Banana Bread

bananabread

I haven’t made banana bread for a long time. My favourite recipe makes delicious banana bread, but it uses a lot of white sugar, white flour, and vegetable oil…ingredients that I rarely, if ever, use anymore. In fact, I do not even have white sugar in my house, and, while I have all sorts of flours (quinoa, brown rice, coconut, garbanzo bean, etc.), I do not have any wheat flour. But I had some very ripe bananas sitting on my kitchen counter…

So, I took my recipe, made some adaptations, and hoped that the end result would be palatable. I think it worked!

Here is the original recipe and the changes:

2 cups flour (I used a store-bought gluten-free flour mix)

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup raw honey)

1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted)

2 large eggs

3 medium ripe bananas, peeled and mashed

3 tbsp milk

3/4 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a loaf pan. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set it aside.

2. Beat the sugar and oil until light and fluffy. (It never really got fluffy using the honey and coconut oil.) Beat the eggs in one at a time. Add the bananas. Beat thoroughly.

3. Gently stir in flour mixture, stirring only enough to moisten the dry ingredients and blend them in. Gently stir in milk and vanilla. (You could add nuts or chocolate chips at this point, if desired. 3/4 cup) Pour batter into pan and bake for one hour. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Remove from pan.

Cranberry Almond Loaf

DSC_0075

Here is another recipe from Elana’s Pantry. I did not have any dried apricots on hand, so I omitted them from my version. My sesame seeds were a mixture of white and black, but I don’t think that made a difference. The recipe was simple to make, and I am pleased with the overall texture and durability of the bread. I thought I had pressed the almonds into the top of the loaf, but most of them fell off in the process of removing the loaf from the pan.

The first slice was good, though a bit bland. I can imagine it being quite delicious with a bit of jam. The bread is dense and satisfying despite its small size.

Wheat-free Baking?

I was in a baking mood today, but I am trying to avoid wheat once again. Thankfully, I have some options open to me, since my cupboards now include alternative flours.

One of my creations today was white chocolate macadamia cookies. Sam loves that type of cookie, but I seldom ever make them. I don’t know that he has tried this version yet, and he may not actually like it since they don’t taste or look exactly like the ones he might find at Subway or Tim Hortons or anywhere else! For one thing, I took a regular white chocolate macadamia cookie recipe and made substitutions based on what I had available and what I was willing to use.

I no longer have white sugar, white flour, or shortening in my house. The recipe required all three. While I do still have whole-wheat flour on hand, I can’t use it if I want to be able to eat the cookies. So, I used a combination of quinoa flour and buckwheat flour, which is actually not a grain or wheat. I used organic, natural brown sugar and organic evaporated cane juice for the sugars. For the shortening and butter, I used coconut oil.

The cookies aren’t bad; they will definitely be eaten, although Sam may be a tough sell. However, they did not spread and flatten, but maybe that is my fault. The cookies are good enough for Kane and I to eat. The ultimate taste tester will be Sam.

The other recipe I tried today was for banana bread. I found the recipe at Elana’s Pantry. I will admit to being highly skeptical about this recipe, because I have a banana bread recipe which I absolutely love, full of regular flour, sugar, and oil. My old recipe is the best banana bread I have ever tasted. How could a wheat-free recipe ever compare?

Again, I fiddled with the recipe to suit the ingredients I had on hand. Instead of vegan palm oil shortening, I used coconut oil. I ran out of almond flour, so I used half almond flour and half buckwheat flour.

I have to admit that for a recipe made without wheat, with a healthy fat, and with only 1 tablespoon of honey as a sweetener, I was definitely impressed! I was blown away. I did not expect to actually like this banana bread, but I can now say that it is a keeper and will be made again and again. It isn’t quite the same as my original recipe, but it is pretty darn close!

Strawberry Lemonade Muffins

I received this recipe via email at the end of May, and I was instantly enticed by the combination of strawberries and lemon. This is another Damy Health recipe, so it is clean, gluten-free, grain-free, and delicious. Unlike many of their recipes, the ingredients are ‘normal’, which means I don’t have to wonder how to answer the dreaded ingredient questions from one of my kids. There are no chickpeas or sweet potato in these muffins!

I used 100% pure maple syrup instead of agave or raw honey, which is my first time using maple syrup as a sweetener. While I do use agave and raw honey most of the time, my decision today was based mainly on laziness. I don’t think I had quite enough agave, not without squeezing the bottle for half an hour, and my honey has become quite crystalized and I didn’t want to wait long enough to liquify it.

This was also the first time I used my mini muffin tin. I expect that the 24 mini muffins will not last very long at all, but I doubt that 12 regular sized muffins would last any longer than the minis. I do like having the option though, and I think I will use the mini muffin tin more often, especially with recipes from Damy Health. I do not follow Damy’s programs and there are no calorie counts for their recipes, but I do want to keep an eye on my portions.

Crackers

The original recipe for these crackers is called Multi “Grain” Crackers, but there are actually no grains in them at all! I made a couple of changes to the original recipe, because I did not have hemp seeds or macadamia nuts on hand and did not feel like making a trip to the bulk food store today. Instead of the macadamia nuts, I used cashews. I added a bit more flax meal and sesame seeds to make up for the lack of hemp seeds. Palm oil shortening was another ingredient that I did not have, so I used coconut oil. I used a combination of white and black sesame seeds, just because I could.

When it comes to rolling out dough, I am rather pathetic, so I did not bother trying to make perfectly uniform sized and shaped crackers. I thought I had rolled the dough as thin as I could, but I think that they could have been a bit thinner. They took longer to cook than the stated 20-25 minutes, although this could be due to the stone I baked them on or not being super thin or a combination of both.

Kane and I both like the crackers. They are different but tasty, and I think a thinner product would be even better. They are super easy to make, and I think further adaptations could be made quite simply. Some Parmesan cheese? Herbs?

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

It’s been a long day, an unproductive day spent mostly at the ball park. Tomorrow will be more of the same, and that frustrates me just a little because tomorrow is Mother’s Day. For the past 13 years, we have spent Mother’s Day at the ball park.

My house is a disaster, because it’s been one of those weeks, and no one (as in me) has been home long enough to do any cleaning since Thursday morning. I had been anticipating only one baseball game tomorrow, but now a practice has been thrown in the mix. My frustration mounts.

Around 7:30 this evening, there was a knock on the door. My darling husband had invited a baseball coach to drop by for a beer. “Really?” I say, before he gets up to answer the door. My mind is thinking of the disaster that is everywhere: the piles of clean laundry and paperwork spread across the dining table; the kitchen counters full of dirty dishes and things not yet put away; backpacks and shoes and junk dropped here and there and everywhere; the dirty bathroom sink. I inwardly cringe and stew, while outwardly I smile.

About an hour later I was feeling snarky. I finished loading the dishwasher. I folded yet another load of laundry. Restless, frustrated energy was driving me to do something, anything that would be productive. Why not bake?

I just pulled two dozen clean pumpkin chocolate chip muffins from the oven. This was my third time making these muffins, and I played with the recipe a bit this time. Instead of using whole wheat flour, I used equal parts buckwheat flour and quinoa flour, which made these muffins gluten-free. I used Sucanat instead of the Demerara or turbinado sugar. They taste just as good.

Banana Blueberry Bread

There are aspects to eating clean that are challenging. I can admit that I enjoy the taste of baked goods and junk food and Diet Coke. I can eat clean for breakfast and dinner, but I am not yet able to eat clean 100% of the time. It’s a process, as I keep telling myself. I will get there. Right now I need to keep taking those small steps, because they keep me moving in the right direction!

One thing that is proving helpful for me is to surround myself with clean eating knowledge and recipes, whether through tangible cookbooks or virtual ones on clean eating websites or Facebook pages. Seeing what qualifies as clean helps me to better know how to adapt other recipes or eating habits in order to clean them up. And then, I also find recipes that give me the best of both worlds: clean eating and delicious treats!

Today I came across a recipe for Banana Blueberry Bread on a clean eating Facebook page. As I have been slowly adding clean and healthier staples to my cupboards, I had everything, or nearly everything, I needed to make the recipe this afternoon. The only things I lacked were buttermilk (blech!) and spelt flour. Since I never buy buttermilk, I simply substituted skim milk with some added white vinegar. Instead of the spelt flour I used quinoa flour.

Casey is home all this week, since it is exam week and he has no Provincial exams to write this semester. He could not wait to try the loaf, not caring at all whether or not the loaf had time to cool first. He ate it, and I haven’t heard any complaints! I liked it, too.