So, what is your go-to food?
As far back as I can remember it’s always been something with caramel or toffee. Back in the day when my diet was laden with sugar and processed food, caramel was always my go-to food! Fortunately a few years ago I came to my senses as I finally realised the damage these tiny white grains were causing my body. I had already made a few dietary changes to support my health, but sugar was still very much part of my daily regime. Something had to be done and the best way for a committed sugar junkie like myself (and believe you and me this girl is well and truly hooked), I knew the only way to kick the habit was to go cold turkey and exclude it from my life for as long as I could.
To start with I was really strict, no dried fruit, natural syrups or honey, just one portion of fruit each day for three months, after which point I started to slowly increase my fruit intake to two portions, but still abstained from syrups and dried fruit. After a year or so I felt ready to embrace dried fruit and syrups, but made sure I enjoyed them in moderation. Over the past couple of years I have had a few minor ‘off the waggon moments’, but on the whole, its been really good! Yes, I do enjoy the odd bit of dark chocolate (85-90%), more as a preventative measure for not killing my man just before my moon cycle, and yes I have enjoyed cakes or deserts prepared with palm sugar, so I don’t claim to a complete squeaky clean sugar-free queen. I must however confess that on a biochemical level I know that my brain very much prefers a life without any form of sugar as my addiction pathways are well and truly ingrained (I blame years of drinking condense milk out of a tin) as I can clearly observe addictive behavioural patterns emerge shortly after indulging in ‘unrefined sugar’.
So why is it that we need something sweet when we know it is so bad for us? Well there are many reasons for this, and I intend to cover some of these in a future post where I will talk in a little more detail about sugar and the effects it has on the body and why some of us get addicted and others don’t. I think whether you are a sugar junkie or not, we all like to enjoy something sweet every now and then, so that is why it is important that we do so in moderation and that we ideally choose something clean and possibly healthy too. I think it’s a really good idea to find a few winning recipes that tick all the boxes that you can pull out when guests come or when there is a special birthday looming. I for one will be using this one right here as I think it’s so delicious and thankfully pretty faff-free too and what’s better still it also offers some healthy benefits (just remember moderation is key!).
Almonds often referred to as nuts are actually the seed of a fruit of the Almond tree and the reason we call them culinary nuts is because they are an oil-containing seed contained in a shell. Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats, and studies have shown that almonds have a cholesterol lowering effect. They also contain magnesium, vitamin E, biotin and fibre.
Dates are seen as ideal foods as they contain good levels of vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6, vitamin A, K, and 15 minerals including magnesium, selenium (great for the immune system) and 23 amino acids, so a wonderful source of plant protein. When enjoyed in moderation, they can provide many health benefits.
Banoffee pie isn’t complete without cream and I love using creamed coconut as a substitute for cream, as not only is it dairy free, which suits my casein intolerance, it also offers vitamin B1, B3, B5, B6, C, iron, selenium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and sodium. It contains lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid, which converts to monolaurin which for the last decade has proven its antibacterial and antiviral properties. It does so by incorporating itself into the cell membrane of gram positive (and negative) bacteria and blocking bacterial replication by disturbing the integrity of the cell membrane. So if you’re someone who suffers from viral overload, like myself, it may be useful to start incorporating a little coconut cream or oil into your diet.
So now on to the good bit, the recipe!
- 170 g Almond Flour
- 50 g Coconut Oil
- 2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
- Pinch of salt
- 10 Dates
- 2 Tbsp Almond Butter
- 2 Tbsp Coconut Cream
- 1/4 Tsp Vanilla Powder
- 250ml Carton Coconut Cream (I use Blue Dragon)
- 1 Large Banana sliced
- 1-2 Tbsp Cacao nibs
- 1. Place your carton of Coconut cream in the fridge the night before and leave overnight.
- 2. Preheat the oven to 180 C.
- 3. Soak the dates in 100ml warm water for 20-30 minutes.
- 4. Add the ground almonds, coconut oil, maple syrup and salt to the food processor and blitz for a few minutes until it is all combined and nearly rolling into a ball.
- 5. Take a little coconut oil and grease your loose base tart tins.
- 6. Divide your pastry mix into four equal size balls and then start pressing the almond flour mixture into the individual tart tins until they are evenly distributed and resembling a traditional pastry case.
- 7. Bake for 14-15 minutes, but keep an eye on them as you don't want them to burn or get too dark. You just want each crust to be perfectly golden brown.
- 8. Whilst they are in the oven start by making the caramel filling. Drain the dates and put the dates, almond butter, coconut cream and vanilla to the food processor and process until you have a VERY smooth caramel. Don't stop too soon as it really needs to be completely smooth. I let mine run for a good five minutes, so don't rush it.
- 9. Once your cases have cooled completely, which can take up to 30 minutes, gently remove them and start assembling.
- 10. Fill the cases with caramel and then add your sliced banana on top.
- 11. Next put the remainder of the carton of coconut cream into a piping bag and finish your banoffee pies with piping of your choice. If you don't have a piping bag just spread the cream evenly with a knife.
- 11. Now for the final touch, just sprinkle a few cacao nibs over and ENJOY!
- Eat them immediately or store in the fridge in an airtight container. They will keep for up to a day or two in the fridge once assembled.
- You can always use grated dark chocolate if you're not a fan of cacao nibs or if serving at a dinner party
- You can use 1 tsp of vanilla essence if you don't have vanilla powder
- I always keep a carton of coconut cream in the fridge at all times as you never know when you need to whip up some cream.
- You can always make the caramel the night before and leave it in the fridge overnight.
- I prefer using shop bought almond butter for this as it really does give it a much better flavour, so worth keeping in mind, if like me you like to make your own almond butter.
- I use Kitchen Craft Loose Base Tart Tins, 10 cm - Set of 6, which you can buy from Amazon.
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- Mateljan, G (2015). The world’s healthiest foods
- Mueller, E., Schlievert, P.M (2015). Non-aqueous glycerol monolaurate gel exhibits antibacterial and anti-biofilm activity agains Gram-positive and Gram-negative pathogens. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25799455
- Hess, D.J, Henry-Stanley, M.J, Wells, C.L (2014). Antibacterial synergy of glycerol monolaurate and ahminoglycosides in Staphylococcus aureus biofilms. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25182634