Honey + Almond Banana Fritters
Below is the article I wrote for the Sun Herald a few weeks ago on comfort food and healthy ways to enjoy warm foods this winter. Followed by one of my favorite comfort food recipes oven baked banana fritters coated in a honey and almond crumble.
I cycled past my local bakery last week and was almost pulled into the queue by the irresistable smell of warm sourdough, brioche and buttery croissants. As the weather gets colder, it’s natural for us to crave warming stodgy comfort foods over fresh salads and vegetables. But traditional ”comfort foods” are usually high in saturated fat and refined carbohydrate, elevating insulin levels that promote the storage of body fat; we tend to pile on about 3-5 kg during the winter months. That helps insulate us against the cold but it can also be damaging for our health and waistline.
So does healthy comfort food exist? Of course it does, however it does take a little creativity and planning.
At my place meals like chicken pie, lasagne, stroganoff, pancakes and my personal favourite spaghetti and meatballs (see recipe at right) are on the menu throughout winter – because I find ways to reduce the fat and sugar and keep them healthy. The most important rule to eating comfort food is to balance it out by using fresh seasonal veges and cook not only for taste but also for the sake of your health. Think about what you’re putting into your mouth every time you eat: does it have a positive or negative effect on your health?
Here are a few basic rules to help you prepare comfort food that won’t have you end up looking like a marshmallow by the end of Winter.
REDUCE SATURATED FAT
Substitute butter and margarine for healthier fats that won’t clog the arteries such as olive oil, macadamia, grape seed, flax seed. Trim fat from meat and buy lean cuts of grass fed / free range if possible as it has four times more Vitamin E and more omega 3 than grain-fed varieties, helping to protect the heart and nourish the brain.
Sugar is high in calories, it spikes insulin and has no nutritional value, plus it adds approximately 15 kg to an average person’s weight during their life. Try reducing your sugar intake every day, including white refined carbohydrates. Substitute white refined carbohydrates with high fibre wholegrains, or vegetable based carbs, like zucchini linguini with healthy meatballs (see recipe). I also love to make my ”power porridge” from scratch that’s the real deal, not a store bought pre-mix filled with sugar.
DITCH WHITE REFINED FLOUR
White refined flours contribute to high insulin levels, which promote that layer of pudding around your waistline and contain minimal nutrition. Swap them for whole-grain, nut and seed varieties such whole meal spelt, almond, quinoa or buckwheat. So next time you make pizza, use a thin wholegrain base instead or even use a large Portobello mushroom in place of the dough, stuffed with spinach, ricotta and fresh herbs.
Eating protein with each meal will help keep you fuller for longer and maintain a positive nitrogen balance which will help preserve lean muscle, keep your metabolic rate elevated and it will also stop you craving fat and stodge.
DON’T BE GREEDY
The Okinawa people of Japan follow a principle called “hara hachi bu” which translates as ”eat until you are only 80 per cent full”. They live longer than people in any other nation as well as being lean and more youthful as they age. And the real reason the French don’t get fat? Their portion sizes are often half of what we serve here or in the United States. So they can still enjoy rich buttery croissants and hot chocolate made with real couverture, whole milk and cream – in moderation.
HEALTHY BANANA FRITTERS
Banana fritters are one of my favorite desserts when I’m after a sweet fix on a cold winters day. Not the sort that you’re thinking of which are traditionally crumbed or dipped in tempura batter then deep fried in oil. My version is lightly coated in an almond crust then baked in a hot oven until golden on the outside and warm and soft on the inside. Served with thick bio yoghurt and a little honey.
60 g honey, warmed
80 g almond meal
zest of 1 orange
pinch ground cinnamon
Thick Natural yoghurt or coconut sorbet to serve
Heat your oven to 220 C
Combine almond meal, cinnamon and orange zest.
Brush the bananas with warmed honey until they are well coated.
Coat bananas in the almond meal.
Place onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Bake for 10 – 15 minutes until golden.
Serve with thick natural yoghurt and a drizzle of honey, alternatively a coconut sorbet is delicious with these.