As Spring draws nigh (March is creeping closer- isn't it?) I thought I might celebrate with a banana bread recipe. This is a banana bread so tasty, tender and fragrant, you won't care it is gluten-free. And you might even tempt the naysayers. And the unbelievers.
You know who I'm talking about.
Out there in the cold cruel world, Darling, some folks apparently (still) view our gluten-free lifestyle through a jaded foodie lens, believing, first of all, that gluten-free anything is never going to taste anything but awful, and second, that this whole gluten-free trend (their word not mine) is a fad not worthy of serious consideration and compassion. Apart from the standard (and always brief) lip service that non-afflicted food writers, non-GF bloggers and journalists pay to celiac disease, adhering to the medical treatment that is a gluten-free diet is degraded- for that sexy topical hook- to a "bandwagon". An eating disorder.
A diet by choice.
They dub it a controversy.
As my twelfth year of living gluten-free marches on, I find myself reflecting not upon the decade plus years living gluten-free, but upon the ten long years prior to shunning gluten- the decade it took me (no thanks to the medical profession) to determine that gluten was the culprit behind my early onset autoimmune cataracts, mysterious low ferritin levels, skin rashes, migraines, fat malabsorption and impressive marathon stints in the loo- I feel the slow, sad burn of anger those of us who are dismissed experience.
Two bloggers referenced the gluten-free diet on a social networking site recently, bragging about their "iron stomachs" and their ability to chow down on everything (this implies that those of us unable to ingest gluten merely have "sensitive" digestion). I was reminded of a previous post I wrote in response to a blogger's remark that gluten-free is "too precious".
Ignorance is bliss, indeed.
Here's the thing. It's not a sensitive vs iron stomach issue. It's not an I-can-eat-anything-so-bring-on-the-butter-and-bacon-and-haggis issue. It's not about macho appetite. Or virtue. Or squeamishness.
It's not philosophical.
It's not emotional.
It's not about preciousness.
Or garnering attention.
Or skinny jeans.
It's about a cruel quirk in genetics.
If you won the luck of the draw in the genetic lottery and escaped- by no effort of your own- inheriting HLA-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8, the two genetic haplotypes that predispose you to an autoimmune disease that triggers your body's defense system to attack itself, destroying the nutrient-grabbing lining of your small intestine, be humble. Be thankful. Your body works. You do not have to be vigilant about every crumb that goes into your mouth. In your world gluten does not increase your risk for Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. A bagel is not dangerous. You can eat what you crave when you are hungry. You can wing it when you travel, feeling carefree and adventurous. You can sample new cuisine on a whim- without asking about the ingredients. Food for you is fun. Romantic. Perhaps, even a passion.
Thank your small intestine.
And while you're at it, thank your pancreas, too.
Because those with Type 1 diabetes (another genetic autoimmune disease, one that destroys the insulin-producing islet cells in the pancreas) must also be vigilant about their diet. Along with injecting insulin, Type 1 diabetics must also limit (if not shun) certain foods to protect their health, making careful, low glycemic choices day after day.
But maybe that's a fad, too. Maybe their pancreases are just sensitive. Maybe a diabetic child is merely craving attention, just like her celiac cousin. Maybe a mother learning how to cook a meal with low glucose is coddling her child, too. Maybe all autoimmune diseases are just a silly trend.
The Fad Du Jour.
I hear celiacs and diabetics are wicked sexy.
Well, that part may be true.
I hear celiacs and diabetics are wicked sexy.
Well, that part may be true.
We found ourselves with a bunch of fragrant, ripe bananas. So I decided to tweak my faithful Gluten-Free Banana Bread Recipe with Chocolate Chips. To keep things fresh, I used my favorite Zucchini Bread recipe as a template. You know me. I like to change things up.
We've been crazy into walnuts lately, so I added a rounded cup of chopped walnuts to the batter.
A quick word about baking pans.
It has come to my attention (thanks to ever-lively discussions on Facebook, and the various comments left here on Gluten-free Goddess®) that some of you attempt to bake gluten-free tea breads in- GASP- foil bread pans.
Please Darling. Don't.
Here's why, Bubela. Foil pans? They are ridiculously thin. I mean, really. They cannot possibly coddle your sensitive gluten-free batter in the way it needs to be coddled. The way it needs to be cradled, protected from the onslaught of hot oven air, as the center takes its slow sweet time to bake.
In other words, when the baking pan is thin, the outside of the loaf will bake fast and furious- while the inside is just lollygagging, staying gooey and difficult until it finally cooks through during the last five minutes.
If your loaves habitually under-cook in the middle, or over-cook on the outside, your pan might be why. Here's the ceramic baking pan I use- and love. It heats evenly, and bakes gluten-free batters and bread dough beautifully.
I also recommend you check your oven temperature with a decent (not the cheapest) oven thermometer. Ovens can be wildly inaccurate, temperature-wise. I've tested three ovens in three years and each one has been off- from 25º to 75º.
This is the oven thermometer I use.
Karina's Gluten-Free Banana Nut Bread RecipeBy Karina Allrich November 2011.
This new banana walnut bread is fragrant and fabulous. And it does not scream gluten-free. Warm from the oven, we slathered it with vegan butter.
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (roughly three medium bananas- keep it at 1 cup)
2 large organic free-range eggs, beaten
1/4 cup organic Non-GMO Canola oil, coconut oil, or grape seed oil
1 1/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1 cup brown rice flour or sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch or potato starch (not potato flour)
1 tablespoon rice bran
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons bourbon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup walnut pieces
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a 9-inch ceramic loaf pan with a piece of parchment paper.
In a mixing bowl, beat the mashed bananas with the eggs, oil and brown sugar till combined. Add the brown rice flour, tapioca starch, rice bran, baking powder, xanthan gum, baking soda, salt, vanilla and cinnamon and beat until a smooth sticky batter forms. Stir in the walnut pieces by hand.
Scoop the batter into the loaf pan and spread evenly. Stud the top with some extra walnut pieces, if desired. Bake on the center rack for 55 to 65 minutes, if necessary, until the center is done (a wooden cake tester should emerge clean). Ovens vary, so check the loaf at 50-60 minutes. In my various ovens this has baked anywhere from 60 to 70 minutes.
Note: I tented the top with foil at 45 minutes because I have a small electric wall oven and I was concerned the top would over-brown. Top yours with a piece of tented foil if you see it browning too much.
Cool on a wire rack.
This banana bread stays moist overnight, if tightly wrapped- but I would slice and freeze leftover pieces for best texture, beyond that.
Makes one 9-inch loaf
Cook time: 1 hour
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Here's my vegan, egg-free Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips recipe, if you need to bake without eggs.