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Recipe | Banana Loaf? Banana Bread? Banana Cake? … whatever you like to call it!

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One of my favourite things to do is cook and cooking/baking with Eli is double the fun! Eli has Wednesday’s off from nursery, so Wednesday is OUR day. We usually do fun things like go to the local play group, paint or bake. Or as last Wednesday would have it, all three – and more!

I had 2 very over ripe banana’s – which is often the case. So one of my favourite things to do with those banana’s that are well ‘past it’, is to make this delicious Banana Loaf. I call it Banana Loaf, but I know people who fondly refer to it as Banana Cake or Banana Bread. Whatever your preference, this is a fail safe, incredibly yummy recipe! I have adapted the recipe, from Mary Berry’s “Baking Bible” and added a little secret ingredient at the end, which I know goes down very, very well with my family! There’s usually very little left after it’s been freshly baked… but it does have a good shelf life if you can resist the temptation of eating it all in one go!

Happy baking!

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BANANA LOAF*

Ingredients.
100g Softened Butter
175g Caster Sugar
2 Eggs (I used Medium, but Large is the preferred if you have them in!)
2 Ripe Bananas (mashed)
225g Self Raising Flour
1 Tsp. Baking Powder
2 Tbsp. Milk

Optional.
Sea Salt (I use Maldon Sea Salt Flakes).

Method.
1) Preheat the oven to 180C / Fan 160C / Gas 4.
2) Lightly grease a 2lb loaf tin, then line the base and sides with baking parchment.
3) Measure all ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat for about 2 minutes, until well blended.
4) Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the surface.
5) Here comes my secret ingredient! I love to sprinkle sea salt flakes over the top before popping the tin into the oven. It adds texture and has such a nice contrasting taste to the crust. It’s very well received by those who have eaten this finished product!
6) Bake in the pre-heated over for about 1 hour, until well risen and golden brown. A fine skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean if the loaf is ready.
7) Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out, peel of the parchment and finish cooling on a wire rack.

*Recipe adapted from “The Baking Bible”, by Mary Berry.

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Honestly, one of the easiest recipes to bake. Always tasted. Always works! Perfect for using up those miserable looking banana’s to boot! You can of course always add sultana’s or even chocolate chips to the cake batter. It’s a very adaptable recipe!

Let me know how your’s works out!

MM.

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Recipes | Split Red Lentil Dahl.

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Yesterday was our 5th Fast Day. And it went surprisingly well. It definitely get’s easier… infact, I look forward to our Fast Day, as we’re trying such lovely recipes – and the added bonus is,  I wake up the day after a fast feeling great – feeling lighter and brighter. I wish the scales would actually ring true with the lighter part though, as I’m not seeing a huge difference. I’ve seen how some people have lost 10 – 14lbs by their 3rd week of fasting. I’m so far only seeing a 3lb drop. But still, that is a 1lb per week I guess and not to be sniffed at. I guess I’m just being inpatient!

SO! Yesterday was a fast day, as I say. And I made the most wonderful red lentil Dahl! The first time I’d ever made a Dahl… and dare I say it, the first time I’ve ever actually eaten one too! So only going on how mine turned out – but it was super yummy, warming and filling – just what you need on a Fast Day! I was inspired by several Dahl recipes that I found online. I loosely followed this recipe from the wonderful London-Unattached. But as Fiona mentions in her post, most Dahl recipes are more or less the same – just depends on what veg/meat you want to add! Our recipe was meat-free last night. This recipe would be awesome during the cold Winter months too – you can throw in so many things to bulk it out, while it will still remain very healthy.

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SPLIT RED LENTIL DAHL*
SERVES 2 – PREP 15 MINS – COOK 20 MINS
300 Calories, per portion.

Ingredients.
90g Sainsburys Dry Red Lentils
100ml Knorr Vegetable Stock
1 tablespoon Tomato Puree
2 Medium Tomatoes, chopped into chunks (can be skinned before chopping if you prefer)
2 teaspoons Cumin Seeds
1 teaspoon Ground Tumeric
1/2 teaspoon Mustard Seeds
1 large clove Garlic (I pushed through a garlic press, but can be sliced or grated)
1/2 teaspoon Waitrose Hot Chilli Powder (Or one fresh chilli. Adjust according to taste – the Waitrose Chilli Powder is so powerful, you don’t need a lot! And I like heat!)
2 teaspoons Ginger (I chopped as I like to taste ginger, but can be grated)
1 Medium Onion (Finely Sliced)
3 Spring onions (I had leftover in the fridge)
1 Red pepper (I had leftover in the fridge)
150g Spinach (Torn or roughly chopped)
Splash of Rapeseed oil

Optional – to garnish.
Parsley
1 tablespoon Low Fat Yoghurt
Sliced cucumber

Directions
1) Cook lentils as per packet instructions. For the Sainsbury’s lentils I used, I boiled them rapidly (in cold water) for 10 minutes. Drained and set aside.
2) Add some oil to a frying pan and add the dry spices and cook over a medium heat till the mustard seeds start to pop. I used Rapeseed oil, but know that a lot of people use coconut oil as an even healthier alternative.
3) Add the onion (and spring onions), garlic and ginger and cook gently for 3-5 minutes till the onion starts to soften. Then add the cubed peppers (I just had a pepper leftover in the fridge).
4) Add the tomato puree, stock, fresh tomato and simmer for 15 minutes stirring occasionally and adding more water if necessary
5) Stir in soft lentils and the spinach and cook for a further 2-3 minutes
6) Serve garnished with a dollop of Low fat yoghurt, sliced cucumber and a sprig of parsley (or coriander would work well too).

ENJOY!

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Do you have any 5:2 recipes to share? Get in touch! I’d love to try them out!

MM.

*Recipe adapted from Fiona Maclean’s Red Lentil Dahl recipe, over on London-Unattached.

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Recipes | Harissa Chicken and Bulgar Wheat Salad.

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We’d tried this lovely Harissa Chicken and Bulgar Wheat salad a few times, from the Hairy Bikers ‘Hairy Dieters’ cookbook before we even knew about the 5:2 diet! It really is a delicious, well rounded meal – very tasty! And better still, it’s very filling – just what you need on a Fast Day! This cookbook is perfect if you’re also undergoing the 5:2 diet. A lot of the recipes are under 300 calories! So perfect for Fast Day’s.

So here is the recipe!
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HARISSA CHICKEN AND BULGAR WHEAT SALAD*.
SERVES 4 – PREP 15 MINS – COOK 20 MINS
270 Calories, per portion.

Bulgur wheat salad:
100g Waitrose bulgur wheat
150g  cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
1/4 cucumber, diced
4 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
Small bunch of flat-leaf parsley (about 10g), plus extra to garnish
Small bunch of fresh mint (about 10g)
Finely grated zest of 1/2 unwaxed lemon
Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
Harissa chicken:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 tsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp Harissa paste (preferably Tose Harissa, I used Waitrose Ruby Rose Harissa).
Lemon wedges, to serve

1) To make the salad, rinse the bulgur wheat in a fine sieve and tip it into a medium saucepan. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil, then cook for about 10 minutes until just tender, or follow the packet instructions. Rinse the bulgur in a sieve under running water until cold and leave to drain.

2) Tip the cooked bulgur wheat into a large serving bowl and add the tomatoes, cucumber, spring onions, garlic, parsley, mint, lemon zest and juice. You’ll need about 3 heaped tablespoons of each herb once chopped. Season with lots of freshly ground black pepper, toss everything together well and leave to stand while you cook the chicken.

3) Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of cling film and beat with a rolling pin until about 1.5cm thick. You need to make the chicken breasts about the same thickness so they cook evenly.

4) Brush a griddle pan or non-stick frying pan with a little oil and place over a medium-high heat until hot. Griddle or pan-fry the chicken breasts for 2 minutes, then turn them over with tongs and cook on the other side for another 2 minutes.

5) Brush the chicken breasts with half of the harissa on 1 side only and turn over. Cook for a minute while brushing the reverse side with the remaining harissa. Flip over and cook for a further minute or until cooked through. Check that there is no pinkness remaining.

6) Transfer the chicken to a board and leave to rest for 3–4 minutes before serving. Garnish with extra parsley and the lemon wedges and serve hot with the bulgur salad.

ENJOY!

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Do you have any 5:2 recipes to share? Get in touch! I’d love to try them out!

 

MM.

 

*Extracted from THE HAIRY DIETERS by Si King and Dave Myers published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson priced £14.99.  Copyright (c) Byte Brook Limited and Sharp Letter Limited, 2012.