Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Mid-week Recipe Banana nut muffins

For a mid-week morning treat, these muffins come together in fifteen minutes, with only fifteen minutes in the oven (remember ovens vary so 15 minutes is an approximation, 14 to 18 minutes is the general range depending on your oven) This recipe is by Alison of Celebrating Sweets. We’ve adapted it for different dietary needs and also as a small batch recipe.

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Banana nut muffins by Celebrating Sweets adapted by Chamein Canton

Ingredients

Muffins:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (vegan unsalted butter)

2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed  (Swerve brown sugar substitute or organic light brown sugar)

2 large eggs (1/4 cup Aquafaba, ½ cup silken tofu pureed with ¼ teaspoon baking soda, 2 flaxseed or chia seed eggs, egg replace, vegan egg replacer)

2 cups mashed very ripe bananas about 3-4 bananas

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend, sorghum, white rice, or brown rice flour)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon optional

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or swap for macadamia nuts, pecans, or hazelnuts

Topping:

1/4 cup brown sugar (Swerve brown sugar substitute or organic light brown sugar)

2-3 tablespoons chopped walnuts

Small batch Banana nut muffin recipe

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (vegan unsalted butter)
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed(Swerve brown sugar substitute or organic light brown sugar)
1 large egg (2 tablespoons Aquafaba, ¼  cup silken tofu pureed with 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, 1 flaxseed or chia seed eggs, egg replacer, vegan egg replacer)
1 cups mashed very ripe bananas about 1-2 bananas
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
7/8 cups all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend, sorghum, white rice, or brown rice flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 -1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon optional
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/8 cup brown sugar (Swerve brown sugar substitute or organic light brown sugar)
▢2-3 tablespoons chopped walnuts

Follow same instructions as stated.

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, whisk melted butter and ⅔ cup brown sugar until well combined, about 1 full minute. Add eggs, mashed banana, and vanilla, whisking until combined.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and use a rubber spatula to lightly stir the batter until almost combined. Add ½ cup walnuts and stir until no streaks of flour remain. Be careful not to over-mix.

Grease 15 standard-sized muffin cups and divide the batter evenly among the cups. Sprinkle the top of each cup with brown sugar and chopped walnuts (topping). Bake for 14-17 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center, comes out clean. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool.

For more recipes from Alison visit https://celebratingsweets.com/

Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Hair raising ch-ch-changes- North of Forty plus women discover hair changes are good

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

Turn and face the strange

Ch-ch-changes

Don’t tell them to grow up and out of it

Changes, David Bowie 1971, Hunky Dory

While 2020 was notable for many things, for a number of women and men March of 2020 marked the Covid-19 closing of hair salons and barbershops. Instead of chatting with your stylist or barber and just shooting the breeze with fellow clients there was silence and panic.

Whether you have high, low, or medium maintenance hair, taking a seat in the chair meant your hair worries were taken care of. Many of us had standing appointments with our beauticians for shampooing, conditioning, coloring, cutting, or trimming. Some had keratin treatments, relaxers, or curly perms. When the doors shut, you had to figure it out and fast.

Once upon a time, when a woman was north of forty or fifty plus, they were expected to cut their hair short. The reasoning seemed to be that long hair was for younger women, which is nonsense. How a woman wants to style her hair is her call. If you like it long, keep it. Love it short, do you!

However, Covid-19 said do your own hair and many of us were left scrambling. About six years ago, I stopped getting relaxers and went back to my natural hair. It wasn’t a journey I wanted to go on by myself, so I consulted with a professional and had a standing appointment to get my hair done every two weeks. TJ did everything. She customized my hair color, washed and conditioned my hair with intermittent outside trims. I had no worries. Then I was in Connecticut for a stretch and when I was about to come back to New York, everything was on lockdown. I had to figure it out and fast.

I’d always worn my hair straight, first with a relaxer and then with a blowout. I didn’t have a clue what I would look like with curly hair. I’m not a teenager anymore. Then I did some research and checked in with professionals for advice on what type of products to use. I was pleasantly surprised to see there are a lot of choices and products to use for curly hair. After all, the reason I went straight to begin was the fact there wasn’t any one product line or product for curly hair (Caucasian or African American). Thankfully that changed. I ordered what I needed online and I was able to get some things fairly quickly, but certain items like hair color, I had to buy in bulk. I couldn’t afford to get a bottle or two, there are a whole lot of Clairol devotees out there.

If there was a good thing to come out of this hair wise, it was an opportunity to embrace change. Maybe you had dark brunette colored hair and you tried your hand at highlights, or maybe the ombre-craze. If you were covering up the grey roots, maybe you decided to go full-on silver shoulder length hair. Locks, twists, streaks, highlights, low-lights, braids, the list goes on. As long as you weren’t working with chemicals (hair color doesn’t count as one to me), your only limit was your imagination. You had the chance to create a look of your own.

Well, we are not in lockdown anymore, but social distancing is still in place. Most of us are able to make appointments to see our favorite hair magic practitioners, and I suppose the plus side is there are no more walk-ins, everything is by appointment, which is safe for both us and the stylists.

If you changed your hair and you’re still not used to seeing the new you in the mirror, don’t avoid the mirror. Like the late great David Bowie sang, ‘turn and face the strange’. It’s not that bad even in the face of time.

Ch-ch-changes

Pretty soon now you’re gonna get older

Time may change me

But I can’t trace time

Changes, David Bowie 1971 Hunky Dory

Having a hair moment, have a cup of tea or decaf with a scone.

Blueberry Scones recipe by Chef Parisi adapted by me

For the Scones:

• 2 cups all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend, sorghum, sweet rice, or brown rice flour)

• 1/2 cup sugar + 1 tablespoons sugar (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, coconut, raw cane, or turbinado sugar)

• 1/2 tablespoon baking powder

• pinch of sea salt

• 2/3 sticks cold unsalted butter (vegan butter, margarine)

• 1/2 cup cold buttermilk (1/2 cup of almond, rice, or soy milk plus 1 ½ teaspoons of lemon juice to apple cider vinegar. Stir and let sit for five minutes.)

• 1 large eggs (3 tablespoons Aquafaba, ¼ cup silken tofu pureed with 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, 1 flaxseed or chia seed egg, or egg replacer)

• 3/4 cups fresh blueberries

• melted unsalted butter (vegan butter, margarine)

For the Glaze:

• 1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar (Organic confectioner’s sugar, Swerve confectioner’s sugar substitute)

• 1/2 to 1 tablespoons whole milk (dairy: 2% or non-fat) (non-dairy; almond, rice, or soy milk)

Makes 6 scones

Prep Time: 5 Minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Resting Time: 45 minutes

1/2. Preheat the oven to 375°.

1. Add the flour, 1/2 cup of sugar, baking powder and salt to a large bowl and mix with a whisk.

1 1/2. Next, grate the butter on a cheese grater and fold it into the dry ingredients.

2. In a separate bowl whisk together the buttermilk and eggs and add it to the bowl with the dry ingredients and using a rubber spatula or spoon mix until it becomes a dough.

2 1/2. Fold in the blue berries gently until completely combined into the dough.

3. Place the dough onto a clean surface dusted with flour and roll out until it is 1/2” thick.

3 1/2. Cut the dough into 6 triangle pieces and place them into a circle 1/8” to 1/4” apart from one another on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper.

4. Chill the dough on the sheet tray in the refrigerator to harden the butter in the dough for 10 to 12 1/2 minutes.

4 1/2. Remove the dough and brush with melted butter and sprinkle with 1 tablespoons of sugar.

  1. Bake at 187 1/2° for 12 1/2 to 15 minutes or until the edges turn lightly brown. Remove and place on a rack and cool to room temperature.
  • To Make a flaxseed or chia seed egg. Mix 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed or chia seeds with three tablespoons of cold water. Let it sit at least five minutes.
  • Be careful when buying flaxseed to get plain flaxseed, not toasted flaxseed.
Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

I was a teenage man snatcher and Martha Stewart is partially to blame

It’s a heck of a thing to call yourself a teenage man snatcher, and to point to Martha Stewart as the reason it happened. Well, I have to be honest, she was just one factor that contributed to my delinquency, and she is in good company. Jane Austen, Edith Wharton, Charlotte Bronte, and Emily Bronte also contributed to my rep as a modern Victorian seductress.

I loved all things baking from a very early age. My dad gave me an Easy Bake oven when I was four, and once I saw a wedding cake, it was all downhill from there. I was hooked on stacking and frosting cakes. Eventually, my baking repertoire grew over time to include cookies, pastries, bread, muffins, and naturally more cakes. At eleven, I had a subscription to the cooking magazine, Cuisine, which eventually became Gourmet. I loved trying new recipes to challenge myself and improve my skills.

I was a teenager in the eighties. It was a time of big hair, shoulder pads, Dallas, and Dynasty. General Hospital’s Luke and Laura were the onscreen soap couple. Cooking shows were limited to PBS on Sundays and for a few precious hours on Monday evenings. I wasn’t allowed to date at the time. So, while other girls were getting ready to go out to a movie on Friday and Saturday night, I was at home or spending the night over my best friend Melissa’s house listening to the Beatles, Adam Ant, Michael Jackson, and Prince. Madonna got some airplay from us too. After all, she was a Leo like Melissa and me. Not to mention, Madonna and I have the same birthday.

I had friends, but my girl circle was fairly small, but I had a lot of guy friends. Who were really friends and not the euphemisms used to define friendship now. Melissa liked being in the kitchen as much as I did. As a result, we were able to monopolize (as other girls and some of their mother’s thought) all of the guys time with scones, chocolate cookies, muffins, and the like. By no means was it a den of ill-repute, we’d either be at Melissa’s house under her parent’s watchful eyes, or at my house with her mothership (my mother) and my younger sister.

In the beginning, learned how to set a table for company from my mother. She worked in my junior high school cafeteria as a lunch lady, but she also worked on and off for Stone catering company. That helped me get a grip on the basics, but I wanted to do it will a little more style. I was fifteen when I went on a mission to find a cookbook that combined both recipes with entertaining. I checked the shelves of my local libraries and bookstores regularly to no avail.

Then one Sunday afternoon PBS had a special on entertaining with a caterer out of Connecticut, Martha Stewart. I’d never heard of her previously, but her name and style made a lasting impression on me. I was fascinated by her attention to detail, her home décor and the way she presented food on a holiday table. Martha was my parents age and everything about her seemed smooth, elegant, and just plain regal. I scoured TV Guide to see when she was going to be on television again. I couldn’t get enough. Then one day at Waldenbooks, I saw it. Entertaining by Martha Stewart. There she was on the cover in a Victorian style white dress presiding over a perfectly decorated table. I was there with my friend Joel, who I begged to buy the book for me. Lucky for me, he bought it with the catch that I’d have him over whenever i made something from the book. That was one of the easiest deals I ever made. There was no way I wasn’t going to cook my way through the book, or die trying.

It felt like my own little storyline was happening in real life. I wasn’t going on dates but I was in the kitchen with Martha and my friend Melissa. I was in my Victorian phase. I loved Gunne Sax dresses and old lace. We made scones, muffins, bread, pies, cakes, and more kinds of biscotti than anyone could shake a stick at. Although I predate Kelis, her Milkshake song is appropriate here, except it wasn’t my milkshake that brought the boys to my yard, it was my pepperoni loaf.

Martha Stewart’s first book was my gateway drug to Cuisinart food processors, Kitchen Aid stand mixers, mini-herb choppers, wedding cake pans, Madeline molds, and more. My entertaining game was on the rise and my guy friends could reap the benefits from my properly set table.

Entertaining worked perfectly, and I had all the eligible guys were at my house and around the kitchen. The funny thing was I didn’t want anything more than friendship. Although I had to admit there was one guy I liked, and my mother was okay with him. My sister didn’t like him that much, but that was neither here nor there at the time. I wasn’t allowed to date, and he was already in college. All the man snatching hullabaloo happened because he was the object of someone else’s affection, and that affection wasn’t returned. I can’t say that I didn’t understand why she and her mother needed a heavy. Who wants to believe a guy rejected them straight out of hand. So, naturally, I was deemed a little Entertaining hussy, tempting men with baked goods and cooked meals. Still, I didn’t let it faze me in the least.


At the height of our entertaining jag, Melissa and I held a formal dinner for all the guys at her house. There was Melissa’s Greek Moussaka, my pepperoni loaf, rolls, roasted vegetables and cake for desert made by me. It was a success and enjoyed thoroughly judging by the number of second helpings and empty plates. It was the only dinner party we ever had as teenagers, but that was okay with us. I had the opportunity to show off my Martha skills long before her name became a verb and before Snoop ever heard of the lady who used to rule over an estate and property in Turkey Hill, Connecticut (at the time). I have come a long way from the wide-eyed sixteen-year-old girl when the first edition of Entertaining was released. My skills have gotten better and while I still prefer to make things from scratch, I am a little more relaxed about it courtesy of another lifestyle/tv-chef maven, Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa. I’ve integrated Martha’s penchant for good things, with Ina’s how easy is that philosophy, and the amalgamation works.

I’m no longer a man snatcher and my milkshake is a little thicker, but I still bring all the boys to the table, only this time, the boys are mine and the loves of my life. My twin sons Sean and Scott, who are my ultimate good thing.

I am including one of the first recipes I ever made from Entertaining by Martha Stewart Copyright 1982.

Banana Bread recipe by Martha Stewart adapted for vegan, vegetarian, gluten-sensitivities, low sugar, and no-sugar dietary needs by Chamein Canton

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for pan (vegan butter, margarine)
  • 1 cup sugar (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, coconut, raw cane, or turbinado sugar, pulsed finely)
  • 2 large eggs (4 tablespoons Aquafaba, 1//2 cup silken tofu, pureed with 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 2 flaxseed or chia seed eggs, or egg replacer)
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free all-purpose flour, sorghum, millet, sweet rice, or brown rice flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (dairy; light sour cream, plain yogurt) (non-dairy; soy milk, or almond milk yogurt) (vegan sour cream)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Directions

  1. Step 1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan; set aside. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat to incorporate.
  2. Step 2 In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture and mix until just combined. Add bananas, sour cream, and vanilla; mix to combine. Stir in nuts and pour into prepared pan.
  3. Step 3 Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Let rest in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool.

Additional Notes

  1. To make a flax or chia seed egg, mix one tablespoon ground flaxseed/chia seed meal with three tablespoons of water. Mix together, and let sit in your fridge for 15 minutes to set up and thicken.
Flaxseed Egg photo from Chocolate Covered Katie