Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Banana Mini Muffins

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Banana Mini Muffins

Looking for something delectable, pop-able, and guilt-free? So was I. After browsing online for muffin recipes with banana and whole wheat, I didn’t find what I wanted in a recipe. So, I created my own! Below you will find the muffins that have what is likely already in your house. No flax seed meal, or vital wheat gluten, or buttermilk.
The recipe makes 60 muffins, and at 33 calories each – you can pack them in groups of 3 for a satisfying sweet treat (or freeze them and thaw as needed)

Wheat Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
Yield: 60 Mini Muffins
Nutrition Facts: 33 Calories, 0.6g Fat, 6.2g Carbohydrates, 0.8g Protein

1 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup honey
1 /4 cup plain greek yogurt
1 cup mashed bananas
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease a mini muffin tin.
2. Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Mix together honey, yogurt, bananas, eggs, & vanilla.
4. Add wet mix to dry. Do not over mix!
5. Fold in chocolate chips
6. Fill mini muffin tins
7. Bake 8 minutes
8. Use knife and pop up the side of muffins to cool
9. After 5 minutes, remove from pan and set on cooling rack (or in your mouth)
10. Enjoy!

Up Next: Make your own Laundry Detergent – Under $30 for a year supply!

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Menu Planning – The #1 way to stay in budget

Menu Planning - The #1 way to stay in budget

Have you ever realized in the afternoon that you had no dinner plans? You look in your cupboard and feel uninspired. This leads to a trip to the store, where your growling stomach leads to 30+ dollars worth of dinner supplies and assorted snacks. If you did that every night of the week, you could easily spend $200! By planning your menu and shopping ahead of time, you can cut that cost down to a third. Looking at my menu for this week that I posted above, I would like to point out some money saving techniques.
Tip #1: Double Up. By this, I mean to use ingredients that come in bigger packages more than once. This week we reused the rice. On Monday we made twice as much as we needed and put half in the fridge for Thursday. Not only did we save money, but prep time was cut in half! Thursday also used the pizza sauce (homemade) for flavoring, so we will get two uses there, too!
Tip #2: Leftover Night. Once a week we pull out all the leftovers in the fridge and set out a buffet on the counter. Everyone goes through and puts what they want on their plate and pop it in the microwave to reheat. I recently read an article on US News that said the average family tosses 25% of the food they purchase. At first, I thought it was ridiculous. But when I think to pre-budgeting days, we wasted a lot of food – whether through old leftovers no one ate or produce that got gross before we consumed it. Often, we still end up tossing ends of bread because a new loaf is open to get the soft inner pieces and the ends get hard or moldy.
Tip #3: Use Frozen/Canned Food. In Thursday’s Rice & Bean meal, the beans are canned and the mixed veggies are frozen. At 79 cents for a can of Goya beans and 99 cents for 1-lb of frozen vegetables at Wegmans, this meal is downright cheap! Especially when you consider the other ingredients were also used in other meals.

These are just a few tips that I have found extremely helpful in using menu planning to stay within my budget. The article from US News is a really good one that also addresses budget. I recommend checking it out here: http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2013/04/02/how-much-food-does-the-average-american-waste .
Up next – how about some Banana Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins with only 33 calories apiece?

Overnight French Toast

Overnight French Toast

My next post was going to be about the importance of menu planning, and how shopping for an entire week or two helps you be budget smart. I will still write that blog. This, however, is not that blog. In fact, this isn’t even healthy smart.
I have a huge sweet tooth! Sometimes, it gets the best of me. Like this weekend. We had friends over after church for brunch and I took it as the perfect excuse to whip up a recipe I had seen – on Facebook, of all places. This is how the original recipe was posted:

FRENCH TOAST BAKE

1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
1 cup brown sugar
1 loaf Texas toast
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Powdered sugar for sprinkling

1. Melt butter in microwave & add brown sugar….stir till mixed.
2. Pour butter/sugar mix into bottom of 9 x 13 pan….spread around
3. Beat eggs, milk, & vanilla
4. Lay single layer of Texas Toast in pan
5. Spoon 1/2 of egg mixture on bread layer
6. Add 2nd layer of Texas Toast
7. Spoon on remaining egg mixture
8. Cover & chill in fridge overnight
9. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes (covered for the first 30 minutes)
10. Sprinkle with powdered sugar
11. Serve with warm maple syrup

Sounds good, right? Well, I decide it could be even better. I added cinnamon to the egg mixture and doubled the vanilla. Then, and this is where my real genius came in, I made homemade Summer Wheat bread to use instead of the texas toast. Whole wheat is healthy, so therefore using whole wheat bread makes the recipe a little healthier. (What can I say, I learned young how to justify food splurges)

This was awesome! I loved the heartiness of the wheat with the sweet brown sugar bottom. It didn’t even need the syrup, it was delish. I made the bread in the bread maker and here is the recipe:

CHAD’S SUMMER WHEAT BREAD
All ingredients at room temperature (70°F-80°/21°C-27°C)

11–12oz. water

1-1/2tsp. salt

1-1/2Tbsp. vegetable oil

2Tbsp. molasses

2 cups flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 tsp. active dry yeast

Measure all ingredients into bread pan in the order listed above, beginning with the column on the left, followed by the column on the right. Select Whole Wheat setting. Select crust setting if other than “Medium.” Press the “Start/Stop” button to begin the breadmaking process.

While this may not be a healthy recipe, it is good for your budget!  I had everything I needed in my house already, so it was easy to whip up without adding anything to my grocery list.  Speaking of grocery lists, I promise my next post will be about menu planning as a key way to stay in your budget.

And I must give credit where credit is due:
French Toast Bake recipe by Devonay Stanton Potter
Chad’s Summer Wheat Bread by Oster

Chicken Stir Fry

If my husband were in charge of the cooking, we would have rice every day for three meals a day.  Growing up with a Filipino mother, the rice cooker was always full and rice ready to add to any dish.  Rice and eggs, rice with soy sauce, rice with hash, and on and on the combinations go.  Needless to say, a rice cooker was the first thing my husband requested be on our registry.  We now have rice two days a week and his favorite dish is stir fry.

Fresh meat can be pricy. So, we tried canned and were surprised how well it worked in our stir fry.  As an added bonus, it cuts the prep and cooking time – precooked, just drain! And for nutrients, 2 oz of canned chicken has only 50 calories, .5g Fat, 1g carbohydrates, and 10g protein.  Without further ado, here is the recipe:

2 – 12.5oz cans of chicken, drained

16oz bag frozen brocolli

1lb carrots, peeled & chopped

1-8oz can water chestnuts, drained

4oz Low Sodium Soy Sauce

2oz White Vinegar

1 Tbsp Minced Garlic

2 cups White Rice

Put 2 cups of rice in cooker with 6 cups water and turn on. (If you don’t have a rice cooker, follow the directions on the package for stove-top prep)  Heat up a large skillet or wok on medium heat.  Add carrots and broccoli to the pan with soy sauce, vinegar, and minced garlic.  Cook until vegetables are warmed through (I prefer them to be crunchy, cook until they soften if you want them to be mushier).  Add water chestnuts and chicken and stir occasionally until they are heated through.  Pull of heat and serve over the rice.

Now for the cost breakdown:

We get a 12.5oz can of chicken at Aldi for only $1.49 each (2.98 total), the frozen broccoli is $.79,  AND Rice at Aldi was just reduced to $1.59 (2c is $.50):

Image

At Wegman’s we get a can of Water Chestnuts for $1.19, Organic Carrots are $2.29/2lb bag (1lb is $1.15), and Kikkoman soy sauce at $2.49 (4oz is $1).

Total For the meal: $9.90

Total Per Serving: $1.65 (A serving is 3/4 c stir fry over 3/4c rice, you get 6 with this recipe)

You may have noticed, I did not price the minced garlic or vinegar.  These are both things I always have in my house in large containers and it was too difficult to figure out the cost with the small amount I use.

This meal is not just one dinner.  We usually have enough leftovers for two complete servings and extra rice on top of that. The key to actually eating leftovers is to store them in single serving sizes in your fridge.  I have divided plastic containers so meals with different components can still be kept in one easy-to-grab package. Then you can throw it in your lunch box and go in the morning before work or pull it out quick when the children are “sta-a-arving” for lunch.

Non-Meat Protein – Is it enough?

While it is true that meat has the highest concentration in protein, is it necessary to get your daily requirements?  According to the CDC, the average adult female needs 46 grams/day and the average adult male needs 56 grams/day.  (Check out other age groups here: http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/protein.html)

First the question must be asked: Why is protein so important, anyway?  According to the CDC, “Proteins are part of every cell, tissue, and organ in our bodies. These body proteins are constantly being broken down and replaced. The protein in the foods we eat is digested into amino acids that are later used to replace these proteins in our bodies”  So basically, our body needs it to function, not just our muscles but every cell in our body.  I would say it is important!

Now let’s see if non-meat protein alone is enough. Here is a typical vegetarian day for me:  (The protein for each individual ingredient is in parenthesis.)

Breakfast -20 grams protein

2 Eggs (12g), 1 cup Skim Milk(8g), 1 medium banana(1g)

Lunch – 14 grams protein

2 Slices of Whole Wheat Bread (4g) w/ 2 TBSP Creamy Peanut Butter (9g) & 1 Tbsp Honey (0g), 1 apple (0g), 1 medium carrot (1g)

Dinner – 9.5g

Easy Vegetarian Pasta: 2 oz Whole Wheat Spaghetti (7g), 1/4 c diced tomatoes (.5g), 1/3c peas (2g), 1/6 onion (0g), Garlic (0g), Vegetable Broth (0g), and Olive Oil (0g)

Night Snack – 10g

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (10g), 2 tsp ground cinnamon (0g)

Total Protein – 53.5 grams of protein

I know, I know – a late night snack?  I can’t help it!  We eat at 5pm to get the kids to bed by 7, so by 8:30 I am usually ready for a little something before turning in at 10.  I have found Greek yogurt with cinnamon to be the perfect bedtime snack, sweet, tangy, and not too heavy.

Now back to the protein.  At 53.5 grams, this day is over the CDC recommendations.  Notice how great eggs are for protein?   They make a great dinner scrambled with diced tomatoes, mushrooms, and feta.  And the whole grain!!  Who knew it packed a protein punch?

While eating vegetarian is great, sometimes you just need some meat!  Stay tuned for a healthy, budget-friendly meaty meal.