(go ahead and click on that picture to enlarge it – beautiful, no? and it’s wheat free!)
My favorite blogger recently announced that she’s on the paleo diet. I did a little research into it and found that it’s probably not for me, at least not as a place to start. They abstain from gluten, dairy, and casein (most beans and rice) which I would assume takes quite a bit of time, effort, and determination to sustain – three things I’m typically in short supply of. However, while looking into the paleo diet I did a lot more research into gluten and I am getting the feeling it may be part of the reason why Scott and I feel lousy so much of the time despite eating a diet that consists mainly of organic, whole foods. So, we’re flirting with reducing gluten in our diets over the next few months and perhaps going 90-100% gluten free by the new year. It does take a lot of effort since you need to be aware of everything you put into your mouth – but since neither of us has been officially diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance yet, it is not all consuming – so to speak.
I’m in charge of groceries and getting most of the meals on the table – which pretty much puts me in charge of our diet. Scott is actually more on board than I am, which is surprising since he loves anything and everything wheat-based from twinkies, to oreos, to banana bread, and would live on pb&j if I let him. He’s a true junk food junkie. Luckily I already weaned most of that out of his diet when we went High Fructose Corn Syrup free after moving in together. Going organic a couple of years ago makes avoiding HFCS much easier since even packaged organic food doesn’t contain it – although it does add cost to the grocery bill. But, we want to live long, healthy lives, and I consider a diet free of hormones, pesticides, and unnecessary sugars a huge factor in our chance of success. The more I read about gluten, the more I realize perhaps it should be on the list of things we don’t eat as well. The challenge is that gluten is often hiding in things that you would never think it would even be a part of like salad dressing & lunch meat. Cross-contamination can be an issue for true celiacs too – put your gf free bread in a toaster your friend used for their bagel and their crumbs end up on your toast and you end up with a tummy ache later. Needless to say, it’s complicated and not something to be entered into lightly.
On the bright side, several companies are noticing the gluten free trend and making more products available – some are good, some are bad, and some are grrrrrreeaaattt! That brings me to Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose flour and the recipe for banana bread on the back of the package. I could not believe how beautiful the loaf looked when I pulled it out of the oven. It rose up on its own, had a great caramel color and the inside is fluffy and moist. I don’t even like banana bread and I like it. And Scott, who is a banana bread connoisseur, thought it was great too – although he would have liked it with more bananas but I really think the ones I used should have been a bit more ripe. The only additional items you need that you may not have in your pantry already Xantham Gum. I bought it in bulk on Amazon but you may be able to find it at your local grocery – particularly if you have a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s nearby.
Here is the recipe;
- 1/3 cup Canola Oil
- 2/3 cup Brown Sugar, packed (tip: if you find that your brown sugar has hardened you may be able to save it by popping it in the microwave for 30 seconds or so to soften it up)
- 2 large eggs
- 1tsp vanilla
- 1 3/4 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose flour
- 2 tsp. Baking Powder
- 1 1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
- 1 tsp. Xantham Gm
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 cups Banana, mashed – about 4 and 1/2 medium bananas ( tip: more ripe than not if you are intending to please a banana bread junkie)
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional – I left these out)
- 1/2 cup raisins (optional – I left these out too – no fruit in my bread please)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and Grease a 9″ by 5″ non-stick loaf pan ( tip: I used my new ceramic pan and it worked great and looked pretty too).
Cream together oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl with electric mixer.
Add flour, Xantham Gum, salt, baking powder and cinnamon to egg mixture, alternating with bananas. (tip: Something they don’t mention, which I think helps, is to mix all of your dry ingredients in a different bowl so they are well incorporated before adding them to the wet mixture).
Beat until smooth then stir in optional ingredients by hand until mixed.
Transfer to pan and bake for 1 hour. Serves 10 – or in our case, more like 5-7 thick slices