Almost paleo banana berry bread

almost-paleo-banana-berry-bread2I’m pregnant at the moment and have been craving banana bread. In an effort to come up with a recipe that’s tasty AND nutritious I’ve been experimenting with different ingredients and have landed on the following which I find works well. It’s gluten, dairy and refined sugar free so great for those with food intolerances.

Health benefits

I use a good portion of freshly ground linseeds/flax seeds which are extremely high in omega-3 essential fatty acids (higher than any other plant-based food) and are excellent for cardiovascular health. Linseeds are rich in lignans which are fibre-like compounds that have been credited for helping reduce the risk of cancer, in particular breast cancer. Linseeds are also considered to be particularly beneficial for the digestive tract thanks to their mucilage (gum) content.

In place of gluten-free flour I’ve used amaranth which is an ancient Aztec seed with similar properties to quinoa. Amaranth is relatively high in protein and contains the amino acid lysine rendering it’s protein a “whole protein” which is particularly beneficial for vegetarians. The peptides in amaranth contain anti-inflammatory properties which are thought to help those suffering from conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and stroke. Amaranth contains rutin which has been linked to strengthening capillary walls and helping to protect against varicose veins.

For a great flavour boost I use almond meal. Almonds are rich in vitamin E, healthy fats, minerals and antioxidants and have been proven to help lower bad cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.

In place of butter I’ve used coconut oil which is nature’s richest source of saturated fat. Contrary to conventional medical advice, the saturated fat in coconut oil is thought to help the body lower bad cholesterol and increase the levels of healthy cholesterol and therefore promote cardiovascular health.

Bananas are a good source of potassium which helps the body maintain normal blood pressure and berries are low in sugar and high in antioxidants.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 ripe bananas (if they’re small I’ll use 3, if they’re large I’ll use 2)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 70g/half a cup of ground linseeds/flaxseeds*
  • 70g/half a cup of amaranth flour
  • 60g/half a cup of almond meal
  • 30g/quarter of a cup of tapioca flour/starch
  • 125ml/half a cup of coconut oil, melted
  • 80ml/one third cup sweetener of your choice (maple syrup, coconut nectar, honey, dark agave)
  • 100g/1 cup mixed berries (I use frozen berries if fresh aren’t in season)
  • 1 teaspoon good quality baking soda (choose aluminium free)

*I like to grind the linseeds/flaxeeds myself (I use a coffee/spice grinder) to ensure that they are fresh as their fats oxidise over time.

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Grease your baking tin
  3. Add the ground linseeds/flaxseeds, amaranth, tapioca and baking soda to a mixing bowl
  4. In a food processor (you can use a blender if you don’t have one) mix the eggs, sweetener and ripe bananas and coconut oil for a minute or so until smooth and fluffy
  5. Add the banana mixture to the dry mixture and mix well
  6. Fold in the berries
  7. Add to the tin and bake for 40 minutes. Insert a skewer, if it comes out clean remove from the oven. If not allow to cook for a further 5-10 minutes.
  8. Once removed from the oven, allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool

 

Banana berry smoothie bowl

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This is such a delicious breakfast, it’s hard to believe it’s good for you. With only two serves of fruit, it’s not overloaded with sugar so is suitable for many on a detox who are limiting processed sugar and dairy.

Linseeds, also know as flaxseeds are an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, in fact they’re often claimed to be nature’s most valuable source. They are rich in lignans, a type of soluble and insoluble fibre that’s high in antioxidants, may help regulate hormone levels, boost the immune system and lower levels of bad cholesterol. It’s important to note that when consumed whole your body will often pass the seed so grinding them (ideally fresh) makes their high nutrient profile more readily available for the body. Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E, magnesium and selenium. Almonds provide the body with plenty of good fats, minerals and are also good source of vitamin E.

Incorporating a variety of nuts and seeds into your diet is widely considered to provide cardiovascular support and boost heart health. They provide the body with a good source of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals  and plenty of antioxidants which play an important role in helping the body protect against cancer. Nuts and seeds are also a relatively good source of protein for vegetarians.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium to large banana
  • 70g / 2.5 oz frozen berries (any type will work)
  • 190ml /6.5 fl oz liquid – choose coconut water/almond milk/drinking coconut milk (I use two thirds coconut water and a third almond milk but you can vary or use a single liquid depending on what you like and what you have available)
  • 2 tablespoons LSA (I like to make this myself, to do so grind 1 tablespoon of almonds with half a tablespoon each of linseeds and sunflower seeds)

Method

  • Add two thirds of the banana, and the remaining ingredients to a high powered blender and blend until smooth
  • Transfer to a bowl (or glass if you prefer)
  • Slice the remaining third of the banana and top the smoothie with it. You may wish to add a few extra berries, some more nuts or chia seeds

Serves 1

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Pear, parsley, lime and ginger green smoothie

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This smoothie is one of my favourite hangover tonics. The ginger helps alleviate nausea and is wonderful for the digestive system, stimulating saliva and digestive enzymes.

Green leafy vegetables (including parsley) are rich in vitamins and minerals. Kale is claimed to be one of healthiest foods on the planet and is extremely high in vitamin K (a one cup serving of raw kale gives more than 600% RDI of vitamin K!). It’s also extremely high in beta carotene which the body turns into vitamin A. Green leafy vegetables are high in antioxidants and have an anti inflammatory on the body. There has been a great deal of research in modern times into the cancer fighting effects these types of foods have on the body.

Cucumber has an extremely high water content so is great for hydration, and is wonderfully alkalising so perfect on a hangover when your body will likely be acidic. Much modern literature points to the benefits of consuming a diet of ~60% alkalising foods (or more) from the reduction of yeast and fungus in the body to helping fight cancer.

Lemons and limes are also alkalising, rich in vitamin C and contain folate which plays a role in the body helping repair DNA damage.

My partner and I enjoy this smoothie on regular basis but it’s a real winner on a hangover!

Ingredients

  • Approx 170g/6 oz dark green leafy vegetables (I use a mixture of kale, baby spinach, asian greens. Basically whatever I have on hand.)
  • 15g or ½ oz ginger
  • Generous handful parsley (around 15g or ½ oz)
  • 1 x medium sized lebanese cucumber or around a third of a telegraph cucumber (around 150g or 5.25 oz)
  • 1 x small lime or half a lemon
  • 300ml coconut water
  • 250ml water
  • half a cup of ice (or more if you like it really cold)

Method

Add all the ingredients to a high powered blender and blend until smooth.

Serves 2

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Quinoa and chia seed breakfast bowl

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This recipe makes a delicious, versatile breakfast that can be enjoyed chilled in summer or warm in winter. It’s wonderfully portable so can be made in advance and will keep in the fridge for several days. Top with your favourite nuts, fruit and seeds and mix with coconut or almond milk.

I’ve included oats in this recipe but if you’re gluten free you can simply substitute with more quinoa and chia seeds. If using oats I suggest you soak them separately over night (this helps neutralise the phytic acid which can be hard for the body to digest), however if you’re short on time just mix everything together an hour in advance and you’ll be ready to go.

Health Benefits

A staple food in Central and South America, quinoa is a gluten-free grain revered for its health benefits. It’s rich in minerals and antioxidants and has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body which is thought to lower the risk of cancer. Quinoa contains all eight essential amino acids and is therefore considered a whole protein, making it an excellent choice for vegetarians.

Considered a superfood by many, chia seeds are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, high in fibre, minerals and antioxidants and make an excellent inclusion in the diet.

Oats are high in beta-glucan fibre which is said to lower the risk of bad cholesterol in the body. They also contain unique antioxidants which have been linked to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Throw in some nuts and berries and this breakfast bowl is teaming with a range of nutrients that will help you power through the morning.

Ingredients

  • 50g/1.75oz cooked quinoa (I like to soak my quinoa before cooking and then freeze in batches – you can use pre-cooked quinoa straight from the freezer in this recipe)
  • 20g / 0.7oz / 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 20g oats / 0.7oz (optional – you can substitute with an extra 10g of chia seeds and 10g of quinoa)
  • 250ml /8.5 fl oz drinking coconut milk (I like Coco Quench) or almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or natural vanilla essence
  • half a teaspoon of cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 large ripe banana

Toppings of your choice

  • 30g chopped mixed nuts (I like almonds and hazelnuts)
  • Mixed berries or other fruit in season

Method

As noted above, steps 1 and 2 below are optional. If short on time simply add all the ingredients listed in steps 1 and 2 together and chill for an hour then move to step 4.

  1. If using oats, cover them in filtered water (room temperature) and allow to soak overnight, ideally for 12 hours
  2. Place the quinoa, chia seeds, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg in a bowl and cover with the coconut or almond milk – leave to soak overnight in the fridge
  3. Drain the oats, rinse and add to the quinoa mix
  4. Mash two thirds of the banana into the quinoa mixture (leave the rest to garnish) – your breakfast bowl is ready
  5. If you prefer a warm breakfast, place the mixture in a saucepan over a low heat and allow to cook for 10 minutes until warmed through (you may wish to add a little extra milk)
  6. Serve topped with the reserved banana, nuts and berries or other fruit in season

Serves 2

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Green Banana Smoothie

cancer-fighting-green-banana-smoothie-2I’m such a big fan of green smoothies and am always experimenting with new recipes.

Three key prerequisites for my green smoothies are that they contain plenty of green vegetables (not just a few spinach leaves), limited sugar (from fruit and other ingredients) and that they taste good.

This smoothie contains a good serve of steamed broccoli, which has a whole host of health promoting properties. There’s an increasing amount of evidence to suggest that regular consumption of broccoli (think at least half a cup per day or a cup 3 – 4 times per week) helps the body fight against cancer. According to the World’s Healthiest Foods this is thanks to a unique combination of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and pro-detoxification properties.

Similarly, spinach is rich in antioxidants and like broccoli provides the body with a good source of vitamins A & K. This is particularly useful for those who are vitamin D deficient as vitamins A & K help the body keep vitamin D metabolism in balance.

Cucumbers are wonderfully light, alkalising vegetables (as is spinach) also with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They contain three key lignans (chemical compounds found in plants) that have been associated with reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease as well as breast, uterine, ovarian and prostate cancers.

Bananas provide a good source of potassium which helps the body maintain healthy blood pressure and heart function. They also provide a sweet, creamy consistency to the smoothie.

If I’m running low on broccoli or spinach, i’ll often substitute with some kale. You don’t have to be too precise with the ingredients, again use what you have readily available at home and if you like, add some protein powder or your other favourite supplement powder. I’ll often throw in a tablespoon of hydrolysed collagen (which I find unpalatable taken alone) .

Ingredients

  • 150 g / 5.25 oz steamed broccoli
  • 100 g / 3.5 oz spinach (I use English spinach or baby spinach leaves)
  • 1 large banana
  • 1 small lebanese cucumber or half a large one
  • 300 ml / 10 fl oz coconut water
  • 200 ml / 6.75 fl oz water
  • Quarter cup of ice
  • OPTIONAL: tablespoon of protein powder or supplement of your choice

Method

Steam the broccoli and allow to cool. I often steam batches and keep them in the freezer, you can blend straight from the freezer.

Add all ingredients to a high powered blender and blend until smooth.

Serves 2

Note, I was given a new high powered blender for Christmas the ingredients i’ve listed are a bit too much to fit into one of the jugs so I divide between 2 (one each for my partner and I).

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Chocolate Buckwheat Pancakes

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This recipe comes courtesy of my aunt who is gluten, dairy and processed sugar free. It’s her favourite breakfast of the moment topped some seasonal fruit and is even popular with her husband and teenage kids – who like them drizzled with maple syrup.

Buckwheat is a wonderful grain substitute with a whole host of health promoting properties. It’s relatively high in protein and contains all eight essential amino acids making it a good option for vegetarians.

Evidence suggests that regular consumption of buckwheat can help lower the risk of developing high blood pressure and high cholesterol (precursors to heart disease), thanks to the presence of a number of powerful flavonoids including rutin.

Regular consumption of buckwheat has also been linked to the reduction of type 2 diabetes according to an extensive Canadian research study published in 2003.

Raw cacao is one of the most nutrient rich foods on earth with the highest antioxidant concentration of any food in nature (thanks also to its high flavonoid content). Coconut flour is high in fibre and cinnamon provides both a subtle flavour enhancement and has also been linked to lowering blood sugar in people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Ingredients

  • Half a cup / 70g / 2.5 oz  buckwheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
  • 1 tablespoon coconut flour
  • Stevia (equivalent to 2 teaspoons of sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 egg
  • ~ 4 teaspoons coconut oil or other oil for greasing

Method

  1. Sift all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl
  2. Stir in the almond milk until completely mixed
  3. Beat in the egg until the batter is smooth
  4. Heat a small frying pan to a medium-high heat
  5. Add add a teaspoon of coconut oil to grease the frying pan
  6. Pour in a quarter of the batter
  7. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the top starts to bubble and the bottom is sufficiently cooked that you can flip the pancake
  8. Cook the second side for approximately 3 minutes
  9. Remove from the pan and repeat the process for the remaining 3 pancakes
  10. Serve with fresh banana and berries, other seasonal fruit or your favourite topping

Serve 2

Makes 4 medium sized pancakes – 2 each

Green smoothie with broccoli, apple and mint

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I started drinking green smoothies for breakfast 3 – 4 times a week about three months ago and it’s made a noticeable improvement to my overall wellbeing.

This recipe is great as it includes a good serve of green vegetables with limited fruit making it suitable for those looking to limit their intake of sugar.

Most of us acknowledge that we need to eat more green leafy vegetables. Broccoli is particularly nutrient dense – loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Steamed broccoli has been proven to lower cholesterol and supports many elements of the body’s natural detoxification process.

The thought of adding broccoli to a smoothie doesn’t necessarily evoke the best flavour sensations, however the addition of apple, lemon, mint and coconut water balances things wonderfully so that the flavour is actually enjoyable.

I’ve tried blending with avocado to add some healthy fats but I just don’t find the flavour and texture works in this smoothie. Therefore I recommend you consume this with a handful of raw/activated nuts or add in a tablespoon of coconut oil at the end to maximise your body’s ability to access the nutrients.

Ingredients

  • 150g / 5.25 oz lightly steamed broccoli florets (allow to cool before using or use straight from the freezer)
  • Large handful of mint leaves
  • 100g /3.5 oz spinach leaves (choose English spinach or baby spinach or other similar greens of your choice)
  • Half a Lebanese cucumber or quarter of a telegraph cucumber
  • 1 apple (I choose Granny Smith as I like the slightly sour taste)
  • Half a lemon or one smallish lime (peeled)
  • 300ml / 10 fl oz coconut water
  • 200 ml /7 fl oz water
  • quarter cup of ice
  • OPTIONAL: 1 generous tablespoon of coconut oil (warm enough so it’s liquid)

Method

Add all the ingredients (excluding the coconut oil) to a high powered blender and blend until smooth. If using coconut oil add it at the end when the other ingredients are blended then blend again for a few seconds until fully mixed.

Note: I always use left over broccoli from the evening before. Sometimes I steam a big batch and freeze in portions. You can blend straight from the freezer.

Serves 2

This smoothie can be quite thick so I serve with plenty of ice or sometimes add a little extra water.

 

Paleo friendly strawberry and coconut muffins

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I’ve been playing around with paleo muffin recipes trying to find something that tastes good but is relatively low in sugar.

Rice malt syrup (also known as rice syrup and brown rice syrup) has become popular in Australia over the last few years thanks to the I Quit Sugar program.

According to the Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar for Life, rice malt syrup is “a relatively slow-releasing sweetener so it doesn’t dump on the liver as much as pure glucose”.

The challenge when cooking with rice malt syrup is that it’s not as sweet as regular sweeteners so does take a little adjusting to if you’re just starting out on the path of sugar reduction. In this recipe, I’ve given the option to substitute with a little honey if you prefer or are strictly paleo.

In place of regular flour I use almond meal which is delicious but can be a little heavy so to balance this and make the texture of the muffins as light as possible, I whisk the egg whites separately and fold them in at the end. Be sure not to skip this step.

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 220g/7.75 oz/2 cups almond meal
  • 150 ml/5 fl oz rice malt syrup (if you prefer a little sweeter, substitute 2 tablespoons of rice malt syrup with 2 tablespoons of honey) OR for strictly paleo use half a cup of honey instead of the rice malt syrup
  • 125 ml/4.25 fl oz/half a cup of coconut oil
  • 60g/2oz/half cup shredded coconut
  • 4 tablespoons coconut cream
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda (or I use substitute with half a teaspoon of bicarb of soda and quarter of a teaspoon of cream of tartar)
  • Couple of drops of natural vanilla essence
  • 12-16 strawberries (depending on the size)

Method

  1. If the coconut oil is solid, place the container over a pot of hot water until the oil becomes runny
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius/340 degrees Fahrenheit
  3. Trim the tops from the strawberries and cut into quarters (or more if using large strawberries)
  4. Separate the eggs and place into two separate bowls
  5. Add the rice malt syrup to the egg yolks and beat for 2 minutes at a high setting, then add the almond meal, baking powder (or substitute), cinnamon, shredded coconut, coconut oil and coconut cream and blend again until mixed well
  6. Stir through the strawberries
  7. Separate, whisk the egg whites for a couple of minutes until peaks start to form
  8. Gently fold the egg whites through the muffin batter mixture and pour into paper muffin cups (you’ll need about 12 large muffin cups)
  9. Bake for 35 minutes then test – if firm to the touch, insert a skewer and if it comes out dry remove from the oven. Otherwise bake for an additional 5 minutes or so until cooked through.

Makes 12 large muffins – suitable for freezing

Coconut Berry Jelly

Coconut-berry-jelly
Looking for a light and healthy start to the week?

This coconut jelly takes just a couple of minutes to prepare and is a totally portable healthy breakfast or snack.

Made with good quality gelatine, it’s wonderfully nourishing for the digestive tract and contains 18 amino acids – including each of the essential 8 amino acids. Regular consumption of good quality gelatine can help restore the body’s mucosal stomach lining which is particularly beneficial for those with leaky gut syndrome, food intolerances, allergies and inflammatory conditions.

Gelatine is also a great source of absorbable collagen which promotes healthy hair, skin and nails and is beneficial for the joints and those suffering from inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis.

Ingredients

• 1 cup/250ml/9 fluid ounce of drinking coconut milk or almond milk
• 2 teaspoons of powdered gelatine
• ½ teaspoon of natural vanilla essence
• ½ teaspoon of stevia
• ¼ cup of fresh berries (I choose around 4 strawberries and 6 blueberries but if it’s winter you can use frozen berries or substitute with juicy citrus fruit such as navel orange)

Method

Chop the fruit and place in a small glass container such as an old jam jar.

Add the gelatine and half the milk to a small saucepan and heat to a low heat until the gelatine has dissolved, then add the rest of the milk and mix well then pour over the fruit and place in the fridge until set.

Eat alone or top with some linseed, sunflower seed and almond mixture (LSA). For LSA combine a teaspoon of linseeds, a teaspoon of sunflower seeds and approximately 15 almonds in a high powered blender, food processor or coffee grinder and blend until it forms a powder, then sprinkle over the jelly.

Serves 1

Easy paleo banana pancake

easy-paleo-banana-pancake
If you’re trying to maintain a healthy diet and avoid processed foods, breakfast can be a challenge if you’re not well organised.

This banana pancake recipe is so simple and easy, I’ve almost always got the ingredients on hand. It’s super quick to prepare and doesn’t take long to cook. The other thing I love about it is that the cooked bananas are deliciously sweet so there’s no need to drizzle with maple syrup or any other sweetener.

Nutritionally, bananas make a great start to the day. According to the world’s healthiest foods, they are digested slowly by the body thanks to their high fibre content and the presence of a unique balance of pectins. This is in spite of their relatively high sugar content (compared with other friuts). They’re a good source of potassium – which the body uses to normalise blood pressure, and contain fructooligosaccharides (FMOs). FMOs are not typically broken down in the digestive track, instead they’re metabolised by bacteria in the lower intestine which helps the body maintain a balance of healthy bacteria.

Combined with an egg – which is a great source of high quality protein, plus cinnamon which both enhances the flavour and helps lower blood sugar levels, this dish makes a simple and healthy start to the day.

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 eggs
  • quarter teaspoon of cinnamon
  • coconut oil/ghee for cooking

Method

Mash the banana with a fork. Beat in the egg and mix well, then add the cinnamon and mix again.

Bring a small frying pan to a medium heat, add the coconut oil/ghee (or whatever you’re using to grease the pan) and allow to heat then add half the pancake mixture and cook for around 4 minutes until set, then flip and cook for a couple minutes on the second side. Repeat.

Serve topped with some fresh fruit. If I have it on hand, I sometimes drizzle with coconut yoghurt or buffalo milk yoghurt.

Serves 1  (2 pancakes)

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