Monthly Mystery Munchies #30: Almond Flour Banana Bread

Number 30? Whaaaaaa? Ann and I have been doing our super cool challenge, Monthly Mystery Munchies, for 30 months. I feel like this is when, in a relationship, people set a wedding date. It’s a commitment! And one I love so very much. Ann, I will never cheat on you. I swear it. And thank you, Ann, for always being up for the challenge, even when I get exhausted just thinking about everything you have going on in your life on any given day/week/month.

So, what happens when you have a gluten intolerant friend, spare bananas and a blog challenge that calls for anything almond-y? Banana bread, that’s what. Now, I am not one for the whole “gluten-is-terrible-and-if-you-eat-it-your-insides-will-shrivel-up-and-die” movement, unless you genuinely have an intolerance, which I don’t. TG. Nevertheless, I am super curious about using white flour substitutes, so I ventured off to the supermarket in search of almond flour. It is eye-wateringly expensive… I balked, hesitated for a moment, and then decided to commit. I mean, it’s banana bread, thank you Banana Food Gods for this invention (worthy of capitals), and almond flour – my favourite nut in the history of taste buds.

We’re doing renovations again. It feels like just the other day I nearly lost my mind with the last round. It was, in fact, almost two years ago, but the mind remembers and I feel that trauma in my soul. So, a good excuse to venture into the kitchen, get busy and put my music on full blast. Cue ACDC. Old school never sounded so sweet. I was very hesitant to bake with almond flour, sans butter. Hooooow does one bake banana bread without butter, pray tell? Add maple syrup, that’s how. Yet more “WTF”? Buuuuut it works. It really, really works. I loved it. It’s easy and the prep is ridiculously quick – throw everything into the blender, mix, transfer to pan, bake. Done. Okay, I’m sold. And it tastes soooo good! If almonds, or bananas, or both, are your vibe, do this. Try it, enjoy it and feel zero guilt! I’m pumped for Ann’s recipe this month: Dutch Bitterkoejes. “They are somewhat related to macarons, taste like marzipan, almost pepernoten-like and very much a typical Dutch classic. It’s chewy on the inside, NOT bitter and incredibly easy to make.” I’m so in. I’m booking my ticket as we speak. Have a look-see at her latest culinary creation on Grubbs n Critters, and while you’re there, check out the rest of her site. It’s awesome!

Almond Four Banana Bread

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Supplies:

3 ripe, mashed bananas
2 eggs
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon sea salt

Making it Happen:

Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°CF).
Spray a bread tin with non-stick spray.
In a blender, blitz the first four wet ingredients until smooth.
Add the remaining four dry ingredients, blitz until mixed, about 5 – 10 seconds.
Pour into the prepared bread tin and bake for 40 – 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clear.

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Crazy About… Kale and Spinach Soup

Kale soup 3

All hail kale! This recipe is the perfect fit for healthy and easy, and it happens to be winter, which is an excellent excuse for soup! Superfoods? Check. Budget-friendly? Check. Ridiculously low in calories? Check check. I’m so down for this! Instead of only using kale, I added spinach, onions, leeks, celery, broccoli, tomatoes, chickpeas, butter beans and chilli flakes. Sound good? It is! You can serve this yummy soup as a starter or main, for lunch or dinner. Here ya go…

Kale and Spinach Soup

  • Difficulty: easy
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Supplies:

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 stems celery, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 leeks, sliced
200g baby kale, chopped
300g spinach, chopped
300g broccoli
1 x 410g whole peeled tomatoes
1 x 410g butter beans
1 x 410g chickpeas
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 cups vegetable stock
Greek yoghurt (optional)

Making It Happen:

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and fry the onion, celery, garlic and leeks for 5 minutes until soft.

Stir in the spinach and kale, season with salt and simmer for 2 minutes.

Pour in the vegetable stock, tomatoes, broccoli and chilli flakes. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes until the spinach and kale have thoroughly wilted and the broccoli is soft.

Blitz in a food processor or using a handheld blender. Return to the pot and add the beans and chickpeas, simmering for 1 minute.

Add lemon juice and stir well. Serve with a dollop of Greek yoghurt.

 

Crazy About… Cauliflower Mash with Leeks and Garlic

 

Cauliflower mash 2

I never thought I’d see the day. Cauliflower mash instead of potatoes? No. Nope. Absolutely f-word-ing not! I thought it ghastly, recoiling at the very thought. Buuut you know, people change. At least, I started eating healthily, and thus decided not to judge, instead to rather be open-minded (and open-mouthed) to the healthier, cleaner alternatives. Yoga had a lot to do with this too, to be more mindful and conscious of what I’m putting in my body. Those two words – such yoga speak! Namaste (in the kitchen). The cook in me honours the cook in you.

Caulimash 2

Such began my adventure, and it’s been fun. Healthy food doesn’t have to be boring, and therein lay my problem with cauliflower mash. I mean, what does it even taste like? (I’m talkin’ about the version without lashings of butter.) Nothing, people, it tastes like a whole lotta nothing. Aaaand, coupled with the obvious reminder that it’s clearly not potatoes, presents a double insult. The solution is easy: Add stuff. Not butter though (sob) or sour cream (f-word), but healthy ingredients that don’t compromise its integrity (more yoga speak, seriously, I’m such a pro). When you eat food that’s naturally bland, it reminds you of its, well, nothingness, and therefore makes you (defo me) want other, unhealthier food. Obviously. But add some healthy ingredients, in this case leeks, enough garlic to repel your (my) husband for a few days (sorrynotsorry), fresh rosemary (from my garden no less, totes organic) and Dijon mustard, and you have a winner. The Husband is beyond obsessed with potatoes, like it’s abnormal that he thinks about them so much, but even he conceded that it was “really tasty” and admitted that he would eat it again. So, folks, I needed to share this with you. I used it as a potato substitute in cottage pie, but you can use it as a side dish just the same. Also, it’s easy, and I do love easy. Easy, healthy, yummy… the trifecta. I’m so #winning at life right now.

Cauliflower Mash with Leeks and Garlic

  • Difficulty: crazy easy
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Supplies:

700g cauliflower, cooked until very soft
3 leeks, chopped
1 (very) heaped teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Making It Happen:

Cook the cauliflower, either by boiling or steaming it, until very soft.

Meanwhile, fry the leeks and garlic in olive oil on medium heat until cooked, about 5 minutes.

Mash the cauliflower very well, then add the leeks and garlic. Stir in the Dijon, mixing well, and the rosemary.

Season with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Give it one last hearty stir and serve hot.

 

Crazy About… Sautéed Lentils

Lentils veg 7Easy! Tasty! Healthy! Check, check, check. I do enjoy a culinary trifecta! This recipe takes less than 15 minutes to cook (it takes me longer to put my face on), it’s packed with flavour, it’s low-carb and low-fat, and can be served as a side dish or a main meal. Last night we had it with honey and mustard chicken breasts, and this afternoon I had it alone for lunch. It was delish as both. Here we go…

Sautéed lentils

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: super duper easy
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Supplies:

500g lentils, cooked
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed and sliced
500g baby tomatoes, halved
1 green pepper, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 sprig rosemary
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and black pepper to taste
Olive oil

Making It Happen:

Lentils veg 81. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and fry the onion and garlic on medium for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, sliced peppers, and rosemary and simmer for another 5 minutes.

 

 

Lentils veg 6 12. Add the lentils and lemon juice, and simmer for 2 minutes.  Season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.

 

Roast Vegetables with Quinoa

Quinoa veggies 7Thank you, Joaquin Phoenix. Why, you ask? When I initially read about quinoa, the only way I could remember the correct pronunciation was by saying this sentence: would Wah-keen like some keen-wah? See? It works! So, thank you Mr Phoenix, brilliant actor and moderately strange human being-slash-space cadet, for preventing major embarrassment when talking to my friends about this super healthy grain seed!

In my attempt to eat more vegetarian dishes, I discovered the deliciousness of roasting peppers, onion, baby tomatoes and carrots, and adding it to sautéed whole tomatoes and beans. This meal is protein-rich, full of goodness, and drenched in yumminess.

Roast Vegetables with Quinoa

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Supplies:

Quinoa roast veg 11 yellow, red & green pepper, halved lengthways and deseeded
1 red onion, halved
250g baby tomatoes
3 carrots, peeled & halved lengthways
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 tin red kidney beans, drained
1 tin whole peeled tomatoes
1 teaspoon paprika
1 heaped teaspoon garlic
1 tablespoon Greek pesto
1 cup vegetable stock
½ cup quinoa
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 handful Italian parsley
Olive oil
Salt

Making it happen:

Quinoa roast veg 21. Preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F). Grill the peppers (skin side up), onion, baby tomatoes and carrots for 15-20 minutes until the peppers have blackened. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool.

 

 

Quinoa roast veg102. While the roasted veggies are cooling, drizzle the olive oil (just enough to cover the surface) into a large pan over medium heat and pour in the drained red kidney beans and tinned tomatoes. Add the celery, paprika, garlic, lemon juice and Greek pesto, and simmer.

 

Quinoa roast veg 33. While the above is simmering, peel and slice the peppers and slice the carrots, adding them to the pan. Simmer for 5 minutes.

 

 

Quinoa roast veg 54. Rinse the quinoa in a sieve under cold water. Pour the vegetable stock and quinoa into the pan, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes until the quinoa is cooked.

 

Quinoa roast veg 65. Garnish with Italian parsley.

Herbed Citrus Chicken

I am always looking for new ways to cook chicken breasts, my version of homemade fast food, because let’s be honest, plain boneless, skinless chicken breasts are snoozeville. The cooking is boring and the taste is bland. I had a couple of lemons in the fridge along with two staples I am never without, ginger and garlic, and I have rosemary growing in the garden. A quick scan in my pantry cupboard yielded an orange, olive oil and honey. I combined these ingredients and marinated the chicken for a few hours and when it came out if the oven, it was so. Very. Tender. I love the versatility of chicken breasts and this recipe can work one of two ways: You can cool and shred them and put them in a salad or serve them warm with veggies – both very healthy options. Marinade them for at least half an hour and you will have juicy, tender, soft breasts.

Prep time: 5 minutes     Marinade time: >30 mins     Cook time: 30 minutes

Citrus chicken 1

500g boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 lemons – 1 juiced and 1 sliced
2 oranges – 1 juiced and 1 sliced
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and grated (I use a microplane grater)
1 knob ginger, about 1 inch, peeled and grated (again, microplane grater)
1 sprig rosemary
Cracked sea salt and black pepper for seasoning

Citrus chicken 2 (2)

Juice one lemon and one orange and pour the juices into a bowl. Stir in the honey and olive oil until thoroughly combined. Grate the garlic and ginger and stir into the citrus juice mixture and add the rosemary. Crack some salt (I used about half a teaspoon) and black pepper into the juice.

 

 

 

Citrus chicken 3.3 (2)Slice the remaining lemon and orange. Place the chicken breasts into a dish and pour the herby citrus marinade over them. Position the citrus slices between the chicken breasts, cover and marinade in the fridge for at least half an hour. Bake at 200°C (400°F) for 30 minutes.