Amazing Blueberry Banana Bread {Paleo} {Gluten Free}

I love baking. I love bread. I love bananas. I LOVE banana bread. I have over  a dozen bananas in my freezer waiting to be made into something delicious. Banana bread, banana pancakes, banana cake with cream cheese frosting, banana ice cream. Seriously the possibilities are ENDLESS!

However, at the moment, even though I would die for banana pancakes smothered in maple syrup, I’m trying to be more healthy than overindulgent. At least for this week anyway.

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I have a go-to banana bread recipe that never fails to amaze my family and friends. It’s super sweet and ultra moist. Usually that’s what I’ll make with the many bananas taking up the top shelf of my freezer. I was searching, however, for a banana bread recipe that would be gluten free. My husband and I are cutting some gluten from our diets. We’re not on a fad diet or on the gluten free bandwagon but we do like the “lessening of inflammation” you get from omitting gluten from your normal eating routine. So if I can make a favorite that’s delicious and gluten free why not?!

With that being said I also wanted to find one that used coconut flour. My husband and I are a little obsessed with coconut. We cook with coconut oil, I use canned coconut milk in my baking, I make my protein shakes with coconut milk, we eat raw coconut. So yummy!

When you’re trying to eat healthier and take out processed and junk foods it can seem like sweets go out the door as well. I have a major sweet tooth which gets me into trouble more often than not. I like to feel like I have a sweet option, a little treat that satisfies my sweet tooth while being on the healthier end of the scale.

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Couldn’t keep those little hands from taking the blueberries!

This banana bread recipe uses coconut flour which has so many benefits- high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats (yay for healthy fats!). Because coconut flour can be a more dense and heavier flour the recipe includes a bit of tapioca flour to improve the bread’s texture. The combination of bananas and blueberries is such a classic combination and for good reason. I do have a secret trick for making my banana breads and cakes as moist as possible- DO NOT completely defrost the overripe frozen bananas. I like them to still be a little frozen but soft enough to mash. I’ve baked recipes with overripe bananas partially frozen and ones that were either completely defrosted or straight from the counter and every time the baked goods with the frozen bananas are so much more moist and  have a better banana flavor. Try it for yourself, there’s a real difference.

I made this recipe into two mini loaves because it will disappear within a day! Between myself, my husband, and two kids, delicious food doesn’t last. Baking two mini loaves makes it last that much longer and you’re eating smaller portions of it. Although, I’ve made the mistake of slicing one whole loaf and as I’m standing there slicing it, raving about how yummy and healthy it is, IT’S GONE! So then we have to slice the second loaf anyway. So two mini loaves or one standard loaf, your preference; either way I’m sure you’re going to devour it!

Amazing Blueberry Banana Bread {Paleo} {Gluten, nut, dairy Free}

  • Servings: 1 loaf or 2 mini loaves
  • Time: 1hr
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Great for breakfast or as a sweet treat this blueberry banana bread is super moist and full of flavor. A favorite for the whole family.

Ingredients

  • 2 overripe bananas
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup canned coconut milk (full fat)
  • 2 tbsp coconut nectar*
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 2 tbsp tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2/3 cup fresh blueberries

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F and line 2 mini loaf pans with parchment paper or spray them with Pam.
  2. In a large bowl, mash bananas well and then whisk in the eggs, coconut milk, and coconut nectar. I usually microwave my frozen bananas for 20 seconds and then turn them over for another 20 seconds and they’re the perfect consistency.
  3. In a smaller bowl, combine the coconut flour, tapioca flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet until fully combined. The batter will be thick because of the coconut flour but try not to over mix.
  5. Lastly, fold in the blueberries. Divide the batter into the two loaf pans and spread evenly.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes**. The tops should be golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the bread comes out clean.
  7. Take them out of the oven to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool. Enjoy!
  8. Place any leftover bread in the fridge for about a week. I’m sure it’ll be gone long before that though!

*Pure maple syrup can be used instead of coconut nectar depending on your dietary needs or personal preference.

**If using a standard loaf pan bake for 50-55 minutes. Makes 1 standard size loaf.

A Princess Party

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As soon as the Mickey Mouse birthday party was over we prepared for a Princess party. Which meant buying everything in golds, pinks and purples- necklaces, lace, flowers, crowns, everything! I loved every minute of it! I would have gone even crazier but knowing it would only be a few friends from school I tried to keep my crazy in check.

My daughter is a wonderful mix of dress-up and jewelry loving princess and playing in the dirt and riding her dirt bike kind of girl. This is just how I was when I was little. I love it! One minute she’ll be making pretty sticker projects and bead jewelry while wearing her fancy dress and the next she’s throwing on jeans and boots to zip around with her dad on the dirt bike. A girl after my own heart!

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I love steering clear of store bought decorations as much as possible. Not that I don’t love what’s out there, but I LOVE my Silhouette Cameo WAY too much. I went crazy for my son’s Mickey Mouse party and cut a lot for Hannah’s party too.

I wanted to go with something simple so I cut circles in pink and purple. Then, I bought a few sheets of gold glitter paper to cut out crowns and high heel shoes. I glued these to pink and purple ribbons for steamers to hang around the party room. I also cut a “princess” welcome sign to hang on the front door and above her cake. Finally, I cut everything for her birthday banner. I used the gold etch marker on my Silhouette to write the words “Happy Birthday Hannah.” Unfortunately it’s hard to see in pictures but it looked so pretty in person.

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Goodie baskets (cut with my Silhouette) filled with princess dress-up goodies

I loved how the mantle and party table turned out! I found her dress up crowns and a bunch of fun bead necklaces to display on the mantle. A dear friend let me borrow a few princess party items from her daughter’s party. My favorite were the gold, sequin table runners that I used all over the party room. They really added a beautiful touch to the party.

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My daughter helped me decorate her party table. She was having as much fun as I was! She loves fresh flowers and I knew she’d love to have them as centerpieces. With the gold table runner and vintage looking pink glasses as vases the flowers really pulled the whole thing together. She threw more beaded necklaces all over the table and the final touch were the little glass slippers filled with purple chocolates. The girls loved snacking on those while decorating their crowns.

I would have cut crowns and decorations with my Silhouette for the girls to decorate but, since this was her party, I figured it was only right for her to have some say on it right? Like I said, I have to control my crazy! So she picked out these pre-cut crowns and sticky gems to decorate them. The girls loved it! They wore them the whole party! The second activity we planned was a simple “pin-the-jewel-on-the-necklace” game. The girls were such good sports and giggled like crazy when one of them put the jewel in a place no where near the necklace. So giggly!

I always like to have food at my parties. Nothing worse than going to a party and having no food or munchies to enjoy before the cake cutting. Hannah wanted to have pizza and then cut each slice into crowns. Sorry dear, that’s not going to happen! But using a crown sandwich cutter for pb&j’s, that’s doable! And that’s just what we did. She helped me make fruit wands and we even had princess yogurts. Before the party we made a special princess party mix that I may have snacked on more than I’d like to admit. So hard to resist! Hannah loves pretzels so she was more than excited to make chocolate covered princess wands. A table full of yummy food to snack on before the cake.

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The cake! Honestly the best part of a party! And my most favorite thing to make. Honestly my most favorite thing to make any day! She LOVES chocolate cake and I think that’s what she’s requested the last few birthdays. I was good this year- I knew there would only be a few friends and moms so I made a smaller cake than usual this year. Best part of having the party before the actual birthday is that I usually take the top off and save it for the real birth20160416_101657day to have with family. The bottom layer is always enough, if not more than enough, to share at the actual party. She loved the roses and gems and especially the crown on top. The cake stand was such a great find, I could hardly believe it! A random stop into Homegoods to waste time and I stumbled upon a gold cake stand with gems; are you kidding me?! It couldn’t have been more perfect! I can’t wait to use it again! The cake was yummy and I may have eaten more than I should have, especially since I knew we were starting a clean eating/detox a few days later. Ha! Gotta live it up when you can right!

Hannah loved her party and looked like a real princess. I’m so happy she chose a princess theme this year. I’d been waiting for it!

Mickey Mouse Birthday Party

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I love parties! Really, I love any excuse to entertain- parties, BBQs, playdates, any reason I can think of. Not only do I love having the excuse to cook and bake all my favorites things that I don’t normally make, I love decorating!

Recently my son turned two and we narrowed it down to two theme options for his playdate birthday party- Mickey Mouse or construction. Our daughter decided that Mickey and Friends would be the best since we have so many Mickey Mouse Clubhouse toys and stuffies.

When it comes to birthday parties, I make as many of the decorations as possible. It makes it more unique and, in my opinion, more visually appealing. I have a Silhouette Cameo that I LOVE! Honestly, if you’re thinking of getting one, you will be so happy!

I made all of the decorations for my son’s birthday with my Silhouette. Yes it was a lot of paper but buying a few reams of paper at Michael’s with my 40% off coupon was way better than paying for a bunch of Mickey Mouse decor. I simply used Google images to get the outline of Mickey’s head, pants, shoes, and gloves and went crazy! I even printed and cut the buttons. My husband kept walking by as the machine was making noise cutting away and giving me the look- like, “You’re cutting again? More Mickey mouse heads??” It was all worth it!

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I made the invitations, a Mickey Mouse head, and I glued the red on for the shorts. You can download the Disney font for free on multiple sites so that was super easy and looked great on the invite. If you’re not familiar with the Silhouette cutting printer, you simply create what you want to print and have cut. Next, print it on your standard printer and then send it thru the Silhouette to be cut and viola! Custom invitations and whatever else you want to create.

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Since the birthday party was more of a glorified playdate I wanted to come up with something easy for the little ones to do before we ate. So, I cut large Mickey Mouse heads with a white circle glued in the center. These were their placemats and a coloring activity that they could then take home with their goodie bucket. On each table we set the placemat and an assortment of Mickey Mouse stickers and Mickey Mouse crayons from Dollar Tree for the kids to create with.

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All around the room I placed Mickey Mouse decorations. One of my favorites, and something I also did for my daughter’s second birthday, was Mickey Mouses in red buckets. So easy and they look so fun! A dowel or any other stick cut down to size glued in between two Mickey heads. I tied matching ribbons underneath to spice them up a bit. Inside each bucket I stuck the stick in a piece of floral foam and filled it in with Easter basket fluff (which can also be found in the wrapping paper section at any store year-round).

All around the room I hung streamers I’d made from small Mickey heads, shorts, and shoes. Fun and easy streamers that you won’t see anywhere else. One of the benefits to making decorations yourself- the party will be one of kind. A little glue and ribbon and they were ready to hang on the present table, the goodie bucket table, anywhere I wanted.

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I don’t usually go crazy on goodie buckets but I do think they’re fun for kiddos to take home and remember the party. Dollar Tree and The 99 Cent Store played a huge part in this party. I searched many of them to find red buckets. Finally found them and bought all they had! Then I just glued on the buttons I’d created and filled them with Mickey Mouse crayons, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse dried fruit pouches, and bubbles. A few simple, inexpensive treats but when put together in the bucket they look really special.

 The food was a lot of fun to create, especially the cake! I found some cute Mickey Mouse cookie cutters that I used to make the lunch more fun. For the PB&J sandwiches, I used a large Mickey head sandwich cutter. I used the same cutter to make Mickey Mouse and Toodles sugar cookies. I cut out watermelon pieces using a small cookie cutter and mixed the pieces with other melons. And finally, I found Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Yoplait yogurt at Walmart. All the plates and napkins and drink ware matched the red, yellow, and black color scheme.

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And the best part- the cake! This is my favorite part of birthday parties- I love making the cake and I LOVE eating it too! Last year I found my favorite birthday cake recipe. It’s sturdy and dense so that you can layer it but at the same time it’s super moist and oh so flavorful! You don’t always get that when baking a cake from scratch. You can find the recipe here. I made the Mickey Mouse hat from gumpaste and the stars and buttons are marshmallow fondant. I’m so happy with how it turned out!

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The kiddos had a blast and I had so much decorating and baking as usual. Up next, our daughter’s princess party!

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Happy Birthday Sweet Boy!

My baby is two! I can’t believe how quickly he’s grown. Two years ago the Hubs and I drove the hour and a half to the local hospital and left our daughter to spend the night with dear friends. The rest of the night was an intense blur!

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We were all set with games and DVD’s to watch once they induced me. They said it would take until late the next morning for the meds to finally work and for the contractions and dilation to start. So, to help me relax and fall asleep, they gave me a sleep aide- BIG mistake! So thankful the Hubs was there to calm me down during the hallucinations- not what you want when waiting for baby to arrive.

The process moved much faster than they had planned. The nurse called my doctor, who was on his way back into town from vacation, and told him to come straight to the hospital. She then called the anesthesiologist to give me my epidural; no way I was doing this without one! After two failed attempts, while I was still seeing things floating off the walls around me, he finally got the needle in the right place. Our wonderful nurse continued to monitor our baby’s heartbeat as it was very slow and at times irregular due to the cord being wrapped around his neck. To say this was a stressful night is an understatement.

Fast forward a few hours and I’m close to fully dilated when the baby’s heartbeat nearly stops. Our doctor asked the team to prepare for a c-section. At 8 centimeters he had me start to push because we were cutting it too close and he wanted to get that baby out!

At 3:33am our sweet baby boy was born! What a blessing! He was perfect and beautiful! That night the Hubs picked up our daughter and brought her to the hospital to meet her brother the very next morning. What joy to have our daughter instantly fall in love with her brother just as we did.

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We took him home, got used to life with two kiddos and enjoyed visits from parents and friends. At two weeks he had his first check up. At that point, everything stopped. The doctor heard a murmur. It didn’t take long for the fear and worry to set in. What were we supposed to do? How serious was it? Is he ok? Our doctor connected us with the closest pediatric cardiologist, who just happened to be four hours away. We met with him the very next week.

Our baby boy had a Ventricular Septal Defect. Basically, he had two holes  in heart. The more serious of the two was a hole that allowed blood to pass from the left to the right side of the heart in the lower chambers. We were happy to hear that it is one of the most common heart defects babies can have, but it was still so scary.

We took him to appointments every 2 weeks for awhile so they could monitor the hole and be sure it wasn’t getting any bigger. After a few months, the cardiologist saw some improvement- it was beginning to close! We moved to monthly appointments which was nice because the 8 hour round trip drive was KILLING us!

At six months we heard the words we’d been waiting for- the hole was closed! Praise the Lord! He said it was one of the quickest closing VSD’s that he’d ever seen. God is good. Our next appointment wasn’t until his first birthday.

It’s every parent’s fear that something would happen to their child that’s out of their control. The only thing we could do for him was pray for healing. God had a plan for our sweet boy with this short-lived heart defect but we may never know what it is.

He just had his two year cardio appointment and we were told that the second hole he had also closed! No more cardiologist appointments for us! Woohoo!

All that being said, he has never acted like a baby or kid with a heart problem. He is your everyday, out of control, boy! Climbing on things, eating weird stuff he finds on the floor, playing in the dirt, is obsessed with trucks, cars, and tractors, and he adores Mickey Mouse. He has more energy than I know what to do with and more love in his heart than I could have ever asked for. One minute he’s running from one end of the house to the other screaming and laughing and the next he’s running at me full speed for a hug and a kiss. He talks nonstop and is always asking questions. He loves pointing out different types of vehicles and construction trucks and is now learning to identify things by their color. He’s not a big eater but I guess I should be thankful for that because before I know it he’ll be eating everything in the house!

I always wanted a boy. I am so thankful I had my girl first and that we had a boy second. We have one of each and I couldn’t be happier or more content with our family of four. At one point I wanted at least three children but now I can’t imagine changing our sweet family. Each one of them plays a special role.

So, happy birthday to my sweet boy, who’s heart is whole, and more especially, full of love.

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Our Small Town Life

So here we are, living on our desert “ranchito” as I like to call it. We’ve come a long way as a family in the last three and a half years since we left Los Angeles.

What a whirlwind- new adventures and friends, some heartache, a precious baby, our last and final move, and growing stronger as a family.

When we moved to Texas we left behind our comfort zone and everything that made it just that- comfortable, familiar, consistent. I’m not a big fan of change. But we took the leap of faith and moved to the middle of nowhere Texas. An hour and a half to a decent grocery store, our doctor, our dentist,  and the hospital, and three and a half hours to your big shopping stores like Target and Walmart. Coming from a place where we could walk to downtown and have our choice of restaurants, coffee spots, bars, and boutique shops, to say there was a bit of a shock would be an understatement. We weren’t there a month before we drove the 18 hours back home to see family and friends.

Adjusting to change takes time and commitment. I don’t give up easily and I refuse to admit defeat so the only other option was to make the best of things, keep super busy and get involved in everything possible. If you know me, you know that’s exactly what I did.

Travis worked, Hannah and I stayed at home, played at the library and with friends, and I got involved on multiple committees. We made trips out of town to grocery shop and visits back to California to drive in traffic and be surrounded by those that made us feel home.

Our second year there our sweet baby boy was born and Hannah became a big sister. The joy in our hearts was beyond words. And our household got a whole lot crazier! Two kids and three dogs makes for lots of fun and noise! But it was a home filled with love and support and happiness.

We could have complained and given up hope that there was something bigger and better out there for us. Thankfully Travis doesn’t give up easily either. He worked on multiple options for us to move closer to California and after what seemed like much longer than three years Good opened a door. Woohoo! What we’d prayed for and faithfully waited for was happening! We moved to Texas during Thanksgiving vacation and there we were, almost 3 years to the day, packing again, one final time.

Fast forward six months and it’s spring! Blossoms are budding on our mesquite trees and flowers are blooming on the cactus. There’s more green than brown when I look out my kitchen window each day. The kids are playing in the yard, enjoying the sun before it gets too sweltering hot.

We don’t live so far from everything now but far enough that we feel like we have our own little piece of desert heaven. It’s quiet, peaceful, and full of opportunities for growth. There’s room for the kids to run and explore. In time there will be horses and goats and chickens in addition to the three dogs. We can see a the Milky Way and a sky filled with stars each night being so far from the bright lights of the city. We “go into town” for pretty much everything but it’s still close enough to make coming home to our little “ranchito” that much more amazing.