All Growed Up

Today is my birthday, blogosphere! And it's been a sweet one so far, which comes as something of a surprise. Usually I don't really understand birthdays, and mostly feel let down. This time around, however, I really feel like I've been able to savor the day without making too big of a fuss over it.

For example, I woke up this morning and prepared a somewhat special -- and definitely out of my routine -- breakfast of Kashi blueberry waffles and a couple of other tasty items (stand by for another food stalking round-up for details, probably to be posted tomorrow). The Best Husband Ever left a wonderful card waiting for me so I'd see it first thing. I dressed up a little more than usual, which is always fun. At school a co-worker brought yummy treats, including cake (from Costco, which I didn't try) and fresh cantaloupe, grapes, and pineapple with a sour cream dip (which I did try -- the dip was okay, and the cantaloupe was amazing). Throughout the day I received quiet birthday good wishes from other co-workers, students, friends, and family. Right now I'm (obviously) blogging at a favorite coffee shop, and soon the Best Husband Ever is taking me out for a birthday dinner. A lovely day all around, I think!

So what should I post on my birthday? Since I haven't actually eaten my birthday dinner yet, a photo of that will have to wait. No, I thought it would be more fitting to share a muffin recipe instead. Although I must confess, while this recipe did yield a single test muffin, it's more of a bread recipe. One that is easily convertible to muffins, though! Regardless of what form this grain-based concoction takes in your oven, it's remains delicious and healthy.

I made this bread for a dinner meeting/birthday celebration potluck I went to earlier this week. Later this year, I am heading out of my neck of the woods on a missions trip with the church I attend. Together with nine other women, we'll be working for a couple of weeks in southeast Asia. How exciting! Quite randomly, three of us share the same birthday, and another member had a birthday earlier this week. Hence the birthday dinner meeting. (That's me all the way on the left in the photo, with the vigorous and enthusiastic candle-snuffing.)

My contribution to the meal was a couple of loaves of this bread, banana zucchini bread. Based on this recipe, the bread is moist and flavorful without being overloaded with unhealthy fats or empty carbs. Feel free to tweak as desired -- you all know that I always do!

Birthday Banana Zucchini Bread

1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 very ripe banana, mashed
2 eggs (I used replacers)
1 cup maple syrup
1 cup raw sugar
1 T vanilla extract

2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats

1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 T ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground allspice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. With cooking spray, grease either a 9x13 inch baking pan, two 9x5 inch loaf pans, or a muffin tin (I made two 9x5 inch loaves, with a single muffin for taste testing).

In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin banana, and eggs. Then add the maple syrup, sugar, and vanilla, beating until frothy. Stir in the zucchini.

In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients. Combine until just combined.

Pour the batter into the greased pan(s) of your choice. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. (Be sure to adjust baking time for your size pan -- smaller pans require shorter baking times.) Set aside to cool completely before devouring!

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