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

Banana, Peanut Butter, and Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins | Gluten Free

Soft and sweet miniature banana, peanut butter, and chocolate chip muffins make the perfect afternoon snack. These tiny sweet treats are super simple to make, and healthy too!

Banana, Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip Muffins | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeMy afternoon pre-gym snacks have been a little lacklustre lately: carrot sticks, celery sticks, plain rice thins – not exactly the sort of power snack that inspires a powerful workout after riding a desk all day. The key to a successful afternoon snack I feel is a combination of a few elements: something slightly sweet (to get over that 3pm slump); something healthy (to support my health goals); and something light but still filling (to stop the tummy rumbles but not weigh me down).

Banana, Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip Muffins | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeThese adorable little bites contain all of my favourite pre-run nibbles: crunchy creamy peanut butter, sweet ripe bananas, and oh-so-nice milk chocolate chips. Yes, chocolate chips are a perfectly acceptable pre-run nibble on occasion. And when paired with protein and healthy fat packed peanut butter and complex carbohydrate containing banana in my mini muffins they are just the cherry on-top of a healthy little nibble. You can leave them out of course, at your own risk….

Banana, Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip Muffins | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeMy Banana, Peanut Butter, and Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins are super quick to make too. I whipped these up on a busy Tuesday night so that I would have running fuel for the rest of the week. They also make a great quick and easy breakfast. Simpy grab a few mini muffins and some yoghurt or fruit and you have a great on-the-go breakfast. If you are making these for kids who go to a no-nut policy school you can simply substitute the peanut butter for sunflower seed butter, or use two extra tablespoons of yoghurt instead.

Get out that mixing bowl and spoon tonight – you are only twenty minutes away from a sweet healthy treat for your lunchbox tomorrow!

Banana, Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip Muffins | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Banana, Peanut Butter, and Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

Gluten Free | Makes about 24 mini muffins | Best eaten within two days | Freeze leftovers tightly wrapped in plastic wrap for up to two months

Ingredients

  • 1 large banana, well mashed
  • 1/3 cup Greek yoghurt (or plain, natural yoghurt)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon rice bran oil (or other flavourless vegetable oil)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F) and spray a 24-hole mini muffin baking tin with baking oil.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl beat together mashed banana, yoghurt, egg, oil, vanilla extract, peanut butter, and brown sugar until smooth.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together sorghum flour, brown rice flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
  4. Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  5. Add chocolate chips (reserve a few for dotting onto the top if you’d like) and stir until distributed through batter.
  6. Divide batter between holes of mini muffin tin. Fill only to 2/3 of the way to avoid the muffins spilling over the top.
  7. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly touched.
  8. Cool for 5 minutes in the tin and then tip out to cool completely.

Banana, Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip Muffins | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Mocha Banana Muffins

I believe that if you can eat chocolate for breakfast you should, and if that chocolate happens to be healthy, paired with coffee, and baked into soft muffin-y form then all the better. If you have bananas languishing in your fruit bowl at the end of the week, some cocoa powder, and a few eggs, then you are well on your way to a healthy weekend breakfast treat.

Mocha Banana Muffins | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

This weekend I am going to the Good Food and Wine Show with my friend Casey, but beforehand we are meeting with my Mum, sister, and friend Bree at the Farmer’s Markets for breakfast and coffee – you know, to pre-fuel for our day of eating samples of myriad delicious things. So, healthy, gluten free, chocolate and banana muffins were my pick for a breakfast treat. Paired with a cappuccino from my favourite coffee shop we will be ready for a day of touring the halls of the convention centre in search of nibbles of cheese, and new gluten free products.

Mocha Banana Muffins | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

You are going to love these muffins. Quick to assemble and put in the oven, you can make them in the morning and serve them fresh to your family for breakfast, or you can mix them up while dinner is cooking and have fresh treats for the whole family’s lunch boxes. This recipe would make a great baking project to make with little ones who are just learning to bake. A few simple steps, some measuring (a great way to learn maths – it certainly helped me), and a delicious result! All you need to do is mash bananas (a great job for little kids too), mix in yoghurt and eggs, and add to some gluten free flour with a handful of chocolate chips (because, sometimes you need chocolate chips in your breakfast). Bake them for 20 minutes and voila! Mocha Banana Muffins for the whole family to enjoy.

Mocha Banana Muffins | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

 

Mocha Banana Muffins

Makes 12 muffins | Gluten Free | Leftovers will keep 3 days at room temperature in an airtight container or wrapped tightly frozen for up to 2 months

Note: if you don’t need these to be gluten free, use 210 grams (1 1/2 cups) plain flour in place of the hazelnut meal, sorghum flour, and white rice flour.

Ingredients

  • 2 large bananas, well mashed
  • 2/3 cup non-fat Greek yoghurt (or plain natural yoghurt)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoon rice bran oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee powder
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup hazelnut meal
  • 1/3 cup white rice flour
  • 2/3 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F) and line a 12-cup muffin pan with muffin papers.
  2. In a medium bowl mix together mashed bananas, yoghurt, eggs, oil, and vanilla essence until thick and smooth.
  3. Dissolve coffee powder in water and add to banana mixture along with brown sugar. Whisk until smooth.
  4. In a large bowl whisk together hazelnut meal, white rice flour, sorghum flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and whisk until just combined.
  6. Add chocolate chips and stir gently until well distributed.
  7. Divide batter evenly between muffin papers.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops bounce back when gently touched.
  9. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove from the pan and cool to room temperature.

Mocha Banana Muffins | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Banana and Coconut Baked Doughnuts (gluten free)

I had to get these doughnuts out of the house. After eating two on Sunday and another two on Monday, when I was reaching for my third (all before dinner mind you) I knew that I had a good recipe on my hands, but a problem where my health goals and skinny jeans were concerned. So, I packaged them up, called Dad, and told him that there would be a delivery for him tomorrow from me, care of Chris. (I love that he doesn’t mind playing delivery man during his lunch hour). My Dad sent me home with a car-washing care package on Saturday so it was only fair that I repaid him with doughnuts. That’s the way the payment system works in our house!

Banana and Coconut Baked Doughnuts | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

The reason I couldn’t stop myself after one doughnut? Firstly, these ones are kinda healthy (shh – don’t tell Dad): there isn’t too much sugar because the ripe bananas provide natural sweetness to the batter, and there are only two tablespoons of olive oil instead of butter. Secondly, banana and coconut is one of my favourite flavour combinations (see here for evidence): the banana and bold coconut partner perfectly in these soft little cakey rounds and the coconut glaze on top really seals the deal. Also, toasted coconut should be sprinkled on everything.

Banana and Coconut Baked Doughnuts | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

I love baked doughnuts. I love that they don’t require scary deep-frying instruments and all that oil that I would probably burn myself with, and I love that they can go from a wish to reality in about 30 minutes. These would make a wonderful lunch box treat, and you could probably get the kids to help you with the measuring, mashing, stirring, mixing and dunking. You should probably let them help with the eating too, I suppose.

Banana and Coconut Baked Doughnuts | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Banana Coconut Baked Doughnuts

Gluten Free | Makes 15-16 mini doughnuts | Will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days

Note: If you do not require these to be gluten free you can use 250 grams of plain flour in place of the first five ingredients. If you do this reduce the milk to ¼ cup.

Because coconut flour soaks up a lot of liquid you may need to use up to ¾ cup of milk in the recipe. You want a loose, muffin type mixture for your baked doughnuts. Add the smaller amount of milk first and if required add the extra ¼ cup.

Ingredients

For the doughnuts

  • 50 grams sorghum flour
  • 50 grams almond meal
  • 50 grams brown rice flour
  • 50 grams white rice flour
  • 50 grams coconut flour
  • 50 grams brown sugar
  • 50 grams caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup Greek/natural yoghurt
  • ½ – ¾ cup milk
  • ¾ cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 large bananas)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon coconut essence
  • ½ cup shredded coconut

For the glaze

  • 1 1/2- 2 cups icing sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut essence
  • 1/2 cup toasted coconut flakes

Method

  1.  Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) and oil 16 holes in two 12 hole mini doughnut pans. You could also use muffin tins if you do not have doughnut pans.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together sorghum flour, almond meal, brown rice flour, white rice flour, coconut flour, brown sugar, caster sugar, salt, and baking soda. Whisk well to ensure there are no lumps of sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together yoghurt, 1/2 cup milk, mashed banana, eggs, oil, vanilla extract and coconut essence.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and whisk together. The mixture should be similar to a muffin batter. If the batter is too thick add the extra 1/4 cup of milk. Stir in shredded coconut.
  5. Spoon batter into a large piping bag fitted with a wide-mouthed round tip and pipe into doughnut holes. This is much easier than spooning it in!
  6. Place pans in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly touched. Swap position of the trays halfway through baking time.
  7. Once cooked, remove from oven and allow to cool completely on a rack before glazing and decorating.
  8. To make the glaze: In a medium-sized bowl  whisk together 1 1/2 cups icing sugar, 2 tablespoons milk, and coconut essence. The consistency should be runny, but not watery, you want it similar to a custard consistency. Add extra icing sugar or milk as required to reach the right consistency. Place coconut flakes into a small bowl. Dip doughnuts into glaze first and then into toasted coconut. Place on a lined baking tray or cooling rack to dry.

Banana and Coconut Baked Doughnuts | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

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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New Old Fashioned Banana Smoothie

My sister and I have a tradition that we like to call ‘Fat Saturday’. It’s kind of like Fat Tuesday, but it happens every week rather than once a year. The premise is this: after eating nearly completely cleanly all week (hey, a girl needs ice cream after an interval run session, ok?), Saturdays are for relaxing a little and eating a greater quantity of ‘treat foods’ than we normally would through the week.

Banana Smoothie | Thoroughly Nourished Life

The trick to relaxing here, and not completely blowing out my balanced nourished life, is to getting back on track on Sunday morning with a delicious but healthy breakfast. It’s not about deprivation, or punishment, just a lighter form of nourishment. This week I was craving a banana smoothie. Something that tasted like the ice cream based ones that my Dad makes on a Sunday afternoon when the mood strikes, but in line with a skinnier start to a Sunday (oh that sounds catchy ‘Skinny Sunday’ after ‘Fat Saturday’ – what do you think Jess?).

This smoothie is thickened with a frozen banana, just like my other smoothies, only here the banana really is the star. After a quick blend with almond milk, honey, chia seeds and oats this New Old Fashioned Banana Smoothie is a power breakfast that won’t weigh you down, but gives you enough energy to power through a hard morning at work, or a hard Sunday morning shopping session. Precede the smoothie with a walk and follow it up with a fresh salad for lunch and a healthy dinner and your week will be off to a healthy start. Bonus: this smoothie is easy enough to make before you leave for work in the morning: simply dump, blend, pour into a container, and go! I have made mine the night before and it lasts well too.

Banana Smoothie | Thoroughly Nourished Life

New Old Fashioned Banana Smoothie

Wheat free. Makes One. 

I used Freedom Foods Quick Oats in this recipe. They are guaranteed wheat free, which works for my belly. If you are a coeliac, please consult your doctor for advice on whether oats are appropriate for you, or simply leave the oats out. If you do not require this smoothie to be gluten free, you can use traditional rolled oats in this recipe for the same flavour.

I keep a store of overripe bananas that have been sliced and frozen in my freezer so that I can make a smoothie whenever the mood strikes.

Ingredients

  • 1 large sliced frozen banana
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon oats (see headnote)
  • 1 teaspoon local honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 heaped tablespoon non-fat Greek yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup ice

Method

  1. Place all ingredients into blender.
  2. Pulse until smooth.
  3. Pour into a large chilled glass and enjoy your healthy breakfast.

Okay dear reader confess: do you have a ‘cheat day’? How do you get back on track after an indulgence? Any favourite treat foods? I’m addicted to peanut m&ms and freckle chocolates – once I open the packet I just can’t stop!

Coffee Banana Date Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

How do you say thank you? Are you a flowers or chocolates person?

Perhaps a nice note? Thank you notes are exciting and old fashioned and polite. No one ever seems to send them anymore. Note to myself: I am extremely guilty of the email thank you note. Next note to self: buy nice thank you notes for future requirements. And stamps.

Anyway, the way I am saying thank you to my workmates for their lovely ‘Get Well’ wishes, and the flowers and chocolates they sent to me is with a tray filled with Coffee Banana Date Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream.

Banana Cupcakes 1

I am also (virtually) sending a tray of these to each and every one of my online friends who messaged me over whichever social network we are connected by to say Get Well. You filled my heart with happiness and kept me company in the night hours. Thank you. I love you. Have a cupcake – actually, have two.

These banana cupcakes are made with leftover bananas that are delicately balanced on the edge of almost rotten. The flesh of the banana needs to be crumbled velvet so that when you peel them they practically mash themselves. If you use younger bananas they will not mash as nicely. Be patient with your bananas. Put them in a paper bag for a few days if you would like to speed up the process.

Banana Cupcake 2

The bananas are paired with melted, cooled butter, coffee, vanilla and dates and baked into a pound cake textured cupcake dotted with plumped-up dates. Then cooled completely and frosted with dark chocolate buttercream. Because thank yous should always be paired with chocolate buttercream.

Coffee Banana Date Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

 For the cupcakes:

  • 125 grams butter
  • 1 cup dates
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 360 grams plain flour
  • 150 grams brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large, very, very ripe bananas mashed (~1 ½ cups)
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ Greek/ natural yoghurt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence

 For the buttercream

  • 150 grams butter, softened
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 3-4 cups icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

To make the cupcakes:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line 2 12-hole muffin pans with cupcake papers.
  2. Place butter in a microwave-safe bowl and melt using short bursts of heat (around 10-15 seconds). Once melted, set aside to cool.
  3. Put dates in a small bowl with boiling water. Leave for 5 minutes, drain well, and then dice dates into small pieces. Spread out on a paper towel and leave to cool.
  4. In a large mixing bowl whisk together plain flour, brown sugar, salt, and baking powder.
  5. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together mashed bananas, milk, Greek yoghurt, and eggs.
  6. Add butter to mashed banana mixture and stir together well.
  7. Add mashed banana mixture to flour and mix until just combined. Do not over-mix. Traces of flour are okay.
  8. Add dates and stir to distribute.
  9. Divide batter between paper cups.
  10. Slide trays into oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, swap position of trays halfway through baking time.
  11. Test cupcakes by pressing lightly on the top. If they bounce back then the cupcakes are done.
  12. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting:

  1. Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Using a stand mixer or handheld mixer beat until light and fluffy. This usually takes around 5 minutes.
  2. Fit a piping bag with a star tip, fill bag with frosting and decorate cooled cupcakes. Alternately you can use a knife to spread the icing thickly on top.

Enjoy!

Banana Cupcakes 5

What are your plans for the weekend friends? Chris and I are lucky enough to be going to two dinner parties! That means double the dessert!

Are you a banana in baked goods person? Obviously from the copious number of banana bread recipes on this site you can tell that I am (get it from my Dad) but Chris isn’t a fan! Oh well, more for me!

Peach and Banana Smoothie

There are exciting things happening in my offline life at the moment. Well, maybe, hopefully, exciting things happening, and I can’t wait to share them with you when things are a little more official. Today though, I have an excitingly delicious recipe to share with you – and it’s super healthy too! During the week I rush out the door after a run and shower and eat my breakfast at work while answering the first emails of the day. It’s always the same routine – banana, almond milk, and gluten free cereal, or maybe banana and yoghurt. It’s not world shaking.

On the weekends, when I get a little more time for breakfast, I like to put some serious thought into what I start my eating day with. There is power in the first choice you make in the morning. Eating should never be a chore, but rather a well-considered thrice daily pleasure.

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This weekend I started contemplating Saturday’s breakfast on Friday night. I wanted something light, summery and fresh to celebrate the weekend’s beautiful weather and fill me up. I wanted something healthy and filling, but I was not willing to compromised taste and pleasure either. A smoothie was in order.

Summery peaches, and ever present bananas are mixed with fat-free yoghurt, honey and vanilla in a smoothie almost too thick to suck up through a straw. It’s rich in protein, calcium, and B Vitamins; low in fat, naturally gluten free and vegetarian. It’s also like eating ice cream for breakfast – ice cream that you don’t have to feel guilty about (not that I make a practice of feeling guilty about ice cream). The other exciting part about this smoothie is that it was super easy to make – watch out week day breakfasts you are about to get a makeover!

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Peach and Banana Smoothie (gluten free, healthy)

Serves 1 very hungry person, or 2 slightly less hungry people.

This makes a really large smoothie, so feel free to divide it among two people (or be greedy like me and glare at anyone who asks for a taste). You might also want to add a little more milk to make thin it out. I keep a few frozen bananas in my freezer at all times. When they reach the just overripe stage I peel, chop, bag and freeze them so they are ready for banana bread making or smoothies!

Ingredients

  • 1 medium banana (peeled, chopped and frozen)
  • 1 medium yellow flesh peach, chopped, pit discarded
  • 140g fat free plain Greek style yoghurt (I used Chobani)
  • ¼ cup low fat milk (you could use dairy, almond, or soy here) (increase to ½ cup for thinner consistency)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Method

  1. Place all ingredients into a blender.
  2. Blend on high until completely combined.
  3. If the smoothie is too thick add extra ¼ cup of milk and pulse to combine.
  4. Pour into a large glass, add straw, and enjoy!

Tell me dear reader, do your weekend breakfast choices differ from your weekday choices? Any favourite breakfast foods?

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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.