More Healthy Baking

This cake is not only delicious but has good levels of nutrients.  There are vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in the dried fruit, healthy fats (yes butter is a healthy fat after all!), protein from the eggs and nuts, and healthy carbs in the wholemeal flour.  For more nutritional info see below.

I call this type of cake recipe the potato masher cake because most of the work of mixing is done with a potato masher!

Banana and Hazelnut Cake

Ingredients:

125g /4 oz prunes/apricots/dates

125g/4 oz butter or equivalent of oil such as light olive oil or coconut oil.

2 or 3 ripe bananas

2 eggs

30g/1 oz ground almonds

125g/4 oz hazelnuts

125g/4 oz wholemeal flour or wheat and gluten-free flour such as rice flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Cook the dried fruit in a small to medium-sized saucepan with sufficient water to cover them for about 15 to 20 minutes. Simmer gently, do not boil or they will burn. When cooked and mushy, add the oil or butter and mix well. Mash in the bananas. You can do all this in the saucepan with a potato masher. Allow to cool slightly.

Add beaten eggs. Mix well. Then add flour, ground almonds and baking powder and mix briefly and gently then add in the hazelnuts.

Turn the mixture out into a loaf tin or cake tin which has been greased and lined. Cook in a moderate oven, gas mark 3 or 4 for about 40 minutes or until done.

 Variations

You can substitute mango for the banana, and vary the dried fruit and nuts and flours.

Topping

Put about 100g/3 oz of cashew nuts into a blender with about 3 or 4 tablespoons of apples juice, blend and spread on top.

Nutritional Information

Where possible always buy organic ingredients to avoid pesticides, growth hormones, additives and other unhelpful or harmful chemicals.

Prunes are a good source of provitamin A and phenolic compounds.  They are a good source of potassium, thiamine (B1), riboflavin(B2), vitamin B6, boron and dietary fibre.  They have good levels of antioxidants, calcium, magnesium, and iron.  They are notorious for preventing and relieving constipation. The insoluble fibre in prunes provides food for ‘good’ bacteria in the large intestine.  An investigation of the blood of fifty-eight postmenopausal women who ate approximately 12 prunes per day for three months revealed the presence of enzymes and growth factors that indicated increased bone formation in their bodies.  These markers were not seen in women who did not eat prunes.  Prunes contain boron which is a trace mineral essential for bone metabolism and is a necessary factor in preventing osteoporosis.

Apricots are good sources of potassium, iron, fibre and carotenes such as lycopene and lutein.  These carotenes are what give red, orange and yellow colours to fruit and vegetables.  They are particularly beneficial for preventing macular degeneration, heart disease and cancer.  Where possible buy un-sulphured apricots, usually available in health food shops.

Dates are an excellent source of fibre; the B vitamins niacin (B3), B6, riboflavin (B2), thiamine (B1), pantothenic acid (B5) and folic acid; copper, potassium, manganese, iron, and phosphorus, zinc and selenium. They are among the most alkaline of foods and contain a special fiber called beta-D-glucan which has been shown to decrease the body’s absorption of cholesterol and to slow or delay the absorption of glucose into the small intestine thus helping to keep blood sugar levels even.  Beta-D-glucan also adds bulk and softness to stools due to its ability to absorb and hold water.  The eases both stool movement through the colon and elimination – hence dates help with constipation.  In addition the soluble fibre passes through the intestinal tract more slowly than insoluble fibre which slows down the rate the stomach empties its contents after a meal.  This increases feelings of satiety and can help with weight loss diets.  Dates are surprisingly rich in antioxidants and anti-cancer compounds.  Date extract  was found to prevent free-radical damage to both fats and protein in a dose-dependant manner – the higher the concentration, the greater the protection against free radicals.

Bananas are an excellent source of potassium and vitamin B6 and a good source of vitamin  C, fibre, riboflavin (B2), magnesium, biotin, and carbohydrates.  Potassium helps regulate heart function and fluid balance, lowers blood pressure and protects against heart disease and strokes.  In one study, researchers tracked 40,000 American male health professionals over four years to determine effects of diet on blood pressure.  Men who ate diets higher in potassium-rich foods had a substantially reduced risk of stroke.  In addition the soluble fibre in bananas helps normalise bowel function.

Nutritional information from the Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray

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About Helen Cranston

Helen works as a Nutritonal Therapist at Cotswold Health Centre and occasionally at Penny Brohn Cancer Care. She also works as Coordinator of Green and Away and as Educational Development Manager for the Makhad Trust.
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