Warm, chocolatey, just sweet enough, high fiber, and with little pockets of gooey melted chocolate chips!   My sister-in-law posted a similar recipe on Facebook.  It sounded delicious and had very little added sugar.  The original recipe called for applesauce instead of oil, but I'm a fan using healthy fats alongside carbohydrates so that my kids and I aren't hungry again an hour after breakfast!  It helps you process the fiber in these, too.

Chocolate Fudge Banana Muffins - makes 12
(can be gluten-free and dairy-free)

3 medium bananas, very ripe, mashed (about 1 cup)
2 eggs
1/4 brown sugar
1/4 c. oil or melted butter (I like coconut oil in these)
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/3 c. oat flour (or you can use all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
chocolate chips, optional (1/4- 1/2 cup)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 12-cup muffin tin.  
Whisk together eggs and brown sugar.  Mix in the oil, cocoa powder, and vanilla.  Mix the dry ingredients and add to the wet.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Divide between the muffin cups; bake about 17-23 minutes, or until the top of a muffin springs back lightly when gently pressed.
 
 
A friend recently shared this delicious recipe with me.  Since I wanted to make cupcakes for a friend who can only handle sweeteners like honey and agave, it was time to tweak the recipe.  You can find the original, sugar-sweetened, recipe here, if you want to compare it to my version. As cupcakes, they needed more moisture than the original, plus a couple things needed adjusted to allow for honey.  And I discovered that the amount of water your quinoa was cooked in makes a huge difference in whether they're dry, moist, or collapse when baking.   (Not to worry, the problem should be solved now!)   Quinoa is technically a seed and not a grain.

I tried really hard to find a way to use just the blender to make the batter, and not need both it and a bowl, but the batter puffs up so much once the leavening is added, that it just didn't work out that way .  Oh well.

Everyone who has tried these loves them.

Moist Chocolate Quinoa Cupcakes

1/2 c. uncooked quinoa*
1 1/4 c. water 
1/3 c. any kind of milk (dairy, almond or coconut are fine)
4 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. melted coconut oil or other liquid vegetable oil
2/3 c. honey
a few drops of orange essential oil, or the washed peel of one clementine, optional
1 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2  tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Cook the quinoa, covered, in the 1 1/4 cups water:  either combine in the microwave or stovetop.  To microwave,  put them in a microwave-safe bowl, cover, then cook for 5 minutes at full power, then 5 minutes at 50% power.  For stovetop:  combine in a pan that has a tight-fitting lid.  (If the lid isn't, use 1 1/2 cups water to compensate for what will evaporate.)  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let simmer for 20 minutes, until water is all absorbed.
*or use 2 cups cooked quinoa and omit the water.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Put liners in 18-24 cupcake tins, depending on how high you want the cupcakes.

Combine in a blender the cooked quinoa, milk, eggs, vanilla, oil, honey, and orange oil/peel if using it.  Blend until smooth.   Mix the cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.   Pour the quinoa mixture over the top, and stir until well-combined.  Spoon into cupcake liners, or use a spring-loaded ice cream scoop instead to portion out the batter.

For an easy, sweet topping, sprinkle each cupcake before baking with a few semisweet chocolate chips and chopped pecans or other nut.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until the top of a cupcake springs back when lightly pressed with a finger.

Frost with your favorite frosting if you like, or  try any of these.   The cupcakes above are frosted with whipped coconut cream with melted chocolate beaten in:  use 1 cup of chilled coconut cream and 1 cup melted semisweet chocolate.  Whip the cream until it starts to hold soft peaks, then add in the chocolate plus a teaspoon of vanilla and a pinch of salt.  Beat until fluffy and smooth.





 
 
Homemade Turmeric ointment!

About a year ago my right ankle swelled up and became tender to the touch.  There was no recent injury that I knew of.  After a few days, I wrapped it with an Ace bandage.  The swelling went down under the bandage, only to pop up on the top of my foot.  After wrapping the top of my foot, the swelling moved to the other side of my ankle.  Weird.  At that point, I got online to look for how to pull down swelling.  What I found was an ancient Ayurvedic medicine: turmeric and salt.  Well, those were two ingredients I had on hand, and easy to mix.  
I tried it: applied it to a folded damp paper towel, slapped it on the ankle, and wrapped it to make it stay in place.

Lo and behold-- after a day, the ankle was less painful.  After two days, the swelling was gone.  GONE!  And it didn’t come back. My ankle was stained bright yellow for a week, but, hey, it felt great.

Turns out that turmeric contains curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory.  There is lots of evidence that this kitchen spice is also effective against cancer, arthritis, preventing and reversing Alzheimer's, and more.

What about the salt?  You know how it kills snails: it pulls water through cell walls, essentially dehydrating them.  This is an example of osmosis.  It works on the same principle to pull extra water out of your skin or underlying tissues.  I used RealSalt because it includes trace minerals.  The salt and turmeric reinforce aspects of each other.

The basic mixture is 2 parts turmeric to one part salt, then mix with just enough water or oil to make a paste.  If you use water, it's considered an actual paste; if you use oil, it's technically an ointment.  Water might help it penetrate your skin better, but curcumin is fat-soluble, so it might be more potent as an ointment.  I don't know for sure; it just seemed logical to use the oil, which has healing properties itself if you use either coconut oil or olive oil.  Curcumin's bioavailability is said to increase if you add something with quercetin.  Dock (sorrel) has large amounts; so does apple, broccoli, cranberries, and more.  Since I didn’t find anything in my house and yard while I was mixing that was easy to use that wouldn’t spoil in it, I skipped that part.  Maybe next time I’ll dry some dock and heat it for a couple hours with the coconut oil base.  Or add a little green drink powder.  It still works fine without it; there was no quercetin in what I used on my ankle.  

This new batch also contains a couple essential oils this time around (didn't with my ankle), to hopefully enhance the healing properties; this will go on a leg injured by falling down the stairs, made worse by a lack of circulation and movement, now suffering- months later- with fluid in the joints and pain. Rosemary is relaxing, a good tonic for nervous and circulatory systems, and helps increase vigor and energy.  Ginger relaxes blood vessels is a strong circulatory stimulant, and is often used in massage oils and to relieve aches and pains.   A standard amount of essential oils for topical use is 1 drop essential oil per 25 mL of carrier oil, or about 5 drops per ¼ cup oil.

Please remember that anyone can be allergic to foods; don't use ingredients you've had reactions to, and watch for new reactions.  When you apply this to your skin, wrap it with something that doesn't matter if it gets stained- because it will!  (Turmeric is also a great fabric dye.)

Here are the quantities I used for this batch:

4 Tbsp. turmeric (1/4 c.)
2 Tbsp. RealSalt
2 Tbsp. coconut oil or olive oil (I used coconut oil)
2 drops rosemary oil, optional
2 drops ginger oil, optional

Best stored in a small glass jar. Babyfood jars are great.
 
 
A few years ago, I opened up the Foods section of my local newspaper and spotted a recipe called "Just-the-Best Cookies".  The version there was intended to be a healthier one, having reduced the nuts, coconut, and switching to oil instead of butter.  Well, I've reduced the sugar and changed it to use honey, then added back the bigger amount of coconut and nuts, since we know now that healthy fats are, well, healthy!  In moderation. And I love the crunch and flavor of coconut and nuts.

We have two breakfast times at my house- one for my highschoolers and husband, who have to be out the door by 6:45, and one for the rest of us, because some of them leave at 8:00 for the elementary school and Jr-High.  These cookies make a fantastic, no-work breakfast for that earlier group- I make a batch, put them in a big ziplock bag after cooling, and pop them into the freezer. Then my early group can even grab and go, when needed.

These cookies are high in fiber as well, and lower in sugar than most.  Two cookies are about the same nutritionally as one homemade, normal-sized muffin, and much better for you than commercially-made muffins!  Two made without raisins contain 16 grams of sugar, which is less than you'd get in a bowl of cereal with milk. Especially if you count the size bowl my teenagers think is a serving.  (I keep hiding the bigger bowls...)

Enjoy!

Just-the-Best Breakfast Cookies
1/2 c. coconut oil or butter
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. water
2 c. whole wheat flour
2 c. quick-cooking oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 c. chopped pecans or other nuts, optional
1/2 c. chopped raisins, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease or spray two cookie sheets.  In a large bowl, beat together coconut oil and honey, then mix in egg, vanilla, and water.  Add the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt and mix well.  Stir in coconut, nuts, and raisins.
Roll into 1 1/2" balls, a little larger than a ping-pong ball.  Place on cookie sheet, flatten slightly, and bake for about 12 minutes.  Let the cookies cool 2 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing to a cooling rack. Makes about 36.

To make breakfast bars instead, spread all the dough onto one well-greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 for probably 25 minutes.  I don't know for sure because the idea popped into my head just now...    Cool and cut into whatever size bars you like.                                

 


 
 
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Do you have instant hot chocolate mix?  You can make a brownie in two minutes, counting cooking time.  You don’t even need a bunch of ingredients.

It will cost you about $ .30-40, depending on how much you paid for the packets.  The packets have about 3 Tbsp of mix in them: about 1 Tbsp. each of sugar, cocoa powder, and whey/creamer/milk powder.  If you have the kind of cocoa mix that you have to add to milk (instead of water), it's basically half cocoa powder and half sugar (i.e., 1/4 c. mix= 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder, 2 Tbsp. sugar).  You can use mix in any recipe that calls for both cocoa powder and sugar, as part of the ingredients.

I made these brownies three different ways, just to see what would happen when substituting different ingredients.  I've tried it with raspberry-chocolate mix, it's delicious.  Use whatever you have, play around with it if you feel like it, and if it’s not perfect, put a little more ice cream on top!

Version 1:  Cakey Brownie

2 packets of instant hot chocolate mix (I used Nestle Rich Chocolate because I found it in the back of the pantry)
2 Tbsp. sugar (use honey if you don’t have sugar)
1 Tbsp. softened butter, or use vegetable oil
1 egg
3 Tbsp. flour, or 1/3 c. quick oats (if you use a packet of sweetened instant oatmeal, reduce the sugar by 1 Tbsp.)

            In a microwave-safe bowl, beat together the mix, sugar, butter, and egg.  Stir in the flour.  Microwave for 60-90 seconds, until mostly cooked.  There should be a shiny, uncooked spot about the size of a dime or quarter.  It will finish cooking as it cools.  Serve with ice cream, and/or hot fudge sauce, chopped nuts, or whatever you have.

 

Version 2: More Chewy brownie

Use ingredients for Version 1, but beat the egg first by itself, and only use half of it in the batter.

 

Version 3: No Eggs (or oil/butter) in the House

Hey, this sounds weird, but what is mayonnaise made out of? Oil, and egg.  Mostly.  Look up “Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake; you’ll find some great recipes.

 2 packets of instant hot chocolate mix (I used Nestle Rich Chocolate because I found it in the back of the pantry)
2 Tbsp. sugar (use honey if you don’t have sugar)
1 ½  oz. Mayonnaise (use condiment packets, or use 3 Tbsp. from a jar)
3 Tbsp. flour, or 1/3 c. quick oats

Mix, stir, microwave for 60-90 seconds, until cooked.

 

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This is what the batter using a whole egg looks like.

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This is the same batter with only 1/2 egg in it.

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The brownie after cooking: see that small shiny spot close to the center?  It's still a little doughy, but will finish cooking as it sits.