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I’ve mentioned before how much I like using bananas in making espresso banana muffins or the cocoa banana loaf, but this one just might be my new favorite simply because it doesn’t use any sugar.  All the sweetness comes from the bananas and dates.  There isn’t any stevia, either.  So if you hesitate to use stevia because you don’t love how it tastes, this could be the banana bread for you.  I use two bananas that are pureed to help sweeten the batter and a third that’s chopped up and mixed in because I like to taste the chunky pieces.  The number of bananas or dates can be adjusted to suit your sweet tooth. 

Date Sweetened Banana Bread

Makes 1 loaf (7¾ × 4½ × 3)

3 ripe bananas

1/2 cup medjool dates, pitted (5 – 6 dates)

5 eggs

1/2 cup butter or coconut oil, melted

1 /2 cup coconut flour

1/4 cup ground flax seeds

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of nutmeg

1/2 cup of pecans or walnuts, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease a loaf pan.
  2. To a blender add two peeled bananas, pitted dates, eggs, and melted butter or coconut oil.  Puree until smooth.
  3. Sift all dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.
  4. Add wet ingredients to the dry and stir until there are no lumps.
  5. Chop the remaining banana and add to batter along with the nuts. 
  6. Pour into loaf pan bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Let cool completely on rack before serving.

If making these into muffins, bake for 22 to 25 minutes.  For even more sweetness and some melted gooeyness, mix in some dark chocolate (72%) chunks.  It’s all good.

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For me, Thanksgiving is THE feasting holiday, more so than Christmas, because all the attention is focused on the food.  I am really looking forward to having some turkey come Thursday.  Lots and lots of turkey.  And let’s not forget all the side dishes, most of which are pretty carby.  So my compromise is this herb dinner roll.  I used my coconut flax bread recipe as the base and added some fresh herbs.  These rolls are made in muffin tins and smell like Thanksgiving when they are baking.  I will also be making croutons for stuffing using these rolls.  The original bread recipe is so versatile – throw in some cheese, add bacon bits, mix in fruit and nuts – it will all come out tasty.   

Herb Dinner Rolls

Makes 8 rolls

1/2 cup coconut flour, sifted

1/2 cup ground flax seed

1 /2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1 teaspoon fresh sage, finely chopped

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped

5 eggs

1/2 cup butter or coconut oil, melted

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. 
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients together.
  3. Combine all the wet ingredients.
  4. Add the dry ingredients and herbs to the wet and beat well. 
  5. Pour into muffin tins and bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Serve warm with lots of butter.

The rolls freeze really well so you can make a big batch, store them in the freezer and take out as many as you need for a meal.  Reheat in the oven at 200 degrees F.  I don’t use the microwave but if you do, you can defrost them in there, too.

One of the things I used to eat all the time was a bagel.  Whether it was a blueberry bagel with plain cream cheese or an onion bagel with lox and tomatoes, I relished them equally.  The local bagel shop near my college campus churned out fresh bagels non-stop and was very friendly toward cash-strapped students.  Bagels in all forms were a staple of mine.  And the more I ate them, the more I craved them.  The last time I had a traditional wheat bagel, though, is nearly two years ago when I was pregnant with my daughter and my third-trimester cravings ruled all dietary decision making.  I haven’t really thought about them much since I gave up grains and I don’t crave them as I did in my former student/gestating days.  That is until I saw the ones from the Spunky Coconut.  Would these be as good?  Could they be better?  I headed straight for the kitchen to find out.  The first batch became cinnamon and raisin bagels and the second batch were made into savory onion poppy seed bagels.  Both variations turned out well.  And while they can’t really be compared to a chewy, yeasted New York-style bagel, they were quite good in their own right.

Wheat-Free Onion Poppy Seed Bagels (adapted from the Spunky Coconut)

Makes 4 bagels

4 eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

4 tablespoons coconut oil, liquified

3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/4 cup coconut milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/2 cup tapioca starch

1/2 cup blanched almond flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

poppy seeds and sesame seeds

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Mix all wet ingredients together with the xanthan gum.
  3. Mix all dry ingredients together.
  4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients to form a dough.
  5. Use oiled hands to split the dough into 4 equal portions and shape into a ball then poke a hole in the middle.   Flatten slightly.
  6. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone.
  7. Sprinkle poppy seeds and sesame seeds on top.  Gently pat seeds into dough.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes.

The original recipe calls for the dough to be refrigerated for an hour before shaping but I didn’t find that it made much of a difference for me.  The dough does rise quite a bit in the oven so next time I would probably shape them into smaller or even mini bagels.  Once it’s cooled, the bagel can be sliced and toasted which is how I like it.  Smear some cream cheese on them and they are good to go.  I don’t plan on having these all the time, but these bagels will definitely make a few more appearances on our breakfast table.  I hope you’ll try them.

What is an accidental pumpkin biscuit?  Well, it’s what you get when you are reworking your pumpkin cookie recipe while talking to a friend and suddenly realize, half way through baking, that you forgot to add the sweetener.  That sort of mishap, my friends, occurs on a fairly regular basis in my kitchen and doesn’t normally make it onto the blog.  But this one had some redeeming qualities.  Enough so that it became something altogether different. What makes this a terrible cookie is what ended up making it a pretty good biscuit.  Out of the oven, it’s tender, a little crumbly and ready for some butter slathering and honey drizzling.  The pumpkin and spices were a nice departure from the standard buttermilk variety.  As for the pumpkin cookies, that post will come a little later.

It’s a good thing that this became a biscuit recipe because, for once, I didn’t use room-temperature eggs.  When the melted coconut oil was mixed in with the cold eggs, I got little solid lumps of fat.  That cold fat and a hot oven are what make steam during baking to provide a tender and almost flaky biscuit.  The biscuit is not exactly flaky and is a little dense because, after all, this is grain-free so the texture won’t be the same as that of a wheat one.  No matter, though, this cookie endeavor was destined for biscuitdom.

Accidental Pumpkin Biscuits

Makes 13 biscuits

1 cup almond flour

1/4 cup coconut flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree

1 egg, cold

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together.
  3. Mix wet ingredients together.  Combine wet and dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Alternatively, cut cold coconut oil into the flour mixture, then add the wet ingredients, so that there are lumps of cold coconut oil throughout the dough.
  5. Use cookie scoop to portion out the dough onto a cookie sheet.  Flatten the top of each scoop.
  6. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes.
  7. Serve while warm.

The dough does not spread so you can place them fairly close together.  The biscuits are crumbly and hold together better if kept on the smaller side.  Next time I might try adding some xanthan gum or an extra egg and perhaps increase my oven temperature to see what difference it makes in texture.  These are best served warm and any leftovers can be reheated slightly.  Make sure to have plenty of butter and runny honey on hand.

UPDATED 09/21/10:  I made a minor adjustment to the recipe to increase the toastability of the bread.  The previous version seemed a bit too moist to get a crisper toast.  Let me know what you think.

Probably one of the most asked questions people have when they hear that you’ve completely given up grains is, “But what about bread?!”  And, truthfully, that is the one thing that kept me from making the grain-free leap.  I love bread.  It’s the perfect vehicle for another favorite food – butter!  My husband knows this well and always slathers a big chunk of butter on my toast, making sure to smear every inch of the bread, right up to the edge of the corners with it.  Mmm…

Anyways, I’m getting off track.  I ate Ezekiel bread for years before I eliminated all grains.  Luckily, the grain-free, gluten-free community is an ingenius bunch and have come up with some super tasty alternatives to a carb-loaded wheat bread.  I adapted this recipe from one out of Bruce Fife’s Cooking with Coconut Flour: A Delicious Low-Carb, Gluten-Free Alternative to Wheat.  I tweaked the recipe for coconut bread because it seemed a little dry to me, even when slathered with butter.  Also, it can be quite crumbly as coconut flour doesn’t have same the structure that a wheat flour gives.  I’ve made it over a dozen times now and feel like I’m pretty close to a good, all-around bread that holds its shape well and works for either toasting or sandwich making.  The flax lends a different texture and helps to bind the bread without having to use any gums or more eggs.

Coconut Flax Bread

1/2 cup coconut flour, sifted

1/2 cup flax seed, ground

1 /2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

5 eggs 4 eggs

1/4 coconut oil

1/4 cup kefir or yogurt 1/8 cup water

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a small loaf pan (I use a glass pan that’s 7¾”L × 4½”W × 3″H, Anchor Hocking TrueSeal Food Storage Sets)
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients together.
  3. Combine all the wet ingredients.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and beat well.  Batter will be thick.
  5. Pour into loaf pan and bake for 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Cool completely before slicing.

Since I’m using a smaller loaf pan, I cut it a little differently to get a decent sized slice.  Cut the bread in half cross wise then, standing each half on its cut end, slice the bread into desired thickness.  Simple.

Time for some toast!