Banana bread is just one of those things you sometimes CRAVE and need...in your mouth...immediately.
I have worked in hospitality for a long, long time and banana bread is always on the menu. Is it ever vegan? HA! I wish. So, the other day, happily plodding along at work; it hit me. Like a sledgehammer. Fast, immediate and strong. I needed banana bread. I wanted the softness, the banana-ness, the cake-ness (without the sickness of eating cake).
After a quick-smart google of "easy vegan banana bread" to see if there was anything important missing from my pantry, I headed home to begin. I started with a recipe, but in true-Hannah style, begun diverting from it completely. I had dates, so I wanted to put them in. Veggie oil you say? I think I'll use coconut. Why not chuck some almonds in while I'm at it?
It's my inability to follow recepies that's created a lot of magic. And disasters.
Without further ado - I give you - my incredible Banana Bread. If we wanted to be all picky: I'd call it, Banana Date and Coconut Bread, but it doesn't have the same ring.
Trust me - it's incredible.
4 ripe bananas, mashed up
6 pitted medjool dates, diced
3 tablespoons pure organic Date Syrup*
1/3 cup melted organic coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup wholemeal plain flour
1/3 cup wholemeal self raising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup organic soy or almond milk
*the date syrup I added for some extra sweetness! You can always use more whole dates chopped if you prefer. I felt this amount was just right.
Begin by placing the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.
In a saucepan, melt your coconut oil and stir in the vanilla essence. Add these wet ingredients (and soy milk) to the dry ingredients and fold together nicely. It's okay if the mixture seems a little dry, because next - you'll add the mashed bananas! Fold in the banana mixture, dates and date syrup until you have a lovely wet consistency.
If you're worried about the consistency being a little dry - add a dash more soy/almond milk.
Grease a loaf tin with coconut oil and pour in your batter. Finish off with a sprinkling of sliced almonds and then place into your oven for approximately 50 minutes. Check after 45 by seeing if a knife comes out clean - otherwise leave in for a bit longer.
And voila! Perfect, divine banana bread.
Enjoy with a lovely cuppa.
It's getting frostier and frostier in the lovely city of Manchester. I know it isn't even Winter yet, but hey - I'm Australian, so it's all cold to me.
Despite the cold: this week has been a dream. I've performed in two amazing plays and not many actors get that lucky so early on in their career! Every day it has been wake up, bus to the theatre, full day of rehearsals and then jump on a train to get to my evening performance. Busy, hectic and in true form of my "struggling actor" persona - I'm living on a very minimal budget. Public transport in the UK is no cheap feat and the world of acting doesn't exactly pay well until you "make it".
With nearly no budget and not a lot of time to prepare food: I had something of a challenge on my hands to keep well fuelled, full of energy and HEALTHY.
But you know me - I love food challenges. I've just completed my gluten-free challenge, an amazing success....so if this week's challenge becomes "Staying Healthy, Happy and Energised While Never at Home and Constantly Rehearsing with Absolutely no Money"?
BRING IT ON!
First thing's first - I cut back unnecessary spending and that's never a bad thing. Abundance of soy mochas, anyone? I am lucky enough to have the luxury of sitting in cafes a lot (my favourite place to blog) and sipping away on a coffee or two. But, once my budget gets tighter it's the first thing to go. Those innocent little pounds spent on coffee build up and it's a simple way to quickly save. Those pounds buy a lot of bananas!
Other unnecessary spending: buying meals out when I just don't need to. I love being social and having dinner with friends, but often I find myself grabbing food out, when I easily could have just packed lunch - so really the challenge becomes managing my time better and perhaps spending fifteen minutes before bed packing a lunch box (which is actually fun!) instead of watching the new episode of America's Next Top Model.
Most evenings - I make myself overnight oats to have ready in the morning and a very simple, HUGE lunch box to keep me fuelled up. Usually this involves dinner leftovers or a heap of chopped up vegetables with my home-made hummus. Or both. Then separate snacks like a bulk bag of dates. Dates are perfect for busy days like this! They give you lots of energy and are inexpensive :)
As ridiculous as it sounds - there are small ways to give yourself extra motivation to make packed lunches. For example - invest in some really cute takeaway containers and started collecting jars! When I did this, quite simply: I wanted to use them. Making a packed lunch became even more fun because I wanted to use my lovely gadgets and making overnight oats with my recycled tahini jar made me feel like some kind of God.
Another benefit from a challenge like this, is that I do genuinely feel healthier when my meals are simple. A big salad with just three or four ingredients digests like a dream and is packed with simple, delicious flavours.
Final benefit to this challenge? It's so nice to prove, meal by meal, that eating healthy is not expensive.
People often tell me that they could not afford to be a vegan or even to eat "healthy" and I find it such a strange claim. Fruits and vegetables are without doubt, the cheapest part of most grocery shops, vegan or not! You do not need weird, crazy supplements, you do not need organic oils you've never heard of, you don't need any fancy ingredients that don't appeal.
All you need are good, healthy staples and these do not have to be expensive!
A simple sweet potato, tomato and lettuce GIANT salad with a tahini dressing for my dinner. A jar of tahini can be as little as 2 pounds (yes organic!) and lasts a while, especially if you use just a tablespoon and bulk that up with lovely lemon juice and water to make a divine dressing.
If on a budget - fill your grocery bag with root vegetables, brown rice, porridge oats and bananas :) Obviously go for as much fresh fruit and greens as possible, but you'll get lots of energy and bang-for-your-buck from those good staples. A great recipe for the wallet, leftover containers and waist line, is a big ratatouille! YUM!
Just involves an onion, tinned tomatoes, whatever veggies you want to chuck in and then a base of brown rice. Cheap and DELICIOUS! Don't believe me? Look below at these ORGANIC tins!
Time to be a bit girly.....
Winter is my favourite time for fashion! I love big jackets, I love scarves and gloves and I love layering up. Winter clothing is the best kind to get from second hand shops! When you go into a charity shop looking for coats, scalves and cardigans, prepare to be wowed....
Again - feeling a bit pretty and dressing like a fox (without the involvement of any kind of real Fox) does not have to be expensive. I am also in love with these polkadott tights that I seem unable to take off....
Excess winter layers also means - yay....guilt free desserts! (I love that I'm pretending to ever feel guilty.) But seriously - no one is gonna be seeing me in a singlet for at least six months, so bring on delicious vegan flapjacks and midnight chocolate pancakes.
The other night, while watching a trashy rom-com, I had a craving and whipped up these bad boys you can drool over below. A very simple vegan pancake recipe with some cocoa sprinkled in. Finished off with a few squares of decadent dark chocolate that melted perfectly over them, hot-off-the-pan. Almost guilt free and took all of five minutes to knock together.
The Flapjack is full credit to one of my favourite spots: The Tea Hive in Chorlton. If you live in Manchester and haven't visited yet - please do. They always have vegan brownies and at least two other cake options. Their vegan sandwich is incredible also.
The other best thing about winter? Waking up to something like this:
Have a wonderful week everyone! Enjoy cheap eating if you must :) Otherwise - well...enjoy your decadent delicious vegan feasts!
I am so late to this band-wagon it's disgusting.
But, I FINALLY made my own hummus.
One hundred per cent credit to Mr Nick Newth, who stayed with me a few weeks ago and, in a very ninja-fied way, whipped up some hummus while I was at work one day.
I've been excited to tackle hummus because everyone seems to have their own recipe. Their own golden rules. Their own "do's" and "don'ts".... like a Bolognese or guacamole.
So - I did what any wannabe chef does - I listened to no one, went with my instincts and this is what happened!
And I must confess....I think it's quite delicious!
One thing I did that I haven't heard anyone say or read on any recipes (makes me slightly nervous) ....was that I added water. CONTROVERSIAL! The constancy just wasn't quite right and I wanted to avoid getting to heavy on the oil....so I just went for it, added some water and it was 100% the right choice. Yay instincts!
Do you have an amazing hummus recipe to share? Tell me what to change up next!
Also - I did this in my blender, as I don't have a food processor yet, but it was fantastic! I love my blender.
1/4 kilo of dry chickpeas
2 Tablespoons Tahini
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 cup water (#controversial)
Salt and Pepper
1 teaspoon Cumin powder
2 cloves garlic
The first thing you need to do is soak your chickpeas overnight, I'd say for at least 12 hours.
So a little pre-planning is necessary :) Just put your dry chickpeas in a bowl, cover in water (at least double the amount of peas) and then leave to expand.
Now: cooking time! Drain the chickpeas and transfer to a large cooking pot. Cover in water again, bring to the boil and then simmer for just over an hour. Test them after an hour and see if they're soft enough - mine ended up cooking for nearly an hour and a half. Then drain and leave to rest for about fifteen minutes.
Now - put your chickpeas into the blender or food proceccor. You can do this in parts if you like, but I like just chucking it all in there!
Halve your lemons and juice them in (mind the seeds!), getting every little bit of juice you can :)
Add two heaped tablespoons of tahini, the garlic cloves and your olive oil. Now, start blending. You will likely have to blend, stop, stir with a spoon and then blend again.
While "working it", start adding your cup of water to make life easier for the blender and begin to get the right constancy.
When the hummus is starting to look like hummus, begin adding the salt, pepper and cumin powder. You can add more to suit your taste!
And - voila! This should be divine....but do what you do, add your own twists and make it your own.
Now - I'm going to make some lunch!
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