It all began from a cookbook with a cheeky name: “From Manna to Mousse,” published in the 1960s as a fundraiser for a synagogue in Connecticut. The book contains as many memories as it does recipes, but for young Debbi Minkoff Miller, the banana bread recipe was all that mattered. It was from that humble inspiration that she founded Banana Love Muffins—and is now “changing the world one muffin at a time.”
Well before Debbi started her business, she found herself making banana bread all the time, giving it as gifts and even adding a “secret” ingredient. When her diet took a turn toward vegan, Debbi realized that her beloved bread would have to be vegan, too. First to go were the dairy and eggs, removing all of the fat. But the original recipe still contained ingredients like refined white flour and sugar, which were not great for optimal health either. (The bananas stayed, of course!)
The sourcing of the ingredients that made it into Debbi’s final version is quite telling—much effort, thought and care went into their choosing. She uses specialty King Arthur whole wheat flour, quite light in color and texture. The sweetener—used sparingly, of course—is pure dehydrated cane juice, which is completely unrefined, maintaining all of its original nutrients. The icing on the cake? Debbi mixes everything by hand, making her morsels the definition of small-batch artisanal.
The muffins come in four flavors: original, blueberry, chocolate chip and walnut. Seasonal flavors also pop up, like cran-orange and pumpkin in the fall. The Valentine’s Day strawberry-chocolate option was especially lovely, and (sneak peak!) get ready for “stuffed” muffins, which will envelope heavenly fillings like peanut butter-maple.
Banana Love Muffins is sweet in more than one way: it’s a business that practices tikkun olam (repairing the world). It partners with DC Greens and Common Good City Farm, two local, community-based organizations that provide education and assistance to DC residents who lack access to fresh food. The vegan muffins themselves are both earth-friendly and people-friendly.
Banana Love Muffins works out of Union Kitchen, an exciting, new venture in Northeast DC. Just a year old, Union Kitchen is a shared incubator space of food businesses. It provides a low-cost way for rising chefs and small businesses to gain access to full kitchens and a supportive community. It has become so popular that there are plans to open a second location by the end of this year.
Oh, and the name? Well, Debbi says, “Jewish Guilt Muffins” was already taken.
Interested in purchasing some banana love? Visit the website for more information, or click here for the ordering page. Banana Love Muffins are also available at several specialty food markets and through online retailers.
Top photo: Banana Love Muffins being packaged at Union Kitchen