I have been baking for months, (if that’s what you can call epic fails) trying to create the perfect banana bread recipe that is healthy, moist and tasty. I tried once with coconut flour, only to realise just how tricky this can be because it absorbs three times the amount of liquid as any other flour. I ended up with a dense, heavy heap of dough, that I threw away after telling myself I was useless at baking and should stop wasting my money. I got over that and experimented again, but in life I find that my ego is relentless at trying to persuade me to stop giving things a go. To my ego there is always someone more talented or able than I am, so why even try? From my experience, there’s only one way to live with this kind of thinking and that’s through an understanding of how the mind works and often a letting go of the thoughts that fill it…
So last month I attended an intense but magical meditation retreat. Retreat makes the experience sound enjoyable but at the time it was incredibly challenging. For ten days this was my routine; I woke to the sound of a gong at 4:00am and made my way to the mediation hall where I meditated for two hours. This was actually my favourite time to mediate because there’s something incredible to me about being awake when it’s dark outside and the rest of the world is sleeping. After the two hours were finished everyone in the hall would have a healthy, vegetarian breakfast. Suddenly a bowl of bran flakes covered in yoghurt, fruit and peanut butter brought me an immense amount of joy. I would then walk in the gardens that surrounded us before we started to meditate again at 8:00am through till 11:00am. It was interesting to me, who I thought about during that time and who I didn’t, what was important to me and what wasn’t. Lunch time came next, followed by my daily routine of having a shower and washing my clothes from the day before. Up until this point of the day, I was relatively calm albeit it slightly bored but life was simple, serene and slow paced.
From 12:00pm through till 9:00pm we would then mediate on and off for 9 hours. NINE HOURS! I’m lucky these days if I mediate for 30 minutes before yoga. We also had to fast until breakfast the next morning and the only thing we were allowed to consume was hot water with lemon. Did I mention that it was a silent retreat and that we weren’t allowed to speak at all for the duration of the ten days?
This was the second time I had attended this course (yes I went back for more) so in many ways it was easier. I knew I could handle living without my daily comforts and just how peaceful I would feel without the noise of drama and distractions. Certain things were harder though; I found it difficult to go back to my room because I missed my family so much and I wanted to run away because time was passing so slowly. I also felt nostalgic, grateful, happy, lonely, frustrated, trapped and exhausted. BUT, for me there is nothing more freeing than realising that the way you feel is caused by the thoughts you think. And the thoughts you think can be re-directed, changed or observed. In-fact, if you ever want to experience just how powerful the mind can be, observe it. Rarely will your mind be in the present moment because it’s remembering the past or trying to predict the future. And that’s putting it mildly. If we’re honest with each other we are often attacking someone else for what they said to us or obsessing about whether we will reach the goals in life we have set for ourselves. Being mindful of my mind and kindly reminding myself to live fully in each moment, is my life’s work. I’m on a journey to leave behind anything that doesn’t serve me and nothing, not even the voice in my head will stop me.
So, back to the BEST banana bread in the world? The white chocolate chips make this recipe a little less lean and clean, so take them out if you want. This bread will only last 3-5 days which is why I normally bake it for myself and someone else, or have it for breakfast for the week so nothing goes to waste. The secret to a perfectly moist banana bread really is RIPE bananas. Once you have your ratio of yoghurt and milk to flour, then you can add your favourite chocolate and nut butter. Making it healthy some weeks and more indulgent the next.
I recently made this bread for one of my closet friends when he came to visit me in London. It lasted less than 12 hours. He had it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so after that I decided this recipe was good to go. It can be altered, I also made chocolate and almond butter banana bread using the same recipe.
1/3 cup of maple syrup
1/2 cup of plain greek yoghurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 over ripe bananas (1 cup mashed)
1/4 cup of coconut sugar
1 1/2 cups of buckwheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of white chocolate chips
1/3 cup of cashew butter
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Grease or line a loaf pan with parchment paper. In a mixing bowl combine the maple syrup, yoghurt, egg, vanilla, banana and sugar until well combined. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl and then beat into the wet ingredients. Stir in the chocolate chips if you’re having them and take the cashew butter and add to the batter one tbsp at a time. Pour the batter into the loaf tin. If you want, this is the time to add any more chocolate or nut butter. Place the loaf tin in the oven and bake for around 50minutes. Keep an eye on it though as everyones ovens are different. Once the loaf has browned on the top and you can put a knife in and it comes out clean, you’re done. Remove and let it cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. The bread will last for 3-5 days.