Sunday, 27 January 2013

Paleo Banana Bread

Paleo Banana Bread

This beautiful recipe has been adapted from the amazing and talented Teresa Cutter who is also known as The Healthy Chef. Teresa was my first and still is one of my biggest inspirations when it comes to healthy, wholesome cooking. I was first introduced to her cooking the first day I met my wonderful boyfriend. He sent me off to work with a freshly baked Muesli Muffin made following a recipe of Teresa's. Since that day, I have gradually found my own feet through  reading the blogs and recipes of other healthy bakers, researching foods and ingredients and the way they work together, learning and loving the Paleo way of eating and experimenting (sometimes with failures) with my own ideas. The ingredients used in a lot of my cooking and baking are often less tried and tested than standard ingredients hence the need for experimentation. Luckily, almond meal subs into many cake recipes - and certainly banana bread recipes, almost as if standard processed flour was used. Personally I think that almond meal gives a nuttiness and moistness that flour does not.

This recipe has such a beautiful banana flavour and is somewhere in between the texture of a banana bread and a banana cake. The lack of refined flour and sugar along with the inclusion of heart healthy fat (from the almond and macadamia nut oil) makes this bread not only delicious as a morning or afternoon tea treat but also provides our bodies with goodness that you certainly don't find in store bought banana breads which are generally loaded with sugar and refined grains/flours. Enjoy this bread knowing that you are doing yourself a load of good.

Original recipe can be found here. I reduced the honey and the oil and added the apple sauce.


4 medium sized bananas - preferably heading towards over-ripe (not too ripe).
3 eggs
1 tbs vanilla essence
30g honey
30g macadamia nut oil
2 tbs apple sauce
Juice from half a lime
tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp baking soda
2 cups almond meal
30g chia seeds
Handful of walnuts (optional)


Preheat oven to 160 degrees C

Spray loaf pan with spray olive oil or spread oil of choice with scrunched up baking paper.
Combine 3 bananas, eggs, vanilla, oil and apple sauce in a bowl.
Add baking powder and lime juice - combine
Mix in almond meal and chia seeds.
Pour mixture into prepared loaf tin, halve the remaining banana and place on top as pictured if desired.
I have also topped the bread with some walnuts which I broke into slightly smaller pieces just with hands - these are optional and can also be added to the mixture if you wish to have a little extra crunch!

Bake for 45 min - 1 hour depending on oven and basically until the top has browned and a skewer comes out clean. This bread is fairly moist when cooked and especially when warm so it is important to let it cool completely before removing from the pan.

....If you are impatient like me, you could quite well lose the bottom of the loaf :|.

If you would like a drier loaf, I would recommend covering the top with foil to avoid over browning and letting it cook for a further 10 minutes or so. I have not tried this though so tread carefully! The moistness of the above recipe and method scored rave reviews from all of my trusty testers : ).

Yum : ).

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Paleo Choc Chip Cookies

Paleo choc chip cookies

Wheeeooowww.. wasn't the success of these just one of those special moments where you realise (or have it reiterated) that food is amazing and that HEALTHY food can be the most amazing. Also realised in this moment was that someone is a genius and unfortunately, that someone is not me. Today I have to thank and recognise the skills of Gina who writes "Running to the Kitchen" for this perfect recipe.

I have a cookie loving boyfriend whose cookie infatuation is sometimes the motivation to eat food that is on the not-so-good-for-you list (we don't actually have a list) and regret it later. So one day.. I was on a mission to make cookies that satisfied three categories. 1. They would satisfy my growing love for the Paleo way of eating, 2. would be easy to make with easy to source ingredients and 3. would not taste "healthy" in the way that some healthy baked goods so clearly taste "healthy". I am always disappointed when my baked-goods loving boyfriend is only 'kind of pleased' with my experiments. He tries to pretend he loves them, but I see through it : ).

On this day, I went googling and found many recipes for paleo choc chip cookies.. some of which sounded great but were either too complicated for a rushed night after working all day and some that I just was not sure would satisfy my criteria for lacking healthy taste. Gina's recipe caught my eye not only because of the simplicity of the recipe but the long list of great reviews stating that "you would never suspect that they are healthy" and that "they couldn't help themselves but eat the whole batch straight out of the oven". Bingo.

So far I have made these three times and reduced the amount of coconut oil used each time which made for a crunchier outside and a chewier (less soft/squishy) inside. The original recipe is here and my very similar recipe is below. :)

Paleo Choc chip cookies
Makes 12-15, depending on size.

3 cups almond meal
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
6 tbs honey
6 tbs melted coconut oil
4 tsp vanilla essence
3 tbs almond milk
100g very dark chocolate (I used this one.)

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.
Combine the almond meal, baking soda and sea salt in one bowl - mix to combine.
Combine the honey, melted coconut oil, vanilla essence and almond milk in another bowl - stir well to combine (a fork should work fine!)
Mix wet and dry ingredients together.
Roughly chop dark chocolate into small-ish pieces. There are no strict rules with the size of the chocolate chunks but the dough holds together a little easier if the chunks are smaller.
Combine with the mixture.
Separate the mixture into about 15 small balls of dough - I used my hands to shape them to make them nice and smooth :). You will want to flatten them slightly as they do not spread out much when cooking.
Place dough on a baking tray lined with baking paper
Place in the oven for approximately 12-15 minutes or until golden.

They will be soft when first removed from the oven to be sure to let them cool a little before trying to move them. In saying that... if you do not care about maintaining their shape, they do taste delicious straight out of the oven : ).

Over the last few months since I have been an advocate of the Paleo Diet, my views have dramatically changed when it comes to my attitude toward counting calories. The Paleo way of eating has little regard for the Calorie/Kilojoule content of foods and rather focus' on the actual content of the foods and whether the foods we consume are "real". Many amazingly nutritious foods such as Avocado's, almonds, salmon and many others are high in energy (Calories/Kilojoules) and provide a much greater benefit to our bodies than something known to be low in energy such as low calorie/kilojoule jelly. Unfortunately it is the case that many people who are "dieting" and trying to lose weight, will gladly restrict higher energy foods such as the nurtitional powerhouses above and replace them with refined, processed, artificially sweetened and chemical laden foods without thinking twice.

Unfortunately, the notion that cutting calories from the diet is the best way to reduce our body fat percentage and to lose weight is very likely damaging our bodies. This idea is so wide spread however, through decades of emphasis on calorie restricted diets that many people miss out on consuming a wide range of nutrients for fear of high energy foods.

Despite this ^, some people still like to keep track of their energy intake, so as requested I have calculated the nutritional information for my Paleo Choc Chip Cookies.

Please note that while these cookies contain Saturated Fat, which is also often considered the enemy, Saturated Fat coming from coconut products (in this case, coconut oil) have a chemical structure that causes them to actually promote fat loss and discourage fat deposition.

Know that by eating these delicious cookies, you are consuming nothing but real food, created by nature.

Nutrition Information

Per Cookie - Large (If mixture yields 12)

Calories -              193cal
Kilojoules -           810.8kJ
Fat, Total -            14.5g
Fat, Saturated -     8.5g
Carbohydrates -    14.3g
Sugars -                12.2g
Protein -                2.5g
Sodium -               118mg

Per Cookie - Small (If mixture yields 15)

Calories -              154.5cal
Kilojoules -           648.7kJ
Fat, Total -            11.5g
Fat, Saturated -      6.8g
Carbohydrates -    11.4g
Sugars -                 9.7g
Protein -                2.02g
Sodium -               94.6mg