Recipe: Banana & Raisin Bread



Bread is one of the those things in life that is just so comforting. I love a slice of bread served warm with either nut butter or some real grass fed butter. It is utterly delicious and in my mind best saved for a tasty mid morning treat with a cup of tea. Today's recipe is for banana and raisin bread. I toyed with the idea of calling this bread a cake as it borderline tastes like a sweet treat.

Before I became more mindful of my food choices, I thought bread was bread and the choice was either white or brown and that was that. However there is so much more to think about. Many of the store bought breads contain processing aids such as flour improvers, dough conditioners, perservatives, chemical leavening and other artificial additives. There is a real bread movement in Ireland which promotes bread being made simply from flour, water and fermentation and without the use of such processing aids. Sourdough bread is the star of the real bread movement. I haven't attempted to make my own sourdough bread just yet and instead save eating it for occasions where I can get real sourdough bread and on these occasions, I thoroughly enjoy it. If you want to journey more into the world of real bread, checkout this website; www.realbreadireland.org.

Besides the presence of many processing aids in much of the bread being sold, another concern I have with bread is the presence of refined carbohydrates such as white flour and sugar. These can play havoc with blood sugar levels and often leave us feeling overfull and bloated. We are encouraged to eat whole grain breads instead of refined grains, and while better than refined grains, even wholegrains can still cause blood sugar levels to go up rapidly and when they go down we suffer from energy slumps and feel hungry.

If you are not ready to give up bread altogether, I think a good compromise is to change how we view bread and it's role in a healthy diet. I think bread is often viewed as a perfectly healthy and acceptable component of breakfast and lunch. For example, toasted bread at breakfast and a sandwich or roll at lunch. Much of the bread bought in supermarkets and served in sandwich delis contain refined wheat and would not qualify as 'real bread' using the Real Bread Ireland movement criterion. Instead of giving up bread altogether, my compromise was to stop eating bread everyday and instead save it for weekend brunch or, like I mentioned at the start, see it as a treat to have every so often.

When I do buy bread, I buy real sourdough; I say real as it seems that some have caught onto the increased popularity of sourdough and are selling imitation sourdough that contains additives and processing aids. Something to watch out for.

I haven't been brave enough to make my own sourdough bread yet. Instead I have been making this 'bread' slash 'cake' recently and I adore it; mainly because I love the flavour of the buckwheat flour with the banana and raisins. This recipe would not qualify as 'real bread' when put to the Real Bread Ireland test. I use baking soda, vanilla extract and apple cider vinegar. But for me this is a start and works as a good compromise between the heavily processed store bought bread and the pure real bread such as real sourdough.

Ingredients:

2 cups of oats

1 cup of buckwheat flour

1/4 cup of raisins

1 tsp of baking soda

2 tsp of cinnamon

Pinch of sea salt

3 bananas

1/4 cup of almond milk

1/4 cup of olive oil

1 tsp of vanilla extract

1 tsp of apple cider vinegar

2 tsp of sesame seeds (optional)

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to gas mark 5 / 190 degrees celsius. Using a food processor grind the oats into oat flour. Add to a large bowl, along with the other dry ingredients; i.e. the buckwheat flour, raisins, baking soda, cinnamon and sea salt. Mix well.

2. Add the bananas to your food processor, along with the other wet ingredients; i.e. the almond milk, olive oil, vanilla extract and apple cider vinegar. Mix to break down the bananas and combine well.

3. Pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well using a fork. Spoon into a loaf tin lined with baking paper, sprinkle the sesame seeds on top and place in the oven for 30-35 minutes. It should be ready if when pricked with a toothpick, the toothpick comes out dry.

4. Remove from the loaf tin and allow to cool on a baking tray before cutting it.

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