Tag Archives: Pudding

Learning to swim…oh, and eating banana bread

Look I know I’m supposed the be the parent here, but in all likelihood, I’m really just seven years old on the inside. Give me a pool and I want to do nothing more than to dive-bomb in and create a splash large enough the engulf all the sun loungers. Not this time though. This time I’m the responsible parent taking Ellis for his first swim. Yep that’s right. Just ten short weeks after (very slowly) entering the world he’s ready for his first swim.

Now swimming with a 10-week old is a new experience on me. Plus judging by the look of the five other nervous blokes in the pool it wasn’t their first time. It all started well enough with a few small splashes, followed by a few gentle bounces. Easy right? Our confidence was brimming and there were even a few ‘we’ve got this handled’ nods across the pool between the Dads…but then, they moved the lesson up a level and introduced dunking the infants.

Now dunking your most prized procession under the watchful eye of his mother, is pretty much up there when it comes to high pressure moments. It goes like this…You quietly say his name, followed by ‘ready!’ and under the water he goes for a very brief second. Easy right? I’m father #3 and have to watch two other Dads pull it off, whilst I nervously bob up and down wondering how much baby wee is actually in this pool.

We’re up. I can see Dad #6 bobbing around nervously in the corner of my eye giving me new found confidence. “Ellis…..ready” and under he goes popping out of the water like a frog that’s been picked up by his back. This is simultaneously followed by whoops and cheers around the pool. We did it and he’s loving the water. We should celebrate right? Maybe some back slapping? A bit more whooping? Nope. The instructor likes to celebrate by getting all six Dads to sing twinkle twinkle little star. So off we bounce whilst murmuring the nursery rhyme out the corner of our mouths.

Around this time I simultaneously start to crave banana bread whilst singing along, feeling vaguely annoyed we don’t have any (mostly because I haven’t made it before) and pressingly, given the context of this blog, why I don’t have a go to banana bread recipe.  So here it is. My go to banana bread recipe.

Chocolate & Banana Loaf Recipe 
125g unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla paste
2 tsp baking powder
4 very ripe mashed bananas
100g dark chocolate
50g walnut pieces

Mashed Banana

Banana Bread Mixture

Grease a 900g loaf tin and line with baking paper and pre-heat your oven to 180°C. With an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar, Add the vanilla extract and eggs until combined. Sift the flour and baking powder into mixture and continue to mix. Once combined, add the mashed bananas. Once it’s all combined break up the chocolate and stir in with the walnut pieces.

Pour into the lined loaf tin and level out with a spatula. Bake in the middle of the oven for 50 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Leave the cake in the tin to cool. Best eaten with a mug of tea after a long swim.

Banana Bread Recipe

Sweet Potato Brownies

Twelve months ago, I attempted to shift my treat addiction into the sugar and dairy free category. I concluded that the best Paleo pudding was a sliced apple or square of dark chocolate. Pretty dull huh?  I had yet to discover anything as amazing as these sweet potato brownies. Then out of the blue we got pregnant. Yay! Suddenly, we were able to justify brownies with extra ice cream, lemon tart and any other goodies. Wait! What was that you said about butter and sugar? Okay, sure, I had a little bit. I mean, I’ve got to support Anna during the pregnancy right? Well, now the little fella is here I’m bang out of excuses. Time to get back on the sugar and dairy free bandwagon.

Sweet Potato Brownie Recipe

Now I know I’m not the first food blogger to post about these magical Ella Woodward sweet potato brownies. But when you want to unlock sweetness’s hold on richness, oh friends, please do make these brownie wonders. Those eagle eyed readers may have noticed I’ve slightly adapted the recipe. Firstly, because sourcing Medjool dates probably calls for a camel trek in Morocco. They’re pretty hard to source, so I’ve substituted them for Tunisian dates. You can get them in most health food shops. Secondly, I like my brownies to have a little bit of texture. The sweet potato makes these very creamy and adding the walnuts gives them that little bit of extra brownie like texture.

Pitted Dates
Dates for Sweet Potato Brownie recipe

Makes 10 – 12 brownies
600g sweet potatoes
16 Tunisian dates
80g ground almonds
100g buckwheat flour
20g walnut pieces
4 tbsp raw cacao powder
3 tbsp maple syrup

Sweet Potato Brownie Mix
Sweet Potato Brownie Mix

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into chunks. Place in a glass bowl with a tablespoon of water, cover with clingfilm and microwave for 12 minutes. Until they’re soft and fall apart.

Add the cooked sweet potato and pitted dates to a food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy. Pre-mix the remaining ingredients and stir into the creamy mixture. Stir well.

Place the mixture into a lined baking dish and cook for about 20 – 30 minutes, until you can pierce the brownie mix with a fork and it comes out dry. Remove the tray and leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Sweet Potato Brownies
Sweet Potato Brownies

Gingerella Poached Pears

I’ve come to think that discovering the moment for a perfectly ripe pear is something of a dark art. Miss the magic few minutes they’re just right and you’ll be wondering if it’s okay to spit or enjoy the apple like crunch. That was until the lovely people at Karma Cola got me onto a recipe that poaches them in ‘Gingerella’ ginger ale until they’re just perfect. It’s an Allegra recipe for Fairtrade week and ensures you’ll never have a crunchy pear again

Poached PearsPoached Pears Recipe
3 pears – I prefer the shorter fatter ones for this, but just make sure they’re not too ripe as they’ll fall apart in the cooking
1 vanilla pod or a couple of drops of vanilla essence
1 piece star anise
A couple of nuggets stem ginger, sliced
1 bottle Faitrade Gingerella ginger ale
1 lime
60g chocolate – milk or dark…your call

Peel the pears, then quarter and core. Choose a pan that can hold all the pear quarters in a single layer, then pour in the Gingerella. As it comes up to a simmer chuck in the vanilla, star anise, stem ginger and ginger wine if you’re heading that way.

Lay in the pear pieces and simmer then gently, uncovered for 12-20 mins (it’s a wide window as pears can be anything from rock hard so juicilicious) until a knife meets just a little resistance when you stick it in. Once ready, lift them out with a slotted spoon onto kitchen roll and leave to cool.

Sliced Ginger Gingerella

By this point the poaching liquor should be pretty reduced – you want to end up with about 4 tablespoons, so simmer it down or add a bit of hot water accordingly. Meanwhile melt the chocolate in whatever way you fancy (microwave or in a bowl over steaming water).

Use a fork to spear one of the cooled pear pieces at a time and dip the fat end of it into the chocolate, taking care not to make a big old mess, and leave to set a little then do the same with the rest.

Cut the lime into 6 wedges – squeeze two into the pan to finish off the sauce (have a quick taste as you warm it through) and have one for each of the plates.

Poached Pears and Chocolate

Paleo BlueBerry, Coconut & Banana Cookies

As I roll into my annual “must lose the spare tyre” post festive detox, I’m on the hunt for an eating plan I can, erm…get my teeth into. Forget that 5:1 diet, that’s just starvation, but ‘hello’ to Paleo.  Eat as much as you like. Avoid the carbs, dairy and basically anything that comes in a box with microwave instructions. This seems achievable right? Now I won’t lie. I’ve had a crack at this before and the results, well in my mind anyway, seemed pretty good. So I’m back on it and ready to smash out 4-weeks of nothing by grass fed meat and vegetables. What could go wrong.

Prep seems to be the key to avoiding temptation here. So armed with enough lunch boxes to host my own Tupperware party and I’m ready to go. Chicken salad lunch. Check. Almonds to graze on. Check. 11am bit of cake for my cup of tea……erm, nope.

Cookie Mix

So here’s my challenge. Create a cake that tastes like a cake, but it’s actually gluten and wheat free. So here it is.

Guilt Gluten Free Blueberry, Banana and Coconut Cakes
170g coconut flour
3 organic eggs
1tsp baking soda
1tsp ground cinnamon
2 mashed ripe bananas
125g fresh blueberries
1tbsp olive oil
60g maple syrup
Pinch of salt

Blueberries

I’ve learnt two things about coconut flour. It’s expensive and absorbs any amount of moisture like a sponge. So I needed a way to make it go a little further, plus add enough moisture to prevent it tasting like I’d just eaten some sand. To get around this I used mashed banana and packed it full of healthy blueberries. It worked a treat and it’s pretty simple.

Heat your oven up to 200°C and combine all the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl combine the banana, eggs, olive oil and maple syrup with a food mixer. Bit-by-bit add all your dry ingredients until combined. Gently fold in your blueberries.

IMG_1733

Baked Cakes

Don’t worry if the batter appears fairly sticky. That’s just the coconut flour, but if your want more moisture in the batter supplement some coconut flour for ground almonds. Pour the batter into a lined baking tray and smooth flat.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Leave to cool before cutting into cake slices. Either cut into bars, or for this post I used a cookie cutter and made them into handy little handheld cakes.

Paleo Cakes