Lemon Chia Seed Blueberry Bread {dairy-free}

I made this delicious quick bread last Sunday during nap time, and it was gobbled up before work on Monday.  The chia seeds are a nice swap for butter and the typical poppy seeds.  The almond yogurt replaces the need for milk or sour cream, and the blueberries and lemon complement each other perfectly.  

Be sure to mix the 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 1/2 cup of water in advance – at least 2 hours.  This gives the seeds time to do their magic and gel.  If you prefer to mix them in advance, just cover and store in the fridge.

The fresh blueberries and lemon flavor create a nice balance of sweet and tart.  I like to keep dried lemon peel around – I never know when I’ll need it and I am not always great about keeping fresh lemons in the house, as much as I adore lemons.

The batter is a lovely golden color.

This bread shapes nicely and looks no different than bread made with dairy.  You will, however, noticed that the bread is slightly denser and moister than quick bread made with dairy.  Do not under bake this bread – be sure to check with a knife or toothpick, even if your timer has run out.  Enjoy!

Lemon Chia Seed Blueberry Bread – makes 1 loaf

1. At least 2 hours prior to baking, combine 1/2 cup water with 1 tablespoon chia seeds.  Allow to stand at room temperature.  If preparing the day before, cover and place in refrigerator.

2. Grease with margarine, and lightly flour a loaf pan.  Preheat oven to 325º.  In a medium bowl combine: 1-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/8 teaspoon baking soda and set aside.

3. In a medium mixing bowl or with mixing stand, beat together 1 cup sugar, prepared chia seed mixture, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, zest of 1 lemon OR 2 teaspoons dried lemon peel, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.  Add in 3 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Scrape bowl frequently.  Alternately add flour mixture and 6 oz of almond yogurt to the chia mixture, beating on low speed after each addition, just till combined.  Scrape sides frequently.  Fold in 1 cup of fresh blueberries.  Pour batter into prepared pan.

4. Bake in a 325º oven for 60 to 75 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool on rack for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool completely before slicing.

{Healthier} Orange Cranberry Bread

This recipe comes to you as a refreshing way to bake with the delicious tastes of winter, but without over doing it on fat, calories, and sugar.  The reduced sugar, tart cranberries, and swap of bananas for oil makes this bread all the more satisfying.    

I just love the cranberry orange combination.  I find myself mixing the two juices for breakfast for a tart jolt in the mornings.

This zester is rubbish, just for the record!  I recently bought it to replace my beloved trusty zester of many years.  I miss my old Microplane one so badly – it disappeared along with a shoebox full of other kitchen essentials after we moved.  I swear that there is an evil moving troll who steals things during moves.

This is the old one.  

Two things I also love about this recipe – banana swapped for cooking oil and fat-free Greek yogurt for moist texture.

Fold the fresh cranberries in gently.  If you are using frozen berries, make sure they are thawed first.  Dried cranberries could be used in a pinch, but often then are sweetened and will not be quite the same as fresh cranberries.  

Hazelnuts are another one of my favorite flavors.  I’ll be honest, it was Nutella that first got me hooked on hazelnuts.  Get them from the bulk aisle to save money, and start with just a few at a time if you haven’t used them before – they are pricey!  I buy fresh ones, none roasted, that is.

Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing.  If you are impatient, you will just end up with hack job slices of bread, no big deal.  This can also easily be made into muffins, read the recipe for that.

Healthier Orange Cranberry Bread – adapted from Conscious Cuisine, Neff, 2002.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 12 standard muffin cups or 1 loaf pan.

2. In a mixing bowl combine: 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour, 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, pinch of salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg.

3. In a separate bowl combine just till moistened: 1 egg, 1 cup plain yogurt, 1/2 cup orange juice, grated zest of 1 orange (about 1 tablespoon), 1 cup coconut sugar, 2 tablespoons pureed banana, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. Fold in 1 cup of fresh cranberries and 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts.

4. Pour batter into loaf pan.  Or, if making muffins, pour 1/3 cup batter into each prepared muffin cup.  Sprinkle top of batter with chopped hazelnuts, if desired.  Bake for 50 – 60 minutes for loaf or 30 to 35  minutes for muffins, or until knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  If the loaf of bread darkens too quickly, cover loosely with aluminum foil during the last 20 minutes of baking.

5.  Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes.  Remove from pan and allow to cool completely before slicing bread.  

Rebecca’s Zucchini Bread

It is still zucchini season!  Here is one of my all-time favorite zucchini recipes for you – named after the friend of my mom’s that the recipe comes from.  It’s moist and dense with a sprinkling of crunchy sesame seeds on top.

I made a double batch the other day and gave some away.  However, I committed a cardinal sin in baking and did not taste it before giving it away.  I thought it was a tad on the dry side – I am still trying to figure out my new oven.  Sorry if yours were at all dry like mine were!

The liquids will foam like this.  I substitute half the sugar for coconut sugar in this recipe.

The final loaves will have a nice dark crust on them.  Give them time to cool at least a little – it’s easier to slice them then.

In other news, we have been to the Iowa State Fair twice in the last two days.  This year’s theme is Happiness is….The Iowa State Fair.  It nice living here and not trying to cram it all in to a few days as we did last year.

We went to an Iowa State Fair Party on Friday night and these were the cute table centerpieces.  

 Greta was eager to pet the dairy cows outside the Dairy Barn, which have the best milkshakes!

 It’s  been ages since I was last at the fair after dark.  This Iowa Craft Beer tent has been a fun addition to the more recent fairs.

 The Midway was lit up with lights and over primped teenagers.

 The Tilt-A-Whirl, is it bad that I cannot remember if I even like that ride?  It makes me feel old to wonder that…

We went a second time this morning and hit up more of the buildings.  The 4H building is always one of my favorites.  If you know my sister and my maiden names look for a brick with our names on it on the ground outside this building.  We both put in 9 rewarding years of 4H.

 Greta, as always enjoyed the tractors.  She was nearing nap melt-down here though, and screaming, “Mommy, no cheese!’ at me.  As in, no, I will NOT smile for you.

We found Madagascar hissing cockroaches at the DNR building.  Greta let me hold them but refused to touch them herself.  She did pet the tarantula though and was very proud of that moment.

Hope you can make it to the Iowa State Fair, but if not, check back for more fun 2013 Iowa State Fair moments in the days to come.

Rebecca’s Best Zucchini Bread – 2 loaves

1. Mix 1 cup oil, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, 3 eggs3 teaspoons maple flavoring or maple syrup together in a bowl until mixture is thick and foamy.

2. Shred 2 cups of zucchini and add to sugar mixture.  Stir well.

3.  Mix together 2 ½ cup flour, ½ cup wheat germ, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 2 teaspoons salt, and ½ teaspoon baking powder.

4.  Make a well in dry ingredients, add wet ingredients and stir until blended.  Grease and flour 2 loaf pans.  Pour batter into pans.  Sprinkle tops of loaves with ⅓ cup sesame seeds.

5.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Cool 10 minutes in pans and then remove.  Slice when cool. 

Pumpkin Banana Bread

Greta has been home sick the past couple days.  Yesterday afternoon she napped for a lengthy four hours.  In that time, I worked on lesson plans, organized the kitchen, and baked banana pumpkin bread.  This is a recipe my sister gave me at my bridal shower and it’s only taken me 5 some years to try it out.  I wish I had tried it much sooner.  The molasses adds such a warm autumn taste to this bread.  
We are already missing half of the loaf and Eric threatened to take the other half with him for his lunch today.  Try this out with only bananas or half banana and half pumpkin, as shown below.  

Grease a loaf pan.  Combine 2 cups whole wheat flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 cup wheat germ, and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg in a bowl. 
I always freeze extra really ripe bananas so I have them on hand.  

When I am ready to bake banana bread, I simply defrost them in the microwave and then mash them in a glass measuring cup.  For this recipe, I combined mashed banana and pumpkin puree to create the 1-1/2 cups needed. 

Combine 2 eggs, 1-1/2 cups mashed banana and pumpkin puree, 3/8 cups molasses, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 oil or melted butter. Stir just until moistened.  Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. 
I have a cast iron loaf pan that I use all the time.  It is sturdy, cooks foods evenly, and easy to remove baked goods because it stays greased.  I highly recommend using one of these pans.  
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove to cool on wire rack.  
Enjoy, I am off to work on some more lesson ideas, but before I do that, I have something fun for you to try.  It’s a creative website called Mr. Picassohead where you can create your own drawing in the style of Pablo Picasso.  I made one called Winking Beauty.  

Banana Pumpkin Bread – courtesy of my sister, tweaked a little 

1. Grease a loaf pan.  Combine 2 cups whole wheat flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 cup wheat germ, and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg in a bowl.

2. Combine 2 eggs, 1-1/2 cups mashed banana and pumpkin puree, 3/8 cups molasses, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 oil or melted butter. Stir just until moistened.  Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

3. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove to cool on wire rack.

Optional streusel topping: Cut 3 tablespoons butter into 1/3 packed brown sugar.  Sprinkle over batter before baking.