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It happens. They get left in the bowl and sudddenly it’s too late, no-one wants them. Don’t throw them out they’re are great for all kinds of things. Smoothies are an obvious and super fast approach. Yogurt, milk, a little ice if you like (I don’t) and you’re set. A lot of recipes specify a sweetener but you really don’t need one. A handful of berries, dollop of  tahini, peanut, or any other nut butter along with  also makes this very special.

At the moment the whole back to school thing has me in a spin, scrambling around trying to remember mid-afternoon snacks that tide kids (and sometimes grown-ups) over till dinner (while trying to figure out what’s actually for said dinner….) Smoothies are perfect and this one is very popular at the moment….

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Super-healthy Chocolate Banana Smoothie

You’ll need:

200ml milk

2 dollops yogurt

1 heaped tablespoon cocoa powder

2 tablespoons flaxseed oil (brilliant source of Omega 3 oils)

1 heaped tablespoon flax seed (for fibre)

1 large ripe banana

Put everything in a blender and blast til smooth. Serve cold.

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The other great way to deal with old bananas is of course banana bread. For portability muffins are a good way to go. Same mixture different mould and slightly less time in the oven. Lately I’m on a coconut buzz so instead of the usual walnuts there are coconut flakes in this recipe. To plump up the sultanas I soak them in my fav Bengal Spice tea but you can use regular or any other kind you like. These muffins (or buns if you want to make something a little more manageable sizewise) will keep for a few days in an airtight tin.

Banana and coconut muffins

You’ll need:

100gr butter room temperature

100gr moscovado sugar

150gr wholemeal flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 large eggs

2 teaspoon cinnamon

A pinch of allspice if you have it

A pinch of salt

250gr really ripe bananas

100gr flaked toasted coconut

100gr sultanas

Anything from an hour to 15 minutes before you begin put the sultanas into half a cup of tea in a pot. Bring to the boil then simmer until most of the water has evaporated. Allow to cool down while you get on with everything else.

Sieve the flour, cinnamon, allspice, baking powder and salt together and set aside. If the butter isn’t nice and soft stand it in the mixing bowl in a basin of hot water for a few minutes then cream it with the sugar til pale and fluffy. Add an egg and continue beating til fully incorporated. Add about half of the flour, beat then add the other egg, beat well then add the rest of the flour.

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Mash up the bananas and beat them into the mixture then add in the sultanas followed by three-quarters of the coconut. . Mix well then spoon into moulds and top with the rest of the toasted coconut which goes deliciously chewy in the oven.

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Bake  at Gas Mark 5/190 degrees for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

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Banana bread

A glut of overripe bananas made me revisit an old favourite  recently. Banana bread -I’d forgotten how good it is. It’s just a cake with mashed bananas and dried fruit so there’s no real difficulty involved. I used sultanas, dates and walnuts but you can of course mix it up and use other dried fruit. I like to really plump up the sultanas by bringing them to the boil and simmering them in whiskey. Bourbon, rum or tea will do the same job.

The real challenge with this recipe is the willpower needed to complete the final step after it comes out of the oven. If you can resist wolfing it and stick it in a paper bag overnight your reward will be an even better result that’s a gorgeously rich, cakey slice of heaven. A slather of butter is essential and I’m also very partial to toasting. In fact I’d go so far as to say that making a double batch is the way forward. I use those silicon loaf “tins” from Dunnes which at a fiver a pop are brilliant value.

Banana bread with whiskey soaked sultanas, dates and walnuts

You’ll need:

100gr sultanas

75ml whiskey

100gr butter at room temperature

120gr moscovado sugar

100gr buckwheat flour – I’m using this a lot these days and it works very well in this recipe. If you don’t have it regular plain will do.

50gr plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

2 medium eggs

250gr very ripe bananas (about 3 or 4 depending on the size)

50gr chopped walnuts

50gr dates finely sliced

A teaspoon vanilla extract

About half an hour before you plan to bake, put the whiskey and sultanas in a pot and bring to the boil then simmer for a few minutes until the liquid has all but been absorbed. Set aside to cool. When you’re ready to bake, sieve the flours, baking powder, cinnamon and salt into a bowl and put to one side for later. Beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add an egg and beat into the mixture then throw in about third of the flour and beat that in. Repeat this step then mash up your bananas and beat them in. The mixture will start to look curdled after the bananas go in but don’t worry. Add in the rest of the flour and this normally gets things back to normal. Now toss in the vanilla extract, sultanas, dates and nuts. Mix together then spoon the mixture into a greased loaf tin. Put in a moderate oven (Gas mark 4/170 degrees) and bake for about 50 minutes until a skewer(or knife) comes out clean when inserted into the middle. Do check things after the first 40 minutes just in case. When the bread is ready, let it cool then, as I said, if you can bear it put it away in a paper bag overnight. Just focus on how good breakfast will be….

Banana bread loaf

In case you were wondering……….

Those leaves in your bag are Cima di Rapa and they can be simply tossed in the pan with garlic and/or chorizo for a very tasty lunch. I also love them with japanese style noodle . Either way you should eat them asap to get them at their best.

If you’re heading down to Stradbally look out for Chuck. He’ll be playing tunes in the Body and Soul area from a tree house. If anyone wants to take 2 little boys (they’re no trouble really) I’ll put some of that banana bread in a bag and go down and join him. Fingers crossed!!

Have a great weekend,

Sarah