By Rebecca Almond
Here at HFG we love to tinker with recipes, both in the test kitchen and in our own homes – swapping out less healthy ingredients for nutrient-rich and allergy-or-intolerance-friendly alternatives. So when a friend with coeliac disease invited me to her new flat for coffee, I set about searching for a sweet treat I could bake to take along – one that everyone would enjoy.
Banana bread is a classic coffee break snack, and one that’s simple to make. Cookery books and recipe websites are filled with variations on the theme, but many are high in calories and contain gluten. For me, bananas are sweet enough, so I decided to leave out the usual maple syrup/sugar/agave nectar component. And to make the loaf gluten-free, I put the coconut flour I’d picked up at a health food store a few weeks ago (clueless as to what to do with it) to the test.
The result? A moist, subtly-sweet loaf that’s low in calories (only 117kcal per slice!), high in fibre and protein, and, crucially, something all of my friends and I happily tucked in to. Give it a go yourself and let me know how you get on…
Coconut, chia and banana loaf
PREP 10 min + resting COOK 40–50 min CUTS INTO 10 slices
3 ripe bananas (you want the skins to be nicely speckled)
1tsp vanilla bean paste
½tsp ground cinnamon
2tsp gluten-free baking powder
70g coconut flour (I used Sukrin)
20g chia seeds
Desiccated coconut, to sprinkle (optional)
1. Put the bananas, eggs, vanilla bean paste, cinnamon and baking powder in a blender and whiz until smooth (the mixture will be quite runny, like a smoothie).
2. Sift the coconut flour into a large bowl, then stir through the chia seeds. Slowly pour in the banana mixture, whisking with a balloon whisk until thickened and combined. Cover and set aside for 10 min to allow the flour and chia to expand. Heat the oven to 170C/fan 150C/gas 3½ and line a 1lb loaf tin with baking paper.
3. Pour the cake batter into the prepared tin, then smooth the surface with a spatula. Decorate the top with a sprinkling of desiccated coconut, if you like (you could use sliced banana or chopped nuts, or leave plain – it’s just as delicious), then bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 40–50 min until golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean. If the top looks like it’s browning too quickly, cover loosely with foil.
4. Remove the loaf from the oven and leave to cool for 5 min before turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely. The loaf will keep, well wrapped, in the fridge for up to a week – if you can make it last that long…
SERVING SUGGESTIONS: A slice of this loaf is perfect as it is, but you could top with a drizzle of runny honey, natural seed butter or a little ricotta cheese, if you like.