MIL’s Best Ever Banana Bread

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banana bread

I have barely had a moment to post anything in the last month. I have been busier than ever with my business. However,  I have found time (read: I must eat!) in my kitchen to experiment developing my own recipes. Having worked in one of Canada’s largest test kitchens for many years, creating recipes is second nature to me. However now my focus is on delicious AND nutritious foods made with minimally processed ingredients.

When my sweet mother-in-law recently said my banana bread was the best she has ever had, I thought this recipe might just be post-worthy. Or at least now my MIL has a place to find the recipe she loves.

I don’t use conventional wheat flour for a number of reasons so in this recipe almond and quinoa are my flours of choice. I find the mix gives a nice texture to the loaf and makes it gluten-free. Feel free to sub-in another flour you prefer for the almond. And if using maple syrup, KEEP IT REAL!  Fake maple syrup is a mix of synthetic or highly processed ingredients.  The bananas themselves offer up most of the sweet you will need so you can keep any sweetener you may choose to a minimum.

Ingredients:

  • 1c almond flour ( can substitute another ie. sunflower seed flour OR coconut flour)
  • 1.5 c quinoa flour
  • 1/3 cup hemp hearts (I use Manitoba Harvest)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon good quality salt (I used Pink Himalyan)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 c.
  • 1/3 c. real maple syrup (my sweetener of choice during springtime in Canada)
  • 1/4 c. plain unsweetend organic yogurt
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

How to:

  • Set your oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Grease loaf pan (I use coconut oil)
  • Mix together dry ingredients in a bowl
  • In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients…eggs, syrup, yogurt, mashed banana + vanilla) and whisk until mixed
  • Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until combined.
  • Pour into loaf pan
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 55-60 minutes
  • Test it’s done by sticking in a toothpick. If it comes out clean, it is done. Another test is to push down a wee bit on the top with your fingers.  A properly cooked loaf will spring back into place.
  • Remove from pan and enjoy!

And there you have it, a better than conventional banana bread. AND with the addition of hemp hearts added in you should be able to keep your belly feeling full for longer.  Great for a snack or end to a meal!

 

 

 

 

 

Does Fast Food Make Sense in a Campaign to Have Kids Eat Healthier?

First Lady Michelle Obama orders a Subway sub during an event at a Subway restaurant to announce that Subway will work with the Partnership for a Healthier America to help advance the goals of "Let's Move!," in Washington, D.C., Jan. 23, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

First Lady Michelle Obama orders a Subway sub during an event at a Subway restaurant to announce that Subway will work with the Partnership for a Healthier America to help advance the goals of “Let’s Move!,” in Washington, D.C., Jan. 23, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

This week First Lady Michelle Obama took the next step in her Let’s Move! campaign.  This program was developed by the First Lady to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity within a generation.  As a mom I admire Mrs. Obama’s initiative toward a very serious health issue but do find concern with her latest partner in the program toward getting kids to eat healthier; Subway Sandwich.

This week kicks off SUBWAY’s “Playtime, Powered by Veggies” marketing campaign which with Mrs. Obama’s endorsement and support will promote increased fruit and vegetable consumption. The campaign is designed to encourage kids to pile veggies on their Subway sandwiches and select fruit as their side of choice not chips. Additionally, SUBWAY agrees they will offer milk or water as a default beverage not soda pop. Nobody has said what happens if a child who goes into Subway must have a soda pop or chips and is shy with piling the veggies high? This past week, Mrs. Obama celebrated the move by hosting a group of children in a DC area Subway showing them the ‘healthy choices’ available on the subway menu. It is rumoured The First Lady ate a turkey sub showing her support for the ‘healthy fare’ at the fast food giant.

Increased consumption of fruits and veggies by children is a always good thing in my opinion.  In fact, a huge part of my day to day is cutting up apples, carrots, cucumber, peppers for my two daughters.  I see that veggies make it into every lunch box and most every dinner.  And fortunately my kids eat them raw, unadulterated, unprocessed, unpreserved and uncoloured.

When fruit and veggies are being promoted by a fast food chain they will undoubtedly be accompanied by synthetic colours and preservatives, there to help them get through ‘shelf life’. Not to mention they are accompaniments to a sandwich filled with highly processed meats and sauces. Who considers highly processed foods a healthy choice by simply adding some (preserved and/ or coloured) fruits and veggies with it? So I am stumped by this latest initiative of the Let’s Move! program.

A quick check of Subway’s ingredient list on their website gives detail of the oodles of additives included in their sandwiches.  So it is easy to see that by eating at Subway you will get a significant dose of not-so-good-for-you ingredients such as added sugars, salt, colours (ie tartrazine, caramel colour), nitrates, nitrites, carageenan, azodicarbonamide (oh my!) just to name a few.

So irregardless of Mrs. Obama’s seemingly well-intended endorsement of Subway as a way to eat healthier, I will still opt daily to have my kids eat fruits and veggies at home, taken out of the fridge then sliced AND without a side of any synthetic, processed fake foodstuffs. Now isn’t that the best way to promote healthier eating?

Hooray My Family Likes Hemp!

I recently introduced my kids to Manitoba Harvest’s hemp hearts. All I read touted these wee seeds  as a nutrition powerhouse which naturally intrigued me. What parent doesn’t dream of good-tasting, easy to use (read: NO PREP!!) healthy foods that kids will happily eat. So I gave it a go.

Now a few months after adding hemp hearts to our meals, my eldest daughter now requests them.  We use them on salads, in our home-baked goods and sprinkled on after school snacks such as Coconut Bliss.  Even our fave baking mix becomes a little bit more super-foody by adding hemp hearts. And as my daughter tends not to eat much meat or cheese, her favourite meal…a corn tortilla with salsa suddenly becomes a more nutritionally-balanced meal by adding hemp hearts.

There are a number of other reasons I love that hemp hearts have become a food choice in our house:

Hemp is grown in Canada. With so many of our foods in Canada coming from warmer climes, I love that hemp is home-grown.  Hemp is a sustainable crop used also in the production of building products, paper and clothes. So as an environmentalist, I am hoping that this means eventually less of our gorgeous trees will be cut down for paper. And hopefully there will be less need for clothes made from cotton….one of the most-sprayed crops in North America.

And anyone who knows me or reads my posts, will know that I LOVE the fact that hemp is not grown with the high pesticide use common in many other North American food crops. High pesticide use is why my family has  already given up non-organic wheat, soy, corn and sugar.

The nutritional benefits of hemp would make anyone striving for an all-round healthy foods want to try it. Known for its protein-packed punch…10 g of vegan protein per 3 tbsp AND without excessive saturated fat and cholesterol, it knocks the socks off a number of other conventional animal sources of protein. And the near perfect ratio of Omega 3 and 6’s is not found naturally in either flax or in chia.

And hemp contains the hard to come by Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA). Studies have shown that GLA helps with arthritis, join mobility, eczema, hormonal balance, migraines, blood pressure levels and even weight management.  Hemp is also a good source of fibre, iron, thiamine, folate, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and manganese.

Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts come already hulled making them easy to digest allowing the nutritional benefits to be easily assimilated into the body.  I appreciate that Manitoba Harvest processes in a dedicated facility meaning it does not process any dairy, soy, nut or gluten products.  We have no allergies in our home but being void of known allergens makes Manitoba Hemp Hearts a suitable addition to my kids lunchbox meals.

Reading up on the hemp industry in Canada will confirm that it is a very regulated business. You can rest easy knowing that any notion that hemp is related to marijuana was put to rest years ago by our Federal Government.  They reportedly tested hemp for 4 years prior to legalizing commercial hemp production in Canada in 1998. A ‘virtual high-five’ for Health Canada!

So super-healthy, tasty and clean (even the de-hulling process is chemical-free), I am happy I gave hemp hearts the ‘kid-test’ in my house.

Manitoba Harvest has offered to send a total of 5 lucky people in either the US or Canada a bag of hemp hearts!!!  We will draw from the entries on July 5, 2013. There are a number of ways to become eligible to win.

Here’s What to Do:Hemp_Hearts__12867.1371813843.1280.1280

  • Post a comment on this post telling us why you would like to try hemp hearts.
  • Tweet: I want to try #hemphearts  @sessabel @manitobaharvest #giveaway #EatRealFood
  • Share this post and giveaway on Facebook and tag @sessabel (and we like when you ‘like’ our page too!)
  • Or Pin the Hemp Hearts photo to Pinterest tagging Sessabel We just started Pinterest this week so would love a wee bit of love for our board!

A Celebration and Junk Food For All??!

Junk food for all! That was the scene in my 4 year olds classroom yesterday morning when I dropped her off at 9am. What? Parents weren’t informed of any reason nor given the option of making comment on the junk being given out in class that day. Usually we know of a party or celebration and can act accordingly.

Confused, I went to the school office to enquire. Why was my child being given junk food at school?! I explained…To me it’s an issue on so many levels.  So many food sensitivities ie. gluten, dairy, eggs are just being discovered at this tender age. And is there a person on the planet who thinks a high sugar treat is conducive to learning?

My daughter is too young to be able to speak about detail of what she does and doesn’t eat at home. I am not sure if the school relying on young kids to say ‘no thank-you my mom wouldn’t approve’? OR ‘We are a’junk food adverse family..no thanks’ OR ‘I barely eat gluten as my daddy is sensitive to it so it may bother my tummy’ OR  I only weigh 36 pounds so I won’t deal well with all that sugar’. Is anyone expecting that sort of thing from a 4 year old?

In retrospect I am still wondering how this all went down. Have schools become confused? The crap being doled out yesterday in class was labelled ‘school safe’.  But clearly peanut-free doesn’t make it a good choice for all and shouldn’t give schools the right to give it out at will to such young kids without their parents knowledge.

Needless to say, my child came home with a nasty tummy ache. To anyone who thinks it is fun to give young kids these things without knowing if it is in their daily diet or not, here’s the scoop… If you cause a wee kid a health issue, even a seemingly minor tummyache it was not such a celebratory thing for all. Maybe its time we respect all of each other’s dietary choices no matter how foreign it may seem to us.

And it would appear from my experience that there is no policy on handing out food to kids past that of severe allergens. I was asked if I wanted my daughter to be left out of such food festivities in future. What? is anyone listening…What place does junk food have in a school, handed out to young kids?  I was informed by the teacher (who I have the utmost respect for as a teacher..she is quite fabulous really) that she didn’t know the mom was bringing in the snack for the whole class to celebrate the birth of her new baby so couldn’t inform the parents in advance…Wow..and so you just hand it out? Clearly the Toronto District School Board (or at least the school) needs a policy around this.

Any other parents have experience with this? Please share as I am at a loss…

Chocolate In the Raw.

So you’ve heard that dark chocolate is good for you right? Well, if you dig a little deeper, there is more to consider about chocolate than if it is simply dark. Truth is that processing can make or break the ‘healthy’ claim.

Giddy yoyo_original

Raw cacao is one of the healthiest things on the planet. It contains a significant amount of valuable antioxidants which help cells in the body to repair themselves and stay well.  It is reported to have many times more antioxidant power than raw blueberries, goji berries and red wine. Studies on cacao confirm it is linked to reducing blood pressure and preventing cardiovascular disease and cancers.

The issue is most cacao used in conventional bars of chocolate has been grown with chemicals, is then high heat processed and to boot any goodness is further diluted with hydrogenated oils, dairy, and crazy amounts of refined sugars.

Enter Canadian company Giddy YoYo….who have figured it all out by making bars of chocolate both nutritious AND delicious. Giddy’s bars are made without high temperature processing. I asked them the scoop and was told that the highest temperature their bars get is in the sun in its native Equador. Wow…who knew? And certified organic means you won’t be consuming the loads of chemicals from high pesticide use and irradiation commonplace in conventional cacao bean production.

And just to make life a little sweeter…they use just enough (non GMO of course!) cane sugar and some very delish organic, fair trade flavours, My personal faves are the Mint, Orange, and the Spicy. But with more fab-sounding flavours just coming out, I have more taste-testing to do.

And as there is never any dairy, gluten, nuts in Giddy YoYo, I am over the moon as it is a healthy, nutritious and safe treat for school lunchboxes. Yippee!

As with most of my very fave products, Giddy YoYo bars can be purchased on-line in Canada at Sessabel (with free shipping in the Greater Toronto Area) and it’s in lots of brick and mortar stores as well.