Monthly Archives: June, 2016

Natural Cravings and Banana Oatmeal Cookie Muffins


Over the past couple years, my family has progressively evolved into naturalists. (Maybe it’s been sneaking up forever, and I just haven’t given the change much thought until now.) I’ve gone from filming “wildlife” documentaries about the household cat to clambering around on the treacherous rocks at Cabrillo Beach, gasping in awe at the sight of a small green arthropod (in this case, a forgivable crab and not a spider 🙂 ).


My brother, though he won’t admit it, knows everything about all kinds of animals (he taught me to distinguish between a hammerhead and a shovelnose guitarfish on Pinterest). As for my mom, she has joined iNaturalist, the free site that allows everyday people to record sounds or images of animals or plants along their daily routes and crowdsource species information on their own finds. Since it includes a substantial population of nudibranch identifications, I might end up joining myself eventually.

My dad? Well, he is performing a method study of seventeen-year cicadas by practicing their ritual dormant state (he imitates a rock all day.) Not that there’s anything shameful about that – I’ve had enough people look at me funny for spouting the word “crinoid” to know the phrase “to each his own” by heart.


Meanwhile, I’ve been doing some foraging at the local plastic hole and in the preservative forest, searching for the species of grocery I feel good about posting about on this blog. When I came up with some perfect yellow bananas and a bar of Endangered Species dark chocolate with cranberries and almonds, this recipe became a reality.

These muffins are hearty, very banana-y, and moist. The nutty chocolate is not too sweet, so its sharp darkness and the tart cranberries really shine through. The idea is a soft banana muffin topped with chewy oatmeal cookie. The result is delicious, and sweetened only naturally with very little fat. If you are seeking homegrown energy to power your daily migrations or pollination excursions, try this recipe.

Banana Chunk Oatmeal Cookie Muffins

Based on recipes from and Amy’s Healthy Baking

Makes 12 regular-sized muffins



cookie dough

  • 1 packet Quaker instant oatmeal, Raisin Date and Walnut flavor
  • 1 tbs whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbs creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tbs pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbs water
  • 1/2 of an Endangered Species cranberry almond dark chocolate bar (break into uneven chunks; save a few to go into the muffin batter)

muffin batter

  • 2 bananas (mash 1.5 of them; reserve 1/2 of one to slice for topping)
  • 2 eggs
  • 5.3 oz (one container) Dannon Light and Fit Banana Cream flavor yogurt
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 packet Quaker instant oatmeal, Raisin Date and Walnut flavor
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • scant 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4-1/3 cup water
  • 1 ounce dried cranberries (I used a single-serving box of Craisins)
  • dash cinnamon
  • 2 splashes ginger

(reserve some chocolate from cookie dough above for batter)


For cookie dough: In a small bowl, combine one packet oatmeal, 1 tbs whole wheat flour, 1 tbs smooth peanut butter, 1 tbs maple syrup and 1 tbs water. Add in about 2/3 of your chocolate chunks. Stir. Chill cookie dough in fridge while you make the muffin batter.

For muffin batter: Place 1-1/2 bananas in a large bowl, broken into several pieces. Using a fork, mash the bananas as much as possible. Crack in two eggs, and beat them with the mashed banana. Add yogurt; mix well.

Pour dry muffin batter ingredients into wet mixture. Mix to combine; batter will be dry. Add 1/4-1/3 cup of water (I used about 1/3 of the empty 5.3 ounce yogurt container to measure my water).

Sprinkle in remaining chocolate chunks. Add a dash of cinnamon and two splashes of ginger. Add dried cranberries. Stir gently; do not over mix.

Baking Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit (I did this just before I started making the batter, and after I had put the cookie dough in the refrigerator.)

Line a standard-sized muffin tin with 12 nonstick muffin cups.

After muffin batter is ready and cookie dough has chilled for about 15-20 minutes, spoon equal portions of muffin batter into each muffin cup. Use remaining 1/2 banana to top each muffin with one to two banana slices.

Bake muffins for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add a glob of the oatmeal cookie dough to each one (I found it worked best to scoop up small globs in a spoon, then form them into vaguely cookie-like patties with my fingers before placing them on the muffin tops.)

Return muffins to oven. Bake for an additional 12 minutes or until muffins are golden brown and set, and a cake tester comes out clean. Avoid over-baking as this will make the cookies less chewy.

Allow to cool. Serve warm and melty. These are also good very chilled, though I wouldn’t recommend them at boring room temperature. Enjoy!


Simple Chocolate Berry Oat Shake

chocolate berry oatmeal smoothie easy recipe

Hi. I’ll spare you the long apology for why I haven’t blogged since (I’m afraid to check how long it’s been.) In brief, I’ve been stranded in a desolate place called college, where there is little to no opportunity for ventures into the unexplored world of baked, cooked, or blended nutriment. If you regret not seeing any fun recipes on this site for the past millennium or so, imagine how I must have felt having to eat the distinctively uncreative food available in my isolated confinement.

Overall, I actually had a pretty good first year of college, aside from estrangement from my blender. But that’s boring and I won’t get into it right now. Are you ready for an ice cold summer refreshment smooth as the most decadent of ice creams yet packed with hearty grains and splashed with the splendid kiss of tart berries? Here is your (5-ingredients only!) recipe.

Simple Chocolate Berry Oat Shake

serves one

strawberry chocolate oatmeal smoothie


  • 8 fresh strawberries
  • 1 Weight Watchers brand (or similar) chocolate fudge ice cream bar
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 tbs fruit preserves (I used Whole Foods 365 brand Fruits of the Forest flavor spread)
  • 1 individual packet dry instant oatmeal (I used Quaker lower sugar maple and brown sugar)


Wash strawberries, remove stems and leaves, and chop each into three or four large pieces (to ease blending.) If desired, reserve one strawberry for decoration.

Combine strawberries, ice cream bar, water and fruit preserves in blender. Blend until smooth.

Open oatmeal packet and pour dry oatmeal into blender. Blend for 8-16 seconds (longer blending leads to smoother texture, but I like some grainy chunks in my shakes.)

Pour smoothie into glass and serve cold.


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