Hello and welcome to this week’s post! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful weekend with plenty of regeneration and good food! I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who read and liked my last post, and hopefully you’ve managed to take something from it – maybe you’ve looked into yoga and mindfulness, tried it yourself, or maybe even given one of the recipes a go. If so, then let me know in the comments, and as always, feedback is welcomed too.
In this week’s post I’m going to bring two of my passions – food and health – together by discussing two topical issues that are in fact related. Of course, to go along with this I’ll share a top recipe from the week, but for a full account of all of this week’s recipes please check out my Instagram page (see menu or side-bar).
So please read on to find out what’s been in the news, and how you can treat yourself (well)!
In the News:
So the BBC has cried outrage since the amount of sugar in blueberry muffins sold by some of the nation’s best loved coffee shops and retailers has been revealed. This is following an investigation by Action on Sugar and the Obesity Health Alliance on the sugar content of some of the most popular muffins available in stores. Yes, the figures are shocking – on average a muffin contains 6 or more teaspoons of sugar, which equates to at least a quarter of an adult’s Recommended Daily Allowance. But are we really that surprised? We all know that there’s a reason why these sweet treats taste so good, but when put in a relatable value such as teaspoons, that’s when the truth hits home. Although there have been a number of articles like this ‘revealing’ the so called hidden sugar in coffee shop cakes before, why is it that this particular investigation has caused such a stir? It’s all to do with the humble blueberry. Revered in the media for its ‘superfood’ status due to the high antioxidant content, blueberries are a delicious fruit with a good rep that is now being tarnished.
It’s simple – you’re meeting a friend for a mid-morning coffee catch up and there are two muffins on offer: one is blueberry, the other triple chocolate. Surely the blueberry one has to be healthier? This is an automatic assumption that we are likely to make purely because the food contains fruit. However realistically, the nutritional content of both muffins is likely to be fairly equal, with the blueberries in the muffin unlikely to offer any significant health benefit as a result of the processing of the food.
Of course, neither the BBC nor I are saying that blueberry muffins are toxic and should never be eaten, rather that the public should take responsibility for checking the nutritional content of their food choices. Blueberry muffins are delicious, so why should you avoid them?! It’s all about moderation and balance. Eat these foods as a treat, or better still, make your own! There are tonnes of recipes out there and it’s almost guaranteed that the sugar content will be lower. You can also try using other fruits such as bananas in the mixture to reduce the amount of added refined sugar. Look out for a recipe like this further on in this post.
Let’s Get Fruity
As I mentioned in my intro, what I really wanted to do with this post was bring my passion for food and health together. This is my main intention with my blog anyway, but following on from the BBC article, I thought it would be really useful to look at the use of fruits in baking to create delicious treats at a fraction of the caloric count. By no means do I think I’m an adversary for this sort of baking – fruit and veg have been used in baking for centuries! – but I do like to see myself as an innovative baker who enjoys creating healthy alternatives. Combine this with my hate of food waste (look out for a blog post about this very shortly!) and a rolling repertoire of fruit-based bakes has been born.
Now we all know the standard fruity bakes – the apple loaf, banana cake, pineapple sponge, lemon drizzle…these are classic family favourites that everyone one knows and loves. But I like to change it up! I will happily take whatever I have in my fruit stores that looks a little past its best and transform it into a sweet treat! Overripe bananas are an obvious favourite, but soft apples, and even beetroot have featured in some of my recipes. I’ve gone from the standard banana pancakes and traditional banana cake to banana/apple oat bars, and my new favourite – carob banana cake. Don’t be afraid of using old fruit! I’ll talk about this more in my next post, but for now, just think of how you can use things up! Baking slightly old fruit with a bit of cinammon and serving with natural yoghurt and granola can give you a delicious breakfast, or a healthy version of favourite pudding!
So, here’s the recipe for my latest fruit creation – carob banana cake! This was a completely experimental bake that actually worked out quite well! It’s low fat, low GI, vegan, full of fibre, vitamins and minerals, the list goes on! And that is all down to the power of the mighty banana and my new found love – carob. For anyone who hasn’t heard of it, carob is the healthy chocolate alternative and probably the next one to watch on the health food scene. Carob is processed and used just like how cocoa is from the cocoa bean, so you can find it in powder form to use in baking, or in bar form to eat like a regular chocolate bar. But here I did use the powder as a substitute for cocoa, and it resulted in a moist chocolatey bake that satisfied the sweet cravings but was packed full of goodness.
Carob Banana Cake (serves 12 – depending on slice size)
- 2 medium ripe bananas
- 25g carob powder (or you can use cocoa/cacao powder)
- 1 cup oats (ground into flour)
- 1 cup wholemeal self-raising flour
- 1tsp baking powder
- 1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/4tsp salt
- 25ml coconut oil
- 1stp apple cider vinegar
- 15g chopped almonds
- 25g dark chocolate
- 100ml soya milk
- Pre-heat an oven to 190ºC
- Melt down the coconut oil and add to the bananas. Mash together, but don’t completely break the bananas down – small chunks should remain
- Add in the oat flour, wholemeal flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and fold in
- Mix in the soya milk and apple cider vinegar
- Chop the chocolate and almonds into chunks and fold half of these into the mixture
- Pour the mixture into a lined baking tin (I used a deep square tin – I will try making this in other tins in the future, but the recipe may have to be adjusted for this)
- Bake the cake for 20-25 minutes until a knife/skewer comes out clean
- Leave the cake to cool on wire rack
- Melt down the remaining chocolate, then drizzle over the cake
- Sprinkle remaining almonds on top
- Slice and serve with natural yoghurt/light whipped cream and fresh berries
That’s it! This is one of my favourite new recipes, but I will keep tweaking each time I try it until it’s perfect! But what a tasty way to use up old fruit, and you’ll be keeping your body well-fuelled too – what’s not to like?!
That’s all from me for now – I hope you’ve enjoyed the content of this week’s post! Remember to get in touch in the comments if you’d like to give feedback or talk about what I’ve covered – I’d love to hear what you’ve got to say! Look out for my next post on food waste with some money-saving hacks and delicious waste-saving recipes that are useful for students and families alike. Thank you for reading, and have a great week!