Banana Bread: Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Edition

Happy Sunday evening, lovelies! As a cozy way to ease back into this blogging space I wanted to take it back to one of my favorite recipes and one that I’ve been tinkering with over the past few years: banana bread. Wholesome, soft, slightly sweet and packed with as many mixins as humanly possible, banana bread is something that I can now just about make with my eyes closed.

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What’s so special and unique about this recipe is that as my diet and nutritional needs have shifted, so has the recipe. It’s based off of the banana bread my mom always made, one that my brother and I nibbled on, sliced into sticks and ate almost every day after school. As the just-baked smell wafts into the air and I (inevitably) burn my tongue on the chocolate, too impatient for the sufficient cooling time, it takes me back to my sun-soaked and cozy Vermont kitchen. As I began to explore the world of healthy baking, this was the natural choice to experiment with, swapping in vegan substitutions, fruits, nuts and vegetables (things get pretty wild) to find the perfect combo. 

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Through all of this, what has stayed the same is the focus on whole wheat flour, zero refined sugar (and reduced sweeteners in general) and all the random bits that I like to add in at the end (life’s too short for plain banana bread). Since I do like to change it up so often, I wanted to give you the blank slate recipe and then a pick-your-own-adventure of sorts so that you can make the perfect bread for every occasion. If you test it out, comment, shoot me a message or send me a picture, I’d love to see what you come up with! 

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The Basics: Makes one standard loaf or 12 muffins

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 t salt

1 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

3 bananas

.5 cup raw honey or maple syrup

1 t pure vanilla extract

2 eggs

2 T coconut oil, melted

The Process: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a standard loaf pan (or muffin tin). I like to use a coconut or olive oil spray. 
  2. Blend wet: bananas, sweetener, vanilla, eggs and oil (or mix until well combined).
  3. Whisk dry: flour, powder, soda and salt. 
  4. Combine wet and dry, mixing until barely combined. Add mixins. 
  5. Pour into prepared baking dish and smooth top. Bake for 50-75 mins (depending on mixins added, fruit tends to increase baking time over an hour). Remove from oven when an inserted knife comes out mostly clean, with just a few crumbs. 

And to jazz it up… (simply follow the above instructions and add/swap when needed)

Decadent & Chocolate-y

Sub .25 cups of the whole wheat flour for raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder if that's what you have)

.5 cup chopped dark chocolate (I like 85%)

.5 cup chopped almonds 

.5 cup fresh (or frozen) cherries, chopped

.5 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Blueberry Walnut (pictured)

1 cup fresh blueberries (if frozen, thawed)

.5 cup chopped walnuts

1 t cinnamon

Carrot Cake

Replace the oil with unsweetened apple sauce

0.25 cup raisins (soaked in hot water for maximum plumpness)

0.5-1 cup grated carrots (depending on how veg-y you like your bread)

.5 cup chopped apple

1 t cinnamon

.5 t ginger

.25 t cloves

.25 t nutmeg

The Classic

.75 cup chopped dark chocolate

0.5 cup chopped walnuts

Hope you have a lovely rest of your (self care) Sunday, possibly filled with warm banana bread!

xx

The Tiniest Flower (& The Sweetest Beet 2.0)

I’ve been wanting to sit down and write this post for a long time. The only hurdle was that I simply didn’t know where to begin. I’ve had an amazing summer of introspection and have been so excited to translate that into a new chapter of my blog, but I just couldn’t find the right way to do it. I want The Sweetest Beet to become a space where I share my discovery of self care and love, the new recipes that I’ve been obsessing over, and all of the inspirational people that I’ve been following, reading about and listening to along the way. It’s not an easy path, not for me, and not for anyone. But what makes it one hundred times easier, and actually enjoyable, is when we can all just talk about these things out in the open (and, worst case, we make some killer avocado brownies along the way).

So I was looking for something to kickstart this post and then my little cactus flower bloomed. Soft and yellow and open, perched upon a rather sad branch of one of my small potted cactus plants. I’d been monitoring the bud for about six weeks and had kind of given up on it actually blooming. I figured it would probably just hang for a while longer and then fall off at some point. But last Friday, after coming home from spin class, there it was, the bud had burst open to reveal a fresh and buttery flower. I’m still not completely sure what happened inside me (I’m really not a crier at all) but I just started crying. Again, not a crier (did I say that yet?), but it clicked with me, that highly anticipated and very unlikely blooming, just at the right moment to represent all of the learning and growth that I have worked on through this summer. So, to that bright little bloom, hanging so low on its branch that it nearly grazes the window sill, thank you for your motivation, you have no idea what an impact you had on me.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve found a new feeling of peace and happiness with myself, something that has never come easily to me. The decisions that I now make and the motivators behind how I live my life are now fueled by love. The fear that once took its place is receding. I’m finally starting to treat my body and mind like I would that of a close friend or family member. After all, when your friend’s feeling down, you don’t confirm her negativity or laugh as she tries on her (possibly) too tight jeans. Of course not. Instead, you rebalance her with that song you both know all the words to and find those high waisted pants that make her feel (and look) like a rockstar.

With all that said, I’m so excited to begin sharing again on this platform, even more honestly than I have before. I’m endlessly inspired by and grateful for close friends, family, and bloggers throughout the country who have shared their wellness journeys with me, and I can't wait to add my little piece! In the meantime, I’m also super into Instagram stories lately, so chances are there’s a matcha or some sort of grain bowl documented there at any given moment. 

Thank you for reading and listening, it means so so much to me to share this. You guys are all rockstars, talk to you soon. xx

Springy Things

Hello my loves! And happy spring! We made it, can you believe it? We’ve found that fabulous sweet spot of weather that can only be summed up by one word: joy (hi rach). “How’s your week going”, “Oh, pretty good, I’m warm, I’m thriving, feeling joy”— in case you’re wondering what 99% of my conversations have looked like in the past 7 days.

Normally with this kind of post I’d say something like, hey, it’s been a while, life is crazy, blah, blah, blah… But that’s kinda tired. So! I’m trying something new today, and I’m just gonna jump right in instead of apologizing because life’s too short and I have exciting things to talk about and share and because your life is busy too and you don’t need to hear me whine. Okay. Let’s go. I did a post like this a little bit ago and kinda had a lot of fun with it, so we’re just gonna talk about some cool things that I'm into right now, some food, some not, some big, some small, let’s just see where this takes us.

First, because if you follow me on social media it was kinda obvious a few weeks ago (shoutout to the seven insta posts in four days, I’m annoyed at myself, too) I went to Hong Kong!! And you might think, hmm, for only four days? That seems a tad aggressive? And to that, I’d say: yes, it absolutely is. Not sure if there exists a more aggressive time line for one to go to Asia (aka: as far as humanly possible one could get from New York). But! I did it, and it was amazing. 

As part of an international business class at NYU Stern, all juniors are sent abroad to a location of their choosing (Hong Kong, Lisbon or Santiago). This trip is one of those infamous things sold to you from the minute you step first on campus for your first tour. And, let me tell you, even after two 27 hour days of travel, it lived up to all of the hype.

I toured traditional gardens filled with gorgeous architecture, did tai chi and kung fu with the cutest father-daughter duo and gazed upon the extremely vertical cityscape (the apartment buildings defy gravity and physics in an impressively daring manner). And that was just day one. For the rest of my days, I attended a horse race under the lights, got stranded in the city center (yay chips for dinner!), toured and played in the amazing Ocean Park (adults taking a day to hang at a theme park should 1000% be a thing) and made the most of jet lag by staying out most hours of the night. I think I ~maybe~ slept a cumulative 20 hours within the week, but who needs sleep amirite?? Ok, well, the answer is me. Absolutely me.

And you might think, well, aren’t you kinda obsessed with food? What about eating? Two words. Dim. Sum. Oof, guys. If living off of steamed buns was a thing, I’d be first in line. Some faves from the week were red bean dumplings (wowowowow), pork soup dumplings (I finally tried them!) and egg puffs/waffles (a Hong Kong specialty that I’m kinda having withdrawals from) filled with purple sweet potato, red bean and matcha. Basically, it was a week of the dreamiest carbs and the most delicious red bean in any form that I could get my hands on. Not too shabby.

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To wrap up, Hong Kong was amazing and I’m so unbelievably grateful to have had the opportunity to enjoy such a beautiful city with some of the most amazing people (hi friends, wouldn’t have made it through without you). 

Next, let’s talk fitness/boxing/my new obsession. Fitness and I have had an interesting journey. Without going too far into it, for much of my life, working out has felt more like a trap, one that I had to endure to feel OK with myself, or to justify eating that extra handful of Wheat Thins. And, similar to my vegan journey (here), I started to trick myself into thinking that I liked it, that working out intensely for an hour and half, six times a week, was something that I liked doing. And I was exhausted mentally, even more than physically. As I’ve broken away from this mindset, it’s left room for me to explore what I ~actually~ enjoy and it has been liberating. And, as of a few weeks ago, extremely successful because I have fallen in love with boxing. 

Being a broke college student, I’d, forgotten how much I love a good workout class. I’d also always wanted to box, but just never got myself to an actual class. I’ve now tried three gyms and don’t find it acceptable for a weekend to pass if there’s not an hour of boxing somewhere in the mix. First, it’s an unreal workout. I’ve never sweat more in my life (tmi? probably but hey). For a visual, after taking a class yesterday morning, I am now extremely horizontal typing this in my bed, every muscle in my arms reminding me of the uppercuts of 24 hours ago. It’s real, guys. Second, and possibly what I love most, is the mental aspect. The release of focusing so intensely on a workout and yea, getting to hit something, is unbelievable. You think of nothing but nailing the combos and finishing the endless amount of burpees for 60 whole minutes and it’s freeing, something I’d never found in other workout settings. And, I mean, punching something is also kinda fun... 

So far I’ve tried Work Train Fight, Shadowbox and Rumble (absolutely my fav) and have a long list to try. They all have great first time rates so take an hour, punch a bag and sweat a little (OK, maybe a ~lot~). It’s unbelievably worth it. Promise.

One more shift: clothing. Spring is here which means new super white Stans (city winter did not treat my old ones that kindly), a few button-downs and the star of the show: Levi’s Wedgie Jeans. Though the name invokes the opposite reaction, these jeans are amazing and impossibly comfy (peep the jeans in my HK pic). And this is coming from someone who is aggressively pro-legging. But these jeans… They’re a game changer. Super high rise to highlight your cutie waist, they tuck the slightly soft bits (we all have ‘em) and have a slightly cropped length (aka generously cropped for those of us with a high ratio of limb to torso) that's funky and fun, because that’s what all clothes should be?? The distress on the cuff is cool and edgy paired with the toughness of the thick denim and sturdy button closures. And, because this is the real winner, the pockets are REAL pockets. Not sure when or why the whole let’s-never-give-women-pockets thing started, but wow I am over it. Levi’s rights this tragic injustice and gives you four, real, grown up person pockets. So go and get yourself a pair and feel magically hipper, I promise.

This was a tiny bit more writing than I intended, I hope I kept you along for the ride. I know recipes aren’t really my thing at the moment, they might come back, but right now I really want to use The Sweetest Beet as just a fun, creative, random, joyful space because that’s kind of the whole point. So thanks for entertaining me with this (and letting me rant about pockets and use the word cozy more than is probably appropriate). You guys rock. Not going to promise that another post will be coming soon, but another post will be coming, just might take me a little while… Until then, may your travels be safe, your shoulders be toned and your clothes full of pockets. You deserve it. xx