moist. Yea, I said it, MOIST. The word that everyone hates using or hearing until a person uses it to describe something you baked and you immediately jump with joy. Behold, the way to my coworkers, neighbors, friends, and family’s hearts.

Recipe .

Coconut Salmon Skillet with Broccoli and Cashews

Skillet dinner with charred broccoli, toasted cashews, hints of coconut oil and lemon, and the perfect seared salmon

Although it feels like I just got back, it has somehow already been a month since my trip to Iceland. The trip was filled with an insane amount of breathtaking views (waterfalls, geysirs, glaciers, hikes, hot springs, etc), plenty of glasses of Viking beer, and some (insanely expensive) great dinners. As a lover of all things seafood, I was incredibly excited for all of the fish filled menus I was sure to see, and this meal did not disappoint. I have dreamt of this last dinner in Iceland, from a restaurant called Messin, since we returned home. The second they placed a cast iron skillet on our table I knew I was going to fall in love with this dish. The charred broccoli mixed with the toasted cashews and the perfect salmon with that seared exterior and rare interior had my stomach craving this meal the moment I walked out the door of the restaurant. As soon as we arrived home, I knew what the next experiment was going to be in my kitchen: recreating this meal. I am happy to say that is just as good, and about an eighth of the price, when made at home. This is most definitely a new quick and easy weeknight dinner staple; plus, it only involves one dish for both cooking and eating out of.

Recipe

Healthy Mustard Chicken Fingers

A healthy, gluten-free, version of every kid’s favorite meal: chicken fingers.

 

Growing up chicken fingers are a staple in every child’s diet. Back in the 90s these things were served at every sleepover, birthday party, post game tailgate, or restaurant table. It is the only thing every single kid enjoyed eating and a food that parent’s could guarantee their child would finish. Now that I have grown older and more focused on what ingredients are going into my body, I cannot remember the last time I ordered chicken fingers. While chicken is still a staple in my diet, there is no need for the excess batter and fried oil that comes along with this order. It wasn’t until my Whole30 experience, where I actively was restricting all fried food, that I realized I kind of missed them. You always want what you can’t have, right? It wasn’t even necessarily the grease aspect, but mainly the crunchy and crisped factor that encases the chicken and the option to dip them in delicious sauces. With the evolution of my taste palette steering away from fried foods, as I got older I also fell in love with an ingredient that I grew up despising: mustard. As a kid, I used to hate when my mom would spread mustard on a Philly pretzel at a sports game and now I would do just about anything for that combination. I mean it, in my kitchen, mustard goes on everything. Not only is mustard a great dipping option for these healthified (making up words) chicken fingers, it is also a main ingredient in the batter to make sure every bite has that spicy and tangy taste.

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Apple Pie Muffins

Healthy and easy gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free, apple pie muffins

I have always found baking extremely intimidating. I am someone who enjoys cooking because there are no rules. Want to add some of this spice? Go ahead. Want some more vegetables in that dish? Throw them in. While cooking is an art, baking is a science. There are rules to follow, recipes to read, and instructions to stick to. Because of these restrictions, and the fact that one quarter cup of an ingredient can automatically ruin your recipe, I have always steered clear of baking. Then, my friend Lara of @_littlemissfoodie kept posting all these insanely decadent baking photographs and encouraging and inspiring me to finally take the plunge. So as the notorious muffin (wo)man she is, I decided to tackle this baked good first. While I was contemplating what muffins to make, simultaneously my next-door neighbor’s 3-year-old daughter knocked on my door and told me she was having a farmer’s market with all of the apples she harvested at her house outside the city. As she handed me over a bushel of massive beautifully bruised and imperfect apples, I knew exactly what I was going to thank her with: a batch of homemade apple pie muffins. I put my big girl pants on and got to work in my kitchen and after a few test runs can proudly say I have officially created a recipe that revolves around baking. These will definitely be on repeat in my kitchen throughout the fall and they should be in yours also!

Recipe

Zoodles with Peanut Butter Sauce and Shredded Chicken

By now, I don’t think I need to justify or explain my love affair with peanut butter. But in case you are a new Freckled Foodie fan and are unaware, I freaking love it. It is a staple in my kitchen (I have quite the collection) and I believe it serves a purpose in every single meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, dessert. You name it, peanut butter belongs there. One thing I do not love about peanut butter (GASP) is all of the brands that are filled with unnecessary ingredients, specifically sugar. Peanut butter should have one ingredient. You guessed it: PEANUTS. This is one of the many reasons that Crazy Richards has quickly won my heart in the lineup of a thousand different nut butter brands. Continuing my effort to prove that peanut butter serves a purpose in all times of the day, I decided to incorporate this delicious jar into an even tastier sauce to accompany my go-to weeknight zoodle dinner.

Check out more information on Crazy Richards PB and my featured recipe here

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Zucchini Noodles with Creamy Avocado Pesto and Spicy Coconut Salmon

Ever since starting Freckled Foodie and continuously photographing my meals, I’ve noticed one stand out consistent meal: zucchini noodles and salmon. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good bowl of pasta. In no way am I going to tease you to believe that this will replace the hearty, comforting, nap induced bliss you feel after a bowl of hot pasta. However, what I can tell you, is that there are many of nights I actually prefer to have this meal instead (I know, blasphemy). I was always skeptical of “zoodles” for this exact reason. Refusing to accept them as a form of pasta, I changed my mindset to view them as simply another delicious option for a meal, which is exactly what they are. This meal’s pulling force that continues to suck me in on a weekly basis is the place it lands on the taste / effort scale. This meal is exceptionally easy to make, especially if you follow some of my prepping tips below, and requires minimal effort in the kitchen. It also is a refreshing, light, and delicious dinner or lunch option while seemingly impressive to dinner guests. Plus, these zoodles are simply aesthetically pleasing when they so perfectly resemble long ribbons.

Recipe

Gluten, Grain, and Dairy Free Banana Pancakes

To me, no meal is cozier than banana pancakes. Growing up, pancakes encompassed all things “weekend”. Family brunch? Pancakes. Slumber party with an insanely large amount of chatty pre-teen girls? Pancakes. Rainy Sunday morning? You better believe that calls for pancakes. Now that I am grown, no longer living with my parents, and  responsible for making my own breakfasts (sigh, why can’t we be kids forever), pancakes bring back all of those warm feelings of home. They exemplify one of the reasons I love food so much: one simple meal is able to spark so many memories and emotions and, even if for just one second, transport you back to a happy past time. So excuse me while I take my plate of banana pancakes back up to bed, get under the covers, and devour this stack way you are supposed to.

Recipe