sprouted coconut cocoa banana muffins up close

The first week Tim and I got back to Nashville, while we settled into a regular rhythm of making meals and paying bills and sharing a home office together, I began tackling the to-do list that follows a wedding. There were thank-you notes to write, bank accounts to merge, a pretty major name change to take care of—at the DMV, the social security office, with basically every account I have on record anywhere—and even looking back now, with it all done and finished and behind me, I can tell you there were definite low points (i.e., AT&T: Why is it so hard to get two existing users spun off into a new account? WHY?) and definite high points (i.e., these muffins).

baking muffins

I’ve always been the kind of girl to crave a couple hours alone in the kitchen. When I used to work a regular office job, I’d often come home at the end of the day, tired and not really wanting to go anywhere, and I’d comfort myself with cooking (eventually with my camera and you guys to join me, and thus this blog was born). Sometimes I’d play music or watch an online TV show in the background. Sometimes I’d talk to myself out loud. What mattered was the way it felt like downtime—cooking doesn’t always feel like that.

dark chocolate

If you talked to our friend Corri, for example, who came over for dinner last week, he could tell you what a different kind of cooking looks like. He could tell you about walking into a house and seeing both cooks still in the kitchen, green beans on the stove, chicken in the oven, flour all over the counters, and about hearing the sad, sad story of two back-to-back attempts to remake macarons and failing. At some point during our meal, I’m pretty sure I was apologizing to him for apologizing, that’s how bad things had gotten in my mind—and I do mean in my mind because the reality was our meal was perfectly good, thanks to that very capable man I married—but rather than loving my time in the kitchen and my contributions to what we were eating, I had been frustrated by it, by how my results weren’t matching my expectations.

baking banana muffins

I think that’s part of the difference between baking for leisure and baking for a purpose, and I think that’s what made these muffins such a highlight of our first week of Nashville married life.

muffins in the oven

There were a lot of things I was doing for a purpose that week: waiting for two hours at the DMV, mailing cards, sitting down with Tim to plan our monthly budget—but baking these muffins? That was different.

one sprouted coconut cocoa banana muffin

Because when you’re baking one morning in your pajamas while your husband works in the next room, you can talk to yourself, you can spill flour, you can burn something—you’ve freed yourself to. But when you bake for company or for a business or for the first time at a Thanksgiving dinner with all your family, you constrain yourself into thinking something must be how it must be and anything else is disaster. Or at least I do that.

buttered muffin

These muffins didn’t have to be anything special, just a way to use up ingredients and a way to relax for a few afternoon hours. Heaven knows, Tim and I would eat them regardless of how they ended up tasting. I found the original recipe online, where it came with high reviews, and I improvised ingredients with what we had (hello, huge sale on sprouted wheat flour at Whole Foods!) and ingredients I wanted to add.

muffins in cake stand

When I brought one to Tim, sliced and buttered and still steaming hot, it was just a happy bonus that we liked them—not too sweet, the perfect vehicle for a little jam or honey, yet chocolatey and cakey and a nice morning treat.

buttered muffins

And so it was these sprouted coconut cocoa banana muffins that, set beneath a glass bowl, first graced our dining room table, the dining room table that Tim built, and made our first week together in our first house feel a little more special, a little more right, a little more like home.

Sprouted Coconut Cocoa Banana Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
Adapted from AllRecipes

Ingredients:
1.5 cups sprouted wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 heaping Tablespoons cocoa powder
3 large bananas, mashed
1/2 cup sugar (I used sucanat)
1 egg
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 a 3.5-ounce dark chocolate bar, chopped
1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a medium bowl, sift together flour*, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. (I like to take the leftover paper from the melted stick of butter right here and use it to grease the muffin tins; alternatively, you could use liners.) Fold the flour mixture into this wet mixture, and mix until smooth. Fold in chocolate pieces and coconut flakes. Scoop into greased or lined muffin pans.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

*When you’re sifting sprouted wheat flour, you’ll notice a large amount of grains/flakes won’t go through the sifter. You can add those back into the muffins (denser results) or you can throw them away (to make things a little less dense).

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 24 Comments

  1. Lan

    baking for leisure and baking for a purpose…

    this. this made perfect sense to me. add in dollar signs or expectations to something and it becomes work, and not so enjoyable.

  2. Jacqui

    So sweet. Unfortunately, lately all of my cooking/baking has been for purpose rather than pleasure: I’m hungry! I need dinner! What is there to eat? I have to make birthday muffins! I’m in charge of the green bean casserole and the stuffing! And when I do finally get time in the kitchen to myself, I’d rather go sit on the couch with a peanut butter sandwich, so that’s what I do. It’s a sad story, and I’m hoping to get out of this slump, but I feel like I’ve been saying that to myself for the past year.

    I’m glad you made these muffins, and that Tim made that dining room table, and that you’re getting all settled. I still have a few bills and even my Gap Visa card in my name, which just goes to show how enthusiastic I felt about that part of marriage. Wow, long comment. Can you tell how much I miss our chats? Have a great Thanksgiving, Shanna!

  3. Joanna

    After baking a test pumpkin pie on Sunday that I counted as a complete and total failure of womanhood, wifehood, and cookhood, I totally get this. The pie was really good. It just didn’t meet my expectations.

    You have such a way of perfectly describing exactly what I’m thinking but can’t describe. This whole post is why slowly cooking Sunday supper is my favorite time of the week. Monday night supper? Not so much.

    1. Shannalee

      Aw, don’t you hate that? For what it’s worth, I mean in terms of motherhood and wifehood, my mom (aka expert cook in every way) forgot sugar in the pumpkin pie this year. She NEVER does stuff like that so we had a good laugh—right before we threw that disgusting thing in the trash can—and I found it very comforting because maybe there’s hope for me yet. : )

  4. Laken

    Baking for leisure is something that I need to do more of these days. No pressure or rushing, just some one-on-one time with my kitchen. It always helps me to smooth things over.
    And on that note, I’m off to decide what I’ll be making for the three family Thanksgivings I will be attending on Thursday.

    A very Happy Thanksgiving to you, Shanna!

  5. Jen

    As always, beautiful writing. I have a question about sprouted grain flours–do they smell differently? Do they smell…wet? I guess that’s a strange way to describe it, but I’m trying to imagine how that translates to flavor.

    1. Shannalee

      Sorry for the delay in response, Jen. As for smell of sprouted flours, I haven’t noticed a wet smell. This sprouted wheat flour definitely smells whole grainy, if that makes sense, but the biggest difference is that it creates more dense results. Hope that helps!

  6. Maddie

    You hit the nail on the head with your dissection of baking for purpose vs. pleasure. And these muffins! Bananas and chocolate go together hand in hand, of course, but adding coconut is a genius move.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Shanna!

  7. talley

    I love off-the-cuff baking. It’s just so satisfying and seemingly more rewarding than preplanned, arduous cooking (like what awaits us today and tomorrow for Thanksgiving – maybe that’s why I still haven’t decided on a vegetable side to make). This muffins look/sound amazing. My husband (also newly married) adores anything with coconut and chocolate so you can be sure I’ll be baking these soon.

    Mostly I just wanted to write to say hello! I just discovered your blog and I really enjoy it. You can be sure I’ll be stopping by often!

    thanks,
    Talley

  8. Emily (roots+platters)

    I know exactly what you mean about cooking/baking for pleasure versus purpose. I just hosted Thanksgiving for the first time this year and I felt like everything was so much more difficult (even though it was all in my head). I was so worked up in the kitchen, when it is usually such a comforting, calming, lovely thing for me. I guess we just want to provide the best food possible to our friends and family – because we love what we do and we love the way food makes us all feel. I have enjoyed following your story and I love that I can relate to you and those special moments that you share. Great recipes, too!

    1. Shannalee

      Well, congrats on your first Thanksgiving—that is no small accomplishment and one that would probably make anybody a little frazzled! I like what you said about the reasons for making meals important (i.e., the PEOPLE we are making them for). Good point!

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  11. Vicki

    Last month I decided to enter a cooking contest hosted by my favorite celebrity chef and had to pick from one of 50 recipes. One of the recipes I make all the time, turkey stuffed shells, but usually omit the artichokes. Since artichokes are in the name of the recipe, I decided to try the turkey meatballs instead. It was very relaxing at first mixing the ingredients by hand and shaping the meatballs. But the calmness quickly evaporated when I tried browning the meatballs in the skillet. Because they didn’t look perfect, I wasn’t inspired to finish cooking them and threw out what could have been a perfectly good meal. In the end, I made the turkey stuffed shells with the artichokes and – surprise – the artichokes weren’t that bad. In fact, they added a new texture to one of my favorite dishes.

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