The healing power of cooking

Cooking really is my happy place

After a hard day, my natural instinct is always to turn to cooking. The past week has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster and all came to a head on Friday with the shocking news that a friend had died suddenly. I resolved to spending the weekend unravelling the emotional knots I had tied myself in. Thus I dedicated the weekend to seeking peace and quiet, unplugging from my social networks, declining coffee invitations and basically just laying low. Sounds simple, but for those who don't know, I'm currently living with my parents. Yes, I am 31 years old and living at home again! It's not actually so bad, in fact I enjoy it immensely, but it can be hard to get some space to myself at times. 

One of the best ways to relieve stress is to simply do something that you love

On Saturday afternoon I was starting to feel a bit better but still had a bit of anxiety niggling at me. I was craving a piece of cake when I realised that I had been so stressed out that I forgot about my usual cure - cooking! How could I have forgotten that cooking was the one thing that lowered my blood pressure!? Some people like to exercise to relieve stress and others like to meditate. Both of those things are great, but for me the best way to let off some steam is to literally create it - in the kitchen! I resolved myself to get in the kitchen immediately and cook up something comforting and yummy that would be just the thing I needed to ward off the blues.  But what to bake?

I haven't really been baking much lately

I guess one of the reasons I stopped baking was because I have changed my diet quite a bit in the last few months. I'm trying to live healthier, and that has involved cutting down on sweets. I have been procastinating from baking because I wanted to avoid the temptation and to be honest wasn't sure that I had the strength to say no. Truth be told I've been having a bit of an identity crisis about my food, which is a bit soul-destroying.  I absolutely love and am passionate about my traditional, home-style cooking but I personally have changed the way I eat. Every time I think about the cakes I bake and sell, I feel like a bit of a fraud. I've been spending a lot of time considering how I feel about this, and trying to make my new lifestyle and my existing business fit together. I'm starting to work out a plan of attack which is really exciting, and I'll share more of that with you very soon.  

Since reading Sarah Wilson's 'I Quit Sugar' a few months ago, I've been trying to convert some of my favourite recipes to healthier, more wholesome versions. Here's the thing: It's all well and good to make something low sugar but if it's not yum then I am not interested. So yesterday while on my cooking-cure mission, I set myself the challenge of making a low-sugar version of my fail-proof Easy Banana Bread. This recipe normally has 1 ½ cups of sugar in it and I was sure I could cut this right back and still get the same result. 

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It’s all well and good to make something low sugar, healthy, wholesome, BLAH BLAH BLAH, but the fact is, if it’s not delicious, then frankly I am not interested. No, thanks.

The cake is also normally made with olive oil which also adds in a lot more fat, so I thought I would try cutting this down. I substituted half of the olive oil with some light coconut milk. worked! 

I was really happy with how the Banana Bread turned out, but I was a bit nervous about whether my 'housemates' (aka parents) would approve. They have been subjected to my previous 'experiments' and aren't always the most enthusiastic about healthier cakes (most end up dry and heavy like rubbery doorstops)

Everything turned out ok

Turns out they both loved it, commenting on how light and moist it was. We had some fresh out of the oven as a healthy dessert last night. We then backed it up by toasting slices in the café sandwich press this morning. It caramelised perfectly, and went all crispy around the edges - yum! Dad enjoyed his with a naughty spread of butter and absolutely loved it. I was so happy with how it turned out and it was the perfect comfort food to calm my nerves.  

This recipe is my best healthy-fied experiment so far and I'm proud to have pulled it off! Give it a go, I promise you won't even notice that it's barely got any sugar in it (and neither will your kids)! 

This is so easy to make, it will only take you about 10 minutes to prepare the batter! Hot tip: Use a potato masher to mash the bananas, I am having none of this fork business! It's a great way to let off steam! 

If you try this recipe for my Soul Healing Banana Bread, make sure you share the pics on Facebook and Instagram and tag morgan & meg - I'd love to see your creations! 

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Soul Healing Banana Bread

4 medium ripe bananas
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup light coconut milk
3 eggs, lightly-beaten
3 tsp natural sweetener (such as stevia)
¼ cup sugar-free maple syrup
1 ½ cups self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp chia seeds
1 tsp sunflower seeds

1. Preheat oven to 160°c (140°c for fan-forced). Lightly grease loaf tin and line with baking paper.
2. In a large bowl, mash bananas
3. Add oil, coconut milk, eggs, sugar, maple syrup and vanilla. Stir to combine. 
4. Sift in the flour, baking powder and 1 tsp of the cinnamon and fold mixture together until well combined. 
5. Pour into prepared tin and sprinkle with the sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and dust with the remaining cinnamon. 
6. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.