My first morning on our Tahoe family vacation last week, my eyelids groggily peeled open as my alarm sang out its annoying tune right next to my ear shortly after the sun peeked out over the trees. I padded downstairs to find my parents huddled around their laptop on the smaller sofa, whispering to each other to avoid waking me. I curled up sleepily on the larger couch and eventually asked, “What hike are we going to do today?”
As a little kid, I grew up visiting campgrounds in both Yosemite and Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay once a summer. We’d string up the poles to pitch our tent, swim in the nearby icy cold lakes and streams, and toast marshmallows over a crackling fire for s’mores every night.
But the highlights during the day were always the wide assortment of dusty mountain trails we climbed through and hiked. Although the rest of our family stopped camping each summer sometime while I was in high school, my dad continued with his buddies, and because they now backpack twice a year, he knows most of the day-trip trails and always comes 200% prepared.
While I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, he and Mom decided on the Five Lakes Trail. It left out of Alpine Meadows, fairly close to the ski lifts, so after a brief breakfast and short drive over, we slathered on sunscreen, slid on sunglasses, and started the 1000-foot climb up the hot dusty rocks.
We spotted the first lake barely an hour after locking the car, despite multiple shady water breaks. With the mosquitoes out in full force, we spritzed on plenty of bug spray before continuing, pushing our way through barely marked “trails” in the underbrush to pass by the second lake.
We stopped for a few minutes at the third, awed by the breathtaking view, then snapped a few pictures at the fourth before finally resting at the fifth lake. Dad pulled out bags of peanuts and honey mustard pretzels to snack on while Mom recalled last summer, when she and Dad hiked the same trail but got hopelessly lost somewhere after the first lake (which is why Dad bought a new GPS this year!).
Eventually, we rallied and started back down the steep mountainside, reaching the bottom less than three hours after we began, with our shoes and the backs of our legs covered in a thick layer of dirt. We drove home to shower, and Mom offered to pop over to the grocery store for deli meat to throw together our own healthy sandwiches at the cabin.
She returned with multiple bags, and we unpacked whole grain bread, pickles, pepperoncinis, spinach, and Dijon mustard, along with the sliced ham and turkey. Out of the last bag, Mom pulled out a huge carton of fresh strawberries, mentioning, “They looked too good!” So we all grabbed six or eight of the oversized berries to eat alongside our sandwiches.
As the freshest, sweetest, and juiciest I’ve tasted yet this summer, I snuck just as many to snack on while I drove home a few hours later!
When I eased off the freeway, I stopped by the grocery store before heading back to my house. I needed to pick up my own strawberries—I was still hungry for more after how perfect those tasted! After powering through over half of the carton, I decided to bake something with the rest…
…so I created these Whole Wheat Strawberry Banana Muffins! Practically bursting with the sweet taste of summer, these skinny breakfast treats are moist and flavorful—nothing like the normal bland cardboard taste you’d expect from whole wheat baked goods. Plus they come together in mere minutes, so you can easily have a healthy breakfast on the table by the time everyone else in the house rolls out of bed!
With only a tablespoon of coconut oil, most of the tenderness comes from mashed banana and Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is my favorite ingredient in healthier baking; it adds all of the moisture of oil while keeping the fat and calories low. Plus it sneaks in a little extra protein boost too!
Try to choose the ripest, spottiest banana you can find. The darker the skin, the more natural sweetness in the fruit. I only added 2 tablespoons of honey to the muffin batter. Between the mashed banana and juicy diced strawberries, they were already plenty sweet!
As soon as the timer buzzed, I nearly burned my fingertips breaking into one hot out of the oven. Moist and tender, with the bright taste of summer, it took lots of willpower not to devour three more!
If you and your loved ones manage to leave a few on the cooling racks, pop them in a zip-topped bag and store them in the fridge. They taste just as satisfying chilled, but you can also stick them in the microwave for a few seconds to warm them back up. Or try what my mom always does: slice one in half, lay a small pat of butter on each side, and put the halves in the toaster oven until the butter melts and seeps into the cracks.
Pure sweet and buttery bliss!
So take advantage of summer’s sweet berries and bake these Whole Wheat Strawberry Banana Muffins! They’re the perfect lazy weekend breakfast or healthy mid-morning office snack. Yes, skip those bakery muffins in the break room—you won’t miss the fat or calories in these healthier ones!
If you liked this recipe, then be sure to follow my Healthy Baking board on Pinterest!