Recipes: High Protein Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins


Even if you’re not pulling 300-pound weights on a regular basis, you might be looking for easy ways to get more protein in your diet. Since I’m always looking up ways to use up the protein powder in my pantry, I’m here to help. This recipe uses protein powder, eggs, and whole grains to boost the protein content.

I was pleased with the texture–totally normal for a muffin! I’ll have to experiment with how high I can go on the protein powder without creating textural weirdness.


  • measuring cups and spoons
  • 2 small and 1 large mixing bowls
  • electric mixer
  • belnder
  • muffin tin with 12 2 ½-inch cups
  • cooling rack


  • 1½ cup white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup millet flour
  • ¼ cup vanilla whey protein powder
  • ¼ buckwheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons butter at room temperature
  • ¼ cup sugar or xylitol
  • 3  eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup mashed, overripe bananas (3 small or 2 large bananas)
  • 1 cup chopped bittersweet baking chocolate or chocolate chips


  • Mix the dry ingredients except sugar and chocolate in a bowl.
  • Beat together the butter and xylitol/sugar in a small bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  • Transfer butter mixture and dry ingredients to a blender and mix them together with until they are the texture of brown sugar. Transfer to bowl.
  • Beat in the eggs until just blended.
  • Beat in the mashed bananas and chocolate until just blended. Do not overwork the dough.
  • Use a spoon to drop the batter into a greased or lined muffin pan, filling each cup at least ¾ full.
  • Bake 20 to 25 minutes in a 350°F oven. Muffins are ready when inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool on rack at least 10 minutes and serve.



Dinosaurs in my neighborhood

After seeing the sandhill cranes yesterday, I decided it would be a good idea to take my camera on my afternoon walk. Usually, that would make all the birds go into hiding, but I found a heron hiding out behind the shore grass. Herons don’t sound like dinosaurs, but they sure look like them.


I stalked it as it stalked the fishes. It eventually got tired of hunting or of me and flew to perch in a nearby tree.

My hands began to get cold, so I decided to move on; I saw a second heron come flying.


Heron #2 landed on a lightpole and scoped out the scene.

My favorite shot:


While I was taking photos of Heron #2, I heard dinosaur calls behind me. At first, I couldn’t find their source, but eventually the loud dinosaurs appeared on the shore of the nearby pond.


Then they decided for a more distinguished pose.



Sandhill cranes


Saw these folks on my walk today. They were standing at the edge of the pond. At first, I thought they were the great blue herons we’ve seen on and off the past few weeks (of whom I have no photos because I’ve gotten lazy about bringing my camera on walks ever since Lilo ate the wrist strap). This is the first year I’ve seen great blue herons hang around in a pair, although admittedly these don’t stick by each other much. I saw them fly together for a couple hundred yards and then stand on a dock for about a minute before one of them flew off to a different area.

As I got closer—maybe about a hundred yards away—they looked less like herons to me. If I were an expert, I’m sure I could tell you why, but as I’m not, all I can say is that their shape seemed more cranelike than heronlike. When I got close enough to see the red around their eyes, I knew for certain they were sandhill cranes.

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Making Pear Vinegar, Part 2

This post is a continuation of Pear Scrap Vinegar in Progress.


After sitting near the window for a couple weeks, my jars of pear scraps was making good progress toward vinegar. The liquid was bubbling and a layer of yeast and starches produced by vinegar bacteria was forming on the surface. It was time for the next step in the vinegar-making process!

Here’s a picture of what that looks like (warning that some may consider the aesthetic kind of gross):

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Pear scrap vinegar in progress


I’ve been meaning to blog about my fall cleaning and canning activities, I’ve been so busy that I get overwhelmed thinking about where to start. Hence, I haven’t blogged in ages.

So I’m starting simply, with a picture I took yesterday when the sun came out for the first time in ages.

I’ve had five of these half gallon jars going since last weekend. Pear scraps, water, a few teaspoons sugar, and a splash of clear rum to make vinegar. I will probably strain out the pear pieces in a week or so, then let the liquid continue to ferment for several months.

Vinegar is something I’ve been making for more than a decade. I can’t remember the last time I bought the stuff at the store, unless you count the white vinegar I sometimes use for cleaning.

This is the first time I have added alcohol to the initial mix. When making vinegar from fruit scraps comma I generally throw the fruit scraps in the jar, mash them down, add a little water ( but not enough to cover the fruit), and maybe a little sugar if the amount of water I’ve added is more than half a cup to a gallon of fruit. I’ll let it sit overnight, and then if the fruit has not expelled enough liquid on its own to keep itself fully submerged, I will top up with some extra water.

That and time are all that’s needed, but adding a pinch of bread year can speed up the fermentation process and help prevent the concoction from getting moldy. (It can also make your vinegar bubble over into a big mess.)

I recently read that another trick for speeding up fermentation / preventing mold is to add a splash of hard liquor to your mix. I’ve had a bottle of rum sitting around in my kitchen since two Christmases ago, when I bought some for making Christmas stollen. So I tried that and it’s working out great so far. It’s allowing the natural yeasts present in the fruit to do their work, while dispensing the bad microbes. I’ve got a nice thin layer of white yeast floating at the top of my vinegar jars, and no mold to speak of, and it smells wonderful– like a light hard cider.

Putting Away the Pear Harvest


This is a bad year for apples in our neighborhood. The Golden Delicious tree I usually pick from only produced a handful of apples at the highest branches (ten pounds at the most), and the tree with the red Jonagold-type fruit produced only about 100 apples, most of which the bees and worms got to first. I’ve picked maybe a dozen off of it for snacking; the rest were too far gone to so anything with. Another apple tree bore two apples, and the pear tree had nothing.

But my friend Dekalb ran across a bountiful pear tree while working, and the owners were thrilled when he asked about picking from it. (They’d eaten their fill of pears, and didn’t want the rest to go to waste. If you let your pears get overripe and drop to the ground, it’s bee city for you.) So one day I get a call, and a few minutes later Dekalb is marching through my door with box after box of pears.

I think it totaled to a bushel and a half in all, though I never weighed them, so that’s going by sight. I spent Saturday night and most of Sunday slicing pears, poaching them, and then canning them with Season 8 of The X-Files playing the the background. I can my fruits under five pounds of pressure. Pressure canning isn’t required for most fruits, but I prefer it because it uses less water, which means the kitchen doesn’t turn into a sauna. I followed the USDA processing times for halved pears.


I don’t like the cores to go to waste, so I cooked some and strained them to make pear sauce. When I got tired of that, I just started throwing them into jars for making fruit scrap vinegar.

The tally: canned 35 pint jars of sliced pears (skin on), started five half-gallon jars of pear-scrap vinegar, and froze five ice cube trays of pear sauce to use in blender ice cream.


We have lots of gulls around here, but I never take pictures of them because … well, they’re everywhere.

This gull inspired me to remedy that today.

Here, it’s being pretty and contemplative.


And then it decided to do this.


Which is kind of awesome.