Go bananas!

You may have noticed in the last post that runners were given a banana (or two) at the end of the race. Bananas are a traditional go-to in the world of running. Pre race, post race – bananas are a staple snack. Why? Well bananas are a great source of carbohydrates – fuel for running. They also contain significant potassium and magnesium, essential for proper functioning of muscles and good bone health. Bananas are a good source of fibre, and may even help you sleep better and improve your mood as they contain tryptophan which the body converts to serotonin – a neurotransmitter that is associated with feelings of well being and happiness. Maybe it’s not just running that makes you feel good (see earlier post..) but eating all those bananas!

The beautiful banana – healthy, tasty and versatile

Sadly bananas are in danger. The enormous success of the fruit has encouraged what some would call a factory farming approach, focussing on just one species to produce a uniform banana – the same shape, colour and taste that we are all used to. But this lack of biodiversity has led to a lack of disease resistance. A fungus known as Panama disease has devastated banana plantations across the world. Research into genetic modification is underway to try and introduce disease resistant strains. I found two excellent articles about this here and here, if you are interested in reading more.

Banana chocolate cupcakes

Let’s come away from the gloom of impending banana disaster! And to the world of banana cake. The cupcakes above are an adaptation of a recipe I found years ago somewhere on the internet. Here is my version:

Ingredients for 12 cupcakes:

1/2 cup butter – that’s about 50g

1/2 to 3/4 cup of sugar (the original recipe says 1 cup but I always use less sugar than they say)

1 cup mashed bananas – nice ripe ones, probably about 3

1 egg beaten

1 cup flour

1/4 cup cocoa

1/4 cup ground almonds

1 tsp bicarb

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup chocolate chips – optional

I forgot to put the packet of ground almonds in the picture

Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper liners – or cupcake cases. Preheat the oven to mark 4 or 350 deg F. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. In another bowl cream the butter and sugar, and then add the egg, mixing until just combined. Stir in the bananas and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts until just combined. Stir in the choc chips if using.

Fill each paper liner.(If you want bigger cupcakes don’t use all 12 liners, and fill the others more!). Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until a cake tester or wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack.

I made a runny ‘icing’ with icing sugar and quark (it was all I had!) and put a chocolate button on top. Next time I will put that chocolate button on top of the unbaked mixture and let it melt right in. You could be more conventional and ice/frost them with a ganache, or a cream cheese frosting. I’m just not that keen on sickly icing.

The healthy version of banana cupcakes/muffins

I also made some ‘healthier’ banana muffins too – and they were really tasty. Not as lush and moist as the ones above, but very nice. I used this recipe, but instead of 1/2 cup of honey I used about 1/4 cup of agave syrup. If you have a very sweet tooth you might want more sweetener but for me they were just right.

Anyway – they went to work for a staff meeting and I made a few quid for JDRF, getting me closer to my target!

I have loads more great banana bread recipes so I will probably be posting another version at some point. Do you have a favourite version? Let me know in the comments!

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