Foodie Friday: Food Waste and a banana saving recipe!

Food waste and a banana saving recipe

Last night at my monthly WI meeting, I was treated to a talk from Duncan Milwain from Saltaire Canteen, a pay-as-you-feel cafe centred around intercepting food waste. The canteen is part of the Real Junk Food Project, of which Duncan is a Trustee, and he came to tell us about the project and why it’s so important.

I was fairly aware that we waste an awful lot of food as a nation, in part because of silly food labelling and regulations, but I had no idea just how much. The biggest shocker for me was that, averaged out, we waste more than one whole chicken per person per year, which is just awful. And despite bananas being the nation’s favourite fruit, it is also the most wasted one. We consume over five billion a year, but bananas also account for 20% of the 15 million tonnes of food waste produced in the UK each year!

I confess, this made me pretty mad….I know that most of us prefer to eat them before they get too ripe (although there are more health benefits associated with them once they’re brown!) but we never throw any away in our house, because even the over-ripe ones still have plenty of uses! Banana loaf is probably the most well known use for over-ripe bananas (we love it with butter on at breakfast, and I’m currently working on a very healthy recipe using only coconut flour and oil, with no refined sugar!), and indeed it’s better made with brown speckly ones than green ones by far. But that’s not much good if you don’t have the other fresh ingredients to hand, or especially if you don’t have the time to bake one when your bananas happen to be ready. And as a fellow WI member pointed out last night, if you’re watching your treat intake, making cake from fruit isn’t really a good idea.

So, what we do with the bananas we know we won’t eat is to quickly chop them up, stick them in a storage tub and bung them in the freezer. Why? To make ice cream!!! We’ve been doing this for yonks as it’s really the easiest thing in the world, and great for when we want bananas on the side of pancakes or a Belgian waffle but have none in the fruit bowl. And recently we’ve been a bit more creative too, adding things to make a sweeter and more chocolatey version. I know plenty of people do the same, but with so many bananas being wasted I thought I’d share our recipe in the hope that it stops a few bananas going in the bin!

Basic Healthy Banana Ice Cream Recipe

  1. Chop your too-ripe bananas roughly and pop them in a storage container in the freezer for at least 24 hours
  2. Take the frozen bananas out and transfer to a bowl or measuring jug
  3. Blend the bananas, ideally with a stick blender, adding a little milk (we like to use coconut and/or almond milk) if needs be to help the process
  4. Et voilà! Yum up your banana ice cream on its own, with a yummy pudding or sweet breakfast

Slightly Naughty Chocolatey Banana Ice Cream Recipe

  1. Chop your too-ripe bananas roughly and pop them in a storage container in the freezer for at least 24 hours
  2. Take the frozen bananas out and transfer to a bowl or measuring jug
  3. Blend the bananas, ideally with a stick blender, adding a little milk (we like to use coconut and/or almond milk) if needs be to help the process
  4. Add a glug of maple syrup, a drop of vanilla extract and a teaspoon of raw cacao powder, and gently mix together…you may want to adjust the amounts to taste and return the mixture to the freezer for a little if it’s too melty

Both recipes make the most delicious treat, a creamy-smooth gelato-like ice cream…plus it can easily be dairy free. And even the chocolatey version isn’t too naughty at all…the maple syrup provides a sweetness boost without refined sugars, and raw cacao has many known health benefits because of its high fibre and antioxidants. Plus, you can be safe in the knowledge that you’ve eaten something that may otherwise have gone to waste. Winner!

 

Ems x

 

 

 

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Foodie Friday: Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake Recipe

One of the big benefits of our recent move has been our proximity to Costco. I know. What a loser. But I’m totally in love with the place. I love wandering around seeing what totally random things they’re selling (a hot tub, a wooden castle, multi packs of Sharpies, TVs bigger than a car….) and honing in on the bargains on offer. Their own-brand stuff is just wonderful….the Kirkland maple syrup is some of the best I’ve ever had, and their vodka is terrific!

They also have some really great organic and whole-food offerings now too, and we’re now getting all our pasta there as well as buying organic virgin coconut oil in bulk. Whilst wandering the aisles there recently we came across a bumper pack of organic coconut flour. Noticing that it’s gluten free and you can use it as a substitute for regular flour, we thought we’d give it a whirl.

Apparently, coconut flour is one of the healthiest available…. because it’s not grain-based like most flour, it is non-inflammatory like those which contain gluten, and is also very low in carbs. The fats are of the more healthy kind (as with coconut oil they are primarily medium-chain saturated fatty acids or ‘MCTs’) and have been shown to improve metabolism, being used up for energy, not stored in fatty tissue. It is also high in fibre, which helps fill you up!

Whilst looking up what we could do with our coconut flour, we found that a little goes a long way….you can’t use it as a straight substitute for regular flour for this reason, and it also requires more liquid. There are however lots of great recipes out there, especially for cakes and breads….and why not use it to make a more-healthy-than-usual treat?!

As we were off to a friend’s birthday party around the time we bought the flour, and especially as that friend is wheat intolerant, we decided to bake her a birthday chocolate cake! We scoped out some recipes, and actually baked the cake a second time to perfect this recipe. I’m pretty pleased with it now though, and as it’s made up of ingredients we tend to always have in, I know that it will be a bit of a staple when a baking session is in order!

The texture of the cake is very even….nicely moist but also solid enough to comfortably eat a slice without necessarily needing a plate and fork. Initially it wasn’t sweet enough for me, which is why I tweaked the recipe….now though it is wonderfully velvety and chocolatey, not too sickly but also very satisfying. Especially when you consider it’s so quick and easy to make, plus low in carbs and naughty sugars!

Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake Recipe by Under A Glass Sky

Ingredients:

30g good quality cocoa
35g coconut flour (ours is made by Nutiva)
7g baking powder (gluten free if you’re gluten intolerant)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch of salt
4  free range eggs
3 tablespoons organic honey
3 tablespoons grade A maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
60ml melted virgin coconut oil

For the icing:

approx. 5 tablespoons softened virgin coconut oil
approx. 3 tablespoons good quality cocoa powder
approx. 2 tablespoons organic honey
approx. 2 tablespoons grade A maple syrup

Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake Recipe by Under A Glass Sky

 How to make it:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 c and grease and line a 15cm diameter baking tin
  2. Mix together the cocoa (which you may need to sift), coconut flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt
  3. Fold in the eggs, honey, vanilla and oil
  4. Mix well until smooth….you will find it takes on an almost mousse-like texture
  5. Bake in the middle of the oven for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean
  6. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack whilst you make the icing
  7. Combine the oil, cocoa, honey and maple syrup using a metal spoon
  8. Depending on the temperature (coconut oil has a very high melting temperature) you may find you want to add more oil or cocoa, and you can also add more honey or syrup to taste, depending on how sweet a tooth you have
  9. You can pop the icing in the fridge to cool it down if it’s too runny, or warm it up in the microwave for a few seconds if it’s too hard….then once you have it to a nice soft fudgey consistency, cut the cake in half horizontally and sandwich together the two parts with icing
  10. Then just use the rest of the icing to coat the assembled cake (it’s so quick and easy to make that you can always make a bit more if you run out), slice and enjoy!

Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake Recipe by Under A Glass Sky

I bet this cake would work wonderfully with some raspberries and creme fraiche or yoghurt, although we very much enjoyed it on its own. The icing is pretty handy to make a nice chocolate fudge sauce for ice cream or whatever too, as you can make it all runny and gooey by heating it up.

Next I plan to try a banana bread with the coconut flour….I’ll be sure to let you know how I get on!

Ems x