Banana, Date, and Almond Bread | Gluten Free

Moist, darkly sweet banana bread studded with chewy, sweet dates and toasted almonds. This is a classic banana bread recipe with a healthy twist.Banana, Date, and Almond Bread | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life | www.thoroughlynourishedlife.comMost Sunday mornings I am up and about just after sunrise. I start the day with a run, usually a smoothie or a yoghurt and fruit bowl, and some time alone with a book as the day begins. But some Sundays, my body just craves a later, slower start. This past Sunday I ignored my alarm clock, rose at about 9 and pottered around in my pyjamas eating banana bread and lazing around reading until lunchtime. Slower Sunday mornings are important for nourishing the soul.Banana, Date, and Almond Bread | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life | www.thoroughlynourishedlife.comI cut this banana bread into thick, decadent slices, and gobbled two of them down with cups of sweet green tea. I have made quite a few loaves of banana bread in my time, but I think this might be one of my best – and it’s mostly healthy too! There is no added fat in this loaf, instead it is kept moist by Greek yoghurt, eggs, and almond milk. Most of the sweetness in this loaf comes from the natural sugars in the banana, and rich, dark, local honey. I love the way honey and banana are natural partners in baked goods, and in this bread they mingle to create a sweetness similar to the dates that stud each slice. Honey and banana are joined by their good friend brown sugar, which increases the moistness of the banana bread. No fat? No problem in this flavoursome bread!Banana, Date, and Almond Bread | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life | www.thoroughlynourishedlife.comI used a combination of my favourite wholemeal gluten free flours to create this loaf: buckwheat, brown rice, white rice, and sorghum flour. These flours are high in fibre, iron, and rich in antioxidants and in combination they create the perfect moist crumb. Each bite of this banana bread is moist and decadent, and between mouthfuls of sweet cinnamon and banana flavoured dough, there are bits of crunchy toasted almonds and chewy dried dates. This is a classic banana bread with a healthy twist, and lots of add-ins to keep things interesting.

I loved each bite of this banana bread, and it was hard not to eat the whole loaf in one sitting! Luckily I’ve stashed most of it in the freezer for my next lazy Sunday morning, or my next farmer’s market breakfast.Banana, Date, and Almond Bread | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life | www.thoroughlynourishedlife.com

Banana, Date, and Almond Bread

Gluten Free | Serves 8 | Leftovers can be frozen, well-wrapped, for up to two months

Ingredients

  • 2 large ripe bananas (~1 1/4 cups mashed)
  • 6 tablespoons (75mL) Greek yoghurt
  • 1/4 cup honey (local is best)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (or your choice of milk)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 55 grams brown rice flour
  • 55 grams white rice flour + 1 teaspoon extra
  • 55 grams buckwheat flour
  • 55 grams sorghum flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup toasted almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line a 9 x 5 inch loaf tin with baking paper.
  2. Mash your bananas in a large mixing bowl. Add the Greek yoghurt, honey, brown sugar, vanilla essence, almond milk, and eggs. Whisk until very well combined.
  3. In a separate medium mixing bowl whisk together brown rice flour, white rice flour, buckwheat flour, sorghum flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.
  5. In the empty dry ingredients bowl mix together toasted almonds, chopped dates, and extra 1 teaspoon white rice flour until dates and almonds are coated. This will stop the mix-ins from sinking to the bottom.
  6. Add dates and almonds to the batter and mix until distributed.
  7. Pour batter into prepared loaf tin and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out with only a few moist crumbs clinging to it.
  8. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then turn out and cool completely before slicing thickly and serving.

Banana, Date, and Almond Bread | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life | www.thoroughlynourishedlife.com

Orange Hazelnut Quick Bread | Gluten Free

My new favourite quick bread recipe. Each bite is earthly sweet with hazelnut meal, brightened with winter sunshine captured in home grown oranges, and fluffy, light, and tender as can be. Orange Hazelnut Quick Bread  | Gluten Free |Thoroughly Nourished LifeSaturday morning in Toowoomba dawned cold and bright. Chris and I snuggled in a cloud of blankets and squishy pillows, still lulled by glasses of Jameson and slices of cheesy pizza the night before. When we tiptoed down the hallway we were instantly sighted by Tilly (the energetic black staffy owned by Chris’s sister Rosie, and her boyfriend Jordan) who shot towards us like a bullet and gifted us with a flurry of puppy kisses. There’s no greeting like a puppy greeting. Warm mugs of sweet English breakfast tea in hand we stood out in the fresh morning air and looked out over the fields behind their house. The mist of the morning clearing under the warm steady strength of a winter sun. Warm from the inside out with a cool breeze on our face. It was a moment too good to ruin with Instagram. The world was at peace.Orange Hazelnut Quick Bread  | Gluten Free |Thoroughly Nourished LifeBefore we left for Brisbane that day Jordan harvested oranges and lemons from his flourishing citrus trees and even a dusky green head of broccoli. Bounty from family gardens is a special gift. Imperfect globes, nubbly, and all manner of shapes. They are garden perfect and sweet.

Sunday morning in Brisbane dawned cold and bright too. While Chris snuggled in I set out for a walk along the bay. I tipped my face up to the sun and let the sea breeze carry me all the way home. All the way home to my warm little kitchen with the windows open to the ocean and the sun-warmed porch and chair. Home to grate orange zest and rub it into sugar to help it release precious aromatic oils, to beat together eggs, yoghurt, and milk. Pour into a bowl with hazelnut meal and wholemeal flours. Spread into a pan, baked while I read in the porch chair curled tightly into the story of Werner and Marie-Laure. The bread rises and bakes through, and steams when I cut the first slice, which I eat standing in the kitchen, smelling oranges and feeling the world, my little world, totally at peace.Orange Hazelnut Quick Bread  | Gluten Free |Thoroughly Nourished LifeI love making gluten free quick breads. They are so easy and the flavour options are endless. They make great weekend breakfasts, or weekday lunch box treats. With few ingredients and a simple method, quick breads are a great place to start your gluten free baking journey. My Orange Hazelnut Quick Bread is based on, you guessed it, hazelnut meal, and the hazelnut flavour is further enhanced with a touch of Frangelico. You can leave out this hazelnut liqueur if you would like. Just replace it with a tablespoon of orange juice instead.  Orange zest is our second major flavour. The secret to bright orange flavour? Rub the orange zest into the sugar to help release the essential oils! Like many of my quick bread recipes yoghurt keeps this bread light and airy, but moist, with a slight tang. Greek yoghurt is a major player in successful gluten free baking as it replaces some of the protein (usually provided by gluten) that is important for structure in baked goods.

This moist and airy gluten free quick bread is best on the day it is made, or the next day. It is also delightful sliced, toasted and spread with butter. And, if you have some, this bread would be brought to heavenly heights with a swipe of Nutella…Orange Hazelnut Quick Bread  | Gluten Free |Thoroughly Nourished Life

Orange Hazelnut Quick Bread

Gluten Free | Makes 8-10 slices | Will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for up to three days | Freeze well-wrapped for up to two months

Ingredients

  • 100 grams brown rice flour
  • 80 grams white rice flour
  • 100 grams hazelnut meal
  • 60 grams buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • Zest 2 oranges
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup Greek/natural yoghurt
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons rice bran oil (or other flavourless vegetable oil)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 tablespoon Frangelico (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). Butter and line a 9 x 5 inch loaf tin. Set aside until required.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together brown rice flour, white rice flour, hazelnut meal, buckwheat flour, salt, and baking powder.
  3. In a separate medium mixing bowl rub orange zest into caster sugar until combined. This helps release the oils from the orange skin and enhances flavour.
  4. Add milk, yoghurt, eggs, rice bran oil, vanilla essence, and Frangelico (if using). Whisk until smooth.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  6. Pour batter into prepared tin and smooth top slightly.
  7. Place in oven and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  8. Remove loaf from oven and allow to cool in tin for 10 minutes before removing and allowing to cool on a rack before slicing.

Orange Hazelnut Quick Bread  | Gluten Free |Thoroughly Nourished Life

Capsicum, Corn, and Zucchini Savoury Bread

Today I bring you a different take on my love of quick breads – a gluten free, veggie-sprinkled, savoury summer loaf that provides the perfect base for building open sandwiches, or dunking into bowls of chili.

Capsicum, Corn, Zucchini Savoury Bread | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeAs you all know, I love a salad for lunch, but sometimes I crave something more solid, more carbohydrate heavy. That’s where this bread comes in. Packed with a confetti of onion, zucchini, corn and capsicum and heavy with spices this savoury loaf takes summer lunching to the next level.

My Mum has always been a fan of open sandwiches (she does come from the land of the famous smørrebrød after all) but as a little kid I couldn’t understand the appeal – I wanted two slices of white bread, butter, and vegemite. Or my Dad’s buttery curried eggs. As an adult though I understand the sophistication of an open sandwich. The appeal of a thicker, more flavoursome bread that holds its own weight in the sandwich situation.

Capsicum, Corn, Zucchini Savoury Bread | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

In addition to a colourful mix of summer vegetables, this loaf is spiced up with paprika, cumin, coriander seed, and dried thyme. A sprinkle of grated sharp cheddar lends a final savoury boost. This bread is denser than your sandwich bread, but still fluffy, and it makes an open sandwich into a meal fit for a queen (or king).

I can imagine taking this to a picnic and laying out a range of options for guests to create their own open sandwiches. I topped mine with sliced creamy avocado and cherry tomatoes, but the options are limitless. A slice of cheese and some ham (for the omnivorous amongst us), avocado and melted cheese, or perhaps hummus and sundried tomatoes. Or you can just eat it plain, or toasted, with a decadent spread of butter. Just how my Mama taught me.

Capsicum, Corn, Zucchini Savoury Bread | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Capsicum, Corn, and Zucchini Savoury Bread

Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Makes one 9×5 inch loaf – about 10-12 slices

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup finely diced capsicum
  • 1/2 brown onion, finely diced
  • 60 grams brown rice flour
  • 60 grams white rice flour
  • 60 grams almond meal
  • 60 grams sorghum flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon smoky paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar (reserve 2 tablespoons for sprinkling)
  • 1/2 finely diced zucchini
  • 1/2 cup corn (canned, frozen, or fresh off the cob)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line a 9×5 inch loaf tin with baking paper.
  2. In a small frying pan heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Fry capsicum and onion gently until the onion is translucent. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. In a large mixing bowl whisk together brown rice, white rice, almond meal, sorghum flour, salt, pepper, baking powder, baking soda, spices and thyme.
  4. In a medium bowl whisk together buttermilk, remaining olive oil, and eggs until smooth.
  5. Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined.
  6. Using a wooden spoon mix in cooled capsicum and onion, cheddar, zucchini, and corn.
  7. Pour batter into prepared loaf tin and sprinkle reserved cheddar over the top.
  8. Place in oven and cook for 60-75 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. If your loaf is browning too quickly you might wish to cover the top with aluminium foil.
  9. Once cooked all the way through, remove from oven, take out of pan and allow to cool completely before slicing.

Capsicum, Corn, Zucchini Savoury Bread | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Tell me dear reader, what are your favourite toppings for open sandwiches? 

Raspberry and Coconut Loaf (gluten free)

Chris and I are going away later this week. We are not travelling far, nor for very long, but we are taking a break and getting out of town. We need some time away from our respective offices, ringing phones, and schedules. Some time just to walk on the beach, lie about with a book, and snooze in the midday sunshine. We are lucky enough to be able to go up to the Sunshine Coast and spend a few days there in a midwinter recharge before we come back and finish off our holidays with a few days of stay-cation.

Usually when I have a few days of holiday I set myself lofty goals to achieve, and I end up stressing myself out when I don’t achieve them all. This time I am setting myself only one goal: take each day as it comes and treat each one as a gift. I am going for low stress, high relaxation reward and maximum time in the winter sunshine.

Raspberry and Coconut Loaf | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

I baked this loaf last Friday night while I was home alone rattling around in the kitchen listening to podcasts. Jess and I enjoyed thick slices with our warm beverages on Saturday morning at the markets and the rest of the loaf is tightly wrapped and waiting in the freezer for slow, lazy holiday breakfasts where I have time to linger with a book and a whole pot of tea to myself. I might even pack a slice or two to nibble when I get back from a morning beach walk. It feels like a holiday bread: coconut and fruit always remind me of waving palm trees and cool waves lapping against the sand.

Raspberry and Coconut Loaf | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

The coconut in this cake is subtle but layered. Coconut milk, coconut essence, coconut flour, and toasted shredded coconut are all featured and the creamy sweetness is paired with slightly tart raspberries in a breakfast bread that is not too sweet. The crumb is fluffy from the presence of the coconut milk and coconut flour, the top of the bread is browned and sweet like all good crusts should be. Each bite is filled with strands of toasted coconut that lend a little crunch. It pairs perfectly with a cappuccino, or a pot of Irish breakfast tea. This is a quickly made quick bread too. I whisked the ingredients together in about 15 minutes and the largest amount of time was taken up by the baking, which the oven took care of while I put my feet up and started a new book.

Raspberry and Coconut Loaf | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

A few notes before baking: this loaf is gluten free, so that everyone in my house (especially me) can enjoy a slice. If you do not require it to be gluten free you can always use 280 grams (about two cups) of plain flour in place of the brown rice flour, white rice flour, and almond meal. I would not suggest replacing the coconut flour as it is important to the texture and flour of the loaf. Coconut flour is becoming easier to find now too. You can buy it from health food stores, and recently I discovered two different brands in my local supermarket. If you are using frozen raspberries do not thaw them before adding them to the mixture. When thawed they are very fragile and break up easily, which will discolour your batter. You can buy pre-toasted coconut strands in the supermarket, but I save my money and toast my own. Simply spread out onto a cookie sheet and toast in the oven as it preheats. Shake every minute or two to ensure the coconut colours evenly. Toast until most strands are changed from white to a light tan. Remove from oven and allow to cool until required. Now, I think you’re ready to get into the baking!

Raspberry and Coconut Loaf | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Raspberry and Coconut Loaf

Gluten Free | Makes 8-10 slices | Will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for up to three days | Freeze well-wrapped for up to two months

Ingredients

  • 100 grams brown rice flour + 1 tablespoon extra
  • 80 grams white rice flour
  • 100 grams almond meal
  • 60 grams coconut flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk (not coconut cream)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rice bran oil (or other flavourless vegetable oil)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 teaspoon coconut essence
  • 2/3 cup toasted shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups raspberries fresh or frozen (not thawed)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). Butter and line a 9 x 5 inch loaf tin. Set aside until required.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together brown rice flour, white rice flour, almond meal, coconut flour, salt, and baking powder.
  3. Reserve 1 tablespoon of coconut to top the bread and whisk the remainder through the dry ingredients.
  4. In a separate medium mixing bowl whisk together milk, coconut milk, eggs, caster sugar, rice bran oil, vanilla essence, and coconut essence. Whisk until well combined.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  6. In a small bowl combine raspberries and extra tablespoon of brown rice flour. Shake until all berries are covered. This will stop them from sinking in the batter.
  7. Gently stir berries into batter. Take care not to break them up too much.
  8. Pour batter into prepared tin and smooth top slightly. Sprinkle reserved coconut across top.
  9. Place in oven and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  10. Remove loaf from oven and allow to cool in tin for 10 minutes before removing and allowing to cool on a rack before slicing.

Raspberry and Coconut Loaf | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Loaf (gluten free)

I think I’ve found my new favourite quick bread recipe, and today I am going to share it with you. This loaf is the answer to cold winter mornings at the markets where chilled fingers wrap around mugs of frothy coffee seeking warmth and the petals on the flowers stand in bright contrast to the gray and black jackets of the people milling around the florist stall.

Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Loaf | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

When you bake a loaf like this your home fills with the scent of heavy winter spices and honey. When you slice it open a puff of steam escapes and carries with it the sweet smell of brown sugar and molten chocolate chips. After all, when you can have chocolate for breakfast, you should. The sweet potato is an earthly sweet background that was just made to mingle with spices and honey and makes this loaf so moist that you just want to gobble down slice after slice with a hot cup of coffee.

Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Loaf | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

This loaf is the best thing to make for a lazy weekend breakfast, or on a Sunday when baking is an excuse to stay close to the warm oven. The slices are perfect for wrapping up and adding to lunch boxes throughout the week, or for a quick breakfast option too. Jess and I enjoyed slices of this on our regular Saturday morning market trip. It went spectacularly well with a sweet cappuccino.

Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Loaf | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Loaf

Gluten free | Makes 1 9×5 inch loaf | Serves 8-10 |

Note: To make this loaf even easier, I often wrap a sweet potato in aluminium foil and bake it in the oven until the centre is tender all the way through. Then let it cool down and keep it in the refrigerator for up to four days to be used in baking, or for a quick dinner option (just add hummus). You can of course, steam the sweet potato on the day of baking, just remember to let it cool completely before pureeing well and incorporating into the mixture.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sweet potato, about 300-400g (to make 3/4 cup puree)
  • 80 grams buckwheat flour
  • 80 grams white rice flour
  • 80 grams sorghum flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/3 cup (packed) brown sugar
  • 50 grams butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 tablespoons dark honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 3/4 cup milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). Wrap sweet potato in foil and bake in oven for 45 minutes or until the middle is soft. Insert a metal skewer to test. Remove sweet potato from oven, unwrap, slice down the middle and allow to cool. You can do this process in advance, see note above.
  2. Once sweet potato is cool, peel off skin, and puree well in the bowl of a small food processor or using a stick blender. Measure out 3/4 cup of sweet potato puree.
  3. Line a 9x 5 inch baking tin with baking paper and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl whisk together buckwheat flour, white rice flour, sorghum flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and ginger until well combined.
  5. In a separate bowl whisk together brown sugar, melted and cooled butter, honey, eggs, milk, vanilla essence, and sweet potato puree.
  6. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  7. Add chocolate chips and stir until distributed.
  8. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 60-75 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cooking time will vary depending on your oven. I recommend checking it every 15 minutes or so.
  9. Once cooked, remove from oven. Take cake out of pan and allow to cool completely before slicing.
  10. Cake will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Slices can be wrapped well and frozen for up to 2 months.

Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Loaf | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Lemon Blueberry Loaf (gluten free)

How do you communicate best? I know I come across best in writing. When I have time to modulate my words and really think about the tone of the message that I am sending, time to pick and choose words carefully, and craft the text so that I come across in the way that I intended.

When I am really upset or vehement about something I can come across as sharp an impatient in my speech. But when I can write to someone I can explain how I feel about the topic, or say everything I need to without the chance for interruption or appearing annoyed.

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I was listening to a podcast today about women and crying in the workplace. One fact presented was that men are more sensitive to the tone of voice, whereas women are more sensitive to the content of the message. So I guess Thumper’s mama should really have said ‘If you don’t have something nice or someway to say it nicely, then don’t say anything at all.’ Food for thought surely.

One way to communicate that will definitely not be misunderstood is baked goods. You really can’t make cake or cookies into an angry message. I know, I’ve tried. When you come into the room with a loaf of warm, blueberry studded gluten free lemon bread your personality is bathed in an aura of kindness and all things good and wholesome. And, a slice or two comes in handy if you accidentally used the wrong tone when trying to communicate to someone special that you would really, really like to plant a dwarf lemon tree in the garden at your new house. Just as an example of course…

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This loaf is very lemony, which pairs well with the sweet blueberries scattered throughout the batter. I love lemon flavoured sweets and find that the sharp acidity cuts well through the sugar to make this a breakfast treat that isn’t too cloyingly sweet. Remember to leave your blueberries in the freezer until the last minute as this will stop them from staining the batter and turning your lemon bread into a lilac loaf.

(See what we could do with the lemons from that hypothetical tree…)

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Lemon Blueberry Loaf

Gluten free | Makes one 9 x 5 inch loaf | Serves 8-10 | Can be cut, wrapped and stored in freezer for 2 months

Ingredients:

  • 50 grams buckwheat flour + 1 tablespoon, extra
  • 50 grams brown rice flour
  • 50 grams white rice flour
  • 80 grams almond meal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup low fat milk
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 50 grams butter melted, cooled
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups frozen blueberries, still frozen

 Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line the bottom and sides of a 9 x 5-inch loaf tin with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl weigh in the buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, white rice flour and almond meal. Measure in the salt, baking powder, and caster sugar and then whisk all the ingredients together until well incorporated.
  3. In a separate bowl combine milk, eggs, butter, and vanilla bean paste.
  4. Add milk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until nearly all combined.
  5. Toss blueberries in extra tablespoon of buckwheat flour. Add blueberries and mix gently to incorporate so that you don’t mash up the blueberries and stain the batter.
  6. Pour batter into the prepared tin and slide into the oven.
  7. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean then remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
  8. Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then remove from the tin and cool to room temperature before slicing.

IMG_2810

Breakfast Bread

Now that I live out of home (yes, I am a late bloomer) I look forward to sleepovers at my parent’s house (still home in my mind) all the more. I look forward to snuggling in my bed, which is temporarily housed there until we move into our new home. On Saturday mornings, especially in late autumn, I look forward to rugging up in a jumper or two and heading out to the farmer’s markets with Mum and Jess for breakfast and lady talk. We have been market regulars for nearly five years now and we are firmly settled into our routine: Mum gets the newspapers and finds a table, Jess gets her giant bucket of tea from the Dutch pancake people, and I line up for Mum’s and my cappuccinos. Then we all congregate around the table Mum has found and share stories of our week, problem solve any issues that are pending in our lives, and eat something to fortify us before we forage. Mum is a free spirit and wanders off to try something new for breakfast every week while Jess and I tend to eat something that I have baked and brought from home. On the menu this week is this soft banana, peanut butter and mixed fruit enhanced Breakfast Bread.

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I baked this loaf late last night and wrapped it up safely this morning for its journey home. It feels like a breakfast bread, peanut butter, bananas, and dried fruit; the weight and heft of the slices call for chilled morning air and cold hands wrapped around a warm beverage. Quick breads take very well to being made gluten free and this one is moist and soft. No worry about dry crumbly bread here with bananas, eggs, peanut butter and almond meal in the mix. The overripe mashed bananas are the backbone of the sweetness in this loaf, with a touch more being added by the brown sugar. There’s the goodness of crunchy peanut butter in there and if you toast a slice of this and slather some extra peanut butter on there you might just find nirvana. I love a good dried fruit mix especially in dense sweet breakfast bread like this, but if you don’t (like Mum) you can leave it out, or swap it for the same amount of chocolate chips. This bread, if made on a Friday night or Saturday morning will see you all the way through a late autumn weekend: with tea and butter for breakfast, a sneaky slice for morning tea, and then another to tide you over until dinner. A healthy snack for kids, who especially like the version with chocolate chips, or so I hear.

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Breakfast Bread

Gluten Free. Makes one 9 x 5 inch loaf. Around 8-10 slices.

Ingredients

  • 100 grams brown rice flour
  • 70 grams almond meal
  • 70 grams sorghum flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 large very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 2/3 cup mixed dried fruit

 Method

  1.  Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line a 9 x 5 inch baking tin with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together brown rice flour, almond meal, sorghum flour, salt, and baking powder.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together milk, bananas, eggs, olive oil, vanilla extract, and brown sugar. Make sure there are no lumps of brown sugar hiding in your mix.
  4. Add peanut butter to the egg mixture and beat until smooth.
  5. Make a well in the centre of your dry ingredients and add wet ingredients. Stir until just combined.
  6. Gently stir in mixed dried fruit until distributed. Do not over mix.
  7. Spoon batter into prepared pan and smooth the top.
  8. Place in preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. If it starts to brown too quickly cover the top with some aluminium foil.
  9. The bread is done when a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  10. Remove from oven. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove and allow to cool on a rack.

Bread will keep in an airtight container for up to three days or sliced, wrapped and frozen for up to two months.

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A Little Piece of Calm and Zucchini, Hazelnut, and Cranberry Bread (Gluten free)

There is much to be done. The freight train of the year is gathering speed and the scenery is flashing by. Why, it’s already the middle of March don’t you know. My little desk is gathering stacks of paper – lectures and journals to read, books to fill with assignment-worthy words, receipts and bills to be filed, story ideas to be tucked safely away until I have a moment to flesh them out more. Every day I wonder which bags I need to pack into the back of my car, which role am I acting in today? Am I the dietitian/runner/university student (Monday and Tuesday)? Am I the runner/social-media intern/writing race co-ordinator (Wednesday)? Am I the dietitian/runner (Thursday)?

I am lucky to fill my life with so many wonderful things; I am lucky that every day I get to play the role of daughter, sister, girlfriend, and pet owner. Sometimes it helps to have a moment to sit back and look at the scenery that surrounds me. Just a few minutes in the garden in the late afternoon, when the sun is slanting through the palm trees and dancing in patterns on the grass and the breeze ruffles my hair away from my face just right, there is a deep sense of privilege in affording myself a moment like that. I breathe in and all sense of stress falls away. My shoulders straighten and a smile blooms unbidden on my face. I sit on the paving stones with my feet in the grass that has become overgrown after our record rain the past few weeks. I nibble on a slice of cake and sip at my tea and just listen to the faint sounds of life gathering in the houses surrounding ours. The suburb is coming home, settling in for the afternoon, anticipating the weekend and all its pleasures. The time comes for me to return to my desk, but before I leave the garden I tuck away a little piece of the calm that has washed over me for when I need it later in the week.

 

Fresh out of the oven.

Fresh out of the oven.

Zucchini, Hazelnut, and Cranberry Bread (Gluten Free, Naturally Sweetened)

If you are gluten-able then you can use 150 grams of wholemeal plain flour in place of the buckwheat and rice flours. Don’t be tempted to replace the hazelnut meal with flour or you will miss out on the nutty, dense texture in the crumb of the cake. Also, ensure that you use real maple syrup, not maple flavoured syrup; one is a product of nature the other is a product of a lab. If you can’t get your hands on maple syrup you can use honey or agave nectar, or my fellow Aussies can use golden syrup instead (this may yield a sweeter result).

 Ingredients:

  • 100 grams buckwheat flour
  • 50 grams brown rice flour
  • 80 grams hazelnut meal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup low fat milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons rice bran oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1/2 cup cranberries
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line the bottom and sides of a 9 x 5-inch loaf tin with baking paper.
  2. Prepare your zucchini by coarsely grating it using a box grater. Bundle zucchini shreds into a few paper towels and squeeze over the kitchen sink until you have removed most of the liquid. This will ensure that your dough doesn’t get sloppy. Set aside for later.
  3. In a large bowl weigh in the buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, and hazelnut meal. Measure in the salt, baking powder, and mixed spice and then whisk all the ingredients together until well incorporated.
  4. In a separate bowl combine maple syrup, milk, eggs, rice bran oil, and vanilla bean paste.
  5. Add milk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until nearly all combined. Add zucchini, cranberries, and hazelnuts to the batter and mix until fully incorporated.
  6. Pour batter into the prepared tin and slide into the oven.
  7. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean then remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
  8. Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then remove from the tin and cool to room temperature before slicing.

 

Sliced and ready to take to the garden.

Sliced and ready to take to the garden.

The last step in this recipe isn’t really necessary though. You can allow the cake to cool in the tin for the amount of time it takes to boil the jug for a cup of green tea, then remove it from the tin, slice yourself off a heal of bread from one end, and then pop out to the garden and enjoy the fading light of the sun. I am also planning to have a slice for breakfast in the morning. It should go perfectly well with my Saturday morning skinny cap.

Sit a while and notice the small things that make you smile.

Sit a while and notice the small things that make you smile.

So my dear readers, do you feel like you play many different roles from day to day? I know I get dizzy just thinking about how many hats my Mum wears every day (and how many more she must have worn when we were little).

Where do you take yourself for a moment of peace and gratitude (and perhaps a slice of cake)?

Promise Me This: Gluten-free Coconut Banana Bread

In two weeks she will be gone. Out of the home we have shared for nearly twenty-three years and into her own nest. As I watched them erect the floor, the walls, the roof, and then fill the inside with bathrooms, kitchen, laundry, and every tiny finishing touch, I started to learn how to let go, how to not hold on so tightly. You see, I have held on so tightly, and sometimes when you hold someone that close, they only yearn to be free even more. So I will watch you go, and help you make your new house into the cosy castle you deserve.

Just promise me this. Promise that you will still think of me when you are craving Peanut m&ms. Promise me you won’t watch Steel Magnolias with anyone else. Promise me that you will still come over at Christmas time and help me put up the tree (I can’t do those lights on my own). Promise me that when you have ‘nothing to wear’ you will drive over and steal something from my wardrobe, or text me ‘help’. Promise me that you won’t be too grown-up and responsible to bust out a Beyonce impersonation. Promise me that we will still find time to make cookies together and eat most of the dough before it makes the oven. Promise me that you’ll save a little space in your life, and a little time in your week, just for me.

Little sis and me in the kitchen

Little sis and me in the kitchen

Gluten-free Coconut Banana Bread

Jess and I take slices of this to the markets every Saturday morning for breakfast. Once the cake has cooled, slice into portions and wrap each piece tightly in plastic wrap, then freeze and remove the night before you would like to eat it for breakfast.

Ingredients:

  • 80 grams coconut flour
  • 50 grams almond meal
  • 100 grams brown rice flour
  • 100 grams caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup dessicated coconut
  • 2 large bananas
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 250mL milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut essence
  • 2 tablespoons rice bran oil (or other flavourless vegetable oil)

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C and line a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with baking paper.
  2. In a small bowl mash bananas with lemon juice and set aside. This will soften the bananas and stop them from browning as well.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together coconut flour, almond meal, brown rice flour, caster sugar, salt, baking soda, and dessicated coconut.
  4. In a separate bowl beat together eggs, milk, vanilla, coconut essence, and oil. Add bananas and mix to combine.
  5. Add banana and egg mixture to dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  6. Spoon mixture into lined loaf pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Check loaf every 10 minutes; you may need to cover the top with aluminium foil if it is browning too quickly.
  7. Once cooked remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin then turn out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before slicing.
Gluten- free coconut banana bread

Gluten- free coconut banana bread

I suppose I am a little anxious about the change and what it means for my sister and I. No one can live in Neverland forever and I have been lucky to have her so close for so long. If, as the Danish proverb says, ‘the road to a friend’s house is never long’, then the road to my sister’s home will never truly be more than a heartbeat away.

me dear reader, how do you cope with someone you love moving away? Are you better at dealing with change than I am?

Chocolate Chunk and Toasted Almond Banana Bread

I am not very good at meeting new people, in fact, I am not really a great verbal communicator at all before you get the chance to know me. I’m just a little on the awkward side of shy. When I was younger I didn’t know how to deal with the way my pulse would thrum against my throat when I met someone for the first time; upon greeting a stranger the flush of blush would begin at my feet and race like wildfire up to my hairline.

I guess some of the awkwardness fell away after I returned from my first overseas trip and realised that I too had stories to tell. When I started working as a wellness  research counsellor I had to learn to build rapport with strangers – quickly.

The road to a friend's house is never long ~ Danish Proverb

The road to a friend’s house is never long ~ Danish Proverb

And then I stumbled across the best way to make strangers into new friends, the golden secret that will earn you hugs from those who are only hand-shakers, and invitations to return to your host’s table as soon as you can.

Baking.

The scent of butter and sugar in their highest forms is like a friendship potion; when the scent of vanilla, almond, and chocolate surrounds you, you carry your own intimacy-evoking elixir. Suddenly, my nerves disappeared whenever I carried something to the table that I had created to share with the gathered company.

To bring something, to provide a small part of the bounty of the table, or just to surprise people with a treat, is to share some small part of yourself. I know that when I turn up with a brown paper package or a plastic container, the barriers that I used to put up are somehow broken down, and I can ease people into my personality, show a little of what I am like, without having to say a word.

The scent of this banana bread will draw people close to you. Share a thick slice of this toasted almond and chocolate chunk laden loaf with a stranger and you won’t stay strangers for long. Let the thickly-woven crumb make you brave enough to share who you really are, and wash away those nerves of first-time meetings.

Tell me, dear readers, do you get nervous when you meet new people? Any tips for me?

Loaves of banana bread ready to go.

Loaves of banana bread ready to go.

Chocolate Chunk and Toasted Almond Banana Bread

Makes two 8 x 5- inch loaf pans: one to keep, one to share.

Ingredients:

  • 350 grams plain flour
  • 150 grams brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 250 grams light ricotta cheese (you could use yoghurt if you don’t have ricotta)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 mashed bananas
  • 100 grams butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup almonds

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line two 8×5 inch loaf pans with baking paper. Spread almonds out on an unlined cookie sheet and toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Once they are done chop roughly and set aside to cool.
  2. Weigh plain flour, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon into a large bowl and whisk to aerate and combine.
  3. In a separate bowl beat together ricotta, eggs, mashed bananas, butter, and vanilla. Mix until very well combined.
  4. Add banana mixture to flour mix and stir until almost completely combined. Then add chocolate chips and half a cup of the chopped toasted almonds and stir until distributed throughout batter.
  5. Divide mixture between pans and scatter the tops with the remaining almonds.
  6. Bake loaves in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. You may need to cover the cakes with aluminium foil towards the end of baking if the tops are browning too quickly.
  7. Remove loaves from oven and cool for 10 minutes in the tins. Then, turn them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
All packaged up and ready to go.

All packaged up and ready to go.