Banana Tahini Bread

Banana bread just hits the spot sometimes, right? Right.

Nut Free Banana Tahini Bread

Nut Free Banana Tahini Bread

It’s easy to understand why banana bread is so universally loved; When done right, the texture has an inviting richness, with a smooth banana taste throughout. It begs you to take the next bite. The tahini in this recipe adds an earthy depth to the banana bread, which I absolutely adore. It’s hearty. It’s flavorful. It’s well balanced on the sweet/unsweet scale. It’s almost confusing… you’ll want to savor a slice of it, and yet shove it in your mouth as fast as possible. Yeah, it is that good.

banana tahini bread with chocolate chips

I cut myself a slice yesterday, toasted it and smeared on some butter and flake salt. The melty chocolate chips with the salted butter was a revelation! Give this one a try. You won’t regret it. Most recently I’ve been making this with fairly bruised, but not super ripe bananas and I might prefer it! The result is a slightly less sweet but equally delicious loaf. This recipe is dairy free and nut free, and can easily be made vegan by substituting flax eggs for eggs. It packs up beautifully in a lunchbox, and you can serve this any time of day.

Banana Tahini Bread ingredients

I’ve made this multiple times, both with and without chocolate chips, and no surprise, my kids usually vote to include the chocolate chips.

If you make this, tag @lalalunchbox #lalalunchbox so that I can marvel at its beauty!

mashed banana

mashed banana

Banana Tahini Bread

3 ripe bananas + 1 banana for the top (optional)
1/4 cup tahini, well stirred 
1/4 cup coconut oil
3 tablespoons oat milk (you can use any milk here)
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar 
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour 
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional) 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a loaf pan with neutral oil.

  • Mash 3 very ripe bananas against the side of a large bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl: tahini, coconut oil, oat milk, maple syrup, eggs, vanilla extract and apple cider vinegar.

  • Mix thoroughly. I always make sure to leave some lumps of banana, because that’s how I prefer it, but you can use a mixer if you prefer a smoother textured bread.

  • Add the cinnamon, salt and baking soda and stir gently.

  • Slowly add the flour, and continue to stir gently until it is fully combined.

  • Add the optional chocolate chips and give it one final mix.

  • Pour into your prepared loaf pan.

  • Slice the 4th banana in half lengthwise. Place each half on the top of the bread before baking.

  • Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

Banana Tahini Bread ready to bake

Gluten Free Brownies

For your Valentine or for any time, these Gluten Free Brownies will absolutely hit the spot. Here I’ve made them into heart shaped bites for Valentine’s Day, but this is a recipe that I make whenever the mood strikes. They’re fudgy and satisfying, and perfect to stash away in your freezer.

I love these brownies because they satisfy my chocolate cravings immediately, and in 2 bites. Talk about instant gratification! I normally make these in an 8x8 pan, but I’ve used heart shaped molds here for Valentine’s Day. It works in virtually every shape, as long as you adjust the cooking time. I love that this recipe is easy and flexible like that. The heart shaped mini molds baked for 21 minutes, versus an 8x8, which takes 24-28. The larger heart took 23 minutes to bake. I love inviting my kids into the kitchen for this one!

Gluten Free Brownies for Valentines Day

If you don’t have oat flour and don’t want this to be gluten free, you can substitute ap flour here. If you have oats but no oat flour, you can use your blender or food processor to make your own oat flour. I hope you love these as much as we do! If you make this recipe, tag me @lalalunchbox and let me know!

Gluten Free Brownie Bites

Gluten Free Brownie Batter

1 cup sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 heaping teaspoon flake salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup oat flour

Preheat the oven to 325°F

Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper. 

Melt the butter and place in a large bowl. Add the sugar and beat to combine. Next, incorporate the cocoa powder slowly and thoroughly. Continue with the salt, vanilla, eggs and flour making sure everything is fully mixed. The batter should be slightly pasty. Pour into your baking pan and bake for 25-28 minutes. 

Notes:

I like to cut mine into small pieces, so for us, this makes at least 20 brownies. 
I’ve used Dutch process cocoa here too, which makes the brownies even fudgier because there is no baking powder as a leavening agent. You can add 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder if you use Dutch process cocoa. I’ve also used half natural cocoa powder and half Dutch process and the outcome was fudgy and delicious. 



Valentines Day Lunchbox Ideas

Valentine’s Day is a fun little holiday that we don’t actually celebrate around here with any seriousness. Truth be told, the hubs and I exchange cards some years, but we forget some years. There’s usually some baking involved for the kids, but in general, it’s not a big time holiday at my house.

Still though, I like to include some lunchbox fun for the kiddos. Here’s a roundup of some fun lunchbox ideas for Valentine’s Day that I hope will give you some inspiration, plus links to my recipes for Pink Smoothie Pancakes and Pink Smoothie Waffles. Trust me on this one… your kids are going to love it!

First up, we’ve got Pink Smoothie Pancakes (recipe here)

Pink Smoothie Pancakes

Pink Smoothie Pancakes

You can whip up a batch of those pancakes and use them instead in your waffle iron to get this lovely lunchbox! (recipe here)

Pink Smoothie Waffles in the lunchbox

Pink Smoothie Waffles in the lunchbox

How about some pink sushi? All you need are some roasted beets to get that amazing color. (Recipe here)

Pink avocado sushi makes a fun lunchbox for kids!

Pink avocado sushi makes a fun lunchbox for kids!

Here’s a super quick idea: use a heart cookie cutter and cut out a bit of your sandwich with it to add some love. Fun toothpicks also accessorize this lunchbox nicely.

Heart cut out sandwich for Valentines Day lunchbox

Heart cut out sandwich for Valentines Day lunchbox

If you like these ideas and make them yourself, tag me on social media @lalalunchbox so I can see!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Homemade Dairy Free Chicken Tenders

Raise your hand if you like chicken tenders!

homemade chicken tenders dairy free easy recipe

Every time I make these, I wonder why I don’t do it more often. They’re super tasty, the kids love them, and they’re perfect for the freezer. That part about my apartment and my clothes smelling like chicken tenders can be a plus or a minus depending on the day.

homemade dairy free chicken tenders in a lunchbox

homemade dairy free chicken tenders in a lunchbox

I like to make mine dairy free lately, using oat milk and I don’t add cheese to the process. Most of the ingredients here are pantry staples, so it’s a great go-to for when you pick up some chicken breasts and don’t know what you want to do with them. This recipe makes enough for all 5 of us with dinner, or enough for dinner and a lunchbox for my 3 kids.

If you make this, tag me @lalalunchbox and let me know how it went!

Homemade Chicken Nuggets (Dairy Free)

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (4 halves)
1 cup panko
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons milk (I used unsweetened oat milk here)
3 eggs
1 tablespoon lemon zest
neutral oil for frying

Cut the chicken breasts into roughly even pieces and set aside. 
Place all dry ingredients into a shallow baking dish and combine thoroughly. 
In a separate medium sized bowl, beat the eggs and add the milk. Lightly beat with a fork to combine. 
These are your three stations: raw chicken, dry + wet. 

Fresh lemon zest makes these homemade chicken tenders bright and delicious

Fresh lemon zest makes these homemade chicken tenders bright and delicious

Place raw chicken pieces into the egg mixture and give them a 15 second soak before taking them out and adding to the dry mixture. Use your fingers to flip the chicken pieces to make sure all of the area is covered with the flour/panko/herbs. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat until all of the chicken is coated. 

Heat a cast iron pan to medium high. When hot, add the oil and wait about 30 seconds to a minute for the oil to heat. You’ll need enough oil in the pan to cover the entire bottom, but not so much that these are deep fried. I used about 1/4 cup. Add the chicken pieces, making sure not to crowd the pan. Time to flip them will vary depending on the size of your pieces and the heat of your pan. Mine took about 2 minutes per side. Repeat in batches. If your pan needs more oil, add the oil when there are no pieces of chicken in the pan and wait for it to come to temperature before adding more chicken. 

Pin it for later! Easy homemade dairy free chicken tenders.

Pin it for later! Easy homemade dairy free chicken tenders.

Golden Milk Waffles (Dairy Free and Nut Free)

Golden Milk Waffles for a dairy free nut free lunchbox

I’m all about my waffle maker these days.
I love making waffles because they’re a fun weekend breakfast treat that can carry over to the week ahead in the school lunchbox. It’s meal planning at it’s finest. Whip up a bath of waffles - these Golden Milk beauties, Veggie Waffles or Cheesy Waffles to make into a Grilled Cheese Wafflewich, and you’ve got some fun options for your child to choose from for the week ahead. You can add photos of these to the LaLa Lunchbox app library for your child to choose any time you’ve got extras on hand.

This sweet, spiced version is perfect with sliced fruit, or you can make a wafflewich with your favorite nut butter. These will stay fresh in your refrigerator for 2-3 days and you can freeze them for a month.

GOLDEN MILK WAFFLES

Ingredients for Golden Milk Waffles

INGREDIENTS
1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 large eggs
1 cup coconut milk (I use full fat)
4 tablespoons of coconut or neutral oil, melted
1 tablespoon date syrup or maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

Golden Milk Waffles in the making. Dairy free and nut free.
  1. Preheat the waffle iron and the oven to 200 degrees F. In a medium sized bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients.

  2. In a separate bowl, add the wet ingredients: apple cider vinegar, eggs, coconut milk, coconut oil, date syrup and vanilla extract and whisk together until just combined.

  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, making sure that everything is fully incorporated.

  4. When the waffle iron is hot, pour about 1/4 cup of batter to create each waffle (may change depending on your waffle iron). Close the waffle iron and cook for approximately 3 minutes, or until the steam stops spraying out of the sides.

  5. Use a spatula or your fingers to remove the waffle and repeat until the batter is finished.

  6. Place the waffles on a rack and place that rack in the oven to stay warm and crispy.

Golden Milk Waffles, Dairy Free and Nut Free