Gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar free, but you wouldn’t know it.
To be honest, I don’t particularly like the word ‘healthy’ when it comes to describing food. I mean, how do you quantify healthiness? It’s not like at an arbitrary number of calories or grams of today’s ultimate taboo, sugar, you can say – yup, that’s healthy, or nope, that’s not. For me, it’s really about context: the context of each individual and their needs, activity levels and the remainder of their normal diet as well as the nutritional value behind those kilojoules. In my opinion, sweet treats are a perfectly healthy part of a balanced life.
As you may remember from a few weeks back, I just finished a month with no sugar (with the exception of fruit). The original aim was to remind myself that a sweet treat isn’t necessary every day, with every cup of coffee or following every meal, and to gain more of an appreciation for the sugar I do consume. Reading Ottolenghi’s In Defence of Sugar this week cemented my thoughts on the whole thing. Last week’s tender pistachio cake shared with friends, fragrant with lemon and topped with ripe, tart summer plums; the fudgy, brownie-like chocolate rye cookie dotted with sea salt flakes savoured alongside my morning coffee; or the award winning fruit studded hot cross bun, fresh from the oven and brushed with a sticky sweet glaze – those moments are worth much more to me than dietary restrictions. The upshot is that I’m back to the original mantra – everything in moderation. Including moderation. Always aiming for a balance of getting moving every day, mainly fruit and vegetables, not much processed food with undecipherable ingredient lists, eating a little more mindfully rather than in front of a screen, and yes, the occasional treat.
The other tactic I’ve found useful in the past few weeks, both for my wallet and my waistline, is limiting myself to a once-per-week grocery shop. It won’t work for every situation, but I haven’t managed to do a second supermarket visit (usually hungry at the end of a long day at university) without coming away with multiple unnecessary items. It’s an “I see I want” kind of thing. It also forces me to be more creative towards the end of the week with scraps of herbs, odds and ends of vegetables, those eggs in the fridge and a can of chickpeas in the cupboard – which is oddly satisfying for my recipe-minded brain and reduces waste. On that note, check out these waste-less recipes by Anna Jones in the Guardian this week – I need to start using my carrot tops and the brine from the capers jar!
These are not new concepts or an overnight solutions – but together, it’s a start.
In that vein, this healthier banana, passionfruit & coconut loaf is a little more nutrient dense than usual, without compromising on flavour. I see little point in reducing the sugar and fat in a recipe only to come up with something you’re not really going to enjoy, but I would honestly eat this any day. It’s also perfect for those who are coeliac, gluten-intolerant, dairy-free or simply trying to cut back on the level of refined sugar in their diet. It’s a one bowl, stir and bake kind of deal too – 10 or 15 minutes tops from start until your loaf tin hits the oven. The passsionfruit and coconut give it a tangy, tropical vibe, taking your banana bread to the next level. You can’t taste the coconut oil at all, and honey gives it a burnished caramel edge when cooked. Enjoy!!
Also please note: the colour of the loaf’s interior is much browner than shown in the pictures, as I adapted the recipe further after the original photos. The exterior is practically the same.
PS: does anyone have the answer to why the banana on top often turns a little pink in the oven? Something to do with the potassium, maybe? Would love to know!
- If your bananas are not super black and spotty, place on a baking tray in the oven at 200°C, whole (skin on, unpeeled) for 10-15minutes or until blackened and just starting to ooze juice. Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then peel and mash. Continue with the recipe as normal
- The colour of the loaf’s interior is much browner than shown in the pictures, as I adapted the recipe further after the original photos. The exterior is practically the same.
- To make it gluten-free, swap the flour for buckwheat flour or your favourite gluten-free blend.
- I’m also keen to try this using spelt flour rather than plain – let me know if you give this a go!
- ⅓ cup coconut oil, melted
- ½ cup honey or maple syrup
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (2 large) + 1 extra banana to decorate
- ¼ cup passionfruit pulp
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup plain flour (or buckwheat flour to make gluten-free)
- ¾ cup almond meal
- ¾ cup dessicated coconut
- 2 teaspoons coconut sugar for sprinkling
- If your bananas aren’t very spotty/black, follow instructions above in Cook’s Notes for extra ripening.
- Preheat oven to 160°C and grease and line a loaf tin with baking paper.
- Beat together the coconut oil and honey until combined. Add both eggs and whisk to combine. Add mashed bananas and passionfruit pulp - whisk gently, making sure to leave clumps of banana - it doesn’t need to be smooth.
- Whisk through the baking soda, vanilla and salt.
- Fold in the flour, almond meal and dessicated coconut until just combined.
- Pour into greased loaf tin and top with the extra halved banana. Sprinkle the extra banana with coconut sugar.
- Bake 45-55 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out just clean.