Thursday, August 9, 2012

Dark Chocolate and Cherry Banana Bread

I was browsing on Pinterest and found this wonderful recipe. It originally has raspberries but I didn't have any on hand - I had sweet delicious cherries.  I am so impressed with how it turned out!! The cherries are perfect in this bread -they really stand out. It is definitely a dessert bread - but I'm sure with some more tinkering, I can make it even better. Maybe add some ground flaxseed and remove the sugar completely. I already reduced the sugar to 1/2 a cup but I think next time I'm going to see how it is with just the sweetness of the fruit and chocolate. I also used whole wheat pastry flour, rather than all purpose flour. A bit more fiber and nutrients than the white stuff. Hands down - this is my favorite combo for a sweet bread. The bits of dark chocolate throughout the bread are amazing. If you choose to eat the bread warmed, the chocolate is slightly melted and heavenly. Trying this recipe gives me inspiration to start baking more, and I'm sure my husband won't be complaining. We thoroughly enjoyed our slices with some french pressed coffee after dinner - my husband had some vanilla bean ice cream with his. 

I used a stand mixer to combine everything together, but I'm sure a hand mixer will work just fine. Just make sure to combine the ingredients well in each step. I did let it cook for 55 minutes and found that the top browned too much, so next time I'm going to aim for 50 minutes and see how that does. I topped the bread batter with the leftover shavings of the dark chocolate, which gave it a nice look and taste.

Dark Chocolate and Cherry Banana Bread

Cook Time: 50-55 minutes
Prep Time: <15 minutes
Serves: 10


  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar
  • 4 tbsp organic unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup non-fat plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1.5oz 60% dark chocolate, chopped
  • 8oz rainer cherry, pitted and chopped (toss with 1 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour)

Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a loaf pan with alittle coconut oil. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the sugar and butter together until well combined. Gradually add each egg, beating well. 

Then mix in the bananas, yogurt and vanilla. Beat the mixture well. 

Gradually mix in the flour mixture until it is combined. Then add the chocolate, mixing in lightly.

By hand, fold the cherries into the batter. 

Once the batter is well mixed, pour into the grease loaf pan and bake in the oven at 350F for 50-55 minutes. Check to see if it is baked completely by inserting a toothpick into the center. It should come out clean. 

Let the loaf pan cool for about 15 minutes before trying to remove the bread. 

Slice into 10 pieces and enjoy warmed or at room temperature.

Recipe adapted from Recipe Boy

Nutritional Info per slice:
Calories: 265; Fat: 8.5g ; Carbohydrate: 42g ; Fiber: 5g ; Sugar: 18g ; Protein: 5.5

Monday, August 6, 2012

You did what with your Placenta?!

I know this isn't my normal kind of post, but I wanted to share some information and my experience with ingesting my placenta after birth. In some cultures this is completely normal and others it is taboo. The placenta is seen, in some cultures, as a nutritional powerhouse, medicine or a sacred organ. Living in a culture where this is seen as taboo, weird, disgusting and off-the-wall, I was open to the idea that other cultures may be on to something. Even animals eat their placenta after birth. I am a big believer in trying everything once and also taking into consideration others experiences with different things.

I had never heard of placenta encapsulation until I moved out to San Diego and had seen an advertisement for a midwife who offered placenta encapsulation, along with a variety of other services. At the time, I was working in a local health foods store and had become much more open to the idea that there are a ton of holistic ways to heal yourself. After seeing that advertisement, I did some research and read a ton on  the perks of consuming your placenta. I was absolutely fascinated with the idea! I have come a very long way from eating only processed foods and taking a handful of pills a day to try to find some balance. In the past 10 years I have gradually changed my lifestyle to incorporate whole foods, no drugs, weight loss and holistic remedies to help eliminate/improve certain ailments. The idea of consuming the placenta postpartum wasn't as crazy as I would have thought in my younger years. Our bodies are amazing and can heal themselves with the right tools/foods/etc. 

Why did I choose to consume my placenta? After a ton of reading and learning about the benefits of consuming my placenta, I decided to give it a try. There are a couple options for consuming your placenta. You can have it made into a tincture, capsules, smoothies, stew or whatever other creative way you can think of. I chose the encapsulation route. 

Some of the benefits include:
  • helps increase your energy postpartum
  • decreasing the likelihood of the "baby blues" and postpartum depression
  • contains a ton of nutrients and hormones
  • helps decrease the amount of healing time
  • helps increase your milk supply
  • can help with menopausal symptoms (in tincture form) 
  • helps reduce the amount of bleeding postpartum

How do you encapsulate the placenta? You just dehydrate it, process it to a fine powder and add it to empty capsules. There are at-home kits to encapsulate your own placenta, but I chose to have a specialist prepare mine. I knew I was going to be exhausted, overwhelmed and so engaged in the baby, that I may not have the timed or energy to prepare it myself. It cost me $150 and I truly believe it was money well spent. The specialist came to the hospital, the same day of the birth and returned it encapsulated 2 days later to my home. You can take 2-6 placenta pills a day, depending on your energy levels, depression, etc. I've been taking a steady 2 a day since receiving them. I'm down to my last couple pills and really feel great. Now this is my first child and I don't have any other experience to compare it to, but I feel better than I expected. My mood is great, compared to during my pregnancy (I was really grouchy). It's been almost a month since giving birth to my gorgeous baby boy and I'm truly starting to feel like myself again. 

For more info check out: Placenta Benefits

Have any of you tried placenta encapsulation or something similar?