The Diet Diaries: #2 (Having My Cake)

Since we’re all friends here, I have a bit of a confession to make: I am a banana bread-aholic.  It has come to the point where I often buy bananas with the hope that no one in the house will eat them.  I place them carefully behind the knife block or next to more appealing brightly colored citrus fruits as a sort of consumption deterrent.  Then, I watch them patiently as they slowly turn from green to yellow to brown to a delicious shade of black.

It’s easy to convince myself that banana bread is a healthy treat, because it’s full of bananas.  Much like the vegetable argument behind carrot cake, filling any baked good with a large quantity of fruit is psychologically the baking equivalent of eating a side salad with your bacon cheeseburger.  The problem with this type of thinking is that it completely ignores all of the other ingredients, particularly the butter and white sugar.  With the “D” word hanging over my head, I feared that I would be in for a long banana breadless journey.

My friend and fellow bakeaholic Cristina suggested to me that I check out a website called The Skinny Chef, where it was rumored there existed a less guilty recipe for peanut butter banana bread.  I went on the site, and suddenly it was as if the clouds parted and my computer glowed with a magical light.  That is how much I love love love banana bread.  All that was left to do was wait for some bananas to ripen up, and I would be on my way to dessert heaven.

This banana bread is a dieter’s dream come true.  It uses whole wheat flour, egg whites, brown sugar, and the peanut butter takes the place of butter or margarine.  Plus, the added bonus is that the protein in the peanut butter makes each slice wonderfully filling.  I followed the recipe fairly closely, except for two very delicious substitutions.  Since I didn’t have quite enough peanut butter for the recipe’s requirements, I added about 3 Tb of Nutella (always a favorite in my baking endeavors) and since the recipe didn’t specify I used fat free banana yogurt.  The result was the most delicious banana bread I have ever made in my entire life.  Considering how much banana bread I’ve baked over the years, that’s saying quite a lot.

For the recipe, check out the Skinny Chef website here.

I would also suggest you stop by Cristina’s blog, 100 Days of Happy, for a regular dose of amusement.

Nutella + Cupcake = Awesome

A few days ago I read a recipe online for Nutella cupcakes, and that’s pretty much all I’ve thought about ever since.  First of all, I live for cupcakes.  I don’t think I’ve ever met a cupcake I didn’t love, and that includes the deceptively delicious bacon and dark chocolate cupcake I indulged in with Cara when I visited her in Ohio.  I have eaten cupcakes filled with everything under the sun: fruit, candy corn, ricotta cheese… the list could go on for ages.

Coincidentally (or perhaps it was fate?) Nutella is also among my top ten favorite foods.  I first experienced the heavenly chocolate-hazelnut confection in 1996 when I was on a student exchange in Germany.  My host mother made me an afternoon snack of toasted brown bread slathered in Nutella and I nearly hugged her to death after my first bite.  She was confused at my elation, considering that a jar of Nutella was about as common there as peanut butter is in the states.  When I got home it was all I could talk about to my parents, to the point that I suspect they started to doubt the educational value of my trip.  Unfortunately, the only store in Baltimore at the time that carried Nutella was the seasonal Christmas shop’s international section.  I would stock up every year around Christmas, but it would never be enough to last the year.

As a testament to progress, I can now find Nutella in the grocery store right next to the peanut butter (as it should be in any civilized country).  Purchasing a jar with intent to actually cook with it seems to justify all the time I will inevitably spend eating it straight from the jar with a large spoon.  I subbed out half the sugar in this recipe for Splenda, which made me feel slightly better about stuffing two of them into my mouth almost immediately after removing them from the oven.  Yum!

The biggest victory for me is that my cupcakes (see above photos) look just like the example cupcakes in her blog post.  That almost never happens for me!  Check out the recipe at!

FEISTYCOOK [ ..simply delicious home-cooked meals, etc.. ]