gluten-free & sugar-free banana loaf

Banana loaf is seriously one of my favourite treats. I love saving bananas in the freezer just to make this now and then. Of course, it's me, and I experiment with ways to make the most healthy version possible that is still edible. Haha, of course, MORE than JUST edible, but I've made some interesting concoctions over the years that were pretty borderline.

Last year, I made a grain-free loaf, here, and though I love that one, it's dense and gets a little mushy if you don't eat it within a day. I wanted a more fluffy & flour-like version. So, looking through the mason jars and feeling inspiration, I combined a mix of flours that together, impart a light fluffiness and taste wonderful (there is chickpea flour in there but you can't taste it once cooked).

All in all, delicious.....but, just to avoid disappointment, if you are going from a Starbucks banana bread to this one, you will notice the missing sugar! Big time. If you limit your sugar and sweet treats, this will taste plenty sweet and actually quite substantial with all the protein. A nice thick slice for breakfast would be great. And you won't feel like you just ate a piece of cake, which is what most banana breads actually are....
Ok, so technically, this loaf is not sugar free. But it sounded way better in the title than, 'nearly sugar-free except for the very dark chocolate and bananas'.

Give it a try! I think you'll be surprised how good it is. It might even freeze well, though it never lasts long enough for me to find out.

Yield: 1 loaf

Ingredients

3 super ripe medium sized bananas
3 free-range or better eggs
1/4 cup organic homogenized milk
1/4 cup melted butter

1 cup gluten-free oats ground into fine flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup chickpea flour
1/4 cup unflavoured protein powder (I use Natural Factors whey)
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp vanilla powder (optional)
1/2 tsp good quality salt

60 grams chopped 85% or higher chocolate (I used a 90% Lindt bar)

Instructions

1. Grease or parchment line a loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Combine the first 4 ingredients in a bowl. Mix well.
3. Combine the rest of the ingredients in another bowl (except chocolate) and mix well.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones. Mix well, then add chopped chocolate and mix to incorporate.
5. Pour batter into the loaf pan.
6. Bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes. Loaf should not 'jiggle' when you move it. **I bake this in the top of my gemini oven and I tent lightly with foil near the end of the baking time to prevent over browning.
7. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Allow 30 minutes before cutting.

DIY cold-process soap

You may wonder, why make soap? I certainly only go through a bar or 2 a year and there are plenty of soap options to buy...but what it comes down to for me is that I love the control over the ingredients & it's super fun. The moment when your soap is ready to cut is a sweet moment. It's also like a science experiment, trying different add-ins and not really knowing how a colour or pattern will turn out. Fun! (and sometimes argh!!).
most recent batch, cinnamon swirl soap 
After doing my research, I decided to make soaps as natural as possible. I've been colouring with various clays and things from the kitchen cupboard (used spirulina powder, turmeric and cinnamon with success). I'll never get the amazing vibrant colours, but I like knowing that it's natural.  Same with fragrances, I'm using only essential oils. A lot are needed to scent a batch with any strength or lasting power, so I've been using stronger, cheaper ones for now (like peppermint and lemongrass).
my supply closet in the art room: check out my new soap mould on the floor!
The soap I make is by cold-process. It involves using lye, but as long as you are careful, it's not bad. It's to be taken seriously, for sure and I wear safety glasses during the key portions.

I'm not going to go into details about the process because others have been there and done it beautifully.

The Soapmakers' Companion by Sue Miller is great and I've used her basic soap recipe with success.

the Crafty Gemini is very pleasant to watch
She goes through the whole process in a nice little video and covers the equipment and the safety stuff.

Kathy Miller : old school soap guru (just noticed 2 'soap people' with last name Miller...interesting)
Many good tips, troubleshooting, questions and lots more.

Calgary girl, Humblebee & Me, whose soap mould inspired me to build my own (by Craig, thank you)

Soap calculator, when you are ready to whip up your own concoctions. 
This calculates the amount of lye you need depending on the kinds and percentages of fats and oils.

I get my supplies from New Directions Aromatics.
The shipping is very reasonable. Even with heavy buckets of soap making oils!
Christmas soap packaging options I tried this year
If you've always wanted to try it, go for it (or befriend someone who makes soap. I've only been making soap for 6 months, but I've got enough to last me and my extended family for years & possibly lifetimes). Happily, with my new soap mould, I'm now able to make much smaller batches. This is great to try out just a couple bars at a time.
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