Sunday, November 21, 2010

Outta' Town Banana Muffins

(Apologies for the pic - I had coffee on the brain at 5:30 a.m.)

'Tis the season for holiday travel! We got a jump on the season yesterday, when Keith got a quick job in L.A. and I decided to join him just to get out of town for a couple of days. So yesterday we hit the road about 5:45 a.m. and hauled our exhausted selves into Redondo Beach just after 11 p.m. Of course there was a nasty weather system which drifted south along with us, so we spent most of the day wrestling rain, snow, and high winds, and just for good measure another storm blew into Redondo in the wee hours of the morning, waking us up with a chilly bath from the window.

But it's sunny now, and we're well-rested, and we're also well-nourished. We do this road trip thing fairly regularly, and I'm a seasoned road tripper in my own right, having crossed two continents all by my lonesome on several occasions. So I've learned a lot about travel, especially the fact that there is precious little to eat out there by the highway.

Oh sure, there's a fast food joint at every exit, and the gas stations are loaded with candy and chips. But c'mon, when you're spending an entire day with one eye on that swerving semi and the other on that cop in the rearview, you need FOOD. Something that's not going to drop you into a bloated coma ten minutes after you eat it; something that's not going to gas your travel companions out of the car. And even if you're flying (though I can't imagine why you would nowadays), you still need inexpensive fortification to get you through the journey in good health and cheer.

So pack a bag. Yesterday on our trip, I brought some cashews, cheese, sliced carrots and kohlrabi, two refillable water bottles, and a batch of these rich, moist banana muffins. I think I can safely say I'll be bringing these muffins on every trip from now on. They're the perfect road snack - easy to eat one-handed, a little sweet but not sugary, with whole grains to keep you full longer than a sugared white-flour muffin would, a dose of protein from nuts and eggs, and a rich soft texture that makes them feel like a treat. They travel well and don't dry out (actually, they get more moist as they sit).

Bring them on your next road trip, flight, train trip, or walk around the neighborhood. Don't forget the coffee.


2 large bananas, very ripe (soft spots okay!)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup or honey
1/4 cup applesauce
2 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup flax meal
1/4 cup ground nuts or nut flour* (see note)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, or raisins

* Note: You can buy almond flour, hazelnut flour, etc. But it's a lot cheaper to just get whatever nuts you like (pecans are cheap) and grind them yourself; they don't have to be as finely ground as a flour, a coarser grind is just fine. Just toss them into the blender or food processor for a minute.

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

Break up the bananas and toss them in the food processor or blender. Add the maple syrup (or honey), applesauce, eggs, and vanilla; whiz it all up until smooth (a few banana chunks are fine).

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients except for the fruit, and whisk together with a fork until evenly blended. Pour in the wet mixture and stir gently, just until blended - don't overmix. Fold in the dried fruit and spoon into the muffin cups, filling to the top. Bake for 25 minutes or until done. Leave them in the pan to cool on a wire rack, then wrap individually or just throw them all into one gallon-size bag like I did.

These last for a few days outside the fridge, and can also be frozen for later.

Safe travels!

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