Baking Banana Bread

What do you with 8 black bananas? You make two bananas breads, of course. One for now, one for the freezer.

This only took me 10 minutes to whizz together and about 40 minutes in the oven (it shouldn’t normally take that long but it was quite a wet mixture and I had opened the oven door a few too many times.)

Recipe

  • 8 ripe bananas
  • 250g Demerara sugar
  • Plain flour
  • 200g sunflower oil
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon

Method

Smash up the bananas in a bowl and mix in the oil. Add the flour (sieved) and sugar and mix well. Add baking powder and cinnamon and mix it all together again. Bake for 30 minutes or until brown on top and a skewer comes out clean.

Add Biscoff Lotus spread for an extra hit.

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New Kitchen and Homeware! ~ from Chefs Collection

I was recently sent some goodies in the post from Chefs Collection to try out some of their most popular kitchenware and bathroom products. I was delighted to receive these cute gifts in the post and I’d like to share my thoughts on these items after trialing them in my own everyday life over the last week.

Chefs Collection specialises in cookware, bakeware, homeware, and all manner of kitchenware you could wish for from top quality and unusual brands that you won’t find in your everyday high street store. They were founded in 2016 in Norwich, (my home town, incidentally) and they stock an impresive range of kitchen and home brands at really good prices. Well worth a browse if you’re looking for some attractive designs for homeware or even if you’re after a wedding or birthday gift.


Champagne flute: La Rochere ‘Bee’

This champagne flute is a beautiful and yet practical piece of glassware; it’s very sturdy, unlike a lot of champagne flutes that I find tend to topple over, but it’s also very delicate. It feels like an antique, classic French design at the same time as looking quite modern. You will also notice the little bees at the top of the flute – the only detail on the flutes and this cute feature adds a little bit of country charm. La Rochere are inspired by 18th century designs and the bee flute takes me back to summers in the south of france, walking around lavender fields and vineyards. The brand dates back to 1475 and La Rochere is the oldest working art glassworks in France.

As I’m currently 7 months pregnant, I can’t put these champagne flutes to their optimal use so I’ve opted for apple juice instead. I have to say, it makes a soft drink feel very elegant and classy. I’ve enjoyed drinking from these flutes in the garden, enjoying the last of the late summer evening rays after work, and they will be a regular feature on date night home-cooked dinners.

La Rochere Bee champagne flute

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Spreading knife – Opinel

The website declares that Picasso owned one of these knives! Quite a claim to fame for Opinel. I wonder if he used it for spreading jam on his toast or for painting his Cubist masterpieces?

This is another established brand, dating back to 1890, and the spreading knife is a new addition to Opinel’s range of simple and elegant kitchenware.

This knife is definitely a quality item; it feels very robust, which you don’t normally get in a spreading knife as they can be quite flimsy. The blade is spatula-shaped and lends itself well to spreading butter and jam. I used it to spread my favourite Lotus biscoff spread on a homemade banana bread I made recently (by the way, that’s a great combination.)

Opinel spreading knife

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Nail brush – Andree Jardin

Here we have another company with a history in France making iconic designs known for their quality. This beechwood nail brush has proved very helpful after an afternoon in the garden; getting the soil out from under those fingernails is a tough job! The nail brush is quite a simple design with soft bristles and delicate lettering on the underside. It’s comfortable to hold and it doesn’t take long to get the dirt off; it rinses well after use and is an attractive feature on a bathroom shelf.

I was a bit concerned to see the bristles are made from horse hair unfortunately and the wood is polished with beeswax; I recognise that for most people this would be a mark of quality but using animal by-products is a bit of a let down for me, and I hope the brand can move away from this in future as there are modern alternatives available. (Horse hair, by the way, is usually ethically and humanely ‘harvested’ from grooming but is nevertheless a by-product I’m not comfortable with.)

Andree Jardin nail brush

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* I received these products for free to write an honest review of them. Thanks to Chefs Collection for sending me these items to try out. *

 

 

 

 

For the Love of Quinoa – Indigo Herbs Review

After a week of unhealthy dinners it has been an inspiration to receive three huge packs of quinoa from the kind souls at Indigo Herbs, who asked me to review a few of their products on my blog.

Indigo Herbs are a family-owned business based in the alternative town of Glastonbury in Somerset, selling an vast range of superfoods, herbs, wholefoods, and even gift sets and tea. They have a formidable knowledge of how to create healthy, nutritious, plant-based meals, and are all about empowering consumers to pursue a healthy lifestyle.

Quinoa has enjoyed a vogue in recent years amongst trendy metropolitan hippie types, and you can see why – the health benefits are well-documented and really quite extensive, as any foodie can tell you. Hailed as a superior alternative grain to couscous and bulgar wheat, it actually fulfills a different function in our diet similar to chard or spinach, and is technically a seed.

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This week I jazzed up my diet using the huge bags of quinoa varieties that Indigo Herbs kindly sent me to blog about.

Organica Red Quinoa Grains

Organic Puffed Quinoa

Organic Quinoa Flakes

Firstly, I used the red quinoa to create a lentil and quinoa feta salad. The product came in an air-tight resealable foil pouch that fits comfortably in my kitchen cupboards. I rinsed the quinoa and added to a saucepan of boiling water and left it to cook for 10-15 minutes until the seeds split. I combined it with cooked green lentils, added some chopped veg (red pepper, spring onion, cucumber) and some garlic and oregano to flavour, plus a generous crumbling of feta on top. I never now how to judge how much quinoa to use; it deceptively expands in water in the same way that pasta and rice does so I always end up making enough to feed a passing hungry squadron, but at least that’s lunch sorted for the next day. Helpfully, the packaging offers a serving suggestion of “use as much as you see it” – now that’s my kind of brand!

The puffed quinoa also came in the same attractive and practical packaging. If you’re not sure what puffed quinoa is or how it differs from the more recognizable varieties, basically it is created by a process of gently heating quinoa seeds until they pop, then allowing them to cool. The puffs can then be used in cereals, puddings, muesli or granola, so quite a versatile ingredient. I used the puffed quinoa to create these chocolate-covered, maple-syrupy protein snacks.

Finally, we come to the quinoa flakes, which are often used in baking as a gluten-free alternative, but also in cereals or granola or sprinkled on salads. I used them to make these pancakes and they provided a healthy addition of protein to this otherwise indulgent weekend breakfast treat. The batter held together really well and the quinoa provided a really tasty nutty flavour.

If you want to read a bit more about the history and health benefits of quinoa, have a read of Indigo Herbs’ page on the benefits of this amazing seed. 

I was really impressed with the quality and quantity of Indigo Herb’s quinoa range; the branding and packaging is thoughtful, with plenty of helpful nutritional information. Their products are organic and often vegan and/or gluten-free so this brand is an invaluable resource to those following a gluten-free or plant-based diet.

To summarise the extensive health credentials of quinoa:

  • Double the protein content of rice
  • Contains vitamins B and E
  • Source of calcium, magnesium, manganese, fibre
  • Contains all 9 essential amino acids
  • High level of anti-inflammatories
  • Source of omega 3 fatty acids (promotes heart health)
  • Slowly digested carbohydrate

 

 

 

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