Paleo Coconut & Chocolate Banana Bread

I'm not a baker. Most of you know this, but for those of you that don't, I don't like following rules in the kitchen. I can never remember when to use baking soda versus baking powder, let alone when to use both; I don't have a stand mixture; and for years I never understood why I had to "sift flour" into one recipe, but not another?? I love being in the kitchen and creating recipes from scratch, but baking is so exact that if you don't have the basics down, it's next to impossible to let your creative culinary flag fly.

While I am not a baker, I do have a sweet tooth. She doesn't appear often, but when she does...she hangs out and doesn't leave. Until I entertain her. What a rude guest, right?

Anyway, I used to send her on her way with a Twix bar or a cookie my mom made, but when I started eating healthier, it wasn't always easy to find the best options in stores. Easy enough with a piece of fruit + nut butter, or a luxurious (read: expensive) piece of dark chocolate, but sometimes you just want dessert. Enter - paleo and vegan baking. The rise of healthier, better-for-you, and often down right good for you, treats is an exciting one for me. Not only because it's a smarter way to indulge a sweet craving, but because simpler ingredients = a less scary baking disaster waiting to happen. A lot of people will argue that it's harder to bake a vegan cookie or paleo bread, but I somehow find it more approachable. Easy, no. Never. But approachable? Yes.

A few weeks ago my jet-setting friend Zoe left me with a bag of coconut flour, organic vanilla extract, cacao butter, and a number of other goodies before she left the states. I don't normally keep any of these on hand (save for the vanilla) so I was super excited to throw these into the mix and see what I could come up with. This past week, my best friend and her boyfriend came up to LA to celebrate her birthday (which is actually TODAY...Happy Birthday Kaylin!!) with us. We decided on a picnic at the famed LA summer movie series, Cinespia. Cinespia takes place in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and allows visitors to set up camp with blankets, food, and wine while you enjoy the movie that evening. I knew I wanted to make something sweet for her (and the rest of us, let's be honest...), and because she tries her best to be dairy free, I knew a paleo treat was the way to go. She is a sucker for a good banana bread (I mean, who isn't?) so born was this Paleo Coconut & Chocolate Banana Bread.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup coconut flour

3 very ripe bananas

1/4 cup coconut butter (or other nut butter)

3 tbsp coconut oil

2 tbsp coconut sugar

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

3 large eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cinnamon

1/4 cup dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs + more for sprinkling

1/3 cup coconut spreads for top

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Mash the bananas with a fork, or blend them quickly in a blender.

3. Whisk together the eggs. Add in the mashed bananas, vanilla, oil, and coconut butter, whisk again.

4. Combine all dry ingredients into a separate bowl. Carefully fold into the wet mixture, and gently combine.

5. Fold in the chocolate, then pour the mixture into a greased loaf pan. Spread the mixture out evenly. Top with shredded coconut and more chocolate chips/chunks.

6. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until set. Use a toothpick to check for internal doneness.

#bananabread #paleo #paleodessert #dessert #banana #treat #sweet #coconut #chocolate #bread #nutfree