Fruit and Nut Banana Loaf

After a trip to the food store or the farmers market, there are some fruits that go straight into the refrigerator… like grapes, peaches, nectarines or any kinds of berries. Other fruits like apples, oranges, grapefruits and bananas are always left in the fruit basket. Mainly, because they don’t need refrigeration but also because space inside the refrigerator is rather scarce.


This arrangement is fine with the apples and oranges, as they keep fresh for ages and get eaten fairly soon. Haven’t studies shown that fruit outside the refrigerator gets eaten way before those inside? 🙂


It is a different story with the bananas, though. They sometimes refuse to go along with the plan. One day they are sitting there looking pretty and the next time I look, they are all covered in brown spots. But that doesn’t matter, I can easily take care of them. After all, don’t I have a bunch of recipes for over ripe bananas? From banana bread to muffins to cream pies, they are all delicious. Sometimes I purposely ignore the bananas in the fruit basket till they reach that pulpy stage!


One of the easiest things to make with very ripe bananas is a banana loaf. And this past weekend, I got around to making a quick banana loaf to be part of a brunch I was planning.


This banana loaf has a very generic ingredient list. You need half a cup of dried fruits and half a cup of nuts. In any combination. I used a mix of dried apricots, plums and raisins. And almond slivers and walnut pieces for the nuts part. Actually, a banana loaf is a smart way of using up the last bits of fruit and nut in your pantry!


And the process is rather simple too. You mash the bananas…


Add the eggs and beat them together with other liquid ingredients.


Add the chopped fruits and nuts.


Finally add the flour and gently mix everything together.


Pour the batter into pans and it is ready for the oven.


One of the best things I like about a banana loaf is the fragrance of it baking in the oven, filling the whole kitchen.


Teamed up with eggs and grapefruit, it will make a wonderful breakfast.


Not only is this banana loaf easy to make, it is pretty much healthy too. As the banana provides most of the sweetness, you wouldn’t need to add much sugar. Also, instead of butter, this is made with vegetable oil. So an overall winner!


Fruit and Nut Banana Loaf
Recipe type: Bread
  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 or 3 very ripe bananas
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup dried fruit
  • ½ cup nuts
  • 1 tbsp orange rind, without the inside white part
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree farenheit.
  2. Butter a 9 inch the loaf pan or two smaller ones.
  3. Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Chop the dried fruits and nuts roughly.
  5. Thinly slice the orange rind. Or, if you prefer, you can mince it.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas with a fork.
  7. Add the brown sugar and orange juice and mix well with a hand-held beater.
  8. Add the eggs and continue beating.
  9. Add the vegetable oil and beat thoroughly.
  10. Gently blend in the chopped fruits, nuts and orange rind.
  11. Add the flour in batches and blend in.
  12. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pans and bake in the center of the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or a skewer inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean.
  13. Place the loaf pan on a cooling rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  14. Any leftovers can be frozen for later.

Muffins to the Rescue of Bananas

Four bananas going south… cannot eat anymore as two already downed… don’t like to waste food either… what is a girl to do?

Make some banana muffins, of course! Especially when she is in need of some interesting breakfast stuff.


And that is how it started. But then, isn’t it too tame to go ahead and make some regular run of the mill muffins? Why not add some different stuff to make it a bit more interesting? That is the path I took. And the end result? Well worth the effort… a healthier, tastier set of muffins!


So I went around assembling the ingredients… the bananas are very sweet; so what is a fruit that is not so sweet? Dried plums! They do have a good texture too.


And now for some colour… what better than glazed cherries for colour? And some walnuts for crunch. Last item… a pinch of orange zest. Nothing invokes that sunny morning feeling like the flavour of oranges!


With the ingredients assembled, the rest was easy. As easy as beat’em, chop’em, blend’em… beat the liquid stuff, chop the fruits and nuts…


And blend everything together!


When the muffins came out of the oven, they were looking so good I felt it is a shame not to give them a topping… at least some of them.


So I made a quick topping with a bit of cream cheese and a dash of mascarpone. They are sufficiently sweet, so just a spoonful of honey to sweeten just the topping.


A sliver of glazed cherry to garnish, and you got a winner!



Muffins to the Rescue of Bananas
Recipe type: Breakfast
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp nutmeg powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 very ripe bananas
  • 1 cup dried plums
  • ½ cup glazed red cherries
  • ¾ cup walnuts
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degree fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare muffin pans with paper liners. The quantity mentioned will get you 20 muffins; so you could either use two muffin pans, or bake them in two batches.
  3. Mix the flour with baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Keep aside.
  4. Toast the walnuts in a hot pan for 3 minutes and let cool. Chop the walnuts into a rough chop, each walnut being cut into not more than two or three pieces.
  5. Mash two of the bananas coarsely so that lumps remain.
  6. Chop the dried plums and glazed cherries coarsely.
  7. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, using an electric beater.
  8. Add the sugar and continue beating till the sugar is completely dissolved.
  9. Add the remaining two bananas and beat them into the egg-sugar mixture.
  10. Add the oil and vanilla extract and beat to mix thoroughly.
  11. Using a spatula, mix the lumpily mashed bananas into the mix.
  12. Now add the chopped ingredients – dried plums, glazed cherries, walnuts – and the orange zest, one by one, mixing well after each addition to form the batter.
  13. Add half the flour mixture into the batter and gently blend in.
  14. When all the flour is mixed in, add the remaining flour and continue blending till smooth. Do not beat the batter at this stage or over blend.
  15. Using a large spoon, drop the batter into the prepared muffin pans till each cup is ¾ full.
  16. Place the pan into the heated oven.
  17. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, till the muffins have risen well and the top is golden brown. At this stage, a skewer inserted into the center of a muffin will come out clean.
  18. Remove from the oven and place individual muffins on a rack to cool.
  19. If you would like to add a topping, mix together 3 tablespoons of cream cheese with 2 tablespoons of mascarpone cheese. Sweeten just enough with honey and spread on top of the muffins.

Quinoa and Lima Beans Salad with Walnut Dressing

2013 was declared the ‘International Year of Quinoa’ by the United Nations General Assembly, with the objective drawing the world’s attention to the role that quinoa can play an important role in eradicating hunger, malnutrition and poverty.



So what is so special about quinoa?
For starters, quinoa is a complete source of protein that includes all nine essential amino acids. Imagine what a blessing it is to vegans who always have a problem about enough protein in their diets. While quinoa is low on calories and carbs, it is also gluten free and rich in fibre. Quinoa also contains minerals like magnesium, iron, tryptophan, copper, and phosphorous.
Its qualities are so much recognised that NASA includes it in the menu of its astronauts!

Quinoa, pronounced ‘kinwah’ following its Spanish spelling, is the grain-like seed of a plant belonging to the spinach family. It was cultivated in the countries of Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, of the Andean region, 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. A staple in the area, quinoa has become increasingly popular world over in the last few years.

Quinoa seeds have a bitter coating called saponin, which makes birds avoid them. In the case of most of the quinoa that is available today in the market, this coating has been removed. Still, it is better to wash it thoroughly before cooking it.

You can cook quinoa the same way as rice. You can boil it in lots of water and then drain it. Or you can combine quinoa and water in a ratio of 1:2, bring it to boil, and simmer it till done and water absorbed, in around 15 minutes. For added flavour, quinoa can be toasted dry for five minutes over low heat and then cooked.

Though quinoa can be used in many ways – quinoa burgers are quite tasty! – my favourite use for it is in salads. It is very versatile and you can add a lot of varied stuff to it to come up with interesting combinations. I like it best when I add a lot of my favourite things and come up with a satisfying meal in one dish!
The addition of lima beans, broccoli, carrots and avocados make this a complete, nutritious meal. The onions add flavour to the salad.
And if you grind the dressing a bit coarse, it adds a bit of crunch too! And if you like the dressing on the spicier side, you can even add some red chilli flakes to it.


Quinoa and Lima Beans Salad with Walnut Dressing
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: International
  • Half cup quinoa seeds
  • 1 cup frozen baby lima beans
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 carrot
  • Half a small red onion
  • Half cup walnuts
  • Quarter cup olive oil
  • Two cloves of garlic
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  1. Wash the quinoa thoroughly under running water and drain.
  2. Bring one and a quarter cup of water to a boil. Add a pinch of salt and the quinoa to the boiling water. Reduce heat, cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Wash the frozen lima beans under running water to defrost it. Cook in a microwave with a pinch of salt and two tablespoons of water, for three minutes.
  4. Cut the broccoli head into florets. Cook in the microwave with a pinch of water and two tablespoons water, for two minutes.
  5. Scrape the carrot into longish strips.
  6. Slice the onion thinly.
  7. Cut the avocado into pieces.
  8. Soak the walnuts for 15 minutes. In a blender, add the walnuts and garlic and blend. With the blender running, add the olive oil in a steady stream. Transfer to a dish and season with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper.
  9. To assemble, in a large bowl, toss together the quinoa, lima beans (drain off any excess cooking water from the lima beans and broccoli), broccoli, carrot, onion and avocado. Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle the dressing over the salad. Serve the extra dressing along with the salad. Delicious!