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

Something from the weekend….Christmas is over. Dexter is over. The weekend is over.

The first weekend after the holidays is always much anticipated. We were looking forward to one filled with relaxation, and that’s just what we got.

On Saturday morning we had a rather long lie in, then went into town on a few errands…. We’re planning to paint our welsh dresser soon so bought paint and sugar soap and things in readiness. As a reward for our endeavors, we popped into the Hermitage Road Coffee Shop, which we have been loving since we found out how marvelous it is. In fact, we found out on Saturday too that it was included in the Independent’s 50 Best Coffee Shops list!

After our excellent Cortados and some home made biscotti, we headed over to Adam’s Mum’s for a lunch of home made soup. We worked that off with a nice walk around a nearby park and lake, where we said hello to the noisy geese and ducks, and made friends with a lovely dog who wouldn’t go into the lake to retrieve her ball so just stood barking at it!

After that I made a quick dash into Hobby Craft to replace some supplies I’d run out of for my Valentines cards (so glad I sold so many already!), then headed home to make a yummy Spag Bol for dinner. We whiled away the rest of the evening by finishing watching the most recent season of Dexter….we had only started it earlier last week, but as usual found it too compelling to watch any slower!

One of our resident pigeons enjoyed a relaxing weekend too….sitting in the water dish of our bird feeder!

We were up at a more reasonable hour on Sunday, and took a walk round a rather quiet car boot sale. We picked up a couple of things for the house….both tea related….a lovely silver tea strainer with a stand (which I’ve been after for ages) and an amazing penguin shaped tea infuser! The latter is most remarkable as it uses its beak to dunk the infuser into your cup, whilst the integrated timer ticks away for as long as you want to steep, then lifts out the infuser when the time is up and dings away to let you know your tea is ready! I love it!!

Our pretty silver tea strainer

And our awesome penguin tea infuser!

Once home we prepared a scrummy brunch of Lumber Jack Stacks (Belgian waffles, cinnamon French toast, pancakes, crispy bacon and maple syrup!) with a large batch of coffee, as our friend Hannah was coming over. We scoffed our rather naughty brunch whilst catching up and gossipping, then once Hannah had left we set about finishing taking down the Christmas decorations. I always hate doing it, as everywhere looks so bare when they are gone, and it’s just the final signal that Christmas is well and truly over. Ho hum.

Lumber Jack Stack!

2012 is over, and the decorations came down

I made a rather good sausage casserole for supper, after which we watched a couple of episodes of Azumanga Daioh, an anime show we are watching. Then it was reading in bed before an early night, ahead of the first *full* week of work after Christmas.

Ems x

Pancake Day!

Ready, steady, flip!

My name is Emily and I can’t make pancakes. There, I’ve said it. It is a constant source of embarrassment to this northern lass that I can’t make Yorkshire Pudding or Toad in the Hole (I’m usually a pretty good cook otherwise). It’s the batter see, I can’t make it work. It always comes out too runny or lumpy or just doesn’t work when it’s cooked. I suppose I shouldn’t feel too badly…. the pancake making in my home as a child was always a man’s job (although my Mum can at least boast a decent Yorkshire Pud).

And so it falls to the man of the house to make them today. I’ve prepared everything at least so that he only has to whip up the batter and get flipping. Here’s what I’ve got ready to go with ours…..

  • Free Range Smoked Bacon and Cheddar Cheese – the first ones will be savoury
  • Chopped Banana – a classic
  • Nutella – we have too many catering size tubs of this lying around for some reason and must get through it
  • Maple syrup – we are huge maple syrup fiends in this house, any excuse
  • Banana curd – this was home made by us and is brilliant with waffles, so we’re hoping its first pancake experience is a good one (perhaps I’ll share the recipe soon)

Growing up, my understanding of making pancakes on Shrove Tuesday was that it was a way to use up foods such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the fasting season of Lent. I now believe it’s also a way to cram in all that good stuff too, before embarking on your fast….. I don’t suppose very many of us go beyond giving up chocolate these days, but a tradition’s a tradition right?!

Apparently, in places like Newfoundland and Labrador, small tokens are frequently cooked in Shrove Tuesday pancakes. It sounds rather like finding the sixpence in the Christmas Pudding….. each of these tokens though are meant to be divinatory…. for example, the person who finds a coin will be wealthy. This reminds me of the little amulets the pilgrims to Real de Catorce leave for St Francis of Assisi that I saw at the wonderful Miracles and Charms exhibtion.

In England though, Shrove Tuesday means pancake races……. a tradition said to have originated when a housewife was so busy making pancakes that she forgot the time, until she heard the church bells ringing for the service and raced to church while still carrying her frying pan and pancake. In Olney, where the fabled housewife is said to have lived, the most famous pancake race in the country has been held since 1445. The contestants, traditionally women, carry a frying pan and race to the finishing line while tossing the pancakes as they go. Apparently, if a man wants to participate, he must dress up as a housewife!

The seaside town of Scarborough celebrates by closing the foreshore to all traffic, closing schools early, and inviting people to skip using long ropes from the nearby harbour. Whilst the children of Whitechapel in Lancashire continue a local tradition by visiting houses and asking “please a pancake”, to be rewarded with oranges or sweets. It is thought the tradition began when farm workers visited their wealthy neighbors to ask for pancakes or pancake fillings. And in Finland and Sweden, the day is associated not so much with pancakes, but with the almond paste-filled semla pastry.

We’ll be keeping it traditional this year though, and so I’m just waiting for Adam to get home to start cooking!

What are your plans for your pancake supper? Any good fool-proof recipes you can help me out with?

Happy flipping!

Ems x

More left overs…. this time, PUDDING

Our left overs feast surely could not be complete without a pudding of left overs…. And so it was that a massive pan of muesli, porridge oats, dried fruit, oranges and other larder left overs came together to make an insanely good batch of flapjacks!

450g butter
450g brown sugar
1 tbspn Maple Syrup
1 tbspn Clear, Eucalyptus Honey
1 tbspn Thick, Blossom Honey
1 tbspn Golden Syrup
250g muesli
200g porridge oats
2 generous handfuls of dried fruit
2 generous handfuls of nuts, chopped
1 dessert spoon of mixed spice
1 orange, sliced

First, we melted all the butter in a large pan……there really was a lot….

Next, we stirred in the sugar, syrups and honeys to make a big treacly goo, before mixing in the muesli, porridge oats, spice, fruit and nuts…..

Then, having greased and lined and greased again a large oven tray…..we smooshed the mixture in, pressing it down into one giant gooey flapjack. On top, we placed some thin slices of orange (mainly because that needed using up too), and then baked it on the middle shelf of the oven at 150 degrees for about 40 minutes.

We took out the tray once the top was lovely and golden, then waited for it to cool before chopping it into bite size squares.

Lush!