Healthy BANANA BREAD (gluten-free, refined sugar-free, Paleo-friendly)

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1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup finely ground almonds
3 medium bananas
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup coconut sugar, honey, or other sweetener (mixing sweeteners is recommended)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 eggs
1/4 teaspoon ground vanilla bean
splash almond extract (optional)
pinch of salt
100 grams dark chocolate (optional but good!)

1. In food processor or hand blender, mix almonds, flour, and butter. (If you need to grind the almonds, do so before adding the flour and butter.)
2. Add sweetener, cinnamon, vanilla bean, almond extract, baking soda, and salt, mixing after each addition.
3. Add bananas to food processor and mix until pureed. (Puree separately if necessary.)
4. In separate bowl, whisk eggs for a couple minutes until they begin to have body. Add mixture from food processor.
5. If using chocolate, run it through the food processor until it is in fine pieces, then stir into batter.
6. Bake at 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) for 40 minutes or until it smells and feels done.

(All this can be done by hand too, but a food processor is easier!)

How do you know if it’s done?
Smell test: When the scent of baked goods begins to waft from the oven, it’s almost done!
Feel test: It feels solid.
Fork test: Pierce it with a fork, and if the fork comes out clean, it’s done.

Recipe adapted from Slim Palate – here is their classy and well-presented picture of the banana bread!

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16-minute healthy homemade tomato ketchup – sugar free, paleo, gluten free, diabetic friendly, fast, easy, yum!

Ketchup & I go way back.  It’s one of those things I can’t run out of in the house, we buy a bottle before the current one finishes just to make sure we don’t go dry, at restaurants I request extra if they give too little, because I literally can’t eat some foods without it. I can’t imagine eating chips (fries if you’re american), sausages or burgers without a generous serving of ketchup; I’d even put it on pizza, chicken, you name it, and I use it in some recipes for a flavour boost… All of this is exactly why what I am about to say is shocking.

I AM NO LONGER FRIENDS WITH KETCHUP.

The store bought kind that is…. Not even my absolute favourite brand.  Yes Heinz original, I’m talking to you!  After all the good times we had, you were keeping a nasty little secret from me – you are almost 25% sugar! what the heck?? I wan’t sugar in my CAKES, not hidden in savoury foods like you to make me pre-diabetic!! It’s you, and secret enemies like you, YOU’RE the reason I cook healthy things but don’t seem to loose weight! Gah! I’m not talking to you anymore!!

Rather than sulk I googled some recipes (I still need my ketchup fix, and there’s really no reason for it to be unhealthy with all the sugar alternatives we have now).  A lot of them seemed to have spices I don’t have at home, like onion powder, and wanted me to slow cook everything for 2 hours to reduce it down (who has time for that?).  Well, I the one thing I always have at home which has a bunch of similar seasonings to what’s needed (and a few extra, but hey it’s all good) is vegetable stock cubes.  I also didn’t want to wait for 2 hours so I thought I’d try a microwave method to thicken it up instead… if you’ve ever overheated something in the microwave you’ll know how it can completely dehydrate your food in a matter of minutes – why not use that to our advantage?

The glorious result is this… only THE BEST KETCHUP IVE EVER TASTED! Others have said how great homemade ketchup is, I now know how true that is… that depth of flavour, a taste of real tomato in that beautifully smooth, thick puree as opposed to just sugar & salt, the sharp tang and subtle flavours of the seasoning… Move over Heinz, I have found my new BFF and it promises to be as good to me as I deserve. YAY!

Look at the comparison of nutritional information (I got this by using an online recipe calorie calculator)… just look!  ketchup-nut see that sugar? less than 1% in my recipe – and it tastes no less good! This is why you should make your own ketchup.  Not to mention the salt and calorie count.  I made a jar full in less time than it took me to cook my sausages and sweet potato chips.  If you love ketchup like I do, this is definitely worth a try.

ketchup yup, I won’t be going back after this one.  All that remains is to make little jars to take with me when we go out 🙂

Ingredients – makes about 1 regular jam-jar full

500g passata (one pack)
2.5 vegetable stock cubes (ours are kinda small, use enough to make 1125ml stock -just less than 5 cups)
1/3 cup (80ml) cider vinegar
4.5g or 1 tsp Truvia (stevia sweetener in the UK. Use roughly 1/3 the amount of truvia to sugar)

Equipment-
large microwave safe glass bowl (plastic will stain, or might not be safe)
Cling film or plastic wrap
wooden, silicone or plastic spoon (not metal)
clean jar to store finished ketchup

1. Crumble the stock cubes. Put all the ingredients in a very large glass bowl and cover with cling film, piercing it a couple of times to let steam escape.
2. microwave on full power for 3 minutes. Remove carefully and stir with a plastic or wooden spoon (metal may affect the taste). Replace the cling-film and return it to the microwave.
3. Microwave on full power for another 3 minutes, then stir again, cover, and replace. It’ll be quite hot by now.
4. Microwave on full power for 5 minutes. You’ll need a pot-holder to take the bowl out, the sauce will be thicker, bubbling and probably splattered all over the cling-film and sides of the bowl. Carefully stir after letting it sit for about 30s to make sure it doesn’t splash at you. Cover again and replace.
5. Microwave on half power this time, for a final 5 minutes. By the end you’ll see a dried ring around the inside of the bowl, and the sauce will still seem more runny than ketchup but will coat a spoon once dipped in. It thickens up a fair bit on cooling. To check consistency you could put a small amount on a cool plate and see what it looks like after a couple of minutes, nuking more if needed. Just don’t overdo it!
6. carefully (it’s hot!) taste it. Adjust the balance between salt, sweet and sour to taste, adding very little of each and mixing well before tasting.  I found it was easier to do this by tasting the ketchup on other food, how I’m used to eating it.
7. Pour into your clean jar then allow to cool. Cover and keep in the fridge.

Enjoy!