Thursday, July 21, 2011

Baked: Homey Grain-Free Banana Bread

Back before I started keeping this blog, this is the way I kept track of recipes I wanted to remember:
I still like this tactile way of keeping up with cooking, like the way I like hand-written, poetic cookbooks, and don't really find a use for overly scientific, technical cooking directions; cooking is a wholly sensory experience. Writing it down gets even more of your body involved. I also like the cute pictures I always drew to illustrate. ;-)

When I smelled that unmistakable pungent fragrance of very ripe bananas from the bowl on the counter, I felt the rush of a longing: for old-fashioned, classic, comforting banana bread like I ate when I was a kid. I didn't want anything exotic or gourmet; just some moist banana bread with a generous layer of melty gooey cream cheese on top. Of course I would use nutrient-dense ingredients instead of the standard white flour and white sugar, but I wanted my rendition to be as reminiscent as possible to the one I ate on a sunny summer afternoon, spread out on the back porch of Mom's kitchen when I was a kid.
My taste for sweet is so sensitive these days that if you are used to eating Standard American sweetened foods, this might not do it for you. But for me and my family, it was perfect. Moist and just juicy enough, with a delicate texture when warm, and the twang of ripe banana-meets-nutmeg. The thing I also like about this wholesome version is that the egg and butter balance out the sweet-sweet banana so that you (and your children!) don't get the sugar spike and subsequent hangover of a usual sweet treat.

For bioavailability, I soaked the organic almonds overnight beforehand by covering with filtered water with a tablespoon of salt. Then I ground them in a few batches in the spice grinder. There were still some big chunks, but mostly a fine meal.

Homey Grain-Free Banana Bread
preheat oven to 350 and butter a breadloaf baking dish.

2 cups soaked but not toasted almond meal
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

3 pastured eggs from a farm you trust
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup Sucanat/Rapadura
3 overripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup butter, melted

Mix the first group of ingredients thoroughly. Beat the eggs and mix in the vanilla and Sucanat till combined. Then add the dry to the wet and mix. While stirring, pour the butter in till it's all incorporated. Bake until the center is firm. The outside will get very brown. Let sit for a few minutes before slicing and eat while still warm ~ or toasted ~ with a nice slab of cream cheese on top.

This blog entry is a participant in Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Toddler Favorites: Popsicles!

you can't see as well what she's eating in this photo, but I thought it was cute anyway.

It is HOT here in Sacramento! The only way to get any nourishment into a tiny tummy (or a grown-up one, for that matter!) is to make sure it's something COLD!

The popsicles I've been making are essentially a frozen smoothie. They are so easy, and ~ as always ~ nutrient-dense. A treat for the whole body that mom can feel good about, even if she ends up serving the whole batch in one day. ;-)
a banana popsicle that is not crayola yellow?!
my daughter still loves it.

This is the second batch that I have made with a very jury-rigged popsicle "mold" and handles. I don't want to buy plastic, and I haven't felt the absolute necessity to invest in the stainless steel version. Laugh at its ghetto-fabulousness as I have (no, really ~ go ahead; I'll wait), but: it works for now.

I just:
-pour the blended smoothie into a parchment paper-lined baking dish
-place spoons in line for approximate sizing of pops
-place carefully (and as levelly as possible) in the freezer
-curse internally when all of the spoons shift as the mixture sloshes around and I have to re-place them, then
-wait a few hours.
-Take the whole thing out when properly frozen
-run the pan under warm water for a moment to get the paper away from the dish, and then
-slice with a big (non-oniony!) knife. (Run knife under warm water for extra help.)
-I then put the whole thing back in the freezer (after we help ourselves to a few) for later.

Here are two variations on the idea that have had rave results from child and adult alike.
Melon Monkey Popsicle
1/2 can whole fat coconut milk
3/4 an average-size ripe melon ~ I used Galia
1/2 a ripe banana
2 pastured egg yolks (from a farm you trust)
a pinch of sea salt
2 tbsp melted coconut oil (at these temps, I didn't even have to put it on the stove; it was liquid in the jar!)

Blend all ingredients except coconut oil in the blender. Right before you're done, add the oil while the blender is on. Pour into the popsicle mold of your choosing and freeze to perfection!
Note: I used a 9x13 dish for this one, then decided to use a smaller, square "brownie" pan for the next batch. The second round were thicker, but also, I didn't have quite as much "popsicle batter" to begin with.

Strawberry Cream Popsicle
1/2 can whole fat coconut milk
1/2 cup whole raw milk (from a farm you trust)
1/2 a pint of juicy ripe strawberries
a pinch of sea salt
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
2 tbsp melted grassfed butter
a drizzle (maybe a tsp) of local raw honey
a few more juicy ripe strawberries, chopped small

Blend all ingredients through sea salt, then add the melted fats and honey while the blender's running. Pour the mixture into your desired popsicle mold, and then sprinkle the chopped strawberries around. Freeze to perfection. Devour after playing on a hot day!