Experimentation: banana, date and maple syrup loaf

As you may have surmised, I’m being tempted by the ‘sweet poison’ movement. Not totally swayed, but intrigued. Personally, I think that everything in moderation is good. But having said that, I am a total sweet tooth and so, in an attempt not to replicate that in my children and also as an attempt to not develop diabetes, I have been taking active steps to cut down on my processed sugar consumption.

At first, I thought the whole no sugar movement was unfathomable. Nothing sweet ever again? No way. But then I flicked through Sarah Wilson’s ‘I Quit Sugar’ cookbook at my friend’s place and realised that it’s not about eliminating everything sweet from your life, but rather about replacing the high fructose, processed sugars with stuff that… um… is not (processed, that is).

So with that in mind, I share with you my latest creation. Someone else may have designed this recipe elsewhere, but I haven’t seen it. I say this because I recently read an outraged food blogger talking about how their recipes had been ‘stolen’ (posted without credit) by other bloggers. (You’ll notice that I tend to attribute my inspiration and sources, must be the academic coming out). My friend Resa was telling me the other day about a ‘life loaf’, which is basically a type of seedy, fruity, nutty bread filled with lots of good stuff and no bad stuff. I really like the idea of it but, when I looked in my cupboard, realised that I wasn’t in a position to attempt it. However, we did have a big box of medjool dates and some very ripe bananas, so I went from there. Apologies in advance but I can’t post pictures right now, but things should be good shortly…

Banana, date and maple loaf

You will need:

1 overflowing cup of dates, chopped coarsely

1 cup water

90 g butter, margarine or (probably but I haven’t tried it) coconut oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 eggs

1 3/4 cups self-raising flour, sifted (as usual, I used gluten-free flour)

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1. Preheat your oven to 180C. Line a loaf tin (I never bother with greasing it, cos I love that baking paper stuff)

2. In a medium saucepan, put dates and water. Cook over low-medium heat, stirring regularly, until they go thick and jam-like. I like to leave it at about the thickness of thick yoghurt (not too runny, but not toooo thick).

3. Stir in the butter. The dates are nice and hot, so it should melt pretty quickly. Stir it well. Let it cool for a little while.

4. Working quickly, add the maple syrup. Then add the eggs and beat them in. If you go too slowly, they’ll start to cook. Not such a big bad deal but if you can make sure that they are spread through the date mix before that happens.

5. Stir in the flour and mashed bananas. The mix should be pretty thick by now, but not so the spoon will stand up in the mix. If it does, add about 1/4 cup of milk, or enough to make the mix like a fairly stiff cake batter. When I post my photos, you should get a sense of how you want it to look.

6. Pour it into the prepared tin and place in oven. Bake for about 60-70 minutes or until it’s lovely and brown. Please note that if you stick a skewer in to test the cake, it won’t come out perfectly clean; this is a pretty dense cake.

7. Eat it! It’s especially nice when it’s hot but if you cut it into fairly small pieces, it’s delicious when cold too.

As an aside, I thought my kids would turn their noses up at this – but they, and our neighbour’s kids, couldn’t get enough of it. I guess it was sweet enough!





When your world’s a-crazed, try spaghetti bolognese

Things have been a bit silent here at Imprecision Kitchen as we have been in Spain! Italy! England! which has been great fun but not so productive in the kitchen. While we were away however, I got some really great ideas about things to try – and which I will share here in the next few weeks. But first, I thought I would go back to basics here and share with you my first ‘returning home’ recipe – spaghetti bolognese. Everyone has their own comfort food, and this is one of my boys’ favourites, especially after three weeks of trying new things. We have this sauce with spaghetti, spirals, gnocchi, ravioli, baked potatoes… it’s pretty versatile. It’s also perfect to adapt to meet your own tastes!

Rel’s spaghetti bolognese

You will need:

500 g minced beef (although it also works pretty well with other meats, or a combination)

1 small onion, diced finely

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 stick celery, chopped finely

1/2 (or 1 small) zucchini, chopped finely or grated

1 carrot, chopped finely or grated

a few mushrooms (optional), chopped

1x 440g can tomato soup (you can instead choose to use crushed tomatoes, but I find that this makes it a bit richer – mum style!)

1 x 700g jar of tomato passata

1 bay leaf

1 tbsp mixed dried herbs


olive oil

1. In a pan with a little olive oil, add garlic, onion and celery. Cook over medium heat until brown. Add the mince and stir until brown.

2. Add all other ingredients; if it looks a bit dry, add some water. Let it simmer together for 30 minutes or more (the longer the better).

3. Serve over pasta, rice, potato or whatever.

Pretty simple, hey? Enjoy!