It’s January, which means that many people are once again working hard to embrace all those healthy habits they swear will become more than a passing fling and instead turn into a true and lasting relationship (like the one they currently have with ice cream or wish they had with Ryan Gosling).
As I mentioned in my last post, one of the most popular diet trends this January is ditching grains, dairy and even legumes entirely – also known as the paleo or “caveman” diet. Since my husband is a fanatic CrossFitter who has definitely drank the kool-aid (which of course is paleo), I have gained insight into how dedicated certain people are to this diet. I’m talking golden retriever style loyalty to the paleo way of life (complete with bacon bribes for good behaviour), which means no grains, no legumes and no dairy – EVER (not just one month of the year). Since many of Trevor’s CrossFit friends are awesome people who show lots of love to TNB, I thought I’d hop on the caveman bandwagon for the month and see what all the fuss was about while developing some delicious recipes they can enjoy (thus today’s Paleo Banana Bread – but we’ll get to that).
I must say, so far I am liking the results of my paleo experiment. As someone who has often looked in the mirror and wondered if I was having some sort of alien baby (of course referencing that scene at the end of Spaceballs where the alien bursts out of the man’s stomach and tap dances across the diner counter), I am thrilled to have waved bye bye to a crazy, uncomfortable bloated belly since starting. And many experts tout the other many health benefits to eating like ancient man, such as increased energy, better moods, and reduced inflammation in the body (thus reducing the risk of disease). Interested in learning more? Here is a good resource.
I will admit that I’m not convinced this is the best diet long-term, as there are many, many health benefits to eating beans, chick peas and other legumes; as well as certain whole grains like brown rice and quinoa – one main one being improved heart health as all these foods increase good cholesterol. Plus, paleo can be very high in bad fats if not done correctly, which also isn’t good for the ol’ ticker. However, I do think we could all permanently break up with the more glutinous grains (lookin’ at you, wheat) and most dairy and be better for it. But this is just my humble opinion – which will be a lot more valuable soon…
As I mentioned in my last post I have some exciting news, which is that I am heading back to school part-time this March to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. So now I will actually be qualified to share my opinions on health and wellness with the world! But in all seriousness I am very excited to learn and have the opportunity to share all of that knowledge with whoever is interested, while hopefully inspiring people and helping them make their lives a little healthier and happier. So stay tuned for more as I start this crazy new journey. Hurrah to living your dreams, creating change in your life, and all that crap!
Alright let’s get back to the real reason you’re here – somethin’ delicious. Part of my paleo experiment has involved lots of time in the kitchen playing with new recipes. I can give up grains, but not baked goods – so I have been working a lot with the paleo approved flours, namely coconut and almond flours. Although delicious, working with these flours is tricky as they can’t be substituted 1-for-1 with wheat or other grain-based flours. Coconut flour in particular soaks up liquid like crazy, meaning not only do you have to use way less of it, you usually have to add more wet ingredients (don’t be surprised to find recipes that call for ½ cup of coconut flour with 5 eggs!). However there are many health benefits to coconut flour that make working with it worth the effort. Coconut flour is made from dried, defatted coconut meat. It’s a great source of protein and is also extremely high in fiber. In fact, coconut flour has the highest level of fiber among all other flours (58 per cent fiber in comparison to wheat flour which is only around 27 per cent). This fiber slows the release of glucose into the blood stream (making it a low glycemic food) and fills you up while making sure you don’t get hungry again 30 minutes after you eat. It will also help keep things moving, something that’s important to all of you who are trying to detox this month.
After a few flops, one recipe worked out beautifully, and that was for this delicious Paleo Banana Bread. Nothing is better on a cold winter morning than warming your kitchen with the smell of fresh baked banana bread, and this sugar-free, paleo version will be doing that a lot in my kitchen this month! So now if I look 5 months pregnant, it will be because I’m having a banana bread baby….
The Natural Blonde
Paleo Banana Bread
- ¾ cup almond flour
- ¼ cup coconut flour
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- 1 Tbsp coconut sugar, honey or stevia (optional but definitely not needed)
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup of mashed banana (about 2 very ripe bananas – again I like to use thawed frozen bananas as I find them sweeter)
- ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
- ½ cup chopped walnuts, chocolate chips, or blueberries (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients, taking care to break up any lumps in the coconut flour. Next, add the wet ingredients together, blend well, and then mix them into the dry ingredients. I use an electric hand mixer to ensure the batter is well blended, but you don’t have to.
Grease a loaf pan with coconut oil or line with parchment paper (I do the later so I can just lift the loaf right out) and pour in the batter. Bake for 40 minutes or until the top is browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the bread comes out clean. (Note: if you are using blueberries or other berries, add 5-6 mins. to cook time)
Allow to cool slightly (but not too much – banana bread is best still warm from the oven!) before slicing and serving.
Store in an airtight container for a few days or in the fridge for a week (we can pretend it may last that long…).