Since we follow paleo as a guide, Guy has the same diverse, nutritionally dense day-to-day diet as we do. But just as we cheat now and then to enjoy the odd treat, we allow Guy treats of his own too – sometimes these are healthy treats (like these bear fruit paws which he loves and gets as excited about as if they were proper sweets), but just now and then they’re as un-paleo as it gets! All in all, we tend to adhere to the old maxim: everything in moderation.
So here’s one of our not-so-paleo treats we sometimes whip up together. A few bananas that are over-ripe and about to be thrown away make the perfect excuse for some banana muffins. I found this recipe on Anna Saccone-Joly’s blog and it’s been our go-to ever since.
This morning was an early one – Jamie had to be in at the club at 7 so we woke at the crack of dawn to the sound of rain pummelling the windows and decided to start the day with a spot of baking. Outside was pretty wet and soggy, but the sun was just peeking through the clouds by the time we began, making the rolling farmland beyond our garden smell wonderfully fresh and green. Guy, keen and sharp-eyed as ever, was quick to point out one hopeful little bird who had come to settle on one of our outdoor chairs, perched in prime position to watch the morning’s bake.
- 2 large mixing bowls
- some small bowls for measured ingredients
- measuring spoons
- muffin/cupcake tin
- muffin/cupcake cases
Makes: 12-18 cakes, depending on the size!
- 250g self-raising flour
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 125g light soft brown sugar
- 50g sunflower seeds (optional)
- 100g dates (cut into small chunks and soaked in hot water to soften)
- 2 large free range eggs
- 2 large ripe bananas
- 75g butter, melted and left to cool slightly
- 125ml milk
- 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
Pre-heat your oven to 190C/170C Fan/Gas 5. Line your muffin/cupcake tray with muffin/cupcake cases.
Measure out all your ingredients.
Sift the flour, baking powder and mixed spice into a large mixing bowl.
Add your brown sugar, sunflower seeds and soaked chopped up dates – my dates had gone a little dry with the packet having been open a while. They’re still perfectly good – steep them as you do normally for half an hour in a little hot water and then drain them again, ready to add to the mixture. This works for lots of dried fruit like sultanas, raisins, currants etc. – they come out perfectly soft and sticky, ready to use even if they seem a little too dried out!
Next beat your eggs in a small bowl and set aside. Peel the bananas and mash them in a separate small bowl, then add the mashed up banana to the eggs along with the melted butter, milk and vanilla extract.
Now add your liquid mixture to the flour mix and stir well until combined.
Finally, spoon your mixture into the paper cases (mine made 18!) and bake for about 25 minutes. Pop a skewer or knife through one of the cakes once you think they are done to check they are fully cooked. If the skewer comes out clean, not sticky, they are ready. If not, leave in the oven a little longer.
When ready, place the cakes on a wire rack to cool. Serve with a sprinkling of icing sugar – or if you want to be particularly devilish, add a little buttercream to finish.
Guy adores these – he usually has the ones without the buttercream – and although he’s not quite big enough to bake properly with me yet, he loves standing up on a chair, watching everything going on and passing me wooden spoons and spatulas whenever I need them – and also when I don’t! He definitely enjoys the eating part too…
As for the cakes, they may not wear haloes for health, but they’re not all bad either – the bananas, eggs, dates and sunflower seeds go a long way towards making them a pretty good treat from time to time for the littl’uns. We ultimately want Guy to grow up enjoying his food, his health and the odd treat; to learn about portion control and choosing healthy options in a natural way, not in a forced way; and to appreciate the value and joy of healthy cooking and high quality food. He seems pretty happy on it so far!