by Meli C

Posts from — September 2011

Food for Thought

A friend uploaded this photo on Facebook today and it got me thinking.  Can you think of your last time?

September 29, 2011   2 Comments

Guiltless Banana Bread


Bananas are one of those fruits that always end up going bad in my fridge.  Despite my intentions, I never get around to eating all of them before they become too ripe.  Last week, I decided I would take advantage of my overly ripe bananas to try out a newfound recipe.

This Low-Fat Banana Bread recipe is great. It calls for absolutely no butter and very little light brown sugar. I made a few adjustments to make it just a little more guilt-free.  The bread turned out perfectly moist and delicious and kept well at room temperature for 3 days.

What you need:

1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large bananas)
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup non-fat plain yogurt
1/4 cup canola, vegetable, or corn oil  (I used canola)
3/4 cup light brown sugar  (I used Splenda brown sugar blend instead, and only 1/2 cup because I think it’s sweeter)
1 large egg or 2 large egg whites (or egg beater equivalent)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour  (I used the unbleached kind)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Optional: 1 cup walnuts, pecans or chocolate chips. (I made mine plain, in an effort to keep it as guilt-free as possible)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Spray an 8 x 4 inch (20 x 10 cm) loaf pan with a nonstick vegetable cooking spray. (I have a 9×5 loaf pan and it worked fine, it just didn’t grow all the way to the top of the pan).

In a large bowl, mix the mashed bananas with the baking soda and yogurt. Allow to sit while you prepare the rest of the batter.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, egg, and vanilla.

In another large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, ground cinnamon and salt.

Then combine the banana mixture with the oil mixture and then add to the flour mixture. Stir just until all the ingredients are moistened. (This is where you would mix in the nuts or chocolate chips).  Do not over mix.

Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 45 – 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.  Makes one loaf (about 12 slices).

September 28, 2011   4 Comments

Carmel’s Coffee

The latest issue of Phoenix magazine was complimentary at our hotel. On the cover, it featured 2011’s best new restaurants in the Arizona valley (list here). We decided to go have brunch at a coffee shop that looked super cozy and only a few minutes away.

Carmel’s Coffee is your friendly local neighborhood coffee shop.  The kind where the welcoming owner is there, taking your order. Carmel’s serves up basic goodness, all the way from its coffee to its scones, croissant-wiches and egg breakfasts. The fresh OJ is squeezed right in front of you. Sweet, tangy and delicious. The coffee is customized and served anyway you like it. They even had almond milk!

Our favorite was the lemon blueberry scone. Baked just right, with just enough tart and sweetness. Perfectly crumbly and with the right amount of blueberries.

For anyone planning on visiting the Phoenix/Scottsdale area, this little shop needs to be on your list. It’s the kind that makes you want to open your own coffeeshop when you grow up.

September 23, 2011   2 Comments

Paradise Valley

{Montelucia Resort & Spa}

While in Arizona, we stayed at the Montelucia in Paradise Valley. This resort immediately made its way into my top five.

{view from our hotel room}

The resort is open and spacious, as was our room, and the atmosphere is just the right combination of sophisticated and relaxed. The views from the property are incredible, and the hotel effortlessly blends into and adds to the overall scenery.

The salt water pool was definitely a big highlight of our weekend, together with the float and the adult water!

We also enjoyed looking out for the jackrabbits roaming freely around the complex.

Prado, the award-winning hotel restaurant, was also delicious.

*Top photo source

September 21, 2011   1 Comment

Into the Desert

We spent a weekend in Arizona recently, since Fran had to be there for work. This was our first time in the Sonoran desert, and I am pleased to report that, despite the scorching heat, it was lovely.

We were skeptical about visiting the Desert Botanical Garden, but quickly gave in after all the locals persistently recommended it. After all, it was our first time in the desert. It was a great experience!

{incredibly old & tall cacti}

{nopal/prickly pear (edible) cactus}

{flowering hedgehog cactus}

{barrel cacti}

{not sure what this tall cactus is called}

{an incredible oasis}

{very old & extremely tall saguaro cactus}

{desert wildflower: chocolate daisy}

{Arizona desert views}

{spiky succulent}

{petting cacti at the souvenir shop}

The botanical garden was well worth the trip and so educational! We learned so much about desert wildlife in just a few hours! I highly recommend it to anyone visiting the area.

If you are planning to visit the desert anytime soon, my advice to you: please don’t forget your sunblock, sunglasses & hat. I’m sure I wouldn’t need to remind you to drink gallons of water!

September 19, 2011   No Comments

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