A bunch of bananas were sitting in my fruit bowl turning ripe and brown. My new years resolution was to have less food waste. I normally would give them to my mum who happily eats them turning black and syrupy, but lockdown makes that impossible. Banana bread it is then.
Bananas are associated with a number of health benefits. One of the most prominent is blood pressure. They are a good source of potassium which helps maintain blood pressure and reduce cardiovascular strain. Combined with their fibre, folate and antioxidant properties bananas are a great food source for all round heart health. A high fibre diet can help lower blood sugar, which may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Bananas are linked to preventing certain types of cancer. A carbohydrate binding protein called lectin occurs in bananas. They act as an antioxidant, helping to remove free radical molecules from the body. Cell damage can occur with a build up of these molecules. This cell damage can lead to cancer cells developing, in particular leukemia. Their vitamin C content may also play a role in this. Finally bananas are considered beneficial to good digestive health because of their high fibre content.
Amountin One Medium Banana
Approximate Daily Adult Intake
1,800 – 3,000
27 (14.4 are sugars)
25.2 – 33.6
46 – 56
320 – 420
425 – 550
Vitamin C (mg)
75 – 90
Beta Carotene (mcg)
Alpha Carotene (mcg)
Folate (mcg DFE)
Nutrition in a medium sized banana
Low Fat Banana and Walnut Loaf
250g Plain All Purpose Flour
30g Fat Free Yoghurt
110g Soft Brown Sugar
5 Medium Ripe Bananas
1/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
Preheat oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/356°F/Gas Mark 4 and lightly grease a 900g loaf tin and line with parchment paper.
Beat the butter, sugar and yoghurt in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy and pale in colour. Mash the bananas with a fork and crush the walnuts in a food processor, or using a pestle and mortar. Add eggs and banana to the butter mix and stir until combined. Fold in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and walnuts.
Pour the mix into the prepared loaf tin and bake in the oven for 60-65 minutes. Use a skewer to check if loaf baked. To avoid burning crust, cover loosely with parchment paper for first 40 minutes of cooking.
Christmas is essentially cancelled as the the south east of England wades into stricter tier 4 lockdown restrictions. All that is left to do is eat, drink and get through the festive period as best you can. Keeping sweet I decided to make homemade marshmallows today. Before you start a cooking thermometer and stand electric mixer are essential.
4 Medium Egg Whites
2pkts Powdered Gelatine
700g White Castor Sugar
11/2tbsp Liquid Glucose
1tsp Vanilla Extract
Separate the eggs and whisk the whites until they form soft peaks and set aside.
Mix the gelatine with 200ml of cold water and the vanilla extract.
In a large saucepan stir together the caster sugar, liquid glucose and 300ml of water. Heat over a medium-high heat until the sugar syrup reaches 130°C. Remove from the heat and carefully add the gelatine mix. Sugar syrup is really hot and this process can bubble up so be really wary. Stir until thoroughly mixed.
Returning to the egg whites. With the whisk on low add the sugar syrup and gelatine mixture. Then slowly turn the speed of the mixer up to high speed. Whisk for 8-10 minutes until the marshmallows thicken.
Meanwhile line a deep sided tin with clingfilm and then coat with a little sunflower oil. Add the marshmallows to the tray, flatten with a knife and leave to set for a minimum of 2 hours.
Once set remove from the tray and cut into squares. Dip the squares in desiccated coconut and drizzle with melted chocolate.
Feeding a family with all their various likes and dislikes is a juggling act. I once met a woman who cooked different meals for her kids so they were all happy.
“When I’ve cooked you get what you’re given: eat it or go hungry.”
I choose balance throughout the week: meals that cater for everybody. My daughter likes chicken, but the man in my life only likes it processed and fried in batter or breadcrumbs. I have been on a mission to tempt him with marinades and flavours. This variation got a moderate reception and my daughter mopped the plate clean, so it will definitely be on the menu again.
1 Yellow Bell Pepper
1/2tsp Cayenne Pepper
1tbsp Sunflower Oil
1tbsp Plain All Purpose Flour
6 Boneless Skinless Chicken Thigh (or breast)
1 Pint Chicken Stock
1tbsp White Wine Vinegar
Peel and slice the onion, deseed and slice the yellow bell pepper. Heat the sunflower oil over a medium heat in a large frying pan. Add the onion and pepper, season and fry until soft but not brown. Stir in the paprika and cayenne pepper.
Add the flour to the pan, stir until it combines with the fat and evenly coats the onion and pepper. Allow the flour to cook for a minute or two before adding the chicken stock in batches, stirring constantly so it thickens evenly without lumps. Add a dash of white wine vinegar, to offset the bite of the spices.
Halve the chicken thighs and add to the pan. Simmer for 20 minutes while the chicken cooks.
Stir in a dash of cream. Season with salt and pepper and add a handful of chopped parsley. Serve with rice or mashed potatoes and a choice of cooked vegetables.