One of my new year resolutions was to cut out as much dairy and eggs as possible and practical. A bunch of factors influenced this, notably my vegan friends posting a lot of information on what happens in the dairy industry and pictures of little baby chickens going through hell. I’m not ready to go vegetarian or vegan, but I am making smarter choices which I hope will in time snowball into bigger lifestyle changes.
A major factor was that most of the bad things I eat without care or concern have eggs, dairy or both in them. If I cut them from my diet, I’d be severely limited in my snacking options and would have to make wiser choices.
For the most part, that’s what’s happened and apart from having moments where I’m standing in front of a dairy counter bemoaning that I’d give my right arm for some Margaret River smokey cheddar (I’m drooling just thinking about it), I’m doing pretty well on the ‘diet’. I use diet loosely as it’s more a lifestyle change. I’m certainly not denying myself treats! I’ve found a big appreciation for quality dark chocolate and the richness of it means that a block has lasted me 4-6 days where milk chocolate used to be lucky to last me a couple of hours. My current favourites are Green and Blacks 70% and choccies from Carmel Valley which are made here in the Perth hills. Jason bought me their coffee bean one for Valentine’s Day and it is just divine.
Have I been 100% true to the diet? No, but that’s ok because I can see my attitude changing. I’ve had a couple of Cadbury Creme Eggs given as gifts from friends and where I would normally want to hoe down a bag of them, I’ve not enjoyed them as much as I used to, finding them a little too sweet and tasteless. I’ve found it a little hard to find food to eat when going out but I’ve been successful getting some modifications made, and I’ve happily made the transition from drinking long macs to long black coffee.
I’ve switched a lot of unhealthy snacks for things I’ve made using dried fruit, nuts, cocoa and real maple syrup. My brother bought me a food processor for Christmas and it’s been a wonderful addition to our kitchen. I know that there is a lot of fat and sugar in fruit and nuts but it’s nutritional and not so empty as a lot of the other stuff I was scoffing. I’ve become quite addicted to honey dipped dried figs (which are great if you stuff them in your mouth along with the Greens and Black choccy) as well as making my own raw brownies with dates, maple syrup, and cacao.
So, to be honest, apart from the occasional longing for cheese and frozen yoghurt, I haven’t felt like I’m missing out. I eat lots of yummy meals with delicious desserty things packed with flavour. One of my current treats is to throw two huge 500ml glasses of ice in the blender with a can of peaches and a squirt of honey. It’s a beautiful, tasty slushie without all the chemicals and refined sugar you’d get from a frozen cola. It makes enough for two.
A few people have asked me for my vegan banana bread recipe, so here it is. I adapted it from Donna Hay’s simple banana bread recipe in her ‘No time to cook’ book.
Date and macadamia banana bread
I made this for my husband last night and he insisted that my life would be at stake if I didn’t write it down so it could be reproduced in the future. Given my habit of baking fail cakes that can never be replicated, I really hope this recipe is a keeper! I was completely shocked as it’s the first time ever that I’ve made a cake that turned out without cracking. I think it’s because I sprayed the pan with a good coating of spray canola oil.
My oven is fanforced without a working fan, so it took me about 85-90 mins at 160c where the recipe actually says 60mins. Check on it from say 45mins and test with a skewer. I used a silicone loaf pan. These are Australian measurements.
3 bananas pureed with 1-2 Tbsp pure Canadian maple syrup.
220g plain flour. I always use Lighthouse brand cake flour from Anchor.
1 1/2 tsp baking powder.
185g brown sugar. The original recipe is about 75g caster and rest brown. I prefer brown sugar.
100g washed and pitted dates finely chopped in food processor.
125ml vegetable oil.
80-100g macadamias. Process or chop until they are in small, chunky pieces. You don’t want too much powder.
Real maple syrup.
The original non vegan recipe has you add all the dry ingredients, then add the wet ingredients and mix. I forgot about this and just threw everything in together, then mixed it with a fork, using a big spatula to fold in ingredients. It’s more like a muffin mix than a cake mix so don’t use a beater. Just needs a bit of muscle!
I then scooped it all into a silicone loaf pan which I’d sprayed with canola oil, using the spatula to smooth it out. I put the pan straight onto the oven racks (not on a tray) and baked for 80-90mins. The original recipe says 60mins at 160c so please check yours regularly. I have an old fan forced oven where the fan doesn’t work so my baking always takes longer than it should.
Once it springs back, and the skewer is fairly clean, turn it out onto a rack and cool for at least long enough not to burn your stomach. My loaf was slightly overcooked at the edges but it gave it beautiful crunch. It’s even nicer toasted and spread with Nuttelex.
Check out my other recipes here.
Edited 21/2/2013 to change flour type.