I’m a big believer in everything in moderation, even if I don’t always live by my own principles. At the moment I’m struggling with over indulgence. Too much good eating accompanied by far too many drinks. You can’t beat good food and wine with good company. The key is knowing when to stop, or at the least not doing it every single night, but stopping when I know I should is something I’m still working on. So I’m back on the metaphorical wagon for a month or so at least. Thank goodness for all those young, ridiculously attractive people promoting clean, healthy living in all its glory. If only their youth and beauty could rub off on me just by eating their food. Still, I’m going to give it a try just in case…
Recently I have been cooking my way through The Happy Pear cookbook, trying out some of the new Deliciously Ella recipes and loving the Jamie Oliver latest, Everyday Super Food. One name that keeps coming up but that I didn’t know very much about is Hemsley. Hemsley & Hemsley, to be exact. I’m not really sure how I’ve managed to miss these sisters. They are slim and beautiful with thick, glossy hair and are glowing with health, like so many of their food-writing, healthy-living contemporaries. They promote mindful eating, which can only be a good thing.
I’ve embraced a lot of the ideas for savoury food, but I’m less keen on a lot of the healthy alternatives for sweet food in many of these books: there is generally very little baking involved and it’s baking I love. I am, however, eager to incorporate as many of the ideas and ingredients into my baking as I can, whenever I can. When I was looking online for a new banana bread recipe recently using ground almonds instead of flour, this Hemsley & Hemsley recipe came up. It uses maple syrup instead of sugar, and ground almonds instead of flour. And throws in some flaxseed for added nutritional value, although I only had the ground flaxseed and not the whole seeds, unfortunately. It’s a banana bread pretty much as you know banana bread, just with some healthier alternatives. I have to admit I have left out the “pasture-raised” requirement for the eggs and butter in the recipe below: does that mean free range? If so, I’m OK.
300g ripe bananas, weighed without the skin on
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
220g ground almonds
25g ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon whole flaxseeds plus extra for sprinkling
Line a 2lb loaf tin with baking parchment and set the oven to 170°C.
Melt the butter.
Mash the bananas and mix with the butter, eggs, maple syrup, vanilla extract and lemon juice.
Mix together the ground almonds, ground flaxseed, ground cinnamon and bicarbonate of soda, along with a tablespoon of whole flaxseeds.
Mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients gently, making sure that they are properly combined.
Pour into the prepared loaf tin and sprinkle with whole flaxseeds.
Bake for around one hour: check after about 40 minutes to make sure it is not browning too quickly and if it is cover with aluminium foil.
When it is ready it will be brown, well risen, firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the middle will come out dry.
Allow to cool in the tin for a while before removing and allowing to cool on a wire rack.