The Classic Banana Bread

Banana Bread with Blueberry Orange Sauce
One of our all-time favourite recipes, from Viva!’s Vegan Recipe Club

Ingredients:

  • 3 large, very ripe bananas (those spotty ones on special offer are just the job. Cheap, too)
  • 60g/2oz vegan margarine, eg Pure, Suma, Biona or Vitaquell OR 50ml vegetable oil (mild-flavoured type, eg refined plain veg oil or sunflower)
  • 100g/generous 3oz soft brown sugar
  • 250g/9oz self-raising flour. We like using half each fine wholemeal SR* and white SR, but all-white works too. GF flour works too
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence (not flavouring)
  • 5 tbsp soya milk or other non-dairy milk
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped dates or other chopped fruit of your choice. NB Ready-chopped dates are on sale in larger supermarkets and many health food shops
  • Optional: chopped walnuts/pecans/brazils – or sunflower seeds

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4 – a little lower if using a fan-assisted oven. Grease a large non-stick loaf tin with low-cal oil spray or a light coating of margarine/oil.  Add a base layer of greaseproof paper too. Alternatively, use a loaf tin liner OR use a silicone loaf tin placed on a tray!
2. In a large bowl, mash the bananas in a bowl with a fork or potato masher. Add the margarine and cream it all together well – that is, mix it so it has a fairly creamy texture.
3. Add the sugar and mix in well.
4. Sieve the flour and baking powder then add the banana mixture and stir well.
5. To this, add the soya milk and vanilla essence a little at a time, mixing in well.
6. Add dried fruit – and nuts/seeds if using.
7. Spoon batter into the loaf tin and cook for 40-50 minutes until cooked through and golden brown on the top. Test after 40 minutes, using a toothpick – it should come out clean if it’s ready – otherwise, put the cake back in the oven for another 10-20 minutes.
If using a silicone baking tin, leave on the metal tray until cooled completely as otherwise the cake will split.
8.  Leave to cool for a few minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and let it cool completely.

Creamy Cashew and Chia Seed Pâté

Let’s face it, if you are in the know-how, there are much healthier things to spread on your toast or oatcakes in the morning than margarine, let alone butter…such as a homemade plant-based pâté.

Why not make something that tastes great but also gives you a fabulous nutritional boost to start your day.

This pâté is made using heart-healthy cashew nuts, packed with monounsaturated fats, copper and magnesium, which are great for bone health; teamed with brilliant Organic Black Chia Seeds, which are rich in Omega 3 and 6 (needed for good cell health, brain and nerve function). They also contain good levels of fibre and protein.

Creamy Cashew and Chia Seed Pâté
Makes 3 medium pots
Preparation time 12 hours soaking plus 5 mins

200g/ 7oz cashew nuts
4 tbsp Black Chia Seeds
3 tbsp sunflower 1 tsp salt
Black pepper (to taste)
1 tsp olive oil
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 sprig fresh parsley
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
3 tsp zatar spice (optional)
1 tsp salt
Black pepper (to taste)
Sprinkle cayenne pepper (to taste)
1 tsp lemon juice (or to taste)

1. Place the cashews, chia seeds and sunflower seeds in a bowl and cover with water. Leave to soak overnight.
2. The next day, mix in the rest of the ingredients apart from the salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and lemon juice. Blend with a stick blender until thick but textured. Now add in the final three ingredients to taste.
4. Spoon into pots and allow to chill, before spreading on quinoa crackers or bread!

Kale and Walnut Pesto

Kale is such an amazing food. I’ve recently been eating lots more of it, after my friend Ruth told me about ‘massaging’ it with olive oil. If you haven’t tried this, do give it a go! Here is a link to an article about it from the Huffington Post.  Kale is so fabulous – containing vitamins A, C and K as well as minerals like copper, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus. A cup of fresh kale has only about 40 calories but packs almost three grams of protein.

So I thought I’d try making a pesto or dip with raw kale, as another way to enjoy this super-green. Enjoy stirred through warm pasta, or spread onto some lovely wholemeal bread.

Kale and Walnut Pesto or Dip

Makes one medium pot

2 handfuls of chopped kale
4 tbsp walnut pieces
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 tsp sea salt
Pinch black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
12 cherry tomatoes or 6 medium tomatoes, chopped

Place all ingredients together in a high-speed blender, like a Nutribullet and blend until smooth or a consistency you like is reached. Taste and add more seasoning if you need. If the pesto/dip is too thick, add more oil, or a splash of plant milk if you prefer. Enjoy!