Chocolate and rosemary are really wonderful partners, and very healthy too. Why not add them to your next banana bread making session? And pour it all into a skillet while you are at it. A great breakfast or healthy snack for the whole family. Naturally gluten-free too.
Do you – like me – often have a bowl of over-ripe speckled bananas hanging around, mocking your efforts to get your five-plus fruit and veg a day?
Nature’s second most perfectly-packaged food (after eggs, of course) is a must for any fruit bowl, helping to ripen other fruits and just generally being happy to play second fiddle to more seasonal fruits. But does it get the love it deserves, having come all the way from Honduras and very likely to be extinct in our lifetime? Certainly not in my house.
Yes, I buy them. I even eat them occasionally, especially before going to the gym. But I really don’t like them that much. I don’t hate them, but there are fruits* I would much rather spend calories on. Cherries, peaches (only perfect ones), pineapple, to name a few.
But bananas have their uses other than just peeling and eating on the spot, or bunging in a gym bag. Deeply blackened bananas destined for the compost heap are, by the on-the-ball cook, re-purposed into a breakfast bread or healthy snack without much effort or skill (yay!). If they aren’t stashed in the freezer for adding to a smoothie that is.
I rarely make plain banana bread, although occasionally I will make my late mother’s old recipe, written in her flawless, elegant handwriting on a precious, now-yellowed index card (with oil splashes).
You might have seen my recent-ish, fancy way with banana bread – this Blueberry and Cardamom Banana Cake (as a bundt cake, with lurid, naturally purple icing). Or, going back much further, my Marbled Peanut Butter and Jam Banana Bread. This current one however, with shards of rich dark chocolate and minced garden-fresh rosemary, is my go-to banana cake. Or bread. I get confused on the nomenclature.
I’ve recently converted some of my favourite, trusty cakes to be naturally gluten-free. Not because I need to but because I really think that changing out the flours is a great way of getting in a wider array of nutrients – or really, in the case of polenta, interesting texture and subtle taste.
I won’t claim polenta has any real impact nutritionally, but for those needing to keep things gluten-free, polenta is a great, natural alternative to wheat flour as well as the sometimes ingredient-heavy gf flour mixes out there – although I do use the latter occasionally when a lighter cake is desired. Ground almonds, ground dried corn (polenta), and coconut flour (not coconut powder: here’s the difference if you need to know) are my most-used wheat flour subs. But I’m getting to grips with buckwheat, teff, quinoa, green pea and, of course, chickpea flour. Because of the lack of gluten, ground pulses, peas and seeds aren’t completely interchangeable with wheat, but it’s fun experimenting with their unique properties. And sometimes it’s even edible!
This is more than edible.
* Fun fact: bananas are both a fruit and a herb. Who knew?
Chocolate and Rosemary Banana Bread
Call me crazy, but I really think rosemary goes a treat with the sweetness of very ripe bananas and the richness of chocolate. If you can’t go there – but at least promise me you will think about it – why not try some grated fresh ginger, especially seeing as they are actually related (!). If you like, make this up for a loaf tin, baking for about 15 minutes longer than stated – 50 minutes should do. xx
**Adapted from a recipe in the new Living Well With Cancer Cookbook, by food writer Fran Warde and Maggie’s London nutritionist Catherine Zabilowicz. A really informative and delicious book, with all royalties going to support the vital support work of the Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres, where I work.**
150-200g dates – my preference is the less sugary Deglet Nour dates, but Medjool are easier to find; I use 150g
2 medium ripe bananas or 3 small ones
3 medium eggs or 3 chia/flax eggs
50g butter, melted
50g coconut oil, melted (or you can use all coconut oil if you don’t mind the somewhat tropical taste)
150g fine polenta
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary (plus a little for the top if liked)
50g best dark chocolate, chopped (plus a little extra to scatter on top if liked)
1. Pop the pitted dates into a bowl and just cover with boiling water. Leave to soak for at least an hour. You will shortly pour the sweetened water in the cake, so don’t go too wild with your measurement.
2. Preheat your oven to 160C fan/180C/350F. Slick a cast-iron skillet with some of the butter or coconut oil OR butter and line a 500g/2 lb loaf tin.
3. Place the dates and their soaking water, along with the bananas, eggs and the fats into a food processor or blender (I use my Froothie Optimum 9400 for the smoothest result in blitzing those dates).
4. Dry whisk the polenta, baking powder and rosemary. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients, mixing well but not vigorously. Stir in the chopped chocolate and pour into the prepared skillet or tin. Scatter over any extra rosemary and chocolate. 5. Bake in the oven for about 30-35 minutes if using the skillet, or until it is starting to pull away from the sides and is getting quite golden. It may take a bit longer, depending on the sugar content of the bananas. If using a loaf tin, the time will be closer to 50 minutes.
6. Remove the bread/cake from the oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes before either cutting straight from the skillet or turning out to cool completely on a wire rack. It does taste great warm, with the chocolate all oozy and gooey! This cake stores very well if wrapped in foil or a cake tin. Eat within five days, or freeze in individual slices.
Disclosure: I am an ambassador for Froothie, and some links on this page are affiliate links. Any purchases through these links pays me a small amount (and doesn’t cost you anything extra) that helps me run food to glow. However, as always, all product reviews and recommendations are based on my honest opinion and personal use. If you’d like to know more about Froothie health products, or this machine in particular, please visit the Froothie website for more details.
** If you are reading this from the website Easy Low Cal Recipes, this is published without my permission – as are all other posts of mine on this site. **
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