Raspberry Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

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We are talkin’ one easy breezy recipe here. And one that is PERFECT for breakfast. And fall. Or basically at any hour of the day or any season of the year. When unhealthy ingredients are lacking, I say, “Why not!” to eating a treat this delicious whenever hunger strikes. The bananas in this recipe make each muffin beyond soft and combined with the melted chocolate chips and raspberries, this recipe should be considered sinful. These beauties taste too scrumptious to be healthy but they are!

We all have those moments in our lives when we possess too many overripe bananas and I could not think of a better way to use them! You can also use defrosted frozen bananas for this recipe. Flexibility abounds! Speaking of flexibility, while I didn’t plan on introducing the subject of yoga or gymnastics into this post, sweetener usage is somewhat flexible as are the words and contents of my blog posts. I used date paste, which is really easy to prepare, but you can also use maple syrup.

As for gymnastics, my mom did send me to gymnastics up until the age of 8, at which point I declared that back handsprings and splits were not for me. It took me a total of 5 months to master a split too. This was behind the other girls in my class, whom were able to master splits between 2-4 months. Yes, I do remember the details. I remember them vividly. How could I forget the extra month it took me to master the split? Memories of an early childhood event like that is bound to stick with me for life.

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Also to be recalled is the fresh organic strawberries and raspberries my mom always packed me for after classes. I was very lucky that she not only let me choose which sport I participated in (it ended up being tennis ~ no splits required), but she also brought me plenty of fresh fruit. I was a lucky little one, I know. However, these muffins were not prepared for me as a little one, so while I was very, very lucky, things can always get better. These muffins might just make any situation better.

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I added a huge handful of fresh organic raspberries to these muffins and boy was that a good idea, nutritionally speaking and taste speaking. And how could I post this recipe without providing for you the latest and greatest raspberry science? I could not.

Raspberry nutrition 411 to get you even more pumped to include raspberries in these muffins! 

Raspberries contain many health-promoting phytonutrients that possess antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anticarcinogenic properties.[i],[ii] Raspberries contain ellagitannins, a family of compounds almost exclusive to the raspberry that have been shown to possess anticancer properties as well as anthocynanins, ellagic acid, catechins, and other flavonoids. Woah, those phytochemical names are a mouthful, but boy are they health-promoting!

The ellagic acid content of raspberries helps prevent damage to our cell membranes and other structures in the body by defending us from free-radical damage. The anthocyanins that give raspberries their rich red color are also responsible for inhibiting cancer cell proliferation and tumor formation in many parts of the body, including the breast and colon. The antioxidant activity of raspberries is actually ten times higher than the antioxidant activity of tomatoes (!), and they are also impressively high in vitamin C, vitamin K, B-complex vitamins, manganese, folate, magnesium, potassium, and copper.[iii] Raspberries have additional cancer-inhibiting properties—they can inhibit metalloproteinase enzymes, enzymes that can play a large role in cancer development by providing a mechanism for its invasion and spread.[iv],[v] Heck, raspberries are even the perfect food for diabetics, with a hefty dose of fiber and minimal impact on blood sugars. While berries are absurdly cool (read: they have the highest micronutrient density ratio of all fruits), aim to eat a wide variety of fruits for maximum health benefits. Each fruit has a unique array of antioxidants, and to reach your best health, the name of the game should always be to eat as many different plant-based foods as possible to expose yourself to all of the wonderfully unique chemical compounds of each spectacularly colored fruit or vegetable.

These muffins contain three different fruits, brain-health promoting flaxseeds and almonds too! So, not only are they guilt-free, they really are amazing for our health.

Ingredients (makes about 8 medium-sized muffins):

3 very ripe medium-large bananas
1 cup spelt flour
½ cup almond flour
3 flax “eggs” (3 tablespoons ground flaxseeds mixed with 6 tablespoons water)
½ cup date paste or maple syrup
2 tablespoons Earth Balance or another vegan margarine
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoon ground vanilla or vanilla extract
½ cup dark chocolate chips or raisins
½-1 cup fresh organic raspberries (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the ground flaxseeds with water in a cup or small bowl, stir and let sit for a minute so it can form a nice egg-like gel. Combine all ingredients (including flax “eggs”), except chcolate chips and raspberries in a food processor or high powered blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour the blended ingredients into a large bowl. Stir in chocolate chips and raspberries evenly.

Lightly grease a muffin tin or line with paper muffin cups and spoon in muffin batter. You can make medium-sized muffins by filling the cups up ¾ of the way or larger muffins by filling them up all the way. Place extra chocolate chips or raspberries on top each muffin if you’d like more on top. Bake for 20 minutes or until you can place a fork or toothpick on top and it comes out clean. Let cool for at least 10 minutes and enjoy!

References: 

[i] J. Beekwilder, R. D. Hall, and C. H. de Vos, “Identification and Dietary Relevance of Antioxidants from Raspberry,” Biofactors 23, no. 4 (2005): 197–205. PMID:16498206.

[ii] J. P. Rauha, S. Remes, Heinonen M, et al. “Antimicrobial Effects of Finnish Plant Extracts Containing Flavonoids and other Phenolic Compounds,” International Journal of Food Microbiology 56, no. 1: (2000) 3–12. PMID:13810.

[iii] S. Y. Wang and H. S. Lin, “Antioxidant Activity in Fruits and Leaves of Blackberry, Raspberry, and Strawberry Varies with Cultivar and Developmental Stage,” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 48, no. 2 (2000): 140–6. PMID:13820.

[iv] M. Liu, X. Q. Li, and C. Weber, et al., “Antioxidant and Antiproliferative Activities of Raspberries,” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 50, no. 10 (2002): 2926–30.

[v] P. Tate, J. God, R. Bibb, Q. Lu, and L. L. Larcom, “Inhibition of Metalloproteinase Activity by Fruit Extracts,” Cancer Letters 212, no. 2 (2004): 153–8. PMID:15279895.

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