I’ve been getting requests lately for a not-so-sugary treat that kids can pack to school. This banana bread recipe, adapted from Rebecca Reilly’s book Gluten Free Baking, fills the bill.
If you know this book, you know it is definitely not Paleo, and that it’s full of delicious recipes from sweet (like, molten chocolate cakes that are grain free) to savory (salmon quiche) – all gluten free.
I love this book. My copy is very well worn! When my son was little, there were precious few gluten free products on store shelves, and they pretty much all tasted really, really terrible. This book helped me bake anything for any occasion. He was no longer left out of holidays, birthdays, or gatherings because of gluten intolerance. But, sugar is still not his friend, and this is true for virtually all the kids in my pediatric nutrition practice. Still, kids need to be kids and enjoy treats that work for them once in a while. This recipe works well with coconut sugar instead of cane sugar. Using very ripe bananas enhances both digestibility and sweetness, so save those black and bruised bananas for this – don’t use firm bananas here.
For the flour, you can either mix your own “Bette Hagman Blend” with brown rice flour, tapioca starch, and potato starch, or purchase a pre-blended gluten free flour like Authentic Foods GF Classical Blend. Note: Don’t use GF baking mixes, as these add xanthan gum, baking soda, salt or other ingredients not needed here. As always, use organic ingredients as much as possible.
Don’t like grains? There are grain free versions out there – I haven’t sampled this recipe, but if you’re looking for a Paleo-ish version of banana bread, it may be worth a try. It will not rise as much and may be more grainy in texture. Neither recipe is necessarily better in terms of nutrition; what is better is what your kid tolerates well and likes to eat! Many kids do fine on gluten free grains – as long as these aren’t 24/7 calorie sources in your kid’s diet. Both versions offer healthy supportive food in a not-too-sweet treat. For kids with tree nut allergies, skip the grain free version (which relies on almond flour) and go with this recipe below.
Banana Bread, Gluten Free with Coconut Sugar
Moist, just sweet enough, and it will disappear fast. If you like, reduce the sugar to 3/4 cup and add 2 drops of stevia to the batter.
1/2cup chopped cashewsnuts are optional; choose your favorite if any, or use GF CF chocolate chips
Servings: 9 x 5 inch loaf
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with coconut oil or butter and dust with rice flour. You can also line with parchment if you like instead. Both work well. Parchment lets you lift the loaf neatly out of the pan after baking.
If you have a stand mixer such as a KitchenAid, place the butter in it and cream til pale or white. While the mixer is running, in a separate bowl, blend the GF flours, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt.
When the butter is pale or white, add the sugar. Beat til fluffy and smooth, about two more minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and blend thoroughly. Stir in the mashed bananas and mix well.
Add the dry ingredients and stir until just blended, then fold in nuts or chocolate chips. Spoon batter into loaf pan. Bake for 40 minutes and test for doneness, add more time if needed.
Brownies are easily made gluten free, whether you’re using a baking mix or your own flour blend from scratch (for a pure deep chocolate, pure scratch recipe, see Rebecca Reilly’s book Gluten Free Baking). This version uses a pre-blended gluten free baking mix (not a brownie mix), and gets its sweet from a change-up in the sugars: Instead of 1-2 cups of refined white sugar, here I let coconut sugar, raw honey and molasses do the trick, with help from cooked sweet potato. Tastes yummy, lowers the glycemic index, and throws in a few extra minerals and vitamins. Use leftover baked sweet potatoes or mash; canned pumpkin works well in place of sweet potato too.
We often use Pamela’s Gluten Free Baking Mix in my house for recipes like this – the caveat is that it contains buttermilk and is not casein or dairy free. Dairy free option: Lose the butter, and use only coconut oil, ghee, or a mix of these (ghee contains no whey or casein). You’ll also need a different gluten free baking mix like Bob’s Red Mill. Mixes like this are convenient because they pre-blend the gluten free flours that work best in baked goods, and they include gluten free baking powder, salt, and other usual dry ingredients that baked goods need.
Gluten Free Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Brownies
Dark, moist, yummy, less sugar, and more nutrients than standard brownie recipes
1cupGF baking mixsuch as Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix, or Bob's Red Mill
Preheat oven to 350 degrees; prepare an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 inch baking pan by greasing lightly with butter or ghee. Dust with rice flour or any gluten free flour then line with baking parchment.
Cream butter with coconut oil and sugar, blend on medium-high til smooth.
Add stevia drops and honey, blend on high speed until smooth.
Add egg and vanilla; blend again until smooth.
Add canned pumpkin or sweet potato, blend slower speed til smooth.
Stir in cocoa powder and blend til smooth. Then add the GF flour or baking mix blend. Still til evenly blended, then add nuts and chocolate chips; stir again to evenly distribute these.
Spoon into your baking pan, pre-treated per step 1 above.
Bake 25-30 minutes and test for doneness with a knife. It should come out clean. If not continue in five minute increments til done. Note that melted chocolate chips will show on the knife too, so look for batter that is done but not dry.