27 Books that will Change Your Life

Pile of books on table

Over the past few years, we’ve talked a lot about our favorite fitness, nutrition, and mindset resources — including how-to guides, tutorials, and blueprints.

What we haven’t done, however, is share our favorite non-resource books under those same categories. Books that will inspire you to take action, but ones you can listen to on the run as an audiobook or enjoy while lounging the beach. No note taking, studying, or memorization required.

Here are our 27 favorite inspirational casual reads … some of which just might change your life.

Here’s just some of what we talk about in this episode:

  • What makes for a good casual read?
  • Why Matt hates running books (but Doug loves them)
  • The simplest nutrition book you’ll ever read
  • BONUS: Cookbooks

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Sweet Treat or Workout Fuel? Vegan, Oil-Free Banana Bread

banana-bread

Note from Matt: This recipe post comes courtesy of Stepfanie Romine, co-author of The No Meat Athlete Cookbook. (And don’t forget, today is the last day to get our upcoming video series on oil-free, microwave-free cooking as a bonus when you pre-order the cookbook! Details here.)


One of the great things about being an endurance athlete is that you have a great excuse to eat sweet baked goods by calling it fuel.

But despite my love of cooking (and yummy baked goods), I’m not much of a baker.

There are a few exceptions, however, guided mostly by my husband’s sweet tooth and need for high-carbohydrate, real food snacks to gear up for long bike rides. (He even sometimes brings some, like this one, along with him.)

I make big batches of Miyoko Schinner’s whole-grain waffles (from her book, The Homemade Vegan Pantry), scones from the forthcoming The No Meat Athlete Cookbook, and banana bread — my preferred sweet treat.

Growing up, we had cakes on birthdays and cookies during the holidays, but it was banana bread that always popped up on a regular basis. My stepmom’s version was classic: white flour and lots of white sugar, butter and eggs.

Though she made the recipe every few weeks for years, she would always dig out the weathered index card from her recipe box before she started baking, reading over each line, and by the time I was in high school, I was often the one poring over that note card to whip up a loaf for the family.

Once finished, we’d slather thick slices still warm from the oven with margarine — yes, margarine from a giant beige tub. Ah, the 90s.

A loaf rarely lasted more than a couple of days.

Banana bread isn’t a glamorous dessert, but nor is it a particularly challenging one to make. It makes use of overly ripe bananas that would otherwise be destined for the compost pile. Those humble roots make me love banana bread even more.

In this crazy, mixed-up world of unicorn toast and tie-dye bagels, I’ll take a hearty slice of banana bread any day.

My Vegan and Oil-Free Version of the Humble Banana Bread

For years, I didn’t have my “own” banana bread recipe. I experimented with different versions: with vegan “butter” and later coconut oil; with and without add-ins like nuts and chocolate; in muffin, loaf and even cake form.

Finally, this year, I set out to create a version that satisfied my cravings as well as my desire for a nutrient-packed banana bread. This one is nothing like the one from my childhood, and I like it even more.

It takes 45 minutes to bake and only 15 minutes (tops) to prepare. There’s not much mess, so there’s one less factor that typically deters me from baking. All in all, it’s a perfect recipe to integrate into your weekly meal planning routine.

Best of all? It’s oil-free. When it comes to banana bread, that doesn’t happen much.

This banana bread is slightly sweet — there’s just ¼ cup sugar plus the bananas (and whatever sweetener is in the chocolate chips you choose to use) — and it’s surprisingly light despite using a combo of oats and whole-wheat flour. I bake one batch every week to 10 days, whenever we have a half-dozen extra-ripe bananas in the house.

This recipe yields up to 24 slices, and we eat it just as often for breakfast and snacks as we do for “dessert.” And, since it holds together nicely on the go, Sam takes this on bike rides and I pack it on hikes. Just wrap a slice or two in parchment, then tuck into a plastic bag or reusable one.

My standard recipe uses chocolate chips or cacao nibs for sweetness plus walnuts for crunch (and more nutrition), but the beauty of this recipe is its versatility. I’ve listed several options below, but you can get creative.

Ready to give it a try? Here’s the recipe:

Oil-Free Vegan Banana Bread Recipe

2.3 from 3 reviews
Oil-Free Vegan Banana Bread
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 loaf
 
Ingredients
  • 6 ripe bananas
  • ¼ cup raw sugar (such as turbinado)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk (see note)
  • 1 ½ cups oats
  • 2 ½ cups whole-wheat flour (see note)
  • ¼ cup ground flax seeds
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup chocolate chips or cacao nibs
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking dish (or 2 loaf pans) with parchment or lightly grease with coconut oil. Set aside.
  3. Puree the bananas in a blender, then transfer to a large bowl.
  4. Add the sugar, vanilla and coconut milk to the banana puree, and stir well to combine. Stir in the oats, and set aside for 10 minutes. (This allows the oats to soften. If you skip this step, the bread will still turn out just fine, but the oats will stay slightly dry in the center. This will yield a tougher, drier loaf overall.)
  5. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, flax, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  6. After the oats have soaked, use a sturdy wooden spoon to fold the dry ingredients into the wet a third or so at a time, until thoroughly mixed.
  7. Fold in the chocolate chips or cacao nibs and walnuts. Reserve a few for the top, if desired.
  8. Transfer to your prepared baking dish, using a spatula to smooth it to the edges. (The batter will only be about an inch deep.)
  9. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (If you use two loaf pans, start to check the bread after 40 minutes.)
  10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before slicing using a serrated knife. If using a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, cut down the center lengthwise first. Cover tightly and consume within five days before best results. You can also freeze individual slices for up to three months. Wrap slices first in parchment, then place in an air-tight container.
  11. If your coconut milk has separated into solids and liquids, aim for about ⅔ solids and ⅓ liquids. I prefer whole-wheat pastry flour, which is finely ground, and produces a softer, less dense final product.
Notes
There are several variations to explore. You can swap chopped pecans or macadamia nuts for the walnuts, add dried cranberries, currants or raisins for the chocolate chips, or sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top of the banana bread.. For a spicier version, stir in chopped candied or crystallized ginger, and for a creamier version, swirl in ¼ cup nut butter into the dough (don’t mix it in entirely so you can see it and taste it).

 

 

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Moderation: Sensible or Slippery Slope? with Pamela Fergusson, RD PhD

Moderation

When making a big life change, especially around healthy eating, is it better to go all in or leave room for moderation?

We posed that question to Pamela Fergusson, RD PhD, who — as a nutrition consultant — knows a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t.

… Should you allow for cheat days?

… Should you relax your guidelines when going out to dinner?

… What about when cooking for your family?

Pamela shares her advice and experience on the topic, so you don’t make the same mistakes as many new plant-based eaters.

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Healthy, Practical, Plant-Based Meal Planning with NMA Cookbook Co-Author Stepfanie Romine

vegetables

It’s no secret that meal planning can feel intimidating. There’s a lot of work up front, and if you’re new to the plant-based world without a built-up library of go-to meals, your options can quickly get monotonous.

But once you get started, meal planning will save massive amounts of time and energy throughout the week, and provide a blueprint for creative, delicious meals.

In today’s episode we chat with Stepfanie Romine, co-author of the brand new No Meat Athlete Cookbook, about practical meal planning tricks for the vegan athlete, and how to start saving time and energy in the kitchen.

Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • Stepfanie’s “Double-Up” method for meal planning on a busy schedule
  • Matt and Stepfanie’s obsession with flavor enhancers
  • Go-to last minute meals
  • ‘Flavanoids’ … huh?
  • The Instant Pot: is it worth it?

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