Meet Alex Caspero
Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Plant-Based Chef and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.
Healthy Vegan Banana Muffins! Naturally sweetened and packed with bananas, pecans, wheat germ and whole-grain flours.
Muffins are not cupcakes.
But, if you were to head to most coffee shops or do a quick online search for muffin recipes, it’d be easy to confuse the two. I love breakfast muffins as a portable, grab-and-go snack that I can eat on my way out the door in the morning or as I’m trying to feed Vander, pack lunch and get dressed– usually all at the same time.
I don’t want my muffins to contain a cup of sugar. Or chocolate chips. Those are called cupcakes and should be treated as such.
So, I stuffed all of my favorite healthy foods into this muffin: bananas, whole wheat flour, wheat germ, raisins and a touch of maple syrup for sweetener. Refined sugar and white-flour free, these are muffins that act like muffins.
I’m currently in Scottsdale, Arizona at the annual Produce for a Better Health conference, a conversation between nutrition professionals and growers/producers on how we can increase consumption of fruits and vegetables. Most of us fall way short of the recommended consumption amounts and yet, we know how healthy they are for us. Where is the disconnect? Of course, this is not a simple answer.
It’s like the butterfly effect, one small change in one area creates a ripple effect in something else. From the large, systemic issues like immigration policies as it relates to labor, food insecurity, access and water challenges to individual concerns around health concerns, expenses, food waste and taste/appeal. Simply telling you to ‘eat more’ isn’t necessarily as easy as it sounds.
I don’t have the answers. Our food system has so many moving parts, though I’m inspired by the trends: the rise of plant-forward/vegetarian/vegan eating patterns and the sustainability around several produce markets.
Two things kept standing out to me: the idea that many Americans feel that they cannot afford to eat healthy, even though they want to, and that food waste is part of the cycle that increases produce costs.
The first one really resonates with me, especially as a new mom. I’m well aware of my own privilege and the fact that I have the education around nutrition and the means to be able to purchase the groceries that I want.
All fruits and vegetables are important, organic, non-organic, fresh, canned, dried and frozen. I don’t think it’s important to split hairs between the small nutrition differences around the forms, the fact is that the majority of American’s don’t eat enough of them. So, I’m going to commit to sharing more varieties in my recipes. One thing that kept coming up was that as we increased messaging around fresh fruits and vegetables saw a decrease in canned and frozen; with many people believing that they weren’t as nutritious and therefore stopped eating them.
I don’t think this is helpful; my goal from the beginning has been to make fruits and vegetables easy and delicious. I want you to choose fruits over the chips, even if that means canned peaches because that’s accessible and affordable.
I’m pro-choice. Choose what works best for you and your family- whether that’s organic, conventional, fresh, frozen, dried, canned, ect. I’m not stressed about the small nutritional differences between them. Since we aren’t getting enough anyways, eat more however you can.
I plan on sharing more on these topics after I’ve had more time to digest and organize my thoughts.
These muffins contain two forms of fruits: very-ripe bananas and dried golden raisins. They are my answer to a grab-and-go breakfast option that isn’t packed with sugar. Like I said, I love muffins but I don’t want my muffin to be a cupcake in disguise.
I wanted to create a wholesome snack or meal that everyone could enjoy, sweetened mostly with ripe bananas and a smidge of pure maple syrup. Ripe bananas are they key! These won’t work with just-ripe bananas, they need to be nice and speckled.
Place the bananas and other ingredients into a food processor to blend until creamy. This helps the muffins bind together, since mashing bananas with a fork doesn’t always break them down enough. Then, add the dry ingredients to the wet and blend, then add in raisins and pecans.
Golden raisins are another secret sweetener
If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag your Instagram photos with #delishknowledge . I absolutely love seeing your creations. Happy cooking!
Healthy Vegan Banana Muffins! Naturally sweetened and packed with bananas, pecans, wheat germ and whole-grain flours. Perfect for kids and breakfast!
(7 comments) leave a comment
I stopped making “muffins” vs. just making what I call tray or sheet cake from the same recipe. With muffins, there is too much waste, either in space between muffins & or with the muffin papers. Wasted “space” also means, less quantity, for usually near the same amount of energy used, either as in electricity or gas for the oven heating. As well, the other benefit, is that I can cut the tray cake pieces to whatever size I want for breakfast or snacks & square shapes pack so much easier than the round muffins in my lunch box.
I applaud your efforts to make healthier foods & choices. I try desperately to make vegan options for recipes & also use less sweeteners, due to taste, calories & cavities. But I also try very hard to limit my use of energy (electricity & gas) in making foods, in recipes, in technique, storage etc.. Choice is wonderful but it has so many repercussions downstream. It’s not all about me, me, me, I want it, I want it, I want it that the myriad of recipe or food porn shouts.
As an aside, one thing that drives me crazy with recipes & cooking sites is the lack of “why” things are done. Eg: it was nice to read “why” sweeteners affect backing with your oat milk explanation, though I just stumbled on that. Rather than the long preamble & personal stories, some of which are interesting on a few sites, to me, the why of ingredients or recipes would be far more interesting. Also, no need for so many photos that just take up space & I know are very difficult to do well
Finally, ENERGY!!!! It boggles my mind that so few recipe or cooking sites ever consider the energy cost to make anything, as if it were FREE & without consequence. Be unemployed, or just poor & soon one realizes the true costs of electricity or gas or heat or refrigeration. I have yet to find a website that costs out a recipe with the true cost of an appliance purchase or even the simpler cost of energy used to make the recipe & to add that to the cost.
Otherwise, these recipe & cooking sites are quite elitist & for mainly those that can afford the energy, especially for recipes that require a lot of energy. Nevermind the cost of ingredients, which most people filter out as, sounds tasty, but I can’t afford “XYZ Brand of Ancient Organic Quinoa”, (or trendy overblown quinoa or chia of any kind as the trend vs. skeptical nutrition, has ballooned the price).
With your crusade to have people eat more nutritious foods, it would be interesting to add “nutritionly complete MEALS!!!!!!!!!! AND I challenge ALL food sites to consider the ENERGY required, the energy costs & to raise the ENERGY AWARENESS of all foods, recipes & meals vs. writing only for the elite that can afford the ingredients, the meal costs & the energy costs. Not everyone can by a long shot.
As a senior male & unemployed due to ageism, who has been vegetarian, though mostly vegan for 30 years, costs in general, never mind the medical & dental costs are too high on small savings & or occasional work to not consider the above. As well, my empathy for all life, but especially animals & for living simply in a crowded human centric planet, has me try to lessen my footprint.
Many thanks for what you do. Please consider ingredient costs for everyone AND saving or costing energy in your recipes / work.
Live Simply so others may Simply Live.
What is wheat germ? Where can i find it or what can i use instead of that?
You can find it in the baking aisle of most stores. If you don’t have it, you can add in more flour.
Oh i so agree with your thoughts about “system” so would love to hear more on that topic. On a related note, I don’t really like to use bananas due to issues concerning their production and there having such a large negative impact in terms of green house gases. Can i use something else? perhaps unsweetened applesauce? Also 1/3 a cup of sweetener seems like it would make the muffins fairly sweet as there are raisins in them as well. Do you think 1/4 of a cup would be enough?
Here is to more muffins – and not cupcakes – for the morning and anytime else as well 🙂
It was such a great conversation; things that I “knew” before, but never had the opportunity to discuss with growers/producers and people who are partly responsible for food policy. A former senior USDA admin was there and his perspective was eye-opening. I plan to share more later when I can add in research and organize my thoughts more coherently. I tested these a few times with both bananas and pureed sweet potatoes. My friends loved the banana and sweet potato combo, though I wonder if you could just use sweet potatoes? I sometimes use ripe pears pureed, so that might be an option as well. Sure! Try 1/4 cup maple- any cuts are beneficial 🙂
thanks for the suggestions. I hadn’t thought of either of those – the pears would certainly add a sweetness similar to the banana. i will give either one of those a try and also cutting the sugar.
I’m looking forward to hearing what else you learned.
Yes! Let me know how it turned out. I LOVE pureed pears- I think they taste better than applesauce in baked goods.