sugar-free baking: banana, cacao nib and raspberry muffins

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I was really busy this last week or so with work, uni assignments and life more generally – so much so, I found it too difficult to find the mental-space to think creatively about food. I’ve been surviving on takeout, bowls of sugar-free cereal (like this amazing one from whisk and pen), and pretty uninspired salads.

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dried strawberries, coconut flakes, toasted pistachios, dried pineapple.. ohhhh heaven in milk

Overall, being sugar-free has been going pretty well – although it’s hard to tell if I’m feeling any better two weeks in because I’ve been battling a stubborn cold. I have to admit I’m eating too much fruit still, probably about three portions a day. I’m just finding it so hard to cut out! probably because I haven’t been organised enough to put together veggie-based alternatives, so that’s definitely on the to do list for this week.

In my sugar-free existence I’ve been thinking about baking a lot. I’ve been a bit hesitant because I hate the taste of stevia and other sweeteners.

Ignoring my over consumption of fruit for a moment, these muffins are a nice afternoon snack. The use of hazelnut meal makes these muffins pretty moorish and earthy; whilst the cacao nibs give it a bit of crunch. I found the flavours without sugar take a little adjusting to and I think you need to be a fan of that distinct nut meal taste. This is also probably because I associate banana and “chocolate” muffins with a big hit of sweetness. In my opinion, you have to use super ripe bananas to balance out the flavours if you’re like myself and don’t fancy the taste of stevia.

I’m really bad at measuring my ingredients and base things like muffins on feel and taste. I think the beauty of recipes like this is that they’re very forgiving, so you can add and subtract, swap and change, without thinking too hard about it all.

sugar-free banana, cacao nib and raspberry muffins

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dry ingredients: 

  • 3/4 cup of hazelnut meal (or another meal of choice)
  • 1 cup of plain flour (wholewheat or white)
  • 1/2 cup of oats (quick or rolled)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup of raw organic cacao nibs

wet ingredients: 

  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup of oil
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • 1/3 cup of strong coffee, cooled (optional)
  • 2 eggs, lightly whisked
  • 1/2 cup of raspberries, chopped (frozen or fresh; other berries would also work well)
  • stevia or other sweetener (optional, to taste)

method:

  1. preheat oven to 180C, line a muffin tray with patty-cases
  2. place dry ingredients in a large bowl, whisk to combine
  3. in a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients, minus the bananas and raspberries
  4. make a well in the centre, of the dry ingredients, and pour in the wet ingredients. fold through until just combined (be careful not to overbeat).
  5. add the banana and raspberries and fold through gently.
  6. fill each patty case 3/4 full and bake in the over for 15-20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean (note: they will be quite dark in colour due to the hazelnut meal and espresso)

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pure indulgence: banana ricotta pancakes with cinnamon maple butter

hooray for the weekend! With the weather finally warming (even if only ever so slightly), it’s much more pleasant to spend the day outside. S and I went for a wonderful drive last weekend, and discovered a big beautiful lake about … Continue reading

e is for energy: millet banana bread

I have a confession. When I’m ravenous and in a hurry, all my food-discipline and beliefs dissolve. I’ll jump on the fastest, easiest, most-evil thing in the cupboard/fridge: two minute noodles, big mugs of milo, blocks of cadbury dairymilk, stir-through pasta sauces.. terrible.

I find this a significant issue after exercise in the morning, I scramble home, and then rush out the door to begin my half hour walk to work and by then I am STARVING. So I spend the whole half hour morphing Bon Iver lyrics into odes to brioche and nutella, french toast and bacon, three cheese omelettes, freshly baked cinnamon scrolls… ohhh

Making power-smoothies in the morning are a great way to get the post-exercise boost you need, and I love to do this on the weekends; but blitzing smoothies during the week just isn’t practical for me.

My refuel of choice is this millet banana bread, which I power-up with quinoa – because as you’ve probably realised, I love this grain!

I bake my bread sugar-free because when you use squishy overripe bananas, I find they’re sweet enough to hold their own. If they’re not quite at that blackened stage, a squeeze of honey should be enough of a sweet kick.

A slice of this is also great to cure your two-thirty-itis in the office. When the beginning of an afternoon slump creeps up on me, I love to take five minutes to toast up a slice, slather it with almond butter, and enjoy it with a cup of tea.

This bread is pretty moist and light; so if more convenient, you could easily bake it in a muffin pan for individual portions.

Sugar-free Millet Banana Bread

  • 3/4 cup cooked quinoa, as per package directions
  • 2 large overripe bananas, mushed
  • 2 eggs, lightly whisked
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract/paste
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 tbs melted butter, cooled
  • 1/2 plain flour (or quinoa flour, or rice flour to make gluten-free)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 cup millet flour
  • handful walnuts/pecans, roughly chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line a loaf pan with baking paper.
  2. Place the quinoa in a large mixing bowl and stir together with mushed up bananas
  3. Add the egg, cinnamon, vanilla, salt, and butter, and continue mixing. (If using sugar or honey, add at this stage as well)
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the baking soda, baking powder, and flours. Add nuts. Add to the wet ingredients 1/2 cup at a time until all the dry ingredients are incorporated.
  5.  Pour the batter into the pan. Bake in a 180C oven for 40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  6. Remove the bread from the oven and let it rest for as long as you can resist…