Healthy Snack Idea #3 Banana Loaf

Banana Loaf and Almond Buter

I watched a programme recently about what type of eater you are. You know, if you’re stressed, you dip your hand absent-mindlessly into the biscuit tin; if you’re angry, you chomp through an entire cake in one sitting; if you’re tired, you crave sweets and sugary snacks etc. I decided that I was all of them. But perhaps the worst culprit was the boredom eater. The clock ticks by and you think “Oh, I know…I’ll have a tea and a slice of cake and that’ll pass half an hour.” Or, if you’re sitting around at home, your mind starts to wander to the fridge and that chocolate bar you’ve been saving for a “special occasion”. Or the crisps that are left over from the last “special occasion” (otherwise known as it’s Friday night goddamit and I need something savoury to go with my wine!). Without even being remotely hungry, you can polish off huge amounts of empty calories if you aren’t careful.

Well, forearmed with the knowledge that I tend to eat more whilst on holiday – well, lounging around and reading/watching Game of Thrones is quite tiring and requires lots of snacks – I armed myself with some healthy snack recipes and have decided to share the banana bread one here with you. It has ground almonds, which help keep it soft and moist – no doubt also helped by the four mashed, ripe bananas. It isn’t cakey at all. There’s no white flour, or butter, or sugar to help give it that light airy lift that we expect from a cake, so the result is rather dense. I like to think of this as a ‘nutrient dense’ snack. But it is delicious, especially when topped with crunchy almond butter.

You’d also be amazed at just how little maple syrup is needed to add the sweetness, but again, the bananas certainly earn their money in this little loaf. The cinnamon also gives a slightly, spicy sweetness to the mix and is an excellent spice for digestion and anti-bacterial to boot.

I hope you enjoy it if you make it. I have a healthy dinner planned for tonight, so will hopefully have a chance to share that…oh and my next kitchen adventure is Sweet Potato Brownies. Fingers crossed!

Here’s my recipe:

4 ripe bananas, mashed

1 cup ground almonds

1.5 cup wholemeal flour

3 tbsp chia seeds (I used milled chia seeds here because I bought them and they don’t taste nice on porridge)

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 tbsp cinnamon

1 egg

1 tsp baking powder

Mash the bananas in a bowl, add the egg and beat gently. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Tip the bananas in to the flour mix and add the maple syrup. Mix until combined and pour – ok, spoon, into a greased loaf tin. I used olive oil to grease mine. Bake in the oven 200C/Gas mark 6 for 35-40 minutes. Until the top is nice and golden and a cocktail stick comes out clean.

When eating, spread with almond butter and enjoy!

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Healthy Snack Idea #2 Blueberry Muffins

Oats provide multiple nutritional benefits...as well as great texture.
Oats provide multiple nutritional benefits…as well as great texture.

I love blueberry muffins. Particularly the ones that you can buy from most chain coffee shops, where the deliciously soft muffin top blooms out over the edge of the paper case and begs to be gently peeled away from the fluffy goodness underneath: you have to eat the muffin top last, obviously. You can’t just dive in there and take a huge bite, muffin top and all. I also love how the blueberries have burst open in the oven and stained the creamy muffin, bringing delicious pops of flavour when you take a bite. What I don’t love is the butter, sugar and white flour that have gone into them. Not everyday anyway.

I had a go at making an updated ‘more healthy’ version that you can take to work and enjoy with a mid-morning cuppa without wracking yourself with guilt at caving in to something delicious. These muffins are perfect for the days when you feel like standing over the biscuit tin and mindlessly shovelling in digestives because your body is craving a quick fix and some much needed energy. It is so easy to cave to those sugar urges when you are tired and have worked tough hours. Instead of relying on a quick energy fix, the oats in these muffins serve their purpose of keeping you fuller for longer and providing some slow-release energy, as well as bringing a wonderful texture to the mix. I found that, along with the banana, the blueberries brought a sufficient sweetness, thus reducing the need for lots of sugar. They also bring their antioxidant benefits to the party. Fluffing up the egg whites with a whisk makes these muffins light and airy; you could almost be forgiven for thinking that you are tucking in to the most calorific treat. Surely only butter gives cakes that light edge? Apparently not.

Here’s the recipe – they do freeze well, so like my other muffins, make a couple of batches at the weekend and you have a few weeks worth of snacks ready to go.

  • 75g wholemeal flour
  • 200g rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup honey, or maple syrup
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 3 tbsp light olive oil
  • 250ml milk, you could substitute non-dairy if required and I used semi-skimmed
  • 125g blueberries

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, oats, cinnamon, baking powder and salt until well-combined.

Make a well in the middle and add the mashed bananas, egg yolks, milk and oil. Mix together gently with a wooden spoon until combined. Do be careful not to over mix.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until you have soft peaks – I recommend hand whisking for an extra workout(!). Gently fold the egg whites into the muffin mix, with your blueberries and fold until everything is mixed through evenly.

They take about 25 minutes in a preheated oven (200C/Gas 6). Wait until the tops are golden and a wooden cocktail stick comes out clean.

Enjoy!

Healthy Snack Ideas #1

I believe the jury is still out on whether snacking between meals is actually beneficial for weight loss but there are times when you just need to stave off the hunger demons in-between meals. There’s nothing worse than feeling a little peckish and being faced with sugar-laden flapjacks masquerading as the ‘healthy option’, or the office biscuit tin, brimming with fatty, buttery biscuits or worse: the chocolate bar. Oh the guilt when you give in and satiate your starvation with unhealthy, nutritionally-decrepit foods! You might as well just have takeaway tonight and a fry-up tomorrow for breakfast: those are the thoughts that soon swim into your head as soon as you have banquished hunger pangs with bad foods.

I have found an answer. Not the answer but an answer. The holy grail of healthy but satisfying snacks destined to fuel the engine for a few more hours until your next meal. The banana muffin. This is not a banana muffin as we know it with butter and refined sugar and white flour. This is that banana muffin’s slightly healthier cousin.

These have gone down to roaring applause at school – ok not quite but they were well-received- and were even enjoyed by my cake-loving partner. Of course, it’s not like a delicate slice of Victoria sponge with afternoon tea (fresh leaves not bagged), but this is a snack you could enjoy everyday without being consumed with food guilt.

Here goes:

3 large ripe bananas (lovely burst of natural sugar and easy to digest)

1/4 cup of honey or maple syrup or agave syrup

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 and 3/4 cup of wholemeal flour

1/2 cup light olive oil

1 tbsp milk

1 large egg beaten

Mash the bananas until smooth and relatively lump-free. Mix in the beaten egg. In a separate bowl, lightly mix the flour and bicarb and baking powder and add the banana-egg mixture. To this, add the olive oil, milk and honey and mix all ingredients together. Do be careful not to over mix.

Bake in the oven Gas Mark 5 or 175C for approximately 25 minutes – to be honest, I always just check with a toothpick – if it comes out clean when inserted in to the centre of a muffin, then you’re good to go.

This is a very forgiving recipe. I have mixed in dark chocolate chips when needing to knock chocolate cravings on the head and also added a tbsp of chia and/or mixed seeds to the recipe for extra nutritional benefits. You could always experiment with blueberries, raspberries or other fruit, dried or fresh. Please feel free to leave comments about your cooking endeavours on my blog.

The top of the muffin on my image looks a little darker than it did in real-life but hey-ho, I love a good crunchy muffin top.

Hot cup of tea and warm banana muffin...the perfect afternoon snack
Hot cup of tea and warm banana muffin…the perfect afternoon snack