Monday 22 July 2013

Healthy banana bread and kids making do

When I was a kid, I once swapped some shop-made Barbie clothes with my neighbour who had made clothes out of paper and sticky tape.  I was delighted.  It often amazes me how little kids need.  For Sylvia a bucket is a drum and a tissue is a blanket.  She makes a house for dolly out of two chairs and a towel.  So when we were baking banana bread recently and Dolly needed an apron, Sylvia just made one out of paper and sticky tape.  Plus ca change...

Adults do it different.  Sylvia was quite happy with Dolly's apron.  Even proud of her work.  I felt guilty because I had been promising to make an apron.  I have mentioned before that I am not keen on sewing.  So you will understand that this little dress I have finally hand-sewn for Dolly (below) is a labour of love.

Sylvia was happy with the dress.  We even have some material to make more dresses.  Meanwhile, we have undertaken some other little projects that would never sell in a shop but delight Sylvia.  Below is a bunkbed that E and Sylvia made out of rulers, gaffer tape and lids off boxes that hold printing paper.

Another little project is a swing that Sylvia was determined to make.  We started with an old shoebox and painted it.  Then we found twigs in the garden and stuck them together with masking tape and hung the swing with wool. 

Did it work?  No.  We spent more time trying to stand up the swing than swinging it.  But Sylvia loved it.  After we gave up on the twig stand, we hung the shoebox swing between two of her kiddie chairs and she loved that too.

Most recently, she has created a dollies party with her dolls (etc) seated on plastic tubs from the kitchen around a little stool she has.  Children can make so much out of so little.

Enough about making children's toys from very little.  One of the easiest ways to entertain a child is to bake.  Sylvia (and Dolly) are always happy to tip ingredients into a bowl and stir them, if with perhaps a tad too much vigour.

This banana bread had the right balance for me.  It was not so far from the traditional banana cake that I grew up with.  Yet it was more substantial and healthy with lots of seeds, nuts, honey and treacle.  Actually the original recipe didn't have treacle.  I made it and never posted it because it just didn't come out right.  I used a silicone cake 'tin' that wasn't as non-stick as it once was and the cake was just a bit sticky inside.

E said he would love a banana bread with treacle.  At first I considered adding quite a lot of treacle which seemed to make it more gingerbread than banana bread.  In the end I decided that a little treacle (instead of honey) would be enough to make an impact.  It was darker than the first iteration and so much better for staying in the oven a little longer.

We all loved this cake.  Sylvia was a little wary of the bits.  Next time I must remember to finely chop the walnuts.  E wanted it with ice cream.  I loved it spread with chocolate spread.  However I think it is brilliant without any accompaniments.  The flavours are complex with honey, treacle and cinnamon and the texture is interesting.  In fact it tastes so good and healthy that I would like to make this my regular banana cake.

I am sending this cake to Elizabeth's Kitchen and Turquoise Lemons for the No Waste Food Challenge.  This month the theme is freezer stash.  I often have bananas in the freezer and this cake is a brilliant way of using them up.  (It also fits the above idea of making do with children's craft and creations.)

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: WSC Chocolate thumbprints and a stew
Two years ago: MLLA Chickpea, potato and tomato stew
Three years ago: Syrup cake, shoes and chooks
Four years ago: SHF Apricot sponge – by any other name
Five years ago: Vegetarian Cassoulet
Six years ago: Mushroom Yoghurt Pie with Spinach Crust

Healthy Banana Bread
Adapted from Emily Rose's Have your Cake

2 eggs
1/2 cup rice bran oil
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp treacle
1 tsp cinnamon
3 mashed bananas
1 and 3/4 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 cup almond meal (or LSA if you have it)
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Beat together eggs and rice bran oil (electric beaters optional).  Mix in honey and treacle by hand.  Stir in banana and then gently stir in remaining ingredients.  Tip into a greased and lined loaf tin.  Bake at 180 C for 1 hour (I baked mine at 190 C for about 10 minutes longer because the first time even at 190 C for an hour it was a bit moist inside.)  Leave in tin about 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack. Keeps in an airtight container at least 3 days.

On the Stereo:
Roaring Days - Weddings Parties Everything


  1. This banana cake looks delicious, and I would love the "bits". I enjoyed reading about and seeing Sylvia's imaginative play items - oh to be so readily entertained as an adult.

    1. Thanks Cakelaw - I love bits too - and I bake less bits these days because of Sylvia's dislike of them. Her imagination is a delight though (but better during the day than when she should be sleeping)

  2. Oh what a precious post Johanna! I love that you play with Sylvia and she enjoys every moment and every bit:) Capture it now because it sure doesn't last long enough:)

    I've never tasted banana bread with treacle. Interesting. But I love that you have honey and almond meal in this recipe. Also interesting.

    Thank you so much for sharing and Congrats! It's a Boy!

    1. Thanks Louise - yes, always change with kids - sometimes I wish for no change and sometimes the change can't come fast enough but totally agree the time with her is precious. There's some advice for will and kate :-)

  3. This looks like my sort of banana bread - I like bits and I like treacle. I also love Sylvia's creations and the various doll accompaniments. You might not sell them in a shop but I think they are much better than anything you could find in a shop!

    1. Thanks Kari - I love bits and treacle too - at least Sylvia loves treacle. I love all the little toys in the shops that create little worlds for kids but there is nothing like making it yourself.

  4. Isn't it funny how kids have such imagination! I remember creating entire worlds out of regular things. The dress you made is lovely! :)

    1. Thanks Lorraine - kids' imaginations are just amazing - where do they go as we grow up - glad you like the dress - I am quite a novice at sewing, and almost wish I have a sewing machine for this sort of work (almost, not quite)

  5. What a lovely banana bread!

    And it really is amazing how little kids need to really be content!

    1. Thanks Joanne - a saucepan and wooden spoon and a jar of pasta can be endlessly amusing for a kids - and for us cooks too :-)

  6. This is COMPLETELY my kind of banana bread.

    And I miss those days of making crafts that seemed magical.

    1. Thanks Hannah - making crafts with kids is almost as good as when I was little but I have to be more responsible for the cleaning up :-)

  7. That was so lovely to see the projects you have with your children! And yes, when you let them. children will make a lot out of very little! My favorite things as a child was drawing, and my mom sometimes spent time drawing with me, which made me very happy. I also like to build castles from paper which I cut and then put together.

    Is banana bread something traditional like ginger bread? I know the latter, but banana bread is nothing we have over here. Still, it seems to be one of the favorite things to make in the food blog world. I used to think that was because you can use bananas to substitute regular sugar so it's healthier than simple sweet bread.

    1. Thanks Kath - Sylvia loves drawing castles - I think both of us would love to build castles out of paper but I suspect Sylvia would be better at it than me because I would try to do too much whereas she is happy with simple ideas.

      Banana bread is probably as common as gingerbread loaves - it is something my mum made me a lot when I was little (though it was actually banana cake - I get a little confused about the distinction between banana bread and banana cake - I guess the bread is more dense). I guess a lot of people make banana bread a lot for the same reason I do - bananas go soft so quickly and make such great cakes and yes less sugar is needed with bananas.

  8. I absolutely love banana bread and your healthy version sounds fantastic! Thank you for sharing with the No Waste Food Challenge!


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