Adventures in Banana Bread

The moment you all have been waiting for has arrived. Insert drum roll - here are two of your votes for favorite entrees! Each week from now on the first two entrees in our menu will be favorites that repeat on a 6-week cycle. Thus you can expect to see these lovely entrees again in the third week of March.

So last week as I was making what turned out to be outrageously delicious Banana Bread, I laughed (a lot) because Dana, the blogger over at Minimalist Baker had dubbed this recipe, "One Bowl Banana Bread." Well, I sure used more than one bowl. I also used multiple kitchen appliances and made an overall, certified mess.

The bulk of the recipe is made up of 1/3 gluten-free flour, 1/3 almond meal, and 1/3 ground oats.

For those of you who have done gluten-free baking at home, you know how expensive these specialty ingredients are at Le Health Food Store. Thus, I had the brilliant idea to make my own almond meal and oat flour. I have an older model Vitamix with a dry canister for making homemade flours. Well, let me tell you, it was not happy with the almonds. After several minutes, I still had only achieved a rough chop on 1/3 of the quantity of almonds I needed to grind. Now when I cook for Govinda's, I am on a time limit, and processes that take a long time are just not going to fly. Thankfully I remembered that my Omega Juicer has an attachment for grinding dry goods. Move over, Vitamix. The Omega is taking over. You can see what a perfect powder the juicer made out of the almonds.

Since prepping the almond meal took much longer than I had expected, I knew I needed something faster and more sophisticated than my hand-held masher for processing the bananas (all 15! of them).

Again,

the Omega

to the rescue!

So as it turned out, one of the finished loaves turned out to be a whopping 2 3/4 lbs.! I think the breads weigh so much on account of the large almond-meal content. The loaves were actually quite beautiful. I apologize that I didn't photograph it without the bag. By the time I took this photo, I was pretty worn out...

More than one person suggested selling this beautiful banana baby by the pound, since it is so dense, healthy (aka containing high-end ingredients), and eye-rollingly delicious. :-)

This Week's Menu:

Entree #1 - Cream of Mushroom & Green Bean with Papadam Noodles

The photo and the original recipe (which I modified so much that I stopped linking it in the title line) were both taken from the Vegetarian Times website. Our proprietary Govinda's version (ooh! that sounds fun to say) uses an almond milk base and papadam instead of parpadelle noodles. If you have not yet been introduced to the glories of papadams, let me explain. Papadams are savory Indian wafers made from high-protein lentils called urad dal. Usually they are fried or dry roasted and come out like big crunchy "chips." In this soup, the thin wafers are added at the end of the cooking and soften up into delightful, high-protein "noodles." Creamy noodle heaven! *GF, soy-free

(photo vegetariantimes.com)

Entree #2 - Jagannatha Puri Chana Dal

This dal hails from the state of Orissa in the Eastern part of India. There are many, many temples throughout Orissa (as is the case all over India), and in the city of Jagannatha Puri, there is one very special temple - the massive temple of Lord Jagannath Himself. "Natha" means lord. "Jagat" means universe. So in this temple, which hosts millions of pilgrims annually, the "Lord of the Universe," Jagannatha, is served with great pomp and reverence. Many of the priests at the temple come from families whose lineage of service to the temple extends back for many generations. This mild, creamy dal recipe is one such traditional dish that has been passed down from one family of temple cooks to another, through the generations.*GF, soy-free

Entree #3 - Black Bean & Sweet Potato Mole Chili

For those of you who are link clickers, let me clarify that the recipe linked above is for a Pinto Bean Mole Chili, while the one in the photo credit is for a Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili. What's up with that? Well, we are making an amalgam of the two recipes. I really wanted to make a chili with mole sauce. I also wanted to use up some sweet potatoes we have, and I just didn't feel like using pintos this time. I don't know why, but black beans just sounded so much more exciting than pinto beans this time around. So I expect that this chili will be hearty, filling, crazy nutrient-dense, a little spicy, exotic, and citrus-y & chocolate-y all at the same time. *GF, soy-free

(photo vegkitchen.com)

Side Dishes:

Brown Rice - $1/serving (1 cup)

Quinoa Verde - $3/serving (1 cup) It was about time for some quinoa, and what better sidekick for chili then quinoa verde? The pureed spinach and kale add loads of nutrition, as well as color, to this little supergrain. *GF, soy-free

(photo drjuliedurnan.com)

Homemade Tortilla Chips -$3 ea. Most of this sidebar was driven by the addition of the chili to the menu. You can't have Mexican beans and quinoa without tortilla chips! Any Mexican restaurant owner would lose their sombrero if there were not an outrageously addictive basket of complimentary tortilla chips on each table in their establishment. Fortunately, our chips are WAY more healthy than the restaurant kind. Ours are baked (not fried) and then sprayed with GF tamari sauce for a unique saltiness, so you never get your hands greasy nor do you feel like you downed a salt lick after finishing the basket. *GF. Note: cute basket not included.

(photo circle-b-kitchen)

Fresh Tomato Salsa - $2 A blender salsa of fresh tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeno, and lime - pure, simple, spicy goodness!*GF, soy-free

(photo lecremedelacrumb.com)

Raw Lemon Bars - $3 or 2/$5. It has been a few minutes since we made these little treats that pack a gigantic flavor. The ingredients are few - dates, coconut, lemon, and almonds. Rest assured, this is legal candy! *GF, soy-free

(photo therawtarian.com)

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