Did you have a good weekend?
Mine was wonderful. I caught up with a friend over margaritas and mexican food, and also enjoyed some yoga sculpt classes where I sweat my entire soul onto the mat. I absolutely love yoga though; there’s just something about it that makes me feel incredible. I compare it to a bit like a runner’s high, except with an emotional connection. Perhaps it’s a little difficult to explain, all I know is that I’m smitten with my yoga practice! In fact, I’ve been considered becoming a yoga instructor. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time especially because fitness is such a huge part of my life.
First though, I’m focusing on a redesign for Ambitious Kitchen which will take up an incredible amount of time. So if you see pictures of me with bloodshot eyes, it’s from staring at my computer for too long. Not from other things. Obviously.
There are certain things that we all take for granted. We easily forget how blessed we are to have caring people in our lives, to have good food on our plates, and to have opportunities in our future. Little things like a simple conversation with a friend or an embrace with a loved one may seem to always be there. We go through our day to day motions of buying overpriced cappuccinos and putting gas in our cars without a thought. We hardly ever think about how privileged we truly are.
There are days when we even take ourselves for granted. We forget what we love to do, those passions we all have, and get lost in the big world for a moment or two. Often, we put our dreams aside because we’re afraid to fail. We forget to say I love you to those who matter. And sometimes, we just forget to be ourselves. Our pursuit of happiness gets buried somewhere.
And so before we talk about super amazing things with bacon and maple syrup, I thought I’d write you a little inspirational post about how awesome you truly are. Because I think sometimes we all need a little reminder about the things we should never forget.
Never forget you’re beautiful and unique. You aren’t like anyone else on the planet, so don’t even try to be normal. Always, always be yourself. Embrace your quirks and weirdness. Be who you are and then you will find what you want.
Never forget to believe in yourself and those around you. This is life. We’re all just getting along on our journey; figuring it out and taking those uphill battles one day at a time. In some way, we’re all struggling, so offer compassion to those around you. Be encouraging to both yourself and others. Projecting kindness never feels bad.
Never forget to follow your dreams. Don’t be afraid of failure, because it leads to success. Having a passion is daring, but it makes you inspiring and remarkable. Remember that part of life is pursuing a happiness. Forget what others think or say, go after what’s in your heart. Life is short and moments are always passing.
Never settle. On love or in life. You deserve something amazing because you are amazing.
Things I’ve learned in the past year:
1. Follow your heart. It’s the best thing you can do in life. You live once, so enjoy your life as it unfolds.
2. Embrace change. When we change, we grow and adapt. We become better. Don’t do something just because it’s comfortable. Instead, challenge yourself and learn from your failures.
3. Take chances. I moved across the country for a job and realized it wasn’t for me. I looked at what I wanted, and what I didn’t, then made a decision to pursue a different career. Without moving, I wouldn’t have figured that out. Taking chances means succeeding or learning something you didn’t before. And sometimes, it’s okay to fail.
4. Work hard. Damn hard. Success never comes easy. Dreams rarely turn into realities overnight. It’s an uphill climb full of doubts, but with enough determination, I believe anything is possible.
5. Baking cake is essential. No wait, THIS cake is essential. It has bananas, peanut butter and has a caramel topping to die for. It’s the stuff dreams are made of… or something like that anyway.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes a love a little reflection. Today we’ll reflect over this cake together. Join me?
Today, I slept in for the first time in what seems like forever. For brunch, I made vegan chocolate chip oatmeal cookie pancakes that I found on Pinterest. I’m so thankful I did because I had a smile on my face for the next 7 hours. What? Pancakes make me happy.
There’s one thing I’m more excited for this week: the 4th of July! It’s probably one of my favorite holidays. Laying under the sun all day and watching fireworks at night is simply the best.
And of course instead of giving you a standard with red, white, and blue dessert for the 4th of July, I thought that maybe you’d like to indulge in this cake instead.
While rummaging through recipes, I found a recipe for a Caramel-Walnut Upside Down Banana Cake in my Bon Appetit Desserts! book (a great dessert cookbook). I adapted it by adding peanut butter instead of more butter, and reducing the sugar (ripe bananas provide natural sweetness). Don’t let that fool you though, his cake is still ridiculously indulgent.
The caramel sauce is completely delicious, gooey, and warm when the cake comes out of the oven; I recommend serving the cake as soon as you are able to flip and cut into it. I thought about pairing it with a salted caramel ice cream, but they were out at the store so if you try it, let me know.
Please note that the caramel sauce tends to harden a bit once the cake it cooled, so don’t be afraid to warm up a slice in the microwave! You can even make the cake with out the caramel-walnut topping if your heart desires.
This is a cake that changes non-cake lovers into die hard fans. It can also be the cake you bring to your boyfriend’s mom. You could even bring this cake to every family gathering you ever have, they won’t mind.
It will deliver every single time.
My advice? Don’t think about the calories. Indulging every once in a while actually keeps you on track. And your taste buds will thank me later. I promise.
Come on you know you want to.
Caramel-Walnut Upside-Down Peanut Butter Banana Cake
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons dark corn syrup
1/3 cup walnut halves or pieces
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter (4 tablespoons), room temperature
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup very ripe mashed bananas (about 2-3 large bananas)
1/2 cup all-natural creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons plain greek yogurt or sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup skim milk
How was your weekend?
I was really hoping to catch Snowwhite & the Huntsman, but didn’t get around to it. Have you seen it? Charlize Theron looks unbelievable in the previews. I hope I look that good when I’m 35. If I keep running like I have been I might get there.
On Friday my friend and I were supposed to get up at 6am for a 6-mile run. We’re attempting to train for a marathon… or just run really long distances as I haven’t decided if I’ll actually do it. Anyway neither of us could get out of bed so we opted for an evening run instead… which was awful. Miserable even! I thought I was going to die; the sun was beating on my face and I was literally sweating waterfalls. It was 90 degrees out and instead of 6 miles, we decided to run 9. I thought someone was going to have to scoop me off from the pavement and put an IV in my arm. But we made it!
Even though at times running can be torture, I always feel great afterwards; like I could run another 9 miles… or at least bake some pretty unbelievable banana muffins like these.
Baking muffins seems like the only appropriate thing to do with all the leftover ripe bananas just sitting on the kitchen counter. It happens on a weekly basis. Probably because they’re only 19 cents at Trader Joe’s — and I’m never one to pass up a good deal (especially when you grocery shop as much as I do). It’s why I make an obscene amount of banana bread, banana cupcakes… oh, and my new favorite? Banana Ice Cream. Baking things with bananas just makes my heart beat.
I first made these a month ago when visiting my grandparents. I wanted to bake something special for my grandpa–who happens to LOVE everything banana. I mean, we’re obviously related.
He’s also had a couple of heart attacks so I didn’t want to give him something unhealthy (like the bacon and muffins-the-size-of-my-head my grandma makes him EVERY MORNING). I’ve included the nutritional information for these at the bottom of this post.
Seriously even healthy banana muffins never disappoint.
I don’t know about you, but some mornings I want to enjoy a baked good and not feel guilty about it. These better-for-you banana muffins make that happen with simple swaps to cut fat and calories.
Using very ripe bananas provide natural sweetness for the muffins (meaning you don’t need to use as much sugar). Dark brown sugar is also slighty sweeter compared regular brown sugar, so I opted for that. I swapped out the butter for non-fat greek yogurt (mega protein), which makes the muffins moist and deliciously appealing. Adding egg whites vs. whole eggs reduces the fat and calories.
A brown sugar-walnut crumble was completely necessary though. The walnuts add a touch of good fats and the crumbly topping… DIVINE!
My grandpa gobbled them up in less than two days and my
competitor grandma even asked me for the recipe. That says something since she makes everything delicious from scratch.
I don’t think I need to tell you that these are especially good for midnight snacking. Warm them up and spread with creamy peanut butter. Muffin heaven!
But then again, when isn’t a muffin good?
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
2 tablespoons butter, melted*
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup non-fat plain greek yogurt
2 1/2 tablespoons milk of choice (skim, soy, almond, coconut, etc)
For walnut crumb topping:
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter
|Servings Size: 12 Servings|
|Amount Per Serving|
|Calories 177||Calories from Fat 37 (21%)|
% Daily Value *
|Total Fat 4g||
|Saturated Fat 2g||
|Monounsaturated Fat 1g|
|Polyunsaturated Fat 1g|
|Trans Fat 0g|
|Total Carbohydrate 29g||
|Dietary Fiber 1g||