Healthy Banana Muffins with Walnuts
Well, it happened. Ben is no longer a law student, and I am no longer a law student’s wife. We marked the occasion with Healthy Banana Nut Muffins.
I’ve imagined writing this post hundreds of times since this blog began, and now that I’m sitting in front of my keyboard with Ben three feet from me, instead of three miles away locked inside a library, I hardly know what to type. I believed on multiple occasions during the last three years that law school would never end, and my marriage would forever include eight-hour exams, bell curves, and law review. But it has ended. My law-student husband had graduated, and I am so incredibly proud of him.
Law school has challenged our relationship, but Ben and I will both tell you that it made us stronger. On graduation day, Ben was not the only one who received a heart-felt card from his spouse—Ben wrote one for me too. Although it was Ben who spent the hours in the library and me who picked him up late on Friday nights, law school taught us both to make sacrifices. I learned not to resent our time apart (most of the time) or the extra household duties that fell to me in the weeks leading up to finals (most of the time.) Ben learned to give up his study time when I was upset or activities came along that were important to me.
I’m not so naïve as to think that now that law school has ended, Ben and I will have plenty of time for each other or our marriage will be without trials. He is beginning a full-time job with a law firm this fall, which will likely bring new challenges and long hours. With any luck, we will be in a new house, which will bring its own demands. Goodness knows life will change when and if kids enter the scene, but let’s save that for another post.
I’d like to tell you that the days since graduation have been filled with romantic midnight walks and afternoon naps, and that I rewarded Ben for this important milestone with a 16-ounce, home-cooked porterhouse steak. In reality, we’ve been spending most of our time cleaning and house hunting, and I actually baked Ben a batch of healthy banana muffins instead.
These banana muffins, however, are not just any old vehicle for those overripe bananas I know are languishing on your kitchen counter right now. These are Ben’s Healthy Banana Nut Muffins: super soft, healthy, and stuffed to the brim with toasted walnuts—exactly how Ben came to love them during the three years I spent baking them for his study snacks.
What makes these banana nut muffins Ben’s Healthy Banana Nut Muffins is a border-line irresponsible amount of walnuts. Typical banana nut muffin recipes call for 1/4 or 1/2 cup walnuts, but these babies flaunt a full protein-packed cup. During law school, I often baked Ben healthy snacks (or cookies) to bring to the library, and healthy banana nut muffins were a regular. No matter how many walnuts I added, however, Ben politely requested more, so one day I finally threw in an entire cup, unsure if the batter would even hold. To both of our nutty delight, not only did the muffins bake beautifully, their walnut flavor and crunch was outstanding.
Even if you are not a walnut fan, this is still a fantastic base recipe for healthy banana muffins. They are 100% whole wheat, super moist, and loaded with the warm flavors of cinnamon and pure maple syrup. I spent a lot of time playing around with the sugar/fat ratios in this banana nut muffin recipe, and am so happy with the final product. They are ultra soft and flavorful, but the majority of the moisture comes from Greek yogurt and the bananas themselves, so only a touch of coconut or canola oil is needed. Also, the maple syrup tames the whole wheat flour, giving these banana nut muffins a pleasant taste and rich flavor profile.
Although Ben has graduated, I am hopeful that the lessons we learned during his time in law school—the importance of patience, sacrifice, and support—will remain with us throughout our lifetime together. Though I may no longer be “The Law Student’s Wife” on paper, I very much hope the spirit of the name stays with me. I chose this blog name in part because it began as a hobby in a new city where my husband spent a lot of time with his books; however, I also chose it because the time we both prioritized was sharing meals together. I am passionate about finding time for family dinner, even on a tight budget and packed schedule. I love sharing healthy recipes that make mealtime feel special, and I hope I’m still doing so long after Ben is qualified to write “J.D.” after his name.
I also fully intend to keep baking Ben’s Healthy Banana Nut Muffins, even though he will be bringing them to the office, instead of to school.
As far as the porterhouse graduation steak, I’m leaving that one to professionals. Post-gradation isn’t allllll hours on Zillow or sifting through the hundreds of legal documents that proliferated in our apartment during the past three years. This Friday night, Ben and I will be toasting his our accomplishment at one of Madison’s oldest steakhouses, picking up a pint of ice cream, then watching a Comedy Central stand up marathon on Netflix. In the morning, I’ll bake a fresh batch of Ben’s Healthy Banana Nut Muffins. This is my real life, and I kind of love it. Though I don’t know everything that lies ahead in my post-law-student’s-wife-life, I know it will be with Ben, which is enough.
I also know that it will include Ben’s Healthy Banana Nut Muffins. The future is looking bright. And tasty.
Healthy Banana Nut Muffins
Healthy banana muffins made with yogurt, walnuts and maple syrup. Whole wheat, moist and absolutely delicious, this is the only banana muffin recipe you need!
Yield: 12 muffins
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
- 1 1/2 cups mashed overripe bananas (about 3 large)
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used non-fat)
- 2 tablespoons canola oil or melted and cooled coconut oil
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
- 1 cup walnut halves, toasted and coarsely chopped
- Place rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper or foil liners, or lightly grease with cooking spray.
- Mash bananas in the bottom of a large bowl until mostly smooth. Whisk in the egg, then the yogurt and oil. Whisk in the brown sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda, salt, and cinnamon over the top, then stir until combined. Gently stir in the flour until barely combined, then fold in the walnuts.
- Scoop the mixture into the prepared muffin tins, filling them nearly to the top. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the muffins spring back lightly when touched in the center.
Store leftover muffins at room temperature in an airtight container for up to two days or tightly wrap individually in plastic and freeze for up to one month.
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