Guilt-Free Banana Chocolate Fudge Muffins

2014-01-15 20.14.07Happy hump day, readers! Today I decided I needed a little pick-me-up to get me through the rest of this busy week. Chocolate usually does the trick, but I wanted something that I could eat a couple of without instantly feeling the need to make a dash to the gym (which, much to my dismay, isn’t always possible thanks to this lovely — make that disgusting — weather Chicago has been experiencing lately).

2014-01-15 21.20.39You all know how much I love “healthifying” recipes by replacing oil and butter with unsweetened applesauce; these yummy, fudgy chocolate muffins accomplish not only that, but they allowed me to utilize some bananas that I had on hand that were slightly past my preferred stage of ripeness. Guilt-free and nutritionally delicious, eat one for breakfast, dessert or even a mid-day snack!

No-Guilt Banana Chocolate Fudge Muffins

adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

  • 3 large, very ripe bananas
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus more for topping

2014-01-15 19.55.03Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a muffin tin with baking cups. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas until there are no more big lumps. Stir in the sugar, egg, and applesauce with a whisk. Fold the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and baking powder into the wet ingredients. Lightly mix to combine (in order to obtain nice fluffy muffins, it is important NOT to overmix). Fold in chocolate chips. Don’t worry if the batter is slightly chunky.

Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cups, filling all the way to the top. Bake for 17-19 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

2014-01-15 20.14.25Once the muffins are out of the oven, top with a few more chocolate chips, if desired. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Muffins stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.


Super Easy (and Healthy) Homemade Applesauce

DSC02160As much as I love apples, just like any other fresh fruit or vegetable they tend to lose their quality pretty quickly if you don’t eat them right away. A couple of weeks after picking them, I found that the few remaining apples that I hadn’t been able to bake into a scrumptious dessert or meal were starting to get mushy and mealy. Enter: this fabulous applesauce recipe! Instead of letting the rest of my precious apples go to waste and simply throwing them away, I decided to boil those suckers down to (delicious) mush.

Since posting a plea to my readers for advice, a friend of mine from class has been helping me experiment with healthy cooking and baking (thanks Elizabeth!). This was the perfect starter recipe because I added absolutely no additional sweetener or flavoring. I got to witness just how far natural ingredients can go; the goodness comes exclusively from the apples 🙂  I was also able to use this applesauce to replace the vegetable oil recipe for my favorite pumpkin chocolate chip cookies to make these treats even healthier!

DSC02161Super Easy Homemade Applesauce from Elizabeth

  • 12-24 apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks (or 1 or 2 packages frozen apples to save time)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon (add/subtract to taste; fresh cinnamon sticks are recommended!)
  • 1 package driscolls (or other brand) fresh strawberries, cut into halves
  • or 1 package frozen peaches

For plain applesauce:

Put chopped apples, water and cinnamon into pot. Bring to boil, and let cook on medium heat until apples start to soften. Turn heat to low and let simmer (with lid on) until apples completely break apart, about 20-30 minutes. Let cool and refrigerate.

For strawberry applesauce:

Add apples and cinnamon and let them cook and soften until they are 75% to your desired texture (some people like chunky). Then add strawberries, stir occasionally and let simmer until desired texture is achieved.

DSC02172For peaches applesauce:

Add peaches to cinnamon sticks first (they take the longest to soften). After about 10-15, minutes add apples and continue to cook until desired texture is achieved.