Yummy sweet things don’t have to be terrible for you! I am a huge believer in balance and you won’t hear me turning down birthday cake at any party ever. But at home, we have pretty much no refined sugars in the cupboards and honestly you wouldn’t even know. You can make almost any sweet recipe using coconut sugar instead of sugar, using the exact same weight as stated in the recipe but also adding 1 tablespoon of water.
When you compare coconut sugar to regular cane sugar, coconut sugar has more nutritional benefits: it is relatively high in zinc and iron and contains antioxidants and – most interestingly – inulin which is a prebiotic that can support the growth of beneficial bacteria within your gut. As well as being nutrient rich, coconut sugar has a lower glycaemic index than regular sugar, so won’t put your body under the same blood sugar rollercoaster. It also adds a really yummy caramelised flavour and texture to cakes, cookies and bars. If you don’t like coconut sugar, try honey or maple syrup (the latter being a preferable alternative due to its lower glucose/fructose content). For every 200 grams of sugar in the recipe, use 150 grams of honey or maple syrup, and reduce the overall liquid in the recipe by 3 or 4 tablespoons.
I love experimenting with my kids on how to make our favourite treats slightly less naughty. We also try to add healthy extras like grated carrot, courgette or beetroot (yes these work in most cakes!), pureed apple or pear, juice/zest of lemon or orange, chopped dried fruit, omega rich nuts and seeds and superfood powders. I always substitute plain flour for more nutrient dense higher protein or gluten free flours like almond or buckwheat.
Decently healthy banana bread to me is the holy grail of baking, which is why it is my first baking recipe on the blog. I love it for breakfast or as a snack anytime of day, either on its own, with almond butter or with cream cheese frosting and a cup of tea. The cake version tastes much better. The bread version works as toast! Unfrosted, it freezes well. A really versatile recipe and my kids all love it too.
BANANA BREAD / CAKE
150g coconut sugar
80g coconut flour
80g almond flour
60g buckwheat flour
60g rice flour
1tsp vanilla extract paste
4 ripe bananas
4 tbs almond milk
100g melted coconut oil (If you are making bread, remove or reduce this to 20g)
1 tbs chia seeds
2 tbs water
1tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda (these are not absolutely essential but it will rise better and have a fluffier texture)
180g cream cheese
2tbs maple syrup
Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Transfer to lined loaf tin.
Bake at 180 degrees for 40-50 minutes. While banana bread is baking, make frosting by combining cream cheese and syrup using a hand blender. Wait until banana bread is cooled then frost.
Disclaimer! Please remember that all sweet treats are treats. Use as little sweetening agent as you can, especially for your children, as they are forming their taste buds and sweetness gauge.Even “healthier” natural sugars such as coconut sugar, honey and maple syrup should be limited in your diet as they still, after all, contain sucrose and fructose (albeit in lower amounts) and so still bring with them the potential problems for your liver and blood sugar levels.