Naturally sweetened vegan banana chip bread/muffins with chia and flax

Some days just need cake.


Some days like the other day, when I had a bad day. Nothing went really terribly wrong, just your classic case of lots of little things adding up and culminating with a painful blocked duct. TMI? Sorry. I'm actually holding back. These days, poop and drool are recurring topics as a matter of course. It's all a matter of perspective.

Perspective, as it happens, was just what I needed, because the crux of my bad day was simply the weighty, cumbersome feeling of too much to do alongside increasing frustration that Felix wouldn't nap (except on me, on the go). As the hours slipped away with no respite and no progress, my nerves became jittery and I felt the cortisol shooting out of my skull like electric shock waves. I don't mean to be overly dramatic, but it felt rough. Then *wham*, this blocked feeling that was like an implant made of a rock.


That's when I took solace in this banana muffin/bread recipe I'd made to share with my friend Melissa when she visited earlier in the week. I guess what that amounts to is shameless emotional eating, but in this case I really don't care. There's no use pretending that there aren't emotions attached to everything we do and choose.  And all around the world, food is so much more than fuel, right? It's nostalgia, family, cultural identity. It's shared, and it's personal. And at least in this case, my cake was homemade and delicious and a whole lot healthier than it might have been.

I've made these with orange juice and with almond milk, with and without chia seeds and flax meal, with and without an egg, and in muffin, mini loaf, and full size bread tins. All work great; the batter is splendidly versatile. You can play with it to suit your preferences and mood. The orange juice gives some added sweetness and the flax adds a little sturdiness to the texture.

20140103_103838As it turned out, the aforementioned blocked duct became a good thing. It shocked all that building vexation and stress to a halt and forced me to calm the heck down again. It became a reminder that so-called "terrible, horrible, no good very bad days" loaded with irksome but overall minor things have their place, too. For once, I didn't need Dave to re-focus my perspective by reminding me of the world's problems. (Dave has unshakable compassion and strength of reason, and a lovable habit of always being grateful for our relative good fortune, which is as inspiring as it is infuriating. Usually it's infuriating first...because when I'm upset it doesn't  make me feel better to think about how elsewhere, there is senseless suffering.) This time I did that for myself.

In the end, I wasn't really feeding my frustration and eating in self-pity. In the end, a little cake and tea was a celebration. It was only fair enough to celebrate how eventually I let go of panic and sleep for Little Monkey happened. How some things did get done. How the day started with a solid run, all necessary work was completed, and  I unloaded the dishwasher. (Success.) How there was a moment when I realized it was crazy to panic just because the most precious little thing in my world was keeping me from things that would wait around for my attention a lot longer, minus the smiles, the cuddles, and the most pure love imaginable.

The next day, naps got back on track (for now), and work, housework, training, and many playtimes with baby all happened. Piece of cake. No, scratch that. Not easy. But beautiful.

Banana muffins makes 12 muffins/1 loaf

  • 1 ½ cups of your favorite gluten free baking flour/blend, or whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • dash salt
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons liquid coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup orange juice OR almond milk (adjust as needed for desired consistency)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks or chips
  1.  Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2.  Stir together the whole-wheat pastry flour, flax meal if using, chia seeds, baking soda and salt.
  3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add bananas and mash, then mix with the honey, coconut sugar, applesauce, oil and vanilla extract.
  4. Blend the two mixtures and spoon into a muffin tin prepared with cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick in center can be removed cleanly.