Updated: Feb 22, 2019
For years, I tried to avoid all things baking - doing it or eating it. I automatically equated 'baking', 'sugar', 'calories' and 'unhealthy'. I didn't participate in the family cake and tea on Sundays. Competition or no competition, it seeped into my brain until I'd just default to self denial. If I teetered too close to the brink of temptation, I'd catch it just in time. Because I didn't like to think or reveal that I had any failings, I'd immediately put up my shields of hostility and the classic 'I'm better than you because I'm healthier' attitude. I hated that I did that, but I still did it many times.
"None for me, thanks." Sometimes, this is justified. But if it's the odd time and home made? Live a little. It's really nice to be able to enjoy coffee and cake and relax. Or just to bake something! It's not all or nothing.
Mass made in a factory
If you see cakes and breads in plastic, keep walking. There's more in there than just the banana, carrot, dates or other delicious fruit that's in the name on the label. You're lucky if there's any of that fruit in it at all.
You'll often notice in the ingredients panel that the fruit is a 'puree' or 'concentrate'. Translation: the fruit base that's in the product is condensed or dehydrated into a smaller, fun size that can be transported and stored. It's prepared earlier - a lot earlier. That puree hasn't been a happy little banana for many months. And it's often sourced internationally and travels across the globe to come to a production line (sort of) near you. Add to that the processed and poor quality flours, sugars and oils that create the taste, mouth feel and 'bliss point' (it's a real thing) that triggers our brains to eat far more than just the single slice that's apparently one portion. And of course, you'll need chemicals designed to prolong its store life.
It's the perfect combination of delicious and profitable. And inflammatory. And indigestible. And nutrient poor. And addictive.
Made in your kitchen
If you make a banana bread at home, it's an entirely different thing to your body than the chemically enhanced, unnaturally bright bread that you'll find on the shelf. Does it still contain processed items? Yes. You'll need flour to make a delicious banana bread. And that's ok! But you can choose better ingredients. You can make a reasonable amount, and cut it into smaller squares. And you can even have fresh berries, Greek yoghurt and coconut flakes to accompany it. I've perfected this recipe so that it's sugar free, dairy free and gluten free. My body likes it, and it tastes far better than you'd think for the 'healthy' option! I'm not kidding - it's delicious and I've had lots of 'I can't believe it doesn't have sugar!' compliments on it. It's lighter too, and doesn't sit in your stomach or make you feel sluggish.
I'm a little spoiled because I have authentic maple syrup from Canada, French label and all. It's incredible.
Remember, you shouldn't base your diet around banana bread (or any processed breads). The best choice is the real thing - in this case, a banana. It's fresh, natural, an excellent source of potassium, vitamin C and manganese, and a burst of quick releasing sugars that your body can use for instant energy (if you need it!).
Banana coconut bread
You can have your cake and eat it too - it's delicious, and it's sugar, dairy and gluten free!
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 40 - 55 minutes
Difficulty: Fail proof
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup maple syrup (substitute: honey if preferred)
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup water
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon, ground
1/2 tsp nutmeg, grated
3/4 cup rice flour
3/4 cup coconut flour
Coconut flakes, to finish [Optional]
Loaf pan: for this recipe, I used a 24 cm L x 14 cm W x 8 cm H loaf pan.
Preheat the oven to 165 degrees Celsius.
Use a small amount of coconut oil to grease the pan.
In a large mixing bowl, use a whisk (or just a fork) to beat the oil and maple syrup together.
Add the eggs and beat to combine.
Add the mashed bananas and water and mix together. It's ok if it's a bit lumpy!
Add the baking soda, vanilla extract, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and mix to combine.
Use a spoon to stir in the flour until combined.
Pour the batter into your greased loaf pan.
Bake for 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. (It could take up to 55 minutes based on your oven. For me, 40 minutes is perfectly moist but cooked.)
Let the bread cool in the loaf pan for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack to continue to cool or a plate for slicing.
Keep for 2 - 3 days at room temperature. You can store it in the fridge for longer, but it will dry out.
A dollop of Greek yoghurt, fresh berries and coconut flakes!