Chocolate, chia and banana cake

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It’s high time I posted a cake recipe. The last cake recipe I shared was an old favourite I’ve been baking for years, one my sister has taken to and now bakes for any and every occasion a cake is required. But this little beauty is a new recipe. It’s based on a simple banana cake but tweaked with the addition of chia seeds and dark chocolate. The dark chocolate is of the high cocoa bean variety. I tend to use 70% cocoa bean chocolate in ALL my baking now and often buy the organic and fair trade blocks.  It’s bitter slightly tangy flavour is preferred to the sugary milky chocolate that’s so often sold to home cooks. Plus, dark chocolate contains higher amounts of antioxidants and flavonoids, that’s gotta be a good thing right?

 

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The delight in learning how to use chia seeds has come through my baking. When you soak chia seeds in water, they turn to a thick gel and can actually replace the use of eggs. Soaked chia seeds act in much the same way as eggs do in baking by holding the cake together. I have a cherry and chia seed cake I like to bake. The chia seeds give it a chewy outer crust whilst keeping it moist, much the same as a cake rich with eggs would. I’m into this chia seed thing.

It’s inevitable, especially when you have kids in the house, to always have a few over ripe bananas gathering spots in the fruit bowl. The positive aspect of this is, overripe bananas are the ones to use in your baking. Brown spotted bananas have the best flavour and sweetness for banana cakes, muffins or loaves.  And over ripe bananas can be frozen too, so there’s no need to toss them out. Rejoice in the brown spotted banana! Freeze them with their skins removed and you’ll have them on hand at any time a banana cake is required.

 

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Chocolate, chia and banana cake

Ingredients 

125g softened butter

1 cup brown sugar

2 large ripe bananas, mashed

200g plain flour

50g wholemeal self raising flour

1 tsp bi carb soda

1 egg

2 tbsp chia seeds

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp mixed spice

Pinch salt

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

 

Pre heat oven to 180C. Line a 23cm spring form cake tin with baking paper. Place chia seeds in a small bowl, add 1/4 cup cold water and whisk to combine, set aside for 10 minutes. In  a separate bowl, sift together the plain flour and bi carb soda, add the wholemeal flour, spices and a pinch of salt.

Place softened butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream till well combined. Add egg and beat till combined. Add mashed banana and soaked chia seeds, beat to combine.  Add prepared flour with spices and milk, beat slowly till combined. Add chopped dark chocolate and fold till just combined.

Place mixture in prepared tin and bake for 50 minutes. Stand for 10 minutes. Remove spring form cake tin and allow cake to cool on a  baking rack. Once cake is cool, cut into wedges and serve as is or with double cream.

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Quinoa tabbouleh with feta and pomegranate

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This salad was inspired by my yoga teacher,  Linda Apps, who runs the Yoga Nook , a small yoga centre in Dulwich Hill, in the Inner West of Sydney. She follows my blog and every now and then, when not discussing yoga, we talk about food. She asked for a recipe that was yummy, and vegetarian, that she might share with the readers of her monthly newsletter. This salad immediately came to mind because it’s largely plant based and is healthy and delicious. Plus, i’ve been keen to write a recipe that uses pomegranate. Up until a few years ago, I was ignorant of it’s beauty.

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Traditionally tabbouleh is made with cracked wheat also known as bulgur. For a more nutritious salad, I like using quinoa. Any of the coloured varieties can be adapted here – red, white, or black. This salad relies on fresh parsley and mint. If you can snip these straight from the garden or planter box you will be rewarded. If you must buy your parsley and mint, smell it first! When demand out grows my supply of fresh herbs I’ll only buy them when I can smell them. If they have no smell they get left on the shelf. Both parsley and mint act as a digestive aid and this is reason in itself to eat this salad.

Pomegranate truly is one of the prettiest fruits I know. The jewel shaped kernels burst in the mouth with a sweet yet slightly bitter flavour. And the bright red colour is not only attractive to the eye but makes such a decorative garnish. For us Southern hemisphere folk, pomegranate are in season from March to May. Northern hemisphere dwellers will have to keep this salad in mind for September through to February.

You only need a little extra virgin olive oil to dress the quinoa. You can also drizzle this salad with avocado or hazelnut oil.

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A few other simple ideas include serving this salad with grilled salmon – a dear friend of my Mum’s served it this way – It’s a really nice combination and makes a fancy yet simple meal. When served with salmon I prefer to leave the feta out as I tend to stick to the rule of – don’t mix fish and cheese.

I also like to add sliced avocado and eat this salad with a piece of toasted rye bread, or sourdough to the side.

Quinoa tabbouleh – serves 2-3 or 4-6  as a side dish

Ingredients 

1 cup organic quinoa – white, red or black

3/4 cup picked and washed parsley leaves

3/4 cup picked and washed mint leaves

1/2 a pomegranate, seeds removed

1/2 lemon, juiced

Extra virgin olive oil

50g feta, crumbled

Sea salt and cracked black pepper

Cook quinoa in plenty of boiling water for about 15 minutes, Drain well and set aside to cool.

Once cool, place cooked quinoa in a medium bowl, add washed mint and parsley leaves, lemon juice, sea salt, cracked black pepper and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Toss to combine and either place on a serving platter, or divide between bowls.

Cut the pomegranate in half and gently break the membrane around the pomegranate to release the seeds. Collect them in a small bowl. Sprinkle the salad with plenty of pomegranate seeds and crumble over some feta. If preparing this ahead of time, don’t dress with the lemon juice or extra virgin olive oil till ready to eat.